Pieter van Rijn named CEO of Downtown Music Holdings’ global services unit Downtown Music, as division ‘completes integration strategy’ with merger of CD Baby operations

Pieter van Rijn

Downtown Music Holdings has undergone quite the transformation over the past five years.

In 2019, the Justin Kalifowitz-founded company, which originally made its name as a music publisher, acquired AVL Digital Group and its portfolio of services for independent artists like distro platform CD Baby – in a USD $200 million deal.

The acquisition arrived against a backdrop of a booming DIY artist sector, which has since continued to blossom: in 2023, the annual global revenue figure for the Artists Direct segment of the business (i.e. artists not releasing music through record labels) rose to $1.8 billion, as per Midia’s latest report.

The acquisition of AVL formed part of Downtown’s long-term strategy to refocus its attention on the music services sector – i.e. being a partner to copyright holders rather than owning copyrights itself.

Further services-focused M&A activity at Downtown followed with the acquisitions of Amsterdam-based B2B tech and services company FUGA in 2020 and Curve Royalty Systems in January last year.

Crystallizing its plan to go all-in on the global services sector, Downtown also sold its owned catalog of 145,000 copyrights to Concord in 2021 for around $400 million.

Downtown was, and continues to be, bullish about its services-focused strategy.

At the beginning of 2021, the company projected that it would generate over $600 million from its music services businesses, across both records and publishing, that year alone.

Today, across its operations, Downtown Music Holdings claims to be the world’s largest independent service provider.

Well-placed sources tell MBW that the company is on course to generate USD $900 million in revenues this year.

This all serves as important context for a big announcement from Downtown today (April 3).

As part of its long-term plan to focus exclusively on the services sector, Downtown has announced what it calls the “completion of its integration strategy” across its business-to-business and creator-focused businesses into a single operating company.

As part of this integration, the operations of the company’s indie distribution brand CD Baby are merging into its Downtown Music division. The CD Baby brand and platform will remain and Downtown confirms that there will be no staffing changes as a result of the merger.

Also as part of the integration, Pieter van Rijn has been appointed CEO of Downtown Music, reporting into Andrew Bergman, CEO of Downtown Music Holdings. CD Baby President Scott Williams reports into van Rijn.

Based in Amsterdam and New York, van Rijn previously served as the Group President of Downtown Music and as CEO of FUGA, which was acquired by DMH in 2020. He was appointed to the Downtown Music Holdings board in 2023.

Downtown Music was formed in 2022 to combine all of DMH’s global business and professional services including distribution, label and artist services, publishing administration, video and user-generated rights monetization, neighboring rights, royalty accounting solutions, sync licensing and creative support services.

Today, those combined divisions are: Downtown Music Publishing and Artist & Label Services (formerly Downtown Music Services), plus music publishing platform Songtrust, FUGA, Curve, and – after today’s announcement – CD Baby.

In April last year,  Downtown Music formed a new Artist & Label Services division, born from its DashGo distribution arm, which it acquired in 2019 as part of AVL Digital Group. The Artist & Label Services division is led by President Ben Patterson, who founded DashGo in 2004.

Across all of its services, Downtown says that it currently supports over 4 million artists and 5,000 business clients in 150 countries who collectively generated over 1.5 trillion streams across major streaming platforms in 2023.

The company also claims that its clients won “nearly 30% of the awards” at the 2024 Grammys.

Downtown employs over 600 people globally across 25 locations.

“The integration of all of our products and services under the Downtown Music umbrella alongside Pieter’ stewardship is a truly energizing moment in our journey.”

Andrew Bergman, Downtown Music Holdings

“The integration of all of our products and services under the Downtown Music umbrella alongside Pieter’s stewardship is a truly energizing moment in our journey,” said Andrew Bergman, CEO of Downtown Music Holdings.

“We bring together all the critical services that creators and businesses need to navigate the modern music industry. I’m proud of the organization we’ve scaled and look forward to capitalizing on the exciting opportunities before us.”

“This is an extraordinary time for Downtown Music as we enter this next phase as a fully unified operating company.”

Pieter van Rijn, Downtown Music

Pieter van Rijn, CEO of Downtown Music added: “This is an extraordinary time for Downtown Music as we enter this next phase as a fully unified operating company.

“The thousands of businesses that we support at Downtown Music and the millions of trusted creators at CD Baby will now benefit from our industry-leading suite of tools and services within a single organization.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with Andrew and the DMH Board in delivering this enhanced offering to all our customers.”Music Business Worldwide

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