Ryan Tedder, the prolific songwriter and lead singer for pop-rock band OneRepublic, is the latest high-profile artist to cash in on their prolific song catalog — selling a majority stake of his recorded music and publishing rights to investment firm KKR on Monday morning.
Tedder’s 500-song catalog includes major OneRepublic hits like “Counting Stars,” “Apologize,” and “Secrets,” along with other platinum hits he’s co-written for many other artists like Beyonce’s “Halo” and Adele’s “Rumour Has It.” KKR declined to detail how much it paid for the catalog or how much of a stake it took, but Reuters reported that Tedder’s catalog is valued at $200 million, marking one of the larger acquisitions since the catalog-sales boom started in recent years.
Tedder’s management and artist development companies Patriot Management and MTheory also participated in the equity deal, KKR said.
“The music industry is undergoing an incredible period of transformation,” Tedder said in a statement. “Streaming and all forms of digital content are not only providing new avenues for how we consume music, but also for how artists can reach new audiences in a much more immersive way. KKR really stood out to us from every metric that mattered, and it truly impressed upon me and my team their commitment to music as a true focus and passion moving forward.”
Catalog sales have been an increasingly lucrative opportunity for songwriters in the past two years, with demand heavily increasing as companies like Merck Mercuriadis’s Hipgnosis Songs Fund and Larry Mestel’s Primary Wave Music hyped up the market. Songwriters who sell their catalogs take an immediate payout rather than rolling the dice on their catalogs’ earnings, while the buyers take on the risk, hoping to shop songs through synch licensing, merchandisem and other plays. Last week alone, Hipgnosis announced deals with Jimmy Iovine, Lindsay Buckingham and Neil Young, while Stevie Nicks just closed a catalog deal with Primary Wave in December.
The biggest sale so far, though, comes from Bob Dylan, who sold his publishing rights to Universal Music Publishing Group in December for nearly $400 million, according to sources. As U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden gets ready to begin his term with a Democrat-lead House and Senate and queues up a series of proposed increases to capital-gains taxes — which would affect the take-home amount that songwriters can make from these major catalog sales — those deals could begin to slow down.
While KKR’s portfolio is wide-ranging, the company is active in the music and media industries, with stakes in Gibson Guitars and ByteDance, the latter of which owns TikTok. It also holds stakes in Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, as well as UFC. From 2009 to 2013, KKR owned a majority stake in BMG before selling its stake to Bertelsmann. In its release, KKR said it looks to expand on Tedder’s catalog’s reach for other media and content opportunities.
“At KKR, we are focused on a number of investment initiatives across the music and entertainment industries and we believe Ryan’s unique combination of artistic brilliance and business acumen will help us amplify these efforts,” Nat Zilkha, partner at KKR and chairman of Gibson Brands, said in a statement.
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