Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) has acquired Criterion Music Corporation and its affiliated entities, the family-owned and run music publishing company that, over the last seventy years, has built one of the most extraordinary collections of pop, country and jazz hits and standards, it was announced today by Zach Horowitz, Chairman & CEO, UMPG, and Bo Goldsen, President of Criterion. The catalog features songs written by jazz great Charlie “Bird” Parker(“Ornithology”), Lee Hazlewood (“These Boots are Made for Walkin'”), Lyle Lovett (“If I Had a Boat”), Rodney Crowell (“Shame on the Moon”), Rosanne Cash (“Seven Year Ache”), Jackson Browne (“Doctor My Eyes”), and many others. It includes 13 No. 1 country hits, one of the largest collections of Hawaiian and Polynesian music, which is consistently licensed for film and TV uses, and interests in such standards as “Dream (When You’re Feeling Blue),” “Moonlight in Vermont,” “It’s a Good Day,” “Mañana,” “Papa Ooh Mow Mow,” “Let The Good Times Roll,” “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You,” and “Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair,” to name a few.
The company will relocate to UMPG’s global headquarters in Santa Monica, CA, where Bo Goldsen will continue to serve as President of Criterion.
“Over seven decades, the Goldsen family has built one of the finest collections of songs in contemporary music publishing. We are privileged that they have entrusted their legacy to UMPG. We are delighted that Bo Goldsen will continue to run Criterion as its President and work with us to write the next chapter in the company’s history,” said Zach Horowitz.
“I am excited to take Criterion into the future, under the wing of UMPG, and the great enthusiasm for the catalog shown to me by Zach Horowitz, Lance Freed, and Evan Lamberg” said Bo Goldsen.
The company’s history dates back to 1943 when music publishing veteran Mickey Goldsen joined the newly founded Capitol Records to create its publishing division, then called “Capitol Songs.” Many of the earliest publishing copyrights were recorded by Capitol’s recording artists, including Nat King Cole (“Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You”), Peggy Lee (“It’s a Good Day,” “Mañana”), The Pied Pipers (“Dream (When You’re Feeling Blue)”), and Stan Kenton (“I Told You I Love You (Now Get Out)”), to name a few. In 1950, Goldsen purchased the publishing assets from Capitol and started Criterion Music Corporation.
In the 1950s, the newly independent company purchased the Charlie Parker catalog, which includes 54 original songs written by the legendary jazz saxophonist and composer, including such jazz standards as “Ornithology,” “Koko,” “Scrapple from the Apple,” “Confirmation,” and “Yardbird Suite.” During this period, Criterion also acquired classics like “Let The Good Times Roll” (originally a hit for Shirley & Lee and later recorded by Roy Orbison, Harry Nilsson, Barbra Streisand and Joe Strummer, among others), “Moonlight in Vermont” (often considered the unofficial song of the state of Vermont, and recorded by everyone from Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Billie Holiday, Linda Ronstadt, to Willie Nelson), and “The End” (a No. 7 pop hit for Earl Grant).
In the 1960s, Criterion secured the publishing rights of the catalog of the iconic songwriter, producer, and singer Lee Hazlewood. His catalog includes Nancy Sinatra’s hit version of Hazlewood’s song “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” which rose to No. 1 in both the US and the UK, selling over 6 million singles worldwide and two million albums. The song has been covered by artists as diverse as Jessica Simpson and Megadeth. Other Hazlewood originals published by Criterion include “Sugar Town” (a Top 5 pop hit for Nancy Sinatra), “Houston” (a Top 11 pop hit for Dean Martin) and “Summer Wine” (the first of a series of hit duets by Nancy & Lee). A German version of “Summer Wine” by Ville Valo and Natalia Avelon was the fourth best-selling single in that country in 2007, and Lana Del Rey has also recorded a new version of the song, which was recently released commercially.
The 60s also saw Criterion acquire interests in two of the most memorable novelty tunes from the era: The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird” and The Rivingtons’ “Papa Ooh Mow Mow.” Both songs remain perennial favorites for film and TV uses.
In the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, Criterion found further success when Mickey’s son, Bo Goldsen, began working with the company and added new generations of talented writers to its roster. Bo was responsible for signing Jackson Browne, and the Criterion catalog features well-known Browne favorites like “Doctor My Eyes,” “Song For Adam,” and “Jamaica Say You Will.”
Bo also signed Rosanne Cash and Rodney Crowell, two of the most respected country writers of their era. The Criterion catalog features Cash’s landmark classics “Seven Year Ache” and “Blue Moon with Heartache,” both No. 1 country hits, as well as the Grammy Award-winning No. 1 country hit “I Don’t Know Why You Don’t Want Me.” Crowell’s “Shame on the Moon” was a No. 2 pop hit for Bob Seger, and his album Diamonds & Dirt became the first country album to feature five No. 1 country singles, including “She’s Crazy for Leavin'” and the Grammy Award-winning “After All This Time.” Other chart- topping country songs in the Criterion catalog include hit singles such as Eddie Raven’s “I Got Mexico,” Dan Seal’s “Bop,” The Dirt Band’s “Long Hard Road,” Highway 101’s “Somewhere Tonight,” Garth Brooks’ “Standing Outside the Fire” and Pam Tillis’ “Maybe It Was Memphis,” to name a few. In 1996, “I Can Love You Like That,” which was co-written by Criterion writer Maribeth Derry, became a No. 1 country hit for John Michael Montgomery and a No. 3 Billboard Hot 100 hit for All 4 One.
During this time, Criterion also signed groundbreaking singer-songwriter Lyle Lovett, who went on to pen multiple gold and platinum-certified albums.
Criterion’s diverse catalog also contains some of the most popular and recognizable Hawaiian and Polynesian songs of the 20th century. Criterion’s impressive collection of Hawaiian and Polynesian standards includes the catalogs of seven members of the Hawaiian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Among these is perhaps the most well-known Hawaiian song of all time, “Tiny Bubbles,” which crossed over to pop success when released as a single by Don Ho. Criterion’s Hawaiian and Polynesian music is regularly licensed for film and TV uses, and has been featured in classic films like Mutiny on the Bounty starring Marlon Brando as well as more recent films like The Descendants starring George Clooney, among others.
Criterion also owns the theme music of many classic TV shows, including the ever-popular “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.” A new animated movie based on characters from the Rocky and Bullwinkle series is planned for 2014 and will feature music from the Criterion catalog.