Catalog Acquisitions: How Current Trade Developments Are Bringing…

Catalog Acquisitions: How Current Trade Developments Are Bringing…

Track catalogs have turn into a purchase order of excessive significance over the previous few years within the music business. With the latest enhance in recognition of older music, artists’ catalogs and whole catalogs from different firms have turn into a big and worthwhile asset amongst music publishers and labels. Shopping for the rights to everything of an artist’s work is extra standard than many might imagine. Trade frontrunners comparable to Common Music Publishing and Hipgnosis Songs Fund, who’ve been acquiring the rights of different individuals’s music for years, have spent tons of of thousands and thousands of {dollars} to date on such acquisitions.

Pre-Pandemic Catalog Investments

Harmony Music Publishing [Cautious Clay, Jacob Collier, Denzel Curry] made a major stake in catalog acquisitions again in 2020 with a $100 million take care of Pulse Music Group [YEBBA, Ty Dolla $ign, James Blake].[i] This supplied Harmony with the fitting to manage Pulse’s catalog and all future signings below the label. When talking on the acquisition, Steve Salm, Harmony Chief Enterprise Growth Officer, commented that “Pulse is an organization that Harmony has all the time tremendously admired, and this collaboration immediately makes Harmony a pacesetter within the frontline pop, hip-hop, and R&B publishing world.”[ii]

2021: The 12 months of Catalog Spikes

In accordance with Music Enterprise Worldwide, catalog and music rights acquisitions had been a big funding amongst music labels and publishers in 2021. After receiving confirmed costs from business sources, they estimate that not less than $5.05 billion was spent.[iii] Catalog acquisitions provide profitable income streams for firms who buy these rights since they turn into in control of how that music is used. That is particularly predominant for publishing firms. This 12 months’s most distinguished investor was Major Wave, however different firms like Reservoir Media Administration and Spherical Hill weren’t far off.

Major Wave [Bob Marley, Smokey Robinson, Boston] spent tons of of thousands and thousands of {dollars} on catalog acquisitions and stakes in different firms. Within the second half of 2021 alone, the corporate acquired the rights to the music of artists together with Prince, Bing Crosby, and Teddy Pendergrass.[iv] With a proclaimed spending energy of $1 billion on the firm’s disposal, in response to Major Wave’s CEO Larry Mestel,[v] they wished to place their spending cash to good use by investing in these catalogs. It was a really sensible funding since these iconic artists and their music present immense alternatives for Major Wave’s private acquire.

Main Gamers in 2022 Acquisitions Thus Far

The primary huge acquisition of the 12 months was David Bowie’s tune catalog in January 2022, which Warner Chappell Music bought for $250 million.[vi] Buying the late musician’s catalog entails that the label now has the rights to tons of of Bowie’s prime hits comparable to “Ziggy Stardust,” “The place Are We Now?,” and “Let’s Dance.”

Common Music Publishing (UMPG) is one other main participant on this music business development. On February tenth, 2022, UMPG acquired Sting’s and The Police’s catalogs. This deal was made to unite Sting’s publishing and recorded music rights below Common Music Group (UMG)[vii]. “Collectively, UMPG and UMG will work with Sting to additional construct and increase his huge viewers attain, strengthen the influence and indolence of his timeless works, and proceed supporting future music releases.”[viii] Neil Diamond additionally offered his catalog to UMPG on the finish of February. The transaction consists of the rights to all recordings, masters, and movies Diamond created in his profession, in addition to 110 unreleased tracks and an unreleased album.[ix]

Hipgnosis Songs Fund

An organization created for the aim of buying songs, Hipgnosis Songs Fund is the primary of its form. It’s a UK funding firm whose objective is to construct a various portfolio of catalogs from groundbreaking artists.[x] Whereas they’re primarily based in the UK, Hipgnosis has a world attain with shoppers and workplaces in different nations, together with america.

Buyers declare shares to music in Hipgnosis’ catalog to allow them to revenue from per-play publicity of songs they’ve acquired the rights to, no matter who has the rights to which catalogs. Shareholders embody the IRS’ GIIN (International Middleman Identification Quantity) and SEDOL (Inventory Trade Every day Official Listing).[xi]

Hipgnosis’ tune administration record is comparatively small but mighty. Artists and songwriters on their roster embody The Pink-Sizzling Chili Peppers, Mark Ronson, Neil Younger, and Shakira.[xii] The corporate’s benefit with the rights to those catalogs is distinguished within the music business: synchronization (sync) licensing.

Sync Licensing Alternatives

One of the crucial standard sources of revenue within the music business is synchronization, generally often known as sync(h), licensing. Licensing music permits music publishing firms to earn a living by way of the music of their catalogs by having them positioned in movies, tv, and ads.[xiii] Since dwell occasions had been canceled as a result of COVID pandemic, sync licensing has additionally helped artists generate income and keep afloat.

Hipgnosis performs a job in sync due to its outreach. The corporate’s Funding Advisor creates sync alternatives for the roster with their relationships with notable broadcasting networks, promoting companies, and tv studios. These selections are made after the Investor views songs of their catalog that would usher in a brand new assortment of royalties by way of these sync placements, and having a various roster will increase their possibilities of securing a placement.[xiv] One in every of their most up-to-date highlights was in a trailer for the film Home of Gucci. Hipgnosis illustration comes from David Stewart, a songwriter on their roster.[xv] They’ve sync placements in commercials for different movies and product commercials.

Throughout an interview with CNBC, Rebecca Valice, Copyright and Licensing supervisor at PEN Music Group, said: “From a writer’s perspective, this can be very helpful to acquire the rights to a sure catalog that we will pitch for synch. A catalog can do its personal pitching simply due to its legendary success.”[xvi] Over time, sync placements can recoup the cash acquirers spent buying the catalogs.

The Enchantment of Older vs. Newer Music

Opposite to standard perception, older music is turning into the principle focus within the music market. It’s regaining recognition by way of TikTok, the Metaverse, and different social media platforms that characteristic music placements. MRC Knowledge, a music-analytics agency, 70% of america music market is represented by older songs. The COVID pandemic gave individuals a necessity for nostalgia, and listening to music from earlier many years helped many really feel the nostalgia.[xvii]

That is promising for older artists who offered their music and the businesses that acquired their songs. Nonetheless, the concept of older music gaining recognition over newer music leaves a unfavourable feeling for some. Music author Ted Gioia enjoys previous songs, however throughout his interview with WBUR, he claims that remaining centered on older music isn’t good for the tradition of the music business. He now believes that each month of the 12 months seems like December,[xviii] a reference to Christmas classics individuals hear launched many years in the past.

The truth that Christmas “classics” are older songs isn’t an accident. Many of the songs heard on the radio and in properties are greater than twenty years previous, but they obtain extra performs than newer ones. Like catalog acquisitions of decade-old music, a major motive older Christmas music is extra standard is the sensation of nostalgia related to the vacation season. In an interview with Wired UK, Alexandra Lamont, senior lecturer in music psychology at Keele College, said that “Christmas pop songs are all about nostalgia – take into consideration ‘White Christmas,’ which is the largest promoting tune of all time. All of the lyrics are about nostalgia and going again to Christmases prior to now.”[xix]


Statista additionally performed a examine final 12 months primarily based on Spotify’s most listened to Christmas songs worldwide. With three exceptions, the entire hottest songs within the measurement of million streams are not less than twenty years previous. This supplies yet one more instance of older music’s recognition outshining newer music.


There is no such thing as a doubt that catalog acquisitions current a major alternative for artists and firms that buy their works. The acquisition offers by way of file labels and music publishers, in addition to different investment-based firms like Hipgnosis, which then present sync alternatives, have been nice methods for artists to earn a living on their music. Regardless of the combined opinions on the elevated recognition of older songs, this nostalgia-fueled development makes catalog acquisitions a nascent and worthwhile marketplace for publishing and file firms.


[i] Ingham 2020

[ii] Id.

[iii] Stassen 2022

[iv] Ingham, Major Wave Has Over $1 Billion to Spend On Music Rights… and it’s Not Losing Any Time 2021

[v] Id.

[vi] Ingham, Warner Buys David Bowie Track Catalog for $250M+ 2022

[vii] Common Music Publishing Group Acquires Sting’s Track Catalog 2022

[viii] Id.

[ix] Yossman 2022

[x] Hipgnosis Songs Fund n.d.

[xi] Shareholder Data n.d.

[xii] Track Administration n.d.

[xiii] MarketLine 2022

[xiv] Our Objective and Enterprise Mannequin n.d.

[xv] Synch Highlights n.d.

[xvi] Blackinton 2021

[xvii] O’Dowd and Hagan 2022

[xviii] Id.

[xix] Lee 2019

[xx] Zandt 2021


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