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Pete Townshend Sells Publishing Rights To Back Catalog

Pete Townshend
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

In a deal that reportedly took three years to complete, Pete Townshend has sold all the publishing rights to his entire catalog – approximately 400 songs between the Who and his solo career – to the Spirit Music Group, a firm that specializes in placing songs in commercials, movies and television shows. Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but the arrangement, which was announced last month, is rumored to be as much as $100 million.

“It’s the biggest deal we’ve made so far,” Spirit president Mark Fried told Rolling Stone, apparently stopping just short of calling it a bargain, the best he’s ever had. Fried plans to look deeper into Townshend’s body of work than the classic rock staples like ‘Who Are You’ and ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ that have formed the bulk of product placement in recent years, most famously in CBS’ ‘CSI’ franchise.

Indeed, we can easily envision Townshend’s Top Ten solo hit, ‘Let My Love Open The Door,’ in a commercial for Genie garage door openers. Maybe ‘Christmas’ can replace that annoying instrumental that Lexus bombards us with every December. Poland Spring or Aquafina can find a natural fit in the early-70s live staple ‘Water,’ and hearing ‘Cut My Hair’ coming out of our TVs would undoubtedly get some of us to finally spring for a Flowbee.

Townshend is no stranger to licensing his music. Back in 1967, the Who recorded jingles for Coca-Cola that were briefly used in a UK ad campaign. The band also pioneered the concept of tour sponsorship in 1982 when Schlitz put up good money to have their beer associated with the Who’s first farewell tour, both in print and TV commercials.

Watch the Who Perform ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ in a Vintage Commercial for Schiltz

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