Concord prices $1.8bn bond offering backed by over 1m music copyrights

At the end of last month, Concord was reported to have begun a process that would see it become the latest large music company to launch a bond offering via securitized royalties from copyrights.

According to a Bloomberg report, financial giant Apollo Global Management was selling a $1.65 billion bond backed by music rights from Concord’s catalog, which would mark the music company’s first securitization.

On Thursday (December 8), Concord confirmed that it has successfully priced $1.8 billion of senior notes secured by what it says is a “significant portion” of its catalog of sound recordings and songs.

According to a press release, Apollo, through its Capital Solutions business, structured the ABS (asset-backed securities) transaction and formed an investor syndicate led by Apollo-managed funds.

JP Morgan served as a co-structuring agent of the transaction. Concord says that proceeds from the issuance will be reinvested to support the company’s growth in 2023 and beyond.

The transaction is claimed by Concord to be “the largest asset-backed securitization offering of music rights in the industry to date in terms of both size of issuance and number of assets (over one million copyrights)”.

Concord’s new five-year facility is backed by a catalog of more than 1 million music assets spanning a wide-range of genres, including over 300 Grammy Award winners and more than 400 recordings with Gold, Platinum, Multi-Platinum and Diamond Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certifications.

Works in the securitization catalog alone include songs and recordings by Phil Collins, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Daft Punk, Miles Davis, Danny Elfman, Evanescence, John Fogerty, Genesis, Imagine Dragons, Isaac Hayes, James Taylor, Jewel, Joan Sebastian, Nine Inch Nails, Pink Floyd, Cyndi Lauper, Little Richard, Nikki Six, Otis Redding, R.E.M. and many other superstars.

Concord adds that its catalog is valued at more than $4 billion, “resulting in an approximate 44% loan-to-value ratio for the offering” and the notes are rated A+ by KBRA.

Concord says in its press release that its transaction “reflects the growing value of music copyrights and increased interest from financial institutions in music royalties as a long-term, annuity-like asset class”.

“The music industry is experiencing a period of sustained expansion, fueled by exponential growth in the global streaming market, new marketing platforms, increased collector demand for vinyl records and, with the integration of new technologies, diversified platforms for music commercialization,” adds Concord. “These combined factors benefit both legacy catalogues and new releases while driving artist and songwriter revenue.”

“Concord has reached a new milestone in its own evolution and for the broader global industry in pricing the largest music ABS transaction in history.”

Bob Valentine, Concord

“Concord has reached a new milestone in its own evolution and for the broader global industry in pricing the largest music ABS transaction in history,” said Bob Valentine, President of Concord.

“I’m proud to help lead a company partnered with the astonishing depth and breadth of artistic talent that the works financed by this securitization represent. I’m also extraordinarily thankful that a significant number of blue-chip financial institutions have taken note of our success to date and chosen to participate in our future.

Added Valentine: “As we continue to better position Concord as a bellwether in the industry, our focus remains the same: to elevate the voices of artists and musicians using the global, independent platform that we have been assembling for years.

“We are grateful to our financing partners at Apollo and JP Morgan who helped us develop a long-term capital solution that reflects the strength of the portfolio we have built to date and further validates our active management strategy.”

“We are pleased to provide a tailored, flexible structured solution that supports their continued growth.”

Bret Leas, Apollo 

Apollo Partner and Head of Asset-Backed Finance Bret Leas, said: “Concord’s experienced management team continues to build a world-renowned catalog of assets with diversification and cash flow characteristics well suited for asset-based lending.

“We are pleased to provide a tailored, flexible structured solution that supports their continued growth.”

“Having known the Concord Board and management team for many years, we are pleased to support their future success.”

Paul Sipio, Apollo Capital Solutions

Apollo Capital Solutions’ Paul Sipio, added: “This transaction leverages the scale of our investment platform alongside our growing Capital Solutions business to originate, anchor and syndicate a comprehensive financing solution.

“Having known the Concord Board and management team for many years, we are pleased to support their future success.”

Today’s news comes just over 12 months MBW told you that financial bonds were about to become a big deal in the music business.

That prediction came true, time and time again, over the past year, with a number of headlines hitting our pages about music companies launching bond offerings via securitized royalties from copyrights.

In December 2021, for example, private equity company Northleaf Capital announced it was raising $303.8 million by selling Asset-Backed Securities (ABS) that are supported by music rights – including songs created by Pete Townshend for The Who, and by country star Tim McGraw.

According to Bloomberg, the securities would be supported by both publishing and sound recording rights, as well as other income streams, across a total of 52,729 songs.

Those songs make up a chunk of the catalog of Spirit Music Group; Spirit owns a total portfolio of more than 100,000 music assets.

Our prediction came true again in February, when MBW reported that in the second half of October 2021, KKR – via its Chord Music venture – acquired a large portfolio of rights from Kobalt for $1.1 billion and intended to securitize that catalog into bonds.

According to BloombergKKR Credit Advisors is using a catalog of 65,000 songs – including hits from The Weeknd, Stevie Nicks, and Childish Gambino – to sell more than $732 million of asset-backed securities supported by publishing and sound recording royalties.

Over the summer, more news from this world arrived, with a pre-sale report from Kroll Bond Rating Agency (KBRA), confirming that Hipgnosis was in the process of launching its own music royalty-backed bond package – a $221.65 million securitized offering.

US music licensing/collection society, SESAC also closed a $335 million bond transaction over the summer. This offering was actually a whole-business securitization, which Bloomberg likened in its report at the time to SESAC “effectively mortgaging” its company.

In September, Concord acquired the publishing and recorded music catalogs of Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford, as well as the publishing and recorded music catalog from their years in the band Genesis in a deal The Wall Street Journal reported to be ‘valued at over $300 million’.

The news followed a string of recent M&A activity from Concord, such as its purchase of the assets of HitCo Entertainment and its eight-figure acquisition of Australia & New Zealand-based music publisher, Native Tongue.

Concord spent an estimated $1 billion on acquisitions during its first 14 years in business. It then spent two nine-figure sums acquiring a majority stake in Pulse Music Group in 2020, and then the Imagine Dragons publishing catalog, before acquiring Downtown’s copyright portfolio for $400 million, in 2021.

FTI served as the valuation agent on the transaction and KBRA provided ratings services. DLA Piper served as legal counsel to Concord, and King & Spalding LLP as legal counsel to Apollo affiliates.

Reed Smith and Greenberg Traurig serviced as special counsel with respect to music assets for Concord and for Apollo affiliates, respectively.Music Business Worldwide