For over eighty years after establishing
its first copyright, peermusic can still
proudly claim to be a major independent music publisher. From its
founding under the keen vision of legendary music producer
Ralph S. Peer, peermusic has consistently and relentlessly
broken new ground by becoming home to some of the best and
brightest talent in music.
It might come as a surprise that a company modestly established by
one man can now boast a diverse repertoire ranging from pop to
Latin to country to classical and employees working in 32 offices
in 28 countries around the world. To understand just how much the
company has evolved from its humble beginnings to the global reach
it enjoys today is to understand the peermusic story.
1927 was a hot summer in Bristol, Tennessee when Ralph S. Peer, a
field-recording engineer and A&R man arrived in town to scout
fresh local talent on behalf of the Victor record label. A few
years prior, he had not only assisted in the first blues recording
by Mamie Smith of Crazy Blues and later ones by Fats Waller and
Louis Armstrong's Hot Five, but also produced the first
commercially successful country session with "Fiddlin' John"
Carson. During the next two weeks, he recorded what has become
known as the 'Bristol Sessions' with
The Carter Family, the Stonemans and other artists. These
pioneering sessions are credited as the birth of modern country
music, earning Peer the nickname of "Father of Country Music" and
his place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
And so, in January 1928, the company that would one day
be peermusic was established under the name Southern Music
Publishing Co., Inc. Peer wasted little time, acquiring such
soon-to-be-standards as Georgia on My Mind, Will the
Circle Be Unbroken, and You Are My Sunshine.
Furthermore, under an arrangement with Victor, Southern Music
controlled copyrights to all original material recorded under
Peer's auspices. At the same time, Peer entered into joint ventures
with international publishers, introducing their finest material to
U.S. audiences. Peer recognized the potential for growth in the
Latin market after a trip to Mexico City in 1928 when he met
composer Agustin Lara. He brought this rich musical culture to the
world when RCA-Victor sought to increase its presence in Latin
America by signing such Latin luminaries as Lara, "the Musical
Poet," and Perez Prado, "the Mambo King." These composers created
some of peermusic's signature Latin music hits, including
Granada, Sólamente Una Vez and Mambo #5.
The tradition continued to create many legends, including Rafael
Hernández, Benny Moré and Tito Puente and songs such as
Perfidia, Besame Mucho, Brasil, and
Mas Que Nada.
While the 1930s saw peermusic extending its presence in Latin
America, the company was also opening offices throughout Europe. By
the end of World War II, with the help of peermusic's London
executive Tom Ward, the once-fledgling company had truly become a
worldwide force, acquiring and developing local repertoire
throughout Europe that have since become classics by artists such
as Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier, Yves Montand, Henri Salvador, and
In 1948 peermusic launched its classical division, which
remains one of the most respected publishers of contemporary
serious music in the world with the likes of Charles Ives, David
Diamond and Mikael Weinberg among its distinguished ranks.
Yet, it hadn't forgotten its roots. By the 1950s peermusic
was as vested in U.S. artists and their music as ever. At this
point they were determined not to merely remain current, but to
look forward. With this thought in mind, at the dawn of rock 'n'
roll, peermusic signed none other than rock legend
Buddy Holly. Before long, a new wave of rock and pop artists,
including The Rolling Stones and
Donovan, started their careers at peermusic's London
Ralph S. Peer passed away on January 19, 1960. Peer's widow,
Monique, who had been deeply involved in building the company's
Latin catalog, continued to deftly guide the company for the next
In 1980 leadership passed to the Peers' son,
Ralph Peer II. Since his tenure began, peermusic has
expanded its operations into nine new territories, including three
offices in Asia-Pacific. In 1990, he referred to the internet as
the "tool of the future" in music marketing and established the
company's U.S. website, peermusic.com, as early as 1995. He further
embraced the internet as a tool in music appreciation when he
became a founding director of Emusic, one of the first online music
sales platforms, in 1996. In 1998, peermusic became the first
international music company to actively distribute recordings
online at digitalpressure.com.
Peermusic today remains an active participant in
the contemporary music scene using its extensive international
reach, vast expertise and prized reputation for the benefit of the
many thousands of composers it has the honour to represent. As our
slogan proclaims, we truly are the Global Independent.