Re: Gibson acquires Mesa/Boogie
This article is from the Wall Street Journal about KKR, the company that owns Gibson and Mesa/Boogie, and their investment in music catalogs. The article also describes what is going on in the broader recorded music industry. Music catalogs appear to be quite valuable.
KKR Buys Into Producer Ryan Tedder's Music Catalog
Ryan Tedder’s lineup attracts investment firm with a value of nearly $200 million
BY ANNE STEELE
Investment firm KKR & Co. is joining the music-copyright buying frenzy, investing in pop producer Ryan Tedder’s catalog of hits, including songs from Beyoncé, Adele and Stevie Wonder.
The firm is taking a majority stake, valuing the catalog at nearly $200 million, according to people familiar with the transaction. The deal includes a mix of certain copyrights and royalty streams for some 500 songs written, recorded or produced by Mr. Tedder for his band OneRepublic and other artists.
KKR’s entree into music- copyright ownership comes amid a flurry of deals for songwriting catalogs. Late in 2020, Stevie Nicks sold an 80% stake in her songwriting copyrights to music publisher Primary Wave, valuing her catalog at $100 million. Bob Dylan then sold off over 600 songs to Vivendi SE’s Universal Music Group for between $300 million and $400 million. In the first week of the new year, music-investment company Hipgnosis Songs Fund Ltd. announced deals to purchase copyrights from Jimmy Iovine, Lindsey Buckingham and Neil Young. Mr. Young’s sale alone fetched a price between $40 million and $50 million for a 50% stake, according to people familiar with the deal.
In 2016, Mr. Tedder sold part of his publishing, excluding OneRepublic, to Down-town Music Holdings, which will continue to own and administer those copyrights. Universal Music Group’s Inter- scope Records also owns master recording copyrights to OneRepublic’s recorded music; KKR will participate in Mr. Tedder’s and the band’s royalty income from that music, as well as producer royalties from other recorded assets.
KKR has been invested in the music industry since 2009, including its purchase of Gibson Brands—which recently acquired amp maker Mesa/ Boogie—and stakes in TikTok parent ByteDance Ltd., BMG, and Alpha Theta, formerly Pi- oneer DJ. It is actively pursuing further investments across music and entertainment, including intellectual property such as song compositions, the company said.
The dominance of music streaming is part of the lure for KKR and others. “We have strong conviction on both the overall growth of the music industry and the significant opportunities ahead for it, enabled by technology and the transparency that technology provides artists into how their art is actually being used,” said KKR partner Nat Zilkha.
For Mr. Tedder, the timing felt right to fetch top dollar for his work, he said. “The multiples on the higher-end publishing and recorded music catalogs continue to rise in value for good reason and it seemed like a good opportu- nity for me to diversify and provide more capital for my other investment activities,” said Mr. Tedder. He added he will reinvest the proceeds from the sale, including in his commercial real-estate business, venture capital and in signing songwriters and artists.
Music copyrights have become more valuable in recent years as revenue from streaming on services such as Spotify Technology SA and Apple Inc.’s Apple Music has grown. Songwriter catalogs in particular have been commanding sale prices that amount to 10 to 20 times their annual royalties, compared with eight to 13 times in earlier years, according to people involved
in the deals.
Publishers and other catalog investors are betting on the value of music continuing to increase over time as streaming services proliferate and music publishers continue to find new uses for songs, such as in online gaming, digital fitness, and social media.
The Covid-19 pandemic has inspired some musicians to sell, as they seek to offset the dearth of cash coming from touring, which is typically their most lucrative activity and is currently prohibited. Investors see music as recession-proof and catalogs as a stable and growing asset untethered to other market volatility.
Mr. Tedder, a songwriter, producer, musician and lead vocalist of OneRepublic, has won three “Album of the Year” Grammy Awards for his work on Adele’s “21” and “25” and Taylor Swift’s “1989.” In addition to hit singles “Apologize” and “Counting Stars” for OneRepublic, he has written with some of the most notable artists alive today, including Paul McCartney, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga and Cardi B.He will retain an interest in his music. As part of the transaction, Mr. Tedder’s management, Patriot Management, and artist-development company mtheory, through its MTC Music Royalties fund, will co-invest with KKR and oversee administration of the publishing, helping collect royalties and seeking out licensing opportunities.