Round Hill: We’ve spent more than $200m across 40 acquisitions in 2022

Josh Gruss

There’s been a lot of talk this year about the music rights M&A market slowing down in 2022, but that hasn’t stopped Round Hill and Hipgnosis from spending over half a billion dollars between them.

Macroeconomic headwinds have blown multiple issues in the music industry’s direction this year, from soaring interest rates to rising inflation, plus the strength of the US dollar’s impact on global markets. But the rights acquisition space hasn’t ground to a halt.

In fact, two prominent names in the rights acquisition space, that both became famous for listing funds on the London Stock Exchange –  Hipgnosis and Round Hill Music – have been associated with $500 million worth of deals between them in 2022.

The first of those two, via Hipgnosis Songs Capital, a private fund that’s fully funded by Blackstone (and part of the Hipgnosis Group alongside UK-listed Hipgnosis Songs Fund; and Hipgnosis Song Management) has spent around $300 million acquiring copyrights in 2022 so far, from the likes of Justin Timberlake, Kenny Chesney and the Leonard Cohen estate.

New York-headquartered private equity firm, Round Hill Music Royalty Partners, meanwhile, confirmed to MBW today (Monday, December 19) that it has completed “one of the most active years in [our] 12-year history”. The company says it has spent more than $200 million across 40 acquisitions in 2022.

Those acquisitions were made via Round Hill Music’s private equity funds, including Round Hill Music Royalty Fund III and Round Hill Music Royalty Fund III Plus, as well as Round Hill Music Royalty Fund LTD, the firm’s listed vehicle on the London Stock Exchange.

Across these three entities, Round Hill says that it has raised more than $800 million of equity capital commitments. In conjunction with Fund II and other co-investment vehicles, Round Hill Music says that it now manages more than $1.3 billion of music rights.

Round Hill says it has acquired over 170 catalogs since its inception. Some of RHM’s acquisitions in 2022 include:

  • On January 5, 2022, the company announced the acquisition of a significant share of the master artist royalties and entered into a long-term agreement to administer the neighbouring rights income of the catalog of Nancy Wilson, singer, songwriter and guitarist of Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame-inducted band Heart.
  • On January 14, 2022, the company bought  the music publishing, master rights and master rights royalties for, and entered into a long-term administration agreement for the neighbouring rights income from, the catalog of Whitesnake frontman and Deep Purple lead singer from 1973 to 1976, David Coverdale.
  • On February 8, Round Hill Music Royalty Fund Limited acquired “a significant majority of the rights” to legendary American rock band Alice In Chains from the band’s members Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney, Mike Inez and their current singer William Duvall. The acquisition comprised what Round Hill said was a significant majority of the publishing, masters and neighbouring rights in the catalog, comprising 94 compositions and 159 recordings.
  • In September, Round Hill Music, via its Fund 3 Plus, acquired the music royalty interests, including producer royalties and neighboring rights, of legendary producer Bruce Fairbair.

“We look forward to continuing to execute on behalf of our investors, artists, and partners we serve in 2023 and beyond.”

Josh Gruss, Round Hill Music

Josh Gruss, Chief Executive Officer of Round Hill Music, said: “Round Hill Music further distinguished itself in 2022 by continuing to serve as the partner of choice for artists and songwriters and acquiring blue chip songs and catalogs with enduring long-term popularity.

Added Gruss: “Our accomplishments are a testament to our team, culture and the expertise we have developed over the past 12 years as one of the first institutional investors in the music royalties sector.

“We look forward to continuing to execute on behalf of our investors, artists, and partners we serve in 2023 and beyond.”

Further proof of music rights’ buoyancy in 2022 arrived in the form of various big-money deals this year.

In November, for example, Primary Wave struck a $2 billion deal with financial giant Brookfield. The deal included the acquisition of a minority stake in Primary Wave and Brookfield investing $1.7 billion into a new “permanent capital vehicle”.

This year also saw Primary Wave acquire the likes of copyrights to hit Whitney Houston songs as part of a deal for about 60 songs written by songwriters Shannon Rubicam and George Merrill, of American pop-music duo Boy Meets Girl, in a deal the Financial Times reports is estimated to be worth between $50 million and $100 million.

Concord, meanwhile priced a $1.8 billion bond offering in early December backed by over 1 million music copyrights, claimed by Concord to be “the largest asset-backed securitization offering of music rights in the industry to date in terms of both size of issuance and number of assets (over one million copyrights)”.

In September, Concord acquired the publishing and recorded music catalogs of Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford, as well as the publishing and recorded music catalog from their years in the band Genesis in a deal The Wall Street Journal reported to be ‘valued at over $300 million’.

In February, Legendary artist and songwriter Sting sold his entire song catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG). One expert industry source told MBW at the time that the final acquisition fee reached north of $300 million. Music Business Worldwide

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