Many now expect that Universal Music Group will be the next major music rightsholder to IPO, with parent Vivendi publicly stating that UMG will be ‘spun out’ onto the public markets by “early 2023 at the latest”.
Yet it appears another significant modern music rights company might pip Universal to the post.
Senior and well-connected industry sources are telling MBW that New York-based Round Hill Music is in the early stages of exploring a public flotation.
The acquisitive publishing and recorded music company, we hear, is primarily looking at the London Stock Exchange to pull off the feat, although other global exchanges – including the NASDAQ – are also believed to be under consideration.
A Round Hill Music spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by MBW.
If Round Hill does float on the London Stock Exchange, it would follow the good-news-story for investors of Hipgnosis Songs Fund.
Merck Mercuriadis-led Hipgnosis floated on the LSE in summer 2018, and has since – driven by an aggressive music rights acquisition strategy – built up a market cap valuation worth over £1 billion (including C shares).
Round Hill Music was formed in 2012 by its CEO, Josh Gruss, with an initial fund of $200m to play with. Six years on, it raised again, this time for $263m, bringing its total spending power close to $500m.
Gruss told MBW in April that Round Hill was “in the middle of fundraising for a third fund”. It is unknown if the exploration of an IPO is seen as an alternative, or additive, to this fundraising by Round Hill.
Said Gruss at the time: “[We] feel our first fund, which started fundraising in 2012 and actually made its first investment before that in 2010, pioneered the dedicated music royalty fund space.
“That being said, I have to give credit to groups like Hipgnosis for exploring the London Stock Exchange and finding new areas of demand for the supply. I also give credit to Primary Wave for aligning with such a venerable name as BlackRock.”
“[We] feel our first fund, which started fundraising in 2012 and actually made its first investment before that in 2010, pioneered the dedicated music royalty fund space. That being said, I have to give credit to groups like Hipgnosis for exploring the London Stock Exchange and finding new areas of demand for the supply.”
Round Hill CEO Josh Gruss, speaking in April
Round Hill’s biggest acquisition to date was its buyout of Carlin in January 2018 for circa $245m, which netted the firm the Elvis Presley catalog, amongst over 100,000 copyrights.
Over the past eight years, Round Hill has also acquired rights to songs made famous by the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bruno Mars and Florida Georgia Line, as well as master catalogs created by the likes of The Offspring and Bush (whose catalog is co-owned by the company alongside the band’s frontman, Gavin Rossdale).
In 2017, Round Hill majority-acquired sync agency Zync, in a bid to maximise the commercial potential of music assets under its control.
Round Hill Music recently hired respected UK-based executive Steve Clark as its global Chief Operating Officer. Clark joined Round Hill after two decades with Warner Chappell Music, most recently as EVP of Global Operations.Music Business Worldwide