If Jody Powell and Hamilton Jordan both buy copies of Willie Nelson's new album, they'll be sending 11 cents to Paul McCartney.
One expects McCartney to make big money from albums like his just-released "Back to the Egg"; over the next five years, his contract with CBS could, according to informed estimates, bring him $10 million from U.S. sales alone.
But as McCartney's financial pot goes, the Wings albums are small potatoes; the real meat is in his publishing rights to a thousand or so songs - his and others'.
"I have to invest my money, or I lose it" to taxes, McCartney has said. "I like songs, so I buy them." Specifically, he buys publishing catalogues, some with titles even older than McCartney himself, like "Stormy Weather," one of two songs on the new Willie Nelson album that McCartney controls (the other is the title track, "One for My Baby and One More for the Road").
McCartney makes a little money every time somebody buys a copy of Linda Ronstadt singing "You're No Good" or Judy Garland mourning "The Man That Got Away." His company, MPL, owns or controls the music rights to such blockbusters as "A Chorus Line," "Annie" and "Grease" (except for the handful of new songs written by the Bees Gees for the movie version).
He owns such standards as "Sentimental Journey," "Easy Street" and "Autumn Leaves," the Buddy Holly catalogue, the rags of Scott Joplin, a half-dozen Ira Gershwin songs and two little numbers by Truman Capote. And "Dinah," heard every day as the theme to Dinah Shore's syndicated talk show.
And "Bye, Bye Birdie," "Hello, Dolly!" and "Mame." And "On, Wisconsin," "When Vandy Starts to Fight," "Sweetheart of Sigma Chi" and "Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech."
While he doesn't advertise his financial clout as some of his superstar peers do - ABBA now claims to have surpassed Volvo as Sweden's biggest corporation - McCartney could justly be called the rocker's Rockefeller.
In the last five years, MPL (McCartney Productions, Ltd.) has become the largest independent publisher in the world, according to McCartney's business manager (and brother-in-law) John Eastman. One source estimates McCartney's net worth between $80-120 million; Eastman will only concede that MPL is "an empire."
The empire was founded on the (See McCARTNEY, B2, Col. 1) (McCARTNEY, From B1) original fortune McCartney made with the Beatles. He and John Lenon, authors of virtually all the Beatles hits, have reaped the largest share of the vast financial rewards from 15 years of Beatlemania.
Residuals from Beatles hits by themselves would be enough to keep several generations of McCartneys in comfort. Years ago, after their initial success, McCartrney and Lennon sold the copyrights to their first 60 songs. In the seven or eight years before he regained those rights, Eastman says, McCartney's share of the writers royalties for those 60 songs - already past their first-hit youth-topped 1.3 million pounds, or $3.6 million.
According to copyright laws, mucsic publishers receive royalties of 2 3/4 cents per song per record, and lower fees for broadcasts and live performances. Out of that fee, the publisher pays writer's loyalties, if there are any, at whatever rate has been privately contracted.
Suppose that, for the two songs on the Nelson album, McCartney is splitting the roylaties at top scale: 50-50. McCartney is still making 2 3/4 cents per album. All Nelson has to do is sell a mere 2 million units (records and tapes), and McCartney makes $55,000. And if Nelson releases either of those two cuts as a songle, McCartney will make even more.
This is a sizable return on a sizable investment. Most of his publishing rights McCartney bought in blocks. The prestigious Edwin H. Morris catalogue - which controls some 450 songs and such shows as "Grease," "Annie," "Shenandoah" and "Mame"-cost McCartney a reported $15 million.
The wide-ranging values of older songs make it almost impossible to price them singly. But as an example, a chstnut like "Stormy Weather," even aside from a special circumstance like a mid-life hit by Willie Nelson, would be worth $10,000-$15,000 a year to its publisher. Since "Stormy Weather" has 10 years of copyright life left before entering the public domain, if would presumably cost upwards of $100,000.
These are slow and steady sellers; as one CBS staffer put it, "If you owned 'Autumn Leaves,' you wouldn't have to worry about working."
McCartney also has an instinct for the big strike: He acquired the Buddy Holly catalogue relatively cheap about five years ago, before the big revival (and, it is rumored, when he first caught wind of a movie project).
An album by McCartney the performer is worth plenty to McCartneyt the publisher. For his first CBS album, "Back to the Egg," McCartney wrote a dozen songs; 12 times 2 3/4 cents times 2 million albums is $660,000-in publisher's fees alone.
In addition, McCartney's contract calls for three albums over three years, the "masters" toa which CBS leases for five years. At the end of that time, the masters revert to McCartney and he renegotiates.
Neither CBS president Walter Yetnikov nor Eastman will discuss the contract, but souces say that, even during the current slump in the reecord industry, the U.S. deal could bring in as much as $10 million. McCartney has a separate contract for worldwide distribution with EMI, parent company of the Beatles' old label, Capitol.
McCartney's albums have generally sold between 1.5 million and 2 million units, but the CBS promotion staff is predicting a much higher sale for the new "Back to the Egg." In support of their enthusiastic prognostications, staffers point to the early success the single "Getting Closer" is haveing.
"A year or so ago, when the market was heavier, when Fleetwood Mac were selling 14 million units, this album would bave maybe sold 10 million," claims the most optimistic of the bunch. Privately, industry observers have lower expectations.
But in this bear market, every album needs a big push, and CBShas launched a carefully orchestrated campaign to make sure their first McCartney album is not an embarrassment. Before its official release last week, a CBS staffer flew copies of the album to a handful of critics around the country-just for listenining: The copies returned to New York with the represenntative.
According to industry sources, the basic budget ffor the national promotion campaign for "Back to the Egg" is about $200,000. That does not cover local expenses for a "listening party" for retailers, for example, or whatever advertising comes out of local branch funds, or even what it costs to send a label rep around to preview the ablum for critics.
What the budget does include are radio and television advertising, ads in national print media and trade publications, and a giant billboard overlooking Sunset Strip.
Radio ad on AOR (album-oriented, rock) stations began last weekend, iwith "concentration campaigns" scheduled in New York, Los Nageles, Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Boston and Washington. Radio spots on Top-40 stations will be bought "in support of airplay," that is, where stations are paying attinetion to the single.
Among the print buys will be a four-color, full-page ad in Rolling Stone and another in People; full-page black-and-white ads in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times' Calendar section. There will be double-page color spreads in Billboard, Record World and Cashbox, and ven a network sport during "Saturday Night Live."
The album is being touted by CBS as a departure for McCartney and Wings, a rock-ier album than his recent pop efforts. And there is some "hard" evidence here, notably a slambang instrumental called "Rockestra Theme" by adozen musicians, includding such rock luminaries as Pwter Townshend, David Gilmour, Kenney Jones and John Paul Jones.
Whether or not "Back to the Egg" opens up a whole new audience for McCartney, it scarcely matters.
"He shouldn't be taking money from CBS," says a staffer, ruefully. "He ought to give us the $10 million. He wouldn't notice." CAPTION: Picture, Paul McCartney