Primary Wave buys chunk of Bob Marley catalogue in $50m deal

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US-based Primary Wave has acquired a stake in the timeless publishing catalogue of Bob Marley as part of a $50m deal with Island Records founder Chris Blackwell.

The agreement sees Primary Wave snap up 80% of Blackwell’s share in two publishing catalogues: the Marley songbook and Blue Mountain Music – the independent publishing company Blackwell built on copyrights written by the likes of Toots & The Maytals, Free and Marianne Faithfull.

It appears likely that the Marley Estate will continue to own more than 50% of the reggae star’s catalogue overall.

According to the New York Times, Blue Mountain also manages rights to U2’s hit catalogue, but the band’s songs are exempt from the Primary Wave deal, which was finalized on Saturday (Jan 13).

The news comes days after the confirmation that private equity-backed Round Hill had closed its acquisition of Carlin Music for $240m.

Primary Wave Music Publishing was founded by Larry Mestel in 2006.

Mestel says the company currently has around $400m to invest in music on behalf of investors who include BlackRock.

Over the past 12 years Primary Wave has acquired the copyrights of over 15,000 songs from the catalogs of artists such as Smokey Robinson, Kurt Cobain, Steven Tyler, John Lennon, Def Leppard, Hall & Oates, Chicago, Maurice White, Graham Parker, Daniel Johnston, Steven Curtis Chapman, Lamont Dozier, Steve Cropper and many others.

Under the Primary Wave umbrella there are two core businesses: Primary Wave Music Publishing and its sister company, Primary Wave Entertainment – a talent management company working with the likes of CeeLo Green, Melissa Etheridge, Fantasia and Cypress Hill.


UPDATE: Primary Wave has confirmed the deal with the below press release.

PRIMARY WAVE PARTNERS WITH THE LEGENDARY CHRIS BLACKWELL

DEAL VALUED AT $50 MILLION INCLUDES AN INVESTMENT INTO BOB MARLEY AND BLUE MOUNTAIN MUSIC PUBLISHING CATALOGS AS WELL AS CAPITAL FOR EXPANSION

THE NEW PARTNERSHIP INCLUDES RIGHTS IN MARLEY’S GREATEST HITS INCLUDING “THREE LITTLE BIRDS” AND “COULD YOU BE LOVED”

NEW YORK, N.Y. (January 15, 2018) – Primary Wave Music Publishing, the leading U.S. independent music publishing company, announced its partnership with the legendary record producer and founder of Island Records, Chris Blackwell. The deal includes a $50 million investment and majority ownership into a new venture with Blackwell to be called Blue Mountain/Primary Wave Music and includes the catalog of the legendary Jamaican singer, songwriter, musician, guitarist, musical and cultural icon, Bob Marley. Included in the deal are rights to all of Marley’s biggest hits including “Could You Be Loved,” and “Is This Love,” as well as other artists on Blue Mountain Publishing’s roster including Free, Toots and the Maytals, John Grant, John Martyn, and the newly signed Chronixx and Skip Marley. The new venture, which comes on the heels of Blue Mountain Music’s 50th anniversary, will also provide significant capital for Blackwell to continue to acquire and sign iconic, legendary artists as well as up-and-coming stars.

The new joint venture will pair Blackwell’s legendary A&R and artist development acumen with Primary Wave’s expertise in marketing, digital strategy, branding, and significant film and TV resources, and administration.

“I am thrilled to be taking Blue Mountain Music into the future with the structure that Primary Wave has in place,” says Chris Blackwell. He goes on, “I have known Larry Mestel for a long time and am thrilled about this partnership and genuinely excited about the future of music.”

“Bob Marley is respected in every corner of the globe. He changed the cultural ethos of generations of human beings,” says Lawrence Mestel, Founder & CEO of Primary Wave Music Publishing. He goes on, “It’s an honor to partner with my longtime mentor, Chris Blackwell, who, like Bob Marley, has shaped the landscape of taste in music through innovative marketing and genius artists developments.”ket a group of elite resorts in Jamaica including Strawberry Hill, The Caves, and GoldenEye Hotel & Resort. In 2009, Blackwell revisited his family’s legacy in Jamaica’s rum industry, introducing his own brand of rum, Blackwell Rum. Blackwell is also involved in a number of philanthropic organizations including Island ACTS, The Oracabessa Foundation, the Oracabessa Bay Fish Sanctuary, the Mary Vinson Blackwell Foundation (established in honor of his late wife), and the Jamaican Conservation Trust.Music Business Worldwide

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