The company traces its origins back to 1811 and the founding of Chappell & Company, a music publishing company and instrument shop on London’s Bond Street. In 1929, Warner Bros. acquired M. Witmark & Sons, Remick Music Corporation and Harms, Inc. Tamerlane Music was acquired in 1969.
Warner/Chappell was formed in 1987 in San Antonio, Texas, when Warner Brothers Music Chairman Chuck Kaye led the company to purchase Chappell & Co. from PolyGram. It was ranked in 2010 by Music & Copyright as the world’s third-largest music publisher with a catalog of more than one million songs and a roster of more than 65,000 songwriters. Among the songs in the company's library are "Happy Birthday to You" (copyright invalidated in 2015) and "Winter Wonderland."
In 2007, the company acquired Non-Stop Music. Additionally, in 2010 it acquired 615 Music, a Nashville-based production music company, and subsequently united all the production music companies under the name Warner/Chappell Production Music in 2012. In 2011, it acquired Southside Independent Music Publishing and its cadre of hit songwriters, including Bruno Mars, Brody Brown, and J.R. Rotem.
In 2005, Warner/Chappell sold most of its printed music division, Warner Bros. Publications, to Alfred Publishing, and in 2006 launched the Pan European Digital Licensing (P.E.D.L.) initiative. In 2007, when Radiohead released In Rainbows through its website on a pay-what-you-wish model, Warner/Chappell created a streamlined, one-of-a-kind licensing process for the songs on the album that allowed rights users from around the world to secure use of the music from a single location.
Warner/Chappell currently publishes and administers music from Barry Gibb, Beyoncé, Charlie Puth, Dave Mustaine, Echosmith, Eric Clapton, fun. (Nate Ruess), Gamble and Huff, Green Day, Jay Z, Katy Perry, Led Zeppelin, Lionsgate Films, Madonna, Miramax (formerly Miramax Films), Muse, Nickelback, Paramore, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M., Roc Nation, Rusko, Ruth Ruth, Stephen Sondheim, Tove Lo, and Allison Moorer among many others.
On February 27, 2015, Warner/Chappell made headlines in Australia where it had a YouTube video from Mike Baird, the Premier of New South Wales, removed because it contained two songs in the background ("Everybody Hurts" by R.E.M. and "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift) for which Premier Baird had not obtained the license from Warner/Chappell Music.
- Tim Arango. "Scratching Under the Vinyl Era". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
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- Music & Copyright, April 21, 2010
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- "'Happy Birthday' copyright invalidated by judge". New York Times. 2015-09-22. Retrieved 2015-09-23.
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- "Warner/Chappell Music Acquires Renowned Production Music Company 615 Music". Studio Daily. 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2014-03-11.
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- "Mike Baird’s attempt at being funny backfires". News Corp Australia. February 27, 2015. Retrieved February 27, 2015.