BMG and KKR announce first joint acquisition: The ‘entire music interests’ of ZZ Top

Remember back in March, when BMG and KKR announced that they were going to buy copyrights together – and that they had over a billon dollars of spending power at their disposal?

Since then, that story’s gone a little quiet, not least because both BMG and KKR have announced their own, unilateral big-money acquisitions: BMG has purchased rights from both Tina Turner and Mötley Crüe in the past couple of months, while KKR – via its Chord Music vehicle – announced in October that it had bought a catalog of rights from Kobalt for $1.1 billion.

Today (December 21), though, BMG and KKR have confirmed a joint acquisition for the first time: what they’re calling “the entire music interests” of rock icons ZZ Top.

Getting into the detail, the acquired music interests include a buyout of the band’s publishing catalog as well as their income from recorded royalties and performance royalties.

Previously, BMG served as co-publisher and administrator of ZZ Top’s publishing catalog.

Trusted industry experts contacted by MBW today expect the KKR/BMG deal for ZZ Top carried a significant eight-figure price-tag, likely around the $50 million mark.

Interestingly, in a media release announcing the deal, BMG and KKR call the acquisition “the latest significant music rights deal [our] two companies have struck together” – suggesting that other joint acquisitions have already been finalized, but not yet announced.

Also interesting: ZZ Top’s manager is Carl Stubner, whose Shelter Music Group welcomed BMG as a partner and investor in late 2019. (Stubner also happens to be the manager of Mick Fleetwood, who sold his recordings royalty stream, including Fleetwood Mac hits, to BMG at the top of 2021.)

KKR and BMG haven’t disclosed the price of the ZZ Top deal, nor the split of which percentage of the catalog each company now owns.

KKR says it is investing in the catalog through its private credit investment funds and vehicles, and that it will own its interest in ZZ Top’s music through its Chord platform.

ZZ Top have sold over 50 million albums worldwide, and released hits including ‘La Grange’, ‘Tush’, ‘Cheap Sunglasses’, ‘Gimme All Your Lovin’’, ‘Legs’, ‘Got Me Under Pressure’, and ‘Sharp Dressed Man’, amongst others.

ZZ Top manager Carl Stubner of Shelter Music Group said: “We are proud to continue working with and expand our long-standing relationship with BMG. This new deal ensures ZZ Top’s remarkable legacy will endure for generations to come.”

BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch said, “This deal is a testament to the success, staying power and continuing musical relevance of ZZ Top, but also to the power of our partnership with KKR. This agreement furthers our vision of providing artists and songwriters not just a financial exit, but also a vehicle committed to respecting and treasuring their artistry.”

Jenny Box, Partner at KKR, said, “We are excited to invest in ZZ Top’s iconic music and we look forward to collaborating with BMG and ZZ Top to further amplify the reach of their catalog.”

BMG’s relationship with KKR is a historic one, of course: in 2013, five years after the ‘new’ BMG was founded, KKR sold its 51% holding in the music company to then-BMG co-owner (now sole BMG parent), Bertelsmann, for around $1 billion.

In addition to the Kobalt catalog it acquired this year, KKR’s Chord also owns a collection of rights created by three-time Grammy winner and OneRepublic member, Ryan Tedder.

KKR announced that Tedder acquisition in January, with Reuters suggesting the investment firm spent around $200 million on the rights.

Latham & Watkins LLP served as advisor to KKR on the ZZ Top transaction.

In 1971, Billy Gibbons (guitar, vocals), Dusty Hill (bass, keys, vocals), and Frank Beard (drums) released their debut album, ZZ Top’s First Album.

They would go on to release a total of 15 albums throughout the course of their 50 year career including the commercial breakthrough Tres Hombres (1973), Platinum-certified Degüello (1979), Gold-certified El Loco (1981), Diamond-certified Eliminator (1983), 5x Platinum-certified Afterburner (1985), and the Platinum-certified Recycler (1990) and Antenna (1994).Music Business Worldwide