Music rights company Reservoir Media has been very busy of late.
This year alone, the New York-headquartered company signed a deal with De La Soul that brought the hip-hop trio’s music to streaming services for the first time; bought the rights to the catalog of Miami Sound Machine co-founder and lead songwriter Enrique “Kiki” Garcia; and signed a publishing deal with Armani White, the rapper behind the TikTok hit Billie Eilish.
Not to mention its acquisition of the entire publishing catalog and future works of rock legend Dion; its purchase of the publishing and recorded music rights of Grammy-winning hip-hop producer and artist Mannie Fresh; its deal to buy the catalog of jazz icon Sonny Rollins; its joint venture with American Idol producer 19 Entertainment to sign publishing deals with Idol contestants… the list goes on.
Now we can add one more: The company announced Wednesday (June 28) it has acquired the catalogs of four of the founding members of hit 1970s R&B and pop vocal group The Spinners.
According to the announcement, the deal includes the master royalty income streams for Henry Fambrough, as well as the late Billie Henderson, Pervis Jackson and Bobbie Smith. The four were among the founding or early members of The Spinners, which formed in Ferndale, Mich., in 1954, but only began to use the name The Spinners in 1961.
Though the band enjoyed a number of Top 40 hits through the 1960s, it wasn’t until they signed with Atlantic Records in 1972 and began working with songwriter Thom Bell that they truly hit commercial success. The first album under Atlantic, 1973’s Spinners, generated five Top 100 hits. Their 1974 follow-up album, Mighty Love, would go on to have three Top 20 hits in the US.
Among their hits are It’s a Shame, produced and co-written by Stevie Wonder, and The Rubberband Man, which experienced a resurgence after it was featured in the 2018 Marvel move Avengers: Infinity War. The band also recorded Then Came You, a duet with Dionna Warwick that hit number one on the Billboard US Hot 100.
Over the course of their career, the group earned six Grammy nominations, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and induction into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. This November, the group will be inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
Of its original members, only Fambrough remains alive. He retired from touring this year, but the band will continue without any of its original members.
“I am ecstatic that the heirs of Bobbie, Pervis and Billie received the proceeds of what is a significant catalog sale,” Fambrough said in a statement.
“With this sale and the timing of this induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I am extremely honored but lamented Bobbie, Pervis, Phillipe and Billie are not here to share the catalog sale and Hall of Fame ceremony, both a wonderful moment in time.”
Fambrough added: “I’d also like to express my appreciation for the efforts of The Spinners’ General Counsel Paul Mathis, as well as Attorney Marvin Katz, who brought the sale to The Spinners and along with Mathis represented the group in the transaction.”
“The Spinners and their catalog of hits are truly timeless,” Reservoir EVP of A&R and Catalog Development Faith Newman said in a statement. “The way their music continues to connect with listeners and live on decades after release is a testament to all their towering musical achievements.”
Founded in 2007 by Golnar Khosrowshahi, Reservoir bills itself as “the first female-founded and led publicly traded music company in the U.S.” The company listed on the Nasdaq in 2021 by way of a SPAC merger, and has been aggressively acquiring music rights before and since.
In a factsheet released this past spring, Reservoir revealed it had spent more than USD $695 million on catalog acquisitions to that point. The company clocked overall revenue of $122.3 million for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2023, a 13% YoY increase. Music publishing revenues came grew 9% YoY in the fiscal year, to $83.8 million.
The company expects to grow revenue to $160 million by 2025.
Reservoir has been busily expanding beyond the Anglo-American music scene. During a recent earnings call, Khosrowshahi also declared that the company has set itself the goal of becoming “the largest holder of Arabic music copyrights.”
“Expanding our portfolio in these important emerging markets, but especially within the Middle East, is highly important to our overall strategy and a key differentiator for us,” Khosrowshahi said.
“The Spinners and their catalog of hits are truly timeless. The way their music continues to connect with listeners and live on decades after release is a testament to all their towering musical achievements.”
Faith Newman, Reservoir Media
To that end, Reservoir inked a partnership with PopArabia, the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) music publisher and music rights consultancy, in 2020. Since then, the two companies have gone on to make significant acquisitions in MENA music, including the 2022 purchases of Egyptian record label 100COPIES and Lebanese label and music publisher Voice of Beirut.
The company has made inroads in other markets as well, including India, with its signing of rapper Divine, a deal that included a joint venture with Divine’s Gully Gang Entertainment. In 2021, Reservoir bought a minority stake in China-headquartered industry services company Outdustry, which included a joint venture to sign and develop Chinese artists and songwriters, and to acquire local catalogs.
Besides its rights acquisitions, the company also represents a large volume of recorded music through the iconic Chrysalis Records – which it acquired in 2019 as part of its purchase of Blue Raincoat Music – as well as Tommy Boy Music, the label that helped launch the careers of Queen Latifah, Coolio, De La Soul and Naughty By Nature, among others, which Reservoir acquired in 2021 for around $100 million.
It also manages artists through its ventures with Blue Raincoat Music and Big Life Management, in which it bought a stake in 2017.Music Business Worldwide