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Pete Townshend Sells Entire Back Catalog to Spirit Music Group

Pete Townshend of The Who has announced he'll be selling the publishing rights to his entire catalog of tunes to a firm called the Spirit Music Group. The firm controls varying degrees of rights to songs by several major rock acts.

This news, which was announced January 24, means you'll be hearing much more of The Who's music in movies, commercials, TV shows and beyond.

Rolling Stone reports that the Spirit Music Group, which spent three years crafting the deal, has a vision for Townshend's songs.

You might've noticed that when you hear a Who song on TV, it's usually either "Won't Get Fooled Again" or "Who Are You" -- and then there was that commercial that featured "Going Mobile" a few years back.

"It's criminal," Spirit Music Group President Mark Fried told Rolling Stone. Fried hopes to dig deeper into the songwriter's catalog. Indeed, it would be nice to hear "Now I'm a Farmer" in a Hollywood blockbuster.

Fried said he also dreams of another Broadway run for the Tommy musical, a new production of Quadrophenia or maybe a completely new show, possibly based on Lifehouse, Townshend's unfinished 1971 rock opera.

Publishing rights generate royalty payments for a songwriter every time a song is played, performed or otherwise licensed.

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Damian Fanelli
Damian Fanelli

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor, and his non-Pulitzer-Prize-winning stories have appeared in Guitar Aficionado, Vintage Guitar, Total Guitar and countless other publications, including 13.7 metric tons of daily newspapers. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton and Ty Tabor chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (one of which appears in the 2015 Disney film 'Tomorrowland' starring George Clooney and Britt Robertson). He's in two NYC-area bands and plays Teles with four-way switches, B-benders and semi-snazzy aftermarket pickups. He quotes Terry-Thomas twice daily.