From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • 1930 (as the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers)
  • 1940 (current name)
Key people
John Josephson, Chairman and CEO
ParentThe Blackstone Group

SESAC is a for-profit performance-rights organization in the United States.[1] Founded in 1930 as the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers,[2] it is the second-oldest performance-rights organization in the United States.[3] SESAC has 30,000 songwriters and more than 1 million compositions in its catalogue.


The Society of European Stage Authors and Composers was founded by Paul Heinecke, a German immigrant, in New York in 1930.[4] SESAC originally strove to support underrepresented European stage authors and composers with their American performance royalties, hence the original name. Heinecke led the firm until his death in 1972.

In the 1930s, SESAC helped broadcasters satisfy Federal Communications Commission requirements, supplying them with gospel recordings. The business evolved beyond gospel recordings and European composers during the 1940s, and in the 1950s SESAC established its electrical transcription service.[4][5] On a monthly basis, SESAC recorded "transcriptions" of its affiliates and distributed them, on disc, to radio stations across America. Among its transcribed artists were jazz and country performers: Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Coleman Hawkins, Chico Hamilton, Jackie Wilson, Chet Atkins, and Hank Garland.

As its original objective diminished in the 1960s, the company entered other musical genres. Since then, the company has represented a wider range of writers and genres. SESAC's affiliates roster includes Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Robert Johnson, Bryan-Michael Cox, Nate "Danja" Hills, Rush, Coheed & Cambria, Young Love, The Faint, Rapture, Mariah Carey (left SESAC in 2020 to join ASCAP[6]) and Adele (since 2017, formerly was with BMI).[7]

The company moved into new headquarters in Columbus Circle in Midtown Manhattan and opened an office in Nashville, Tennessee in 1964. Six years later, the company began representing songwriters in addition to its traditional business of representing publishers. With a focus on Christian songwriters, the company was an early player in the Contemporary Christian music format. That evolution led the company to move its headquarters to Nashville in 1985.

In 1993, the company was purchased by Stephen Swid, Freddie Gershon, and Ira Smith. The new owners shifted the company's focus toward more mainstream music, and later television.

In 2013, Rizvi Traverse Management acquired a majority stake in SESAC.[8]

In 2015, SESAC acquired the mechanical rights clearinghouse Harry Fox Agency.[9]

In 2017, The Blackstone Group acquired SESAC.[10]


  1. ^ Music in the Marketplace Archived 2007-06-08 at the Wayback Machine. Better Business Bureau. Retrieved on 2007-07-20.
  2. ^ Dow, Cindy (29 April 2010). "Copyright issue brings an end to music at cafe". The Standard-Times. New Bedford, Massachusetts. Retrieved 17 February 2011.
  3. ^ About us. SESAC. Retrieved on 2007-07-20.
  4. ^ a b "SESAC Focus" (PDF). SESAC. Summer 2005. Retrieved 2017-06-25.
  5. ^ Alicoate, Jack, Ed. (1950). The 1950 Radio Annual. Radio Daily Corp. P. 10.
  6. ^ "Global Superstar and Award-Winning Singer-Songwriter Mariah Carey Switches to ASCAP". Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  7. ^ "Adele Signs With SESAC For U.S. Representation". 2 August 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
  8. ^ Rizvi Traverse Management Buys 75% Stake In SESAC: Report Ed Christman, Billboard, January 7, 2013
  9. ^ SESAC Buys the Harry Fox Agency Ed Christman, Billboard, July 7, 2015
  10. ^ Blackstone’s Latest Move Has the Look of a Hit Jennifer Saba, New York Times, January 5, 2017