Charles Koppelman is chairman and chief executive officer of EMI Music Publishing, Inc. Worldwide, the world’s largest music publishing company. He is also chairman and CEO of SBK Records, a highly successful label created as a joint venture with his longtime partner, Martin Bandier in conjunction with EMI Music and distributed worldwide by EMI.
For nearly 30 years, Koppelman has played a key role in the development of a wide array of artists. The hundreds of hit records with which lie has been involved range from The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Daydream” and Glen Campbell’s “Southern Night,” to Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” and Technotronic’s “Pump up the Jam.” He has also been creatively involved in the careers of such stellar personalities as Billy Joel, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Eddie Murphy, Glen Campbell, Diana Ross and Lionel Ritchie, among numerous others.
Born in Brooklyn in 1940, Koppelman attended Long Island University where he was a physical education major with an interest in music. The latter led to the formation of a vocal group, The Ivy Three with college friends, Don Rubin and Art Berkowitz. The group actually enjoyed a Top 10 record hit with the novelty song, “Yogi,” which was issued on Shell Records. Later, when the group was booked at Grossinger’s Resort Hotel in The Catskills, a chance meeting in a pick-up basketball game, took place with the already highly successful music publishing mogul, Don Kirshner. Koppelman and Rubin were soon part of Kirshner’s stable of hitmaking songwriters which at that time included Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield.
When Kirshner’s firm, Aldon Music, was sold to Columbia Pictures, in the process becoming Screen Gems/Columbia Music, Koppelman became managing director. A year later, he left the company to form, with Don Rubin, the new publishing firm, Koppelman/Rubin Associates, which almost immediately became the architect of record hits by Bobby Darin, The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Turtles. In 1968, Commonwealth United acquired the Koppelman and Rubin interests for more than $5 million, and the pair were retained to run the new
Commonwealth United music division.
Three years later, in 1971, Koppelman began a four-year association with April/Blackwood Music, the music publishing wing of CBS, Inc., where he served as vice president. During this phase of his career, Koppelman also became national director of artists and repertoire for Columbia Records, where he was instrumental in the signing of Billy Joel, Dave Mason, Journey, Phoebe Snow, Albert Hammond, Janis lan and Mighty Three Music. Upon his departure from CBS, he was vice president and general manager of worldwide publishing for the CBS Record group.
In 1975, Koppelman entered into a partnership, which was to be known as The Entertainment Company, with real estate developer, Sam LeFrak and attorney, Martin Bandier. The company was geared to administer and promote song catalogs, provide production services and deliver master recordings to labels. During its nine-year history, The Entertainment Company acquired major songs, including all those of The Fifth Dimension, The Rascals and Neil Sedaka; and producer hits for Eddie Murphy, Glen Camphell, Cher, The Weather Girls and a series of hits by unique couplings, created by Koppelman, of Diana Ross and Lionel Ritchie (“Endless Love”), Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb of The BeeGees (“Guilty”); and again, Streisand with Donna Summer (“No More Tears”).
In 1984, The Entertainment Company was dissolved with LeFrak and Koppelman and Bandier forthwith formed The Entertainment Music Company and The Entertainment Television Company. In 1986, financier, S.C. Swid joined Koppelman and Bandier to form SBK Entertainment World Inc. In November of that year, the three partners purchased CBS Songs Inc. for S125 million. The CBS catalog contained more than 250,000 titles including Harold Arlen’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and Fred Ebb and John Kander’s “New York, New York.” In addition to operating this monumental library of songs, SBK also oversaw all licensing of the ATV Music Group containing a host of major international songs, including many of The Beatles copyrights. At this point in time, SBK had become the world’s largest independent music publisher, with an international staff of over 200.
Following additional successes and helping launch the careers of Tracy Chapman and New Kids on the Block, SBK sold its publishing interests in 1988 to Thorn EMI for over $300 million. As a part of the deal Koppelman and Bandier formed SBK Records as a joint venture with EMI.
In 1989, Koppelman became chairman and CEO of EMI Music Publishing and Bandier became vice chairman of the company. By the end of their first year in the new venture, the company was named Billboard Magazine’s number one music publisher. The new label enjoyed hits by Katrina and the Waves, launched the newest supergroup Wilson Phillips, scored a platinum LP with “Pump Up the Jam” by Technotronic and released the platinum soundtrack album to the smash film, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”