The full publishing and songwriting rights to Do The Bartman, the 1990 novelty hit from TV series The Simpsons, have been sold to an anonymous buyer for US $38,500, MBW has discovered.
Despite its jokey pop-rap style, Do The Bartman is a serious piece of real estate: not only did the track become a No.1 hit in the UK, Ireland, Norway and Australia in 1991, but it was technically co-written by a certain Michael Jackson.
That’s ‘technically’ because Jackson’s name still does not officially appear on the credits of the song – or, therefore, the $38,500 package (pictured) snapped up by its anonymous buyer.
In September 1990, Simpsons producer James L. Brooks issued a press release claiming that reports linking Jackson to the track were misplaced. He stated that 100% of the song was written by Jackson’s friend, Bryan Loren.
This was a lie.
In 1998, Simpsons creator Matt Groening finally gave the game away, confirming that The King Of Pop really had co-written and co-produced Do the Bartman alongside Loren.
The team behind The Simpsons were apparently forbidden from publicly giving Jackson any credit – whether for songwriting or backing vocals – because he was under a heavily exclusive contract to Sony Music as a recording artist.
“It has always been amazing to me that no-one ever found out that michael jackson wrote that song.”
Matt groening, speaking in 1998
Do The Bartman came out on rival Geffen and Jackson’s involvement remained a secret for the best part of a decade.
According to Variety, Groening told an audience at the Annual World Animation Celebration in Pasadena in 1998: “[It has] always [been] amazing to me that no one ever found out that Michael Jackson wrote that song…
“He was a big fan of the show.”
According to auction site Royalty Exchange, the new owner of the song just bought a 100% share of ‘both BMI and Sony Publishing royalties’.
The $38,500 lot also includes royalties for a collection of other songs by Bryan Loren.
The average yearly revenue generated by Do The Bartman and Loren’s other songs between 2010-2012 was $4,357.
But in 2013, the last accounted-for year, they amassed less than $1,000.
In its heyday, Do The Bartman sold over 400,000 units in the UK market.
It was never officially released as a single in the US, but reached No.11 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Airplay chart.
So there you have it: Just $38.5k (around £25k) for a No.1 Michael Jackson smash.