One of the trends of 2019 so far concerns the value of music catalogues (publishing rights, mainly, but also master recordings) as well as the well-funded entities jostling to buy them.
A pair of stories yesterday offered some new angles on the trend. First: Warner Music Group announced a partnership with investment firm Providence Equity Partners, setting up a joint-venture called Tempo Music Investments with $650m to spend on recordings and publishing catalogues. That amount is a combination of equity and debt, with Providence providing “most” of the equity, and WMG set to handle administration for publishing and distribution for recordings. Works by songwriters Jeff Bhasker, Shane McAnally and Ben Rector are the first acquisitions, with WMG’s Stu Bergen promising that “we’ll be devoted stewards of these amazing catalogues created by songwriters and recording artists across the globe”.
Story two concerns one of the most active players in the publishing buyups, Hipgnosis Songs Fund. The twist is that its latest acquisition is of recordings: the master rights to the first four albums plus compilations by British band the Kaiser Chiefs.
The news comes shortly after Hipgnosis raised its latest tranche of funding – a whopping $231m, taking it to £625m in the last year. In June, the company’s first financial results revealed that by the end of March 2019, Hipgnosis owned or had a partial stake in 12 music catalogues comprising just over 3,000 songs, and having spent around £120m acquiring them, had generated revenues of £7.2m from those works in its first 10 months.
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