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Downtown sells its songs catalogue to Concord, puts focus on its services business

By | Published on Tuesday 27 April 2021

Downtown Music

Downtown Music yesterday announced it was selling its catalogue of 145,000 songs to Concord in a deal that has a big impact on two key independent music companies. It sees Downtown fully focus on its music services business, providing administration, distribution, marketing and creative services to independent creators and rights-owners. Meanwhile, Concord significantly increases the size of its music rights catalogue, now having an interest in over 600,000 works.

Downtown began life as a conventional independent record label which then, as is often the case, moved into music publishing, building and owning catalogues of recording and song rights. But over the years it started to boost the services side of its business, in particular with the creation of the Songtrust right administration platform. The Downtown Records label then split off from the rest of the Downtown Music group in 2013, after which the latter started significantly expanding its services business by acquiring the likes of CD Baby and FUGA.

Downtown said yesterday that it had decided to sell off the songs catalogue that it had built via its original music publishing company following “a strategic review of its business interests … As a result of that process, Downtown has decided to focus exclusively on the fast-growing music services sector to support the extraordinary growth of the independent music economy, as well as the creators and entrepreneurial businesses that rely on its platforms and services”.

For Concord, the deal is its most significant rights acquisition since it bought the Imagem business back in 2017. The new acquisition, it added, underscores “Concord’s longtime leadership position in the acquisition of music and theatre assets”.

Songs coming to Concord via the deal include hits performed by the likes of Adele, Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Carrie Underwood, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, The Grateful Dead, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Maroon 5, Marvin Gaye, Mary J Blige, Mos Def, Mötley Crüe, New Order, Santigold and Stevie Wonder.

Confirming the big catalogue purchase, Concord’s Chief Publishing Executive Jim Selby said: “The incredible catalogue of songs is an excellent complement to the timeless and valuable copyrights upon which Concord has built a successful business. Our global publishing team is honoured to now represent these songwriters and their works to the world”.

Meanwhile, Downtown CEO Justin Kalifowitz added: “Concord is an excellent home for this extraordinary catalogue that we’ve had the unique privilege to build over the past fourteen years. Not only does Concord recognise the value of these works, but this transaction further demonstrates the true strength of the modern independent music sector”.

Downtown also announced a rejig of its business as a result of the sale. It will continue to provide publishing services – including admin, creative and sync services – to its existing roster of administration clients, which includes Ryan Tedder and Wu-Tang Clan as well as the estates of George Gershwin, John Lennon and Miles Davis. But that unit of the group will now merge with the company’s label services unit DashGo, with the combined division called Downtown Music Services.

That division, it says, will leverage “technology from across the group” to offer “bespoke distribution, copyright management, creative marketing and financing solutions for premiere songwriters and artists. With support from a dedicated global team, creators will be able to effectively manage their works, while retaining ownership and control”.

Downtown Music Services will be headed up by former Warner Chappell exec Mike Smith, who joined Downtown last year, with DashGo Founder Ben Patterson becoming Chief Operating Officer.

Commenting on all these changes at the Downtown group, Kalifowitz continued: “Our strategic review confirmed a clear opportunity in the market for a truly neutral provider to meet the changing needs of creators and their partners. This is further evidenced by the strong performance and scale of Downtown’s service platforms and the global trends driving growth in the music industry”.

“The idea of serving creators has been core to Downtown’s ethos since our founding in 2007”, he went on. “Divesting our owned IP enables us to advance our position as the world’s leading music service provider, empower a rapidly expanding global creative class and, ultimately, is the most expedient way to help realise our vision of a more equitable music industry”.