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SESAC, originally the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers, is a for-profit performance-rights organization in the United States. SESAC was founded in 1930, making it the second-oldest performance-rights organization in the United States. SESAC has 30,000 songwriters and over 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. 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. 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) and Adele (since 2017, formerly was with BMI).
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 2013, Rizvi Traverse Management acquired a majority stake in SESAC.
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- "Global Superstar and Award-Winning Singer-Songwriter Mariah Carey Switches to ASCAP". ascap.com. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
- "Adele Signs With SESAC For U.S. Representation". www.musicconnection.com. 2 August 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-10.
- Rizvi Traverse Management Buys 75% Stake In SESAC: Report Ed Christman, Billboard, January 7, 2013
- SESAC Buys the Harry Fox Agency Ed Christman, Billboard, July 7, 2015
- Blackstone’s Latest Move Has the Look of a Hit Jennifer Saba, New York Times, January 5, 2017