Jackson had flown to England to record the song ‘Say, Say, Say’ with McCartney at the famous Abbey Road studio.
While working on the track, McCartney invited Jackson to stay with him and his wife Linda at their home in London. One evening, after the three finished dinner, McCartney took out a large book and laid it out on the table. This particular book listed every song and publishing right that McCartney had acquired over the last 10 years.
He made it clear to Jackson that owning publishing rights was a great way to make really big money in the music industry. McCartney confided that in the last year alone, he had earned approximately $40 million off of this music catalogue. He explained to Jackson that, “Every time someone records one of these songs, I get paid. Every time someone plays these songs on the radio, or in live performances, I get paid.”
McCartney also confessed that none of those earnings came from Beatles songs because shockingly, he did not own them – ATV publishing did.
Sadly, this free advice would soon come back to kick McCartney in the butt when in 1984, ATV publishing was put up for sale and Jackson ended up out-bidding all other buyers, including both Yoko Ono and McCartney (who had put their funds together).
Jackson paid $47.5 million for the publishing rights to approximately 250 Beatles songs, everything from ‘Eleanor Rigby’ to ‘Revolution’.
In 1995, Jackson agreed to merge with Sony Music, who paid him $95 million for the catalog. It’s value today is estimated to be close to $400 million.
McCartney is still extremely bitter over this betrayal, as any man should be.