“Expanding our portfolio in… important emerging markets, but especially within the Middle East, is highly important to our overall strategy and a key differentiator for us,” she told analysts on the call.
“With our network and ability to purchase content at attractive multiples, this region presents significant opportunity as we work to become the largest holder of Arabic music copyrights.”
To that end, Reservoir Media formed a joint venture in 2020 with Abu Dhabi-headquartered music publisher and music rights consultancy PopArabia. Under that deal, PopArabia assumed the role of sub-publisher for all of Reservoir’s copyrights in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region, including collecting and distributing royalties and licensing music for sync.
The partnership is supported by twofour54, Abu Dhabi’s media zone that is home to numerous media companies including CNN and Sky News Arabia, among hundreds of others.
Reservoir and PopArabia have since engaged in a joint expansion campaign that has included the acquisition of Egyptian label 100COPIES, as well as the acquisition of Lebanese label and music publisher Voice of Beirut.
On Wednesday (August 23), the two companies announced a pair of new transactions that will give them an even stronger foothold in the Egyptian music market: A catalog acquisition of Cairo-headquartered content production and distribution company RE Media, and the acquisition of master and recording rights for the catalog of Egyptian rap duo El Sawareekh.
The deal will give Reservoir/PopArabia the rights to RE Media’s 6,000+ recordings and compositions, including those from sub-labels Moseeqa and Moseeqa TV, as well as the acquisition of several or RE Media’s owned and operated YouTube channels, which collectively boast more than one million subscribers. The channels will be folded into PopArabia’s own YouTube hub.
Founded in 2004 by Richard Elhaj, RE Media represents a diverse mix of Egyptian music spanning the past three decades and features songs by prominent artists such as Amr Diab, George Wassouf, Dalida and Mohamed Mounir. The deal includes Amr Diab’s classic debut album Ya Tareeq. Diab continues to be one of the world’s most streamed artists.
“I am… excited about the governance PopArabia is bringing to the Middle East, maximizing the economic potential of music assets and creating a lawful ecosystem to build on for the future.”
Richard Elhaj, RE Media
“I am very proud to have struck an arrangement with PopArabia for the acquisition of some of our catalog, and I foresee a long-term relationship with them and with Reservoir,” Elhaj said in a statement.
“I am also excited about the governance PopArabia is bringing to the Middle East, maximizing the economic potential of music assets and creating a lawful ecosystem to build on for the future.”
The rap duo El Sawareekh consists of Ahmed Abdelhamed (aka Dokdok) and Bassem Mohamed (aka Fanky). They are considered forerunners of the Mahraganat genre, which emerged over the past 12 years and consists of a blend of Arabic rap, electronic music and Egyptian rhythms.
The duo released their debut album in 2014, and have been major artists on the Egyptian scene since 2017, with the release of the breakout hit Laa. That track has garnered some 100 million views on YouTube. Laa has in fact been a part of Reservoir and PopArabia’s catalog since they acquired the rights to the track as part of the companies’ acquisition of 100COPIES in 2022.
Since the release of Laa, El Sawareekh have gone on to release numerous hit tracks, including Ekhwaty (414 million YouTube views), Albk Bahr Maleh (180 million views) and Eda Eda (66 million views). El Sawareekh were highlighted on Forbes’ “Celebrity List” of the Middle East’s Arab Music Stars in 2021.
In a joint statement, the duo said they were “excited to continue our relationship with Reservoir and PopArabia. We look forward to the companies’ support as we continue to show the world what we can do.”
Spek, the Founder and CEO of PopArabia, who also serves as Reservoir’s Executive Vice President of International and Emerging Markets, said in a statement: “Egyptian artists are a driving force in Arabic popular music, and it is gratifying to see Reservoir and PopArabia continue to solidify our presence in MENA through the acquisition of these important catalogs.”
He added: “El Sawareekh have created some of the country’s most memorable hits of this era, and RE Media represents an important spread of Egyptian repertoire. Each of these deals is an important step in our ongoing efforts to expand our leadership in the Arabic music space.”
“Egyptian artists are a driving force in Arabic popular music, and it is gratifying to see Reservoir and PopArabia continue to solidify our presence in MENA through the acquisition of these important catalogs.”
In its latest earnings report, for Q1 of its 2024 fiscal year, Reservoir reported a 31% YoY increase in revenue, on the strength of a 37% YoY revenue jump in its Recorded Music division, which brought in USD $10.4 million for the quarter. Music Publishing revenues came in at $20.8 million.
A large part of that revenue growth came from the company’s continued acquisitions. Stripping that out, revenue grew organically by 21% YoY.
Among the company’s recent acquisitions were the rights to the catalogs of four of the original members of legendary R&B group The Spinners, as well as the catalog of Miami Sound Machine lead songwriter Kiki Garcia. Reservoir also acquired Tommy Boy Music (known for Coolio, Queen Latifah and De La Soul) last year in a $100-million deal.
According to a financial statement filed earlier this year, the company has spent over $695 million on catalog acquisitions to date.
The company clocked OIBDA (operating income before depreciation and amortization) of $9.2 million in its fiscal first quarter, a 38% YoY jump, while adjusted EBITDA came in at $10.1 million, up 36% YoY.Music Business Worldwide