From Queen’s $1bn catalog to HYBE raising $380m for acquisitions in the US… it’s MBW’s Weekly Round-Up
Welcome to Music Business Worldwide’s weekly round-up – where we make sure you caught the five biggest stories to hit our headlines over the past seven days. MBW’s round-up is supported by Centtrip, which helps over 500 of the world’s best-selling artists maximize their income and reduce their touring costs.
Are we just months away from music’s first billion-dollar catalog deal?
This past week, MBW broke the news that Queen’s catalog could be sold this year for over $1 billion.
Our sources tell us that the initial stages of a sale process for the band’s catalog is underway, and that a full acquisition could be completed by the end of this summer.
Also this week, South Korean entertainment giant HYBE was reported to be looking to raise around 500 billion Korean won (approx USD $380m) to fund acquisitions in the US.
The news was first reported by Bloomberg, which, citing people familiar with the matter, reports that HYBE, the music company behind K-pop superstars BTS and rising stars New Jeans, “is in talks with investors to secure equity financing”.
Meanwhile, Cutting Edge Media Music, a prominent buyer of film and TV music rights, stepped into the world of pop music this week, striking a deal with pop songwriter and producer Jamie Hartman. MBW understands that the deal tipped into the eight-figure realm.
Plus, MBW grilled TikTok’s Global music boss Ole Obermann, while Ezekiel Lewis was promoted to President of Epic Records.
Here’s what happened this week…
1) QUEEN MUSIC CATALOG COULD BE SOLD THIS YEAR FOR OVER $1 BILLION, SAY MBW SOURCES
Two years ago, MBW ran a popular story with an attention-grabbing headline: “Queen’s music is making crazy money. Could it be worth over a billion dollars?”
The answer to the question, we now hear from multiple high-level music industry sources, is a resounding yes.
We’re told that the initial stages of a sale process for the band’s catalog – combining both music publishing and recorded music rights – is underway, and that a full acquisition could be completed by the end of this summer.
Major music companies including Universal Music Group have been in discussions regarding a potential acquisition, we’re told, in addition to players from the world of private equity….
2) HYBE IS RAISING $380M TO FUND MORE MUSIC ACQUISITIONS IN THE US (REPORT)
HYBE, the music company behind K-pop superstars BTS and rising stars New Jeans, is looking to raise around 500 billion Korean won (approx USD $380m) to fund acquisitions in the US.
That’s according to Bloomberg, which, citing people familiar with the matter, reports that the South Korean entertainment giant “is in talks with investors to secure equity financing”.
The report adds, citing those same people, that HYBE “is open to having both strategic and financial partners…”
3) TIKTOK IS UNDER FIRE FROM SOME OF MUSIC’S MOST POWERFUL PLAYERS. ITS GLOBAL MUSIC BOSS SAYS THE FUTURE’S BRIGHT – AND ANSWERS SOME TOUGH QUESTIONS.
“Some of the short-form video providers are relatively new… it doesn’t take a scientist to realize that we are being underpaid by [them]” – Rob Stringer, Sony Music Group Chairman.
“In terms of where we’re currently situated… we’re going to be working hard to improve the economics for our artists and labels moving forward” – Michael Nash, EVP and Chief Digital Officer, Universal Music Group.
“I’ve seen this movie before. I know the ending” – Sir Lucian Grainge, CEO & Chairman, Universal Music Group.
The untrained eye might not notice that these recent comments from major music company leaders (and more like them) are specifically laser-targeted toward TikTok.
TikTok doesn’t even get a direct mention in any of them. But those who know, know.
One individual who understands precisely what these music execs are saying-without-saying is ByteDance‘s Global Head of Music Business Development (and therefore TikTok’s de facto global head of music), Ole Obermann.
Obermann spent 13 years at major record companies – a decade at Sony Music/BMG and then three years at Warner Music Group – before joining ByteDance in 2019.
Today, he is principally responsible for TikTok’s licensing relationship with music rightsholders both large (major labels) and small (indie artists).
Before sitting down with MBW for this interview, Obermann is pre-warned that we’re going to fire a number of gnarly questions his way – most of them informed by grumbles-over-a-drink we’ve heard in Record Label Land.
He is relaxed about that idea. Sure enough, he smiles as the heat gets turned up during our questioning – even chuckling on the occasions we spritz a few molecules of hyperbole into proceedings.
For Obermann, this Q&A isn’t only a chance to set the music industry straight on (as he sees it) misplaced gripes over the size of the checks being paid by TikTok to labels and publishers. It’s also an opportunity to amplify his view that TikTok will birth lucrative new areas of business for music rightsholders – cumulatively worth billions of dollars – via ‘sync’ licensing for ads by brands on TikTok, and via real-time e-commerce…
4) CUTTING EDGE STRIKES EIGHT-FIGURE DEAL WITH POP SONGWRITER AND PRODUCER JAMIE HARTMAN
Cutting Edge Media Music is stepping into the world of pop music, striking a deal with prominent songwriter and producer Jamie Hartman, who’s written or co-written numerous hits for artists such as Lewis Capaldi, Celeste, Calvin Harris, Rag’n’Bone Man and the Backstreet Boys, among many others.
CEMM says it “will purchase the majority of Hartman’s back catalog royalties”, published through his deal with Reservoir Media, which includes hundreds of songs he’s written and collaborated on with artists including Rag ‘n’ Bone Man, Calvin Harris, Kygo and Lewis Capaldi as well as songs for commercials, TV and film written with artists such as Carole King, Jennifer Hudson and Christina Aguilera.
MBW understands that CEMM has bought the majority of Hartman’s writers’ share. Hartman continues to be published by Reservoir…
5) EZEKIEL LEWIS PROMOTED TO PRESIDENT OF EPIC RECORDS
Ezekiel Lewis has been promoted to President of Epic Records.
He will continue to report to Sylvia Rhone, Epic Records’ Chairwoman and CEO, and to lead the A&R division while helping run the day-to-day operations of the Sony Music-owned label.
Lewis has served as the company’s Executive Vice President and Head of A&R since 2020….