We’ve seen a lot of acquisitions of historic catalogues in recent times: publishing and master recordings, as well as other rights associated with artists and songwriters.

Universal Music Group’s announcement of its new deal with The Weeknd yesterday offers an interesting snapshot of how deals with current, frontline artists are evolving. “This isn’t an acquisition, but it is one of the most comprehensive and expansive global music partnerships in recent history,” is how UMG pitched the news to journalists, to make sure they didn’t class it as simply another catalogue deal.

The agreement will see UMG’s Republic Records continue as The Weeknd’s label partner, while its publishing division UMPG will administer his future works AND past catalogue, once his current deal expires.

Therein lies a tale: in 2013, The Weeknd signed a deal with Songs Music Publishing, which then sold its catalogue to Kobalt in 2017, which in turn sold *its* catalogue to KKR in 2021. UMG’s new deal with the artist also includes merch, branding and e-commerce, as well as ‘future audiovisual projects’.

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