Known for penning songs for the likes of Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey, Johnta Austin is no stranger to producing hits. According to recent reports the songwriter inked a new publishing deal last week. After spending 13 years with Chrysalis Music Publishing, where Johnta Austin signed at the age of 15 and penned the hits “Be Without You” and “We Belong Together” the singer/songwriter parted ways to sign an agreement with Sony/ATV last week. According to Billboard, Austin’s new long-term, worldwide publishing deal will cover his future work and becomes fully effective in October. “Topline writers like Johnta don’t come along a lot anymore,” says Jody Gerson, co-president of Sony/ATV. “Whereas today you can have five or six people writing a hit song, he can write a hit song on his own. Having worked with Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige, among others, he’s looking to branch out and do other things, including film and TV. And we want to do those with him.” During his career, Austin has co-written seven top 20 hits. Those include Carey’s “We Belong Together” and Blige’s “Be Without You.” Both songs earned Austin a Grammy for best R&B song. Named ASCAP’s pop songwriter of the year in 2007, Austin has written for such artists as Usher, Leona Lewis and Chris Brown. “I’m definitely motivated about expanding into uncharted waters,” says Austin. “Whether it’s a TV theme, a song for a major movie or a country song for Kenny Chesney, I want to be a part of it.” Austin joins a Sony/ATV urban roster that includes Akon, Rick Ross, The Game, Flo Rida and Midi Mafia.