‘Country Music is having the moment we all know it deserved for a long time.’

Trailblazers is an MBW interview series that turns the spotlight on music entrepreneurs with the potential to become the global business power players of tomorrow. This time, we speak to Barry Daffurn, President and Co-Founder of Los Angeles-headquartered music label, distribution, and rights management company, Cinq Music Group. Trailblazers is supported by TuneCore.

The music rights M&A space appears to be heating up again. On Thursday February 15, we learned that legendary artist Rod Stewart has struck a reported $100 million deal with Irving Azoff‘s Iconic Artists Group, with the company also announcing that it has raised $1 billion to buy more music rights.

News arrived just a day later that Primary Wave had struck a deal with YMCA hitmakers Village People covering the group’s brand, as well as name & likeness rights, plus master recordings and publishing assets.

Meanwhile, over the past two weeks, Billboard reported that Sony Music Group recently agreed to buy a 50% stake in Michael Jackson‘s publishing and recorded music catalog for $600 million-plus, while the long-running potential sale of Queen’s music rights is also reportedly picking up pace.

Another company looking to acquire more music rights in the coming months is the Los Angeles-headquartered music label, distribution, and rights management company, Cinq Music Group.

Last Monday (February 12), the company, which already has more than $300 million in assets under management, revealed that it had raised another $250 million from its parent company Go Digital Media Group to acquire music rights.

Including the latest investment from GoDigital, Cinq has raised $410 million from its parent company to date – including a $100 million raise in 2022, $40 million in 2019 and $20 million in 2017.

Latin Music has been a key part of Cinq Music’s strategy for a while, with the company’s repertoire already featuring music recorded by several prominent Latin music stars such as Bad Bunny Anuel AA, Arcangel, and Daddy Yankee.

To that end, Cinq President and Co-Founder Barry Daffurn told us that one of the first deals to be struck using funds from its new capital raise is an eight-figure catalog deal that will see the company build “upon [its] dominance within the Latin market.”

But in addition to wider Latin music space, including reggaeton and regional Mexicana music, the latter in which Cinq has become a significant player over the past few years, the company also plans to focus its attention on the Afrobeats and country genres.

Cinq says that it plans to become  “a major player” in the country music genre, and has launched a new office in Nashville to anchor its expansion into this space. The company says it has already acquired catalogs from hit songwriters including Jimmy Robbins and Ryan Hurd.

“Country Music is certainly having the moment I think we all know it’s deserved for a long time,” says Daffurn. “Of course, that brings a lot of competition into the space, and it is as competitive a market as any right now.”

In the latest installment of MBW’s Trailblazers series, MBW interviews Barry Daffurn about Cinq’s capital raise, the company’s M&A strategy, his predictions for Musica Mexican and why the company is making significant moves in country music.

How is Cinq Music positioned in the market today and how does it want to be positioned in the near to long-term future?

Latin music is obviously core to our DNA, and that’s not changing, but we consider ourselves one of the leading independent music companies in any genre.

We see labels of all sizes making shifts towards the model that we have been executing since our inception, blurring the lines between label and distributor.

“We see labels of all sizes making shifts towards the model that we have been executing since our inception, blurring the lines between label and distributor.”

Much of that is simply market-driven, as more artists desire more flexibility and freedom in the way they create and build their careers.

However, we certainly position ourselves amongst the other independent market leaders, and I think that can be seen by our trajectory so far, and our future growth plans.

Cinq Music made early investments in the wider Latin Music space including reggaeton and Musica Mexicana. What are your predictions for both genres in the coming months and years?

Reggaeton is obviously no secret anymore, and it has now certified its place in the global music pantheon. I don’t want to say I see a leveling off, because it seemingly has no ceiling, but I think we’re all wondering exactly where that will be.

I’ve watched it go from a primarily US (including Puerto Rico) consumer base to a global phenomenon, and into countries where Spanish isn’t even the primary language.

“We’re watching the global expansion of this music in real-time, and that’s exciting to be a part of.”

We’re seeing this to a certain extent with Musica Mexicana now. This music has always been very popular, but it was almost exclusively within the US/Mexico.

Five years ago, we had 98% streaming consumption of Musica Mexicana coming from the US/Mexico, and now that’s coming down to the low 90s. So, we’re talking years here, not months, but we’re watching the global expansion of this music in real time, and that’s exciting to be a part of.

Where are the biggest opportunities for M&A in these genres (Recorded music, publishing etc)?

With so many technology shifts converging at once, what we’re watching broadly are genres from all over the globe dominating their local regions even more, as well as expanding beyond their borders. Prior to streaming, it was nearly impossible to really monetize many of these music markets, and now they’re booming.

“The biggest growth opportunities are definitely outside the English-speaking countries.”

So, broadly, I feel the biggest growth opportunities are definitely outside the English-speaking countries, which have dominated the monetizable music market for so long.

You can see this in the recent strategies of almost every major record company out there announcing a more global approach.

Do you have more partnerships on the horizon in the regional Mexican space?

In terms of partnerships, right now we are really focused on growing Rancho Humilde and Street Mob Records. We’re of course always on the lookout for more, but we really try not to oversaturate ourselves with our signings.

“In terms of catalogs, there are always great ones out there and a few we hope to announce this year.”

I’m a strong believer in focus, and keeping a tight repertoire of great artists/labels. It’s a delicate balance, but the last thing we want is a ton of unhappy artists who feel like they aren’t getting the attention they deserve.

In terms of catalogs, there are always great ones out there and a few we hope to announce this year.

Cinq said that a ‘cornerstone’ of the new investment is an eight-figure catalog deal. Could you give us some more insight into who the catalog is being acquired from and what it includes?

While we are unable to share the acquisition details on the record at this time, what we can say is that we are building upon our dominance within the Latin market in an even greater way with this deal, which was highly competitive.

Ultimately, it’s our reputation as a leading indie label, distributor and publisher, and our distinct repertoire of world-renowned artists and musical works, that makes Cinq the perfect home for it. We’re excited about what’s to come.

The announcement about the new funding references both Afrobeats and Country Music as additional areas of focus. Could you tell us about your strategy, plans and market predictions in regards to both genres?

We have been quietly expanding into both of these genres over the past two years, and we have some exciting new announcements on the horizon. For now, the plan is simply to identify more great opportunities, do great work, and hopefully that gets recognized.

In terms of market predictions, again we’re seeing music that has been popular for a long time, but it just wasn’t reflected in the streaming platforms and global charts the way it is now, and there are no signs of things slowing down any time soon.

Cinq has made recent catalog acquisitions in the Country Music space from hit songwriters including Jimmy Robbins and Ryan Hurd. How competitive is the M&A landscape in country music right now?

In terms of publishing catalog sales, it’s possibly the most active of any genre.

In terms of record deals, it’s still one the most major label-dominated genres, so that’s limiting catalog sales on the sound recording side as most of these artists don’t own their catalogs.

In terms of frontline deals, ultimately more competition means more options, which also means more favorable deals for more artists – and we’re happy to be a part of that wave of new competition.

Jason Peterson has said that GoDigital’s “ultimate vision [is] to amass a billion-dollar balance sheet of music rights”. Could you give us some insight into the roadmap towards achieving this goal, in terms of additional investments etc. in the coming months and years

Our ability to source good opportunities, whether that be through undervalued catalogs or frontline signings through record/publishing deals and label partnerships, is where we are planning for most our growth to come from.

Of course, that also means we’re building up our marketing and artist services divisions, and continuing investment into new technologies and our online artist tools.

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Trailblazers is supported by TuneCore. TuneCore provides self-releasing artists with technology and services across distribution, publishing administration, and a range of promotional services. TuneCore is part of Believe.Music Business Worldwide

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