Samuel French, a venerable publisher of American and British play scripts, has been acquired by a fast-growing music industry conglomerate that is making a big move into the theater business.
Concord Music, which started as a jazz label but now owns song catalogs from classical to metal, said Monday that it would establish a new division, Concord Theatricals, to oversee its stage-related holdings, which now include Samuel French.
Concord Music earlier this year acquired Tams-Witmark, a musical theater licensing organization with titles including “A Chorus Line,” “Cabaret” and “Hello, Dolly!” Last year it acquired the Rodgers & Hammerstein organization, which has the rights to classics like “The Sound of Music” and “Oklahoma!” as well as “In the Heights.” And in 2016 the company established a joint venture with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group called The Musical Company, which licenses shows including “Evita,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “School of Rock.”
The Samuel French acquisition is Concord’s first foray into the nonmusical play business. Samuel French, established in 1830, has 10,000 titles, including some musicals — for example, “Fun Home” and “Grease” — but is dominated by dramas written by authors including Edward Albee, Lorraine Hansberry, Arthur Miller and August Wilson.
The company not only publishes plays and musicals, but also licenses them, which means it grants permission for amateur and professional performances in exchange for a fee.
“The reason that this completely makes sense is given the competitive outlook of the industry, especially with Concord having acquired some of the major players — I just knew that competition was going to be a lot more