Simon Cowell launches SYCO music publishing company in partnership with Universal
Simon Cowell, the record executive and TV producer best known as a (sometimes brutally frank) musical talent judge on reality shows, is partnering with Universal Music Group to launch a new boutique music publishing company.
Cowell’s Syco Entertainment is joining forces with UMG’s publishing arm, Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), to launch Syco Publishing, which will focus on signing and developing songwriters and catalogs that will be managed exclusively through UMPG.
The company will also create new opportunities for its writers to work across Cowell’s extensive network of media formats and projects, UMGP and Syco Entertainment said in an announcement on Wednesday (August 9).
At launch, Syco Publishing is home to songwriters Lucy Spraggan (who got her start on Cowell’s The X Factor in 2012) and John Samuel Gerhart, as well as song catalog rights for hits from Fifth Harmony and James Arthur, as well as Camila Cabello’s Havana and Sangria Wine with Pharrell Williams.
The company also holds the rights to songs performed by artists such as Machine Gun Kelly, Major Lazer, Ed Sheeran, Mark Ronson and Shawn Mendes.
“There is nothing more important than a great song. I started my career in music publishing. Mike [McCormack] and Universal have given me the chance to build a music publishing company. They are a brilliant company and share my wish to work with amazing songwriters,” Cowell said in a statement.
“Simon has been a good friend for decades and I’m thrilled he has finally decided to launch a publishing business with UMPG,” added Mike McCormack, Managing Director of UMPG UK.
“His track record is incredible – he’s always had great instincts and passion for outstanding songs, and brings incredible value to every songwriter, producer and catalog he works with. The UMPG team looks forward to working closely with Simon on Syco Publishing and providing the best global support to develop tomorrow’s stars.”
The new venture is part of a growing relationship between UMG and Cowell’s company. In 2021, Syco Entertainment partnered with UMG, Israeli TV channel RESHET 13 and Fremantle Media in a deal that would see the winner of the fourth season of The X Factor Israel ink a global recording deal with UMG Israel.
And in 2022, with the popularity of reality talent shows on the wane amid the rise of TikTok musical acts, Cowell’s Syco Entertainment partnered with UMG’s Republic Records, TikTok and Samsung to create StemDrop, a creative platform that enabled music-makers all over the world to upload songs to TikTok, in the hopes of landing a record deal with Republic.
“There is nothing more important than a great song. I started my career in music publishing. Mike [McCormack] and Universal have given me the chance to build a music publishing company. They are a brilliant company and share my wish to work with amazing songwriters.”
Simon Cowell, Syco Publishing
For much of its history, Cowell’s business had its closest music biz relationship with Sony.
Syco Entertainment began in 2005 as a joint venture between Sony Music Entertainment and Cowell, when the former bought Cowell’s shares in his record company S Records, as well as his TV production firm Syco Television.
(Syco Television was the company through which Cowell created his TV franchises Got Talent and X Factor. Got Talent remains the world’s most successful reality TV format, with the America’s Got Talent version of the show clocking 16 straight years as the number-one summer-season TV show in the US. The X Factor franchise has generated more charting music stars than any other reality show in history. Between them, the two shows are watched in 180 countries and have some one billion viewers per year.)
“[Simon’s] track record is incredible – he’s always had great instincts and passion for outstanding songs, and brings incredible value to every songwriter, producer and catalog he works with.”
Mike McCormack, UMPG UK
In 2009, Sony Music Entertainment and Cowell entered into a joint venture that formed joint ownership of Syco’s TV formats, including X Factor and Got Talent. That joint venture also included Syco Music, formerly known as S Records.
The partnership came to an end in 2020, when Cowell bought out Sony Music Entertainment’s stake in Syco Entertainment for an undisclosed sum.
Under that agreement, Syco took control of the joint venture’s TV properties and retained its music publishing rights, while Sony Music acquired Syco’s recorded music catalog.Music Business Worldwide