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BMG and KKR reunite to buy up some more music rights

By | Published on Thursday 25 March 2021


BMG and KKR are back on the lash, all set to splash the cash in the big music rights buy-up dash. How very brash. And a little bit flash. I hope they don’t do anything rash. If I rhyme often enough, maybe people will think this is a song and I can get one of those hungry music rights acquisition vehicles to offer me a mega-bucks deal. Anyone?

Investment firm KKR previously partnered with German media conglom Bertelsmann on the creation of the current iteration of BMG back in 2008. KKR’s money helped the all new BMG to buy up some key music catalogues to get things going, but then Bertelsmann bought its partner out of the joint venture in 2013.

More recently KKR was rumoured to be interested in buying a slice of the Universal Music Group. Meanwhile, in January it announced a deal to take a majority stake in the publishing catalogue of OneRepublic vocalist and songwriter to the stars Ryan Tedder. Given its apparent renewed interest in music rights, a new alliance with its former best bud BMG was possibly inevitable.

“Under the terms of the agreement, BMG and KKR will join forces to source individual transactions to acquire music catalogues”, the two companies said yesterday, “bringing together BMG’s deep industry knowledge and global capabilities in maximising value for its artists with KKR’s vast network, resources and deep experience as an investor in market-leading music, digital, media and content businesses”.

There’s been increased interest in recent years among the investment community to buy up lovely music rights, of course, fuelled by the efforts of companies like Hipgnosis and Round Hill. The new alliance between BMG and KKR will allow the two companies to better compete in that increasingly competitive market place for music catalogues.

Announcing the deal, Bertelsmann boss Thomas Rabe says: “BMG and KKR can jointly pursue opportunities for acquisitions of major catalogues of music rights from now on. Together with KKR, we are ideally positioned to make attractive offers to rights owners”.

Meanwhile, KKR partner and former Bertelsmann exec Richard Sarnoff adds: “BMG has become an innovative leader in the music industry by embracing digital trends early on, while always placing artists at the centre of everything they do. We are delighted to reunite with BMG’s talented team to pursue future opportunities together, leveraging our complementary platforms”.

And BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch chips in: “Our early partnership with KKR helped us rapidly become the first new international music company of the streaming age winning the trust of artists and songwriters with great service and 21st century levels of fairness and transparency. This new relationship with KKR will offer artists and songwriters a well-funded, financially stable home for their music assets with the confidence that their songs and recordings will be managed both professionally and respectfully”.

Lovely stuff. I hope they celebrate all this with one hell of a bash. With plenty of hash. And a little bit of mash. And, I’m afraid, that’s all my rhyming dictionary had to offer.