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SESAC BAGS A FOX

SESAC is about to become a one-stop licenser. The org is acquiring the Harry Fox Agency for an undisclosed amount, making it the first performing-rights org able to issue mechanical licenses.

Described in Ben Sisario’s New York Times story as “a boutique rights group backed by private equity,” SESAC made the deal with the National Music Publishers’ Association, which has owned HFA since its creation in 1927. SESAC collects royalties on the 400k songs in its catalog, including works written by Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond and Kurt Cobain.

Gaining the ability to issue both kinds of licenses would enable SESAC to handle digital rights more efficiently, John Josephson, the PRO’s Chairman/CEO told Sisario. It would also give SESAC control of the valuable data that is generated from digital outlets like Apple, Spotify and Pandora, giving it a leg up on far bigger rivals ASCAP and BMI.

“There are so many overlapping kinds of licenses required for digital platforms that it is very hard for a composer or publisher to really understand how much value they are getting,” Josephson said “Imagine a future where the licensing regime is simpler and more straightforward.”

Said Larry Miller, an associate professor of music business at NYU’s Steinhardt School, “If the SESAC-HFA deal goes through, it may signal the start of a new cycle of competition, consolidation and deal-making in the global music-rights industry.” 

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