$500m-backed Saban Music Group inks global Universal deal to deliver ‘groundbreaking artists’

Last July, multi-billionaire entertainment mogul Haim Saban revealed plans to pump half a billion dollars into a new music company: Saban Music Group (SMG).

Los Angeles-based Saban, the creator of hit ’90s TV series Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers – and the head of investment house Saban Capital Group – told MBW last year that “what Sir Lucian [Grainge] has built at Universal Music Group is nothing short of remarkable, and ground-breaking”.

Today, we learn that SMG has inked a global distribution and marketing deal with UMG, with Grainge stating in turn that their partnership will deliver “groundbreaking new artists and music to fans around the globe”.

SMG will be distributed in the US by Caroline, the services arm of UMG subsidiary Capitol Music Group, and will work in tandem with Caroline International and UMG’s Santa Monica-based central services team for all other territories.

The partnership will kick off tomorrow (January 10), with the release of Further Up, an Urban/Dance club track from superstar duo Static & Ben El, featuring Pitbull.


Today’s press release announcing the deal with UMG reiterated a statement made at SMG’s launch: that as part of its overall growth strategy, Saban’s $500 million commitment includes ‘the future acquisition of recording, publishing and management entities’.

Last year, MBW asked Haim Saban how much of SMG’s resources will be allocated to asset acquisition, to which he replied: “We will look at all opportunities”.

“Sir Lucian has built the No.1 music company in the world with an unprecedented streak of artist development.”

Haim Saban (pictured)

Saban’s investment in the music business and pledge to acquire recording, publishing and management entities coincides with a rising trend previously referenced on MBW’s pages: Heavily-funded operators like Merck Mercuriadis’ Hipgnosis Songs Fund and Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings, snapping up copyrights and posing a threat to major labels in the process.

The difference here, of course, is that SMG is now partnering with a major, instead of duelling with them.


Sir Lucian Grainge, UMG Chairman & CEO, said of the new partnership: “Haim has a proven track record of creating world-class entertainment.

“We’re looking forward to working with his team at Saban Music to bring groundbreaking new artists and music to fans around the globe.”

Saban added: “Sir Lucian has built the No.1 music company in the world with an unprecedented streak of artist development. There is no better home for our artists and their music.”

“We’re looking forward to working with [Haim’s] team at Saban Music to bring groundbreaking new artists and music to fans around the globe.”

Sir Lucian Grainge, Universal Music Group

Spearheaded by industry veteran and Latin music expert Gustavo Lopez, SMG says that it has been signing artists and developing content since its launch last July.

Lopez left Universal Music after 21 years to launch his own services company, Talento Uno, in Los Angeles in 2017, having previously served as GM/EVP for Universal Music Latin Entertainment (UMLE).

“It’s exciting to once again work with UMG, my home for more than 20 years.”

Gus Lopez, Saban Music Group

Lopez said today: “It’s exciting to once again work with UMG, my home for more than 20 years.

“We’re looking forward to working with Sir Lucian’s record-breaking and industry-leading teams.”

Whilst at UMG, Lopez launched Latin-urban label Machete Music and ran UMLE’s regional Mexican labels, Fonovisa and Disa.

He also played a key role in the launch of L Festival – Universal’s successful Latin-themed music event based in Los Angeles.

SMG acquired Talento Uno’s record label, management and publishing assets as part of Lopez joining as CEO last year.

 Music Business Worldwide

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