Primary Wave buys stake in Luther Vandross publishing and master recording income stream as part of $40m deal (report)

Luther Vandross performing at Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 5, 1988. (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

Primary Wave Music has acquired a stake in the catalog of Luther Vandross as part of a deal with the iconic R&B star’s estate.

As part of the partnership, Primary Wave has acquired a stake in Vandross’s publishing, master recording income stream, and name and likeness rights.

The publisher will also continue a long-term partnership with the estate to manage all assets.

Citing sources, Variety reports that the deal is in the ‘$40 million range’.

Over the course of his three-plus decade career, Vandross sold over 40 million records worldwide.

He released 11 consecutive platinum albums, won eight Grammy Awards, while being nominated an incredible 33 times.

He is the recipient of two American Music Awards and 3 NAACP Awards. In 2010, Luther was named one of NPR’s 50 Greatest Voices and in 2014, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Songs included in the deal are some of Vandross’s biggest hits such as Never Too Much the lead single off his album of the same name.

Released in 1981, Never Too Much soared to the No.1 spot on both the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and went Top 5 on the Billboard Dance Club songs chart.

The song and album earned Vandross his first two Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and Best R&B Vocal Performance.

The partnership also encompasses several other chart toppers from Vandross such as Here and Now, his cover of Endless Love featuring Mariah Carey, as well as Dance With My Father, which Vandross considered his career song.

The song would go on to be certified GOLD and was nominated for five Grammy Awards, winning four including Song of the Year.

Born in 1951, Vandross started his music career when he was just in High School, playing Amateur Night at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem four times.

He would start contributing background vocals on several projects in 1973 and a year later wrote the iconic Everybody Rejoice/Brand New Day for the Broadway musical The Wiz and would meet David Bowie, two events that would alter Luther’s career.

Creating the hook for Bowie’s hit Young Americans and co-writing Fascination from the same album, Vandross would begin touring with Bowie before becoming an in-demand background vocalist for the likes of Bette Midler, Roberta Flack, Diana Ross, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Judy Collins and more.

In 1981 he released his solo debut the critically acclaimed Never Too Much, propelling him into super-stardom, which included producing music for Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, and Dionne Warwick, in addition to his own records.

“The LV Estate’s goal is to see Luther’s legacy continue to flourish and believe the partnership with Primary Wave is a clear step in that direction.”

Carmen J. Romano, FBBM Entertainment Business Management

Carmen J. Romano, of FBBM Entertainment Business Management, said: “We are delighted to join forces with Larry and Primary Wave.

“The LV Estate’s goal is to see Luther’s legacy continue to flourish and believe the partnership with Primary Wave is a clear step in that direction.

“Luther Vandross was a soulful American icon who was the voice of a generation.”

Larry Mestel, Primary Wave Music

Larry Mestel, CEO & Founder, Primary Wave Music, added: “Luther Vandross was a soulful American icon who was the voice of a generation.

“We look forward to working with Carmen and the estate to help expand Luther’s influence.”

Just last week, Primary Wave bought a stake in the music publishing catalog of prolific songwriter Gerry Goffin.

That deal came in the same week that the firm bought a stake in the assets owned by HLC Properties Ltd, the company owned by the estate of the legendary Bing Crosby, earlier this week in a reported $50 million+ deal, the company has now

Primary Wave’s latest deals follow a substantial stake acquired in the Prince estate back in August.

In June, Primary Wave announced that it had finalized what it calls a “strategic relationship” with funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management.

Oaktree Capital has committed to invest up to $375 million into Primary Wave Music in exchange for a minority interest in the music company.

Primary Wave has raised over $800m in the past four years via two IP funds: a $300m fund in 2016, backed by Black Rock, and a further $500m-plus fund launched last year.

Primary Wave also owns substantial interests in the song catalogs of icons such as Ray CharlesBob MarleyWhitney Houston, Burt Bacharach, Smokey Robinson and the Four Seasons.

The company bought a $80 million majority stake in the publishing catalog of Fleetwood Mac member Stevie Nicks in December 2020.Music Business WorldwideMusic Business Worldwide