Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

Warner Music acquired David Bowie’s songbook for about $ 250 million, the latest mega-transaction in a music copyright frenzy that attracted billions of dollars from investors.

The acquisition extends beyond the publishing rights of Bowie’s 26 studio albums over his six-decade career, including songs such as “Life on Mars?” and ‘Let’s dance’.

The deal is a coup for Warner, as the traditional music companies have to compete with private equity giants and specialist investors aimed at devouring music copyrights.

Financial terms have not been released, but Warner has paid about $ 250 million for the catalog, according to people familiar with the matter. The Financial Times reported in November the companies were in talks.

“We are really pleased that David Bowie’s music collection will now be in the capable hands of Warner Chappell Music Publishing,” said Allen Grubman, the attorney representing the David Bowie estate. Bowie died in 2016 and left his estate to his second wife Iman and two children.

In recent years, legendary musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks and Bob Dylan have sold their songwriting catalogs for nine-figure amounts and palmed into the booming value of their work while the music industry is undergoing a renaissance. Springsteen agreed last month to sell its catalog to Sony Music for a reported $ 550 million.

These catalogs generate revenue for decades as songs continue to be streamed, played on the radio or used in movies and commercials.

KKR and Blackstone have pledged billions of dollars to buy music rights, and regard them as credit-like assets that offer a predictable return in a low interest rate environment.

Songs have two copyrights – one for songwriting and one for actual recording, or master copy. Both of these copyrights have risen in value as streaming revived the industry after a decade-long collapse due to piracy.

Bowie’s estate entered into a long-term license agreement with Warner Music last year for its recorded music catalog.

Warner, the record company behind Dua Lipa and Cardi B, raised $ 535 million in debt in December to support acquisitions.

For large music groups like Warner, owning large catalogs helps them justify their value – Warner’s market capitalization stands at $ 22 billion – and leverages streaming services and social media companies that want to use or license their music.

Guy Moot, CEO of Warner Chappell, the company’s publishing division, said: “We look forward to taking care of [Bowie’s] an unparalleled series of songs with passion and care as we strive to build on the legacy of this most extraordinary human being. ”

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