Kobalt Capital buys SONGS catalogue for around $160m

SONGS Music Publishing has officially sold its catalogue to Kobalt Capital Ltd (KCL).

MBW understands that the deal cost circa $160m, and will see the SONGS repertoire administered and serviced by Kobalt Music Publishing in future.

KCL, which recently raised a $600m fund to spend on music copyrights, is a company held separate from the main Kobalt Music Group business.

It manages a fund amassed and owned by confidential private and institutional investors.

According to a press release, the sale of SONGS ‘concludes an intensely competitive process involving virtually every player in the music business, and hands Kobalt stewardship of some of the world’s biggest hit songs’.

Those songs include cuts on No.1 smashes like “Royals,” “Can’t Feel My Face,” “The Hills,” “Starboy,” “Lean On,” “Panda,” and “Uptown Funk”.

SONGS exclusively publishes hit writer/ artists such as The Weeknd, Lorde, Diplo / Major Lazer and many others.

The deal leaves the way clear for SONGS President Ron Perry to become the new boss of Columbia Records in New York – as widely rumored – under Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer.

“I met Willard when I first started SONGS in 2004. He was one of the first people to believe in our vision of a music publishing company providing revolutionary creative service to contemporary songwriters,” said SONGS founder & CEO Matt Pincus.

“At SONGS, music publishing is first and foremost a people business. We’ve had the opportunity to work intimately with groundbreaking songwriters at a time when the music business of tomorrow is being created.

“SONGS is a truly independent company – 100% owned and operated by us since its inception. After many years of hard work and personal investment in the company, we decided that it was time for us to look for new horizons.”

Matt Pincus

“In addition, we’ve been able to build the most talented team of young professionals in the business. That the result of our work is a catalog we created writer by writer and song by song, representing a decade of popular music in all formats – including many of tomorrow’s evergreens – is a testament to our approach.

Carianne Marshall, Ron Perry and I built SONGS with a forward-thinking stance, a fierce commitment to songwriters and their compensation, and a focus on long-term relationships. SONGS is a truly independent company – 100% owned and operated by us since its inception. After many years of hard work and personal investment in the company, we decided that it was time for us to look for new horizons.

“That is why I feel so fortunate to now hand SONGS to Willard, Laurent and the entire Kobalt team, who together have demonstrated a time-tested commitment to songwriters through their dedication to transparency, honesty and independence. It’s because of these characteristics and our longstanding relationship that we are confident there is no better partner than Kobalt with which to continue our legacy.”

For 10 of the last 12 quarters SONGS published more than 3.5% of all music played on U.S. radio, with a peak in the final quarter of 2016 which saw SONGS responsible for 5.41% of all U.S. radio airplay.

The SONGS catalog includes 50 Platinum or Multi-Platinum songs and over 100 Top 5 singles, including 65 Number One singles. In addition, SONGS was recognized as ASCAP Independent Publisher of the year in 2016.

“I was first introduced to Matt in 2004 by Michael Selverne when SONGS was just starting,” said Founder and CEO of Kobalt Music, Willard Ahdritz.

“Since then, first as a client and then as a friend, Matt has built a remarkable company with a combination of great creative vision and a deep business understanding. The results are an extraordinary music publishing company. I am honored that Matt has trusted Kobalt to take care of his songwriters and songs. We are looking forward to delivering an outstanding service in their new home.”

“I am honored that Matt has trusted Kobalt to take care of his songwriters and songs.”

Willard Ahdritz, Kobalt

“Matt, Ron and Carianne have done an incredible job of building SONGS into a truly viable alternative to the majors for the world’s most creative artists, said Kobalt Music President and Chief Revenue Officer, Laurent Hubert.

“We agreed early on, that any deal with SONGS should be a win all around and most importantly, benefit the SONGS clients. I made a promise to him, as I do to all of our publishing clients, that we will maximize the value of their music through superior collection, creative and marketing services.”

Ron Perry, President of SONGS commented: “Today is the bittersweet culmination of a journey that I joined Matt on 14 years ago. From the very first writer signing, to many of today’s premier writers, artists and producers, I couldn’t be more proud that we were able to build a company that has substantially impacted the creative discussion around music publishing. I thank each and every one of the songwriters who entrusted us to play vital roles in their careers, and I know they are all in great hands at Kobalt.”

Carianne Marshall, Head of Creative Licensing commented: “It’s been my great privilege to work at SONGS, a company we built around the idea of empowering songwriters.  It’s been an incredible journey that I owe to our amazing writers and our dedicated team both past and present, along with the people in the industry I get to work with every day.  I have great faith that our songwriters and catalog will continue to flourish in Kobalt’s trusted hands.”

LionTree Advisors acted as a financial advisor to SONGS on the transaction. Michael Selverne, SONGS longtime business advisor, acted as legal advisor to the company.

[Pictured: SONGS partners Carianne Marshall, Matt Pincus and Ron Perry.]Music Business Worldwide

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