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MUSIC’S HOTTEST FIRMS: ZIFFREN BRITTENHAM

John G. Branca, one of the nation’s preeminent music-industry, entertainment and corporate attorneys, leads Ziffren Brittenham’s music practice, which encompasses all facets of entertainment and media and represents many prominent individuals in film, TV, sports, live-stage, digital, literary and music, as well as financiers, production companies and programming services.

The firm represents such musical legends as Michael Jackson, Carlos Santana and The Bee Gees; superstars Beyoncé, Travis Scott, Justin Timberlake, Shakira, Blake Shelton and Kelly Clarkson; and next-generation music talent including Selena Gomez, ROSALÍA and Olivia Rodrigo. Ziffren’s non-music roster includes 
A-listers President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Tyler Perry, Lebron James, Dick Wolf, Sandra Bullock, Ben Affleck and Chadwick Boseman.

Branca on a triumphant 2020: “Of course, the pandemic has presented challenges unthinkable 18 months ago, but what is most remarkable to me about the last year has been the non-pandemic changes and evolution in the music industry. We have seen a flurry in the sale of important song catalogs, many of which I am proud to say the firm has been central to. The valuation of these catalogs has been at a high, which means songs and songwriters are valued more than ever. We’ve helped our clients make a judgment about timing, evaluation and potential partners. More and more, our team has worked to create ancillary revenue streams for our music clients, particularly in television.

“It was extremely gratifying to see how favorably critics and the public viewed the Bee Gees doc this year, since much went into its creation and into the release of Greenfields. As the co-producer of the Michael Jackson: ONE show in Las Vegas and the MJ biopic and Broadway play we have in development, the work has been ongoing. I’m looking forward to once again putting Michael’s music and the work done by the talented team of the producers, directors, choreographers, dancers, actors and other creators involved in these productions in front of his fans and the public. The Estate of Michael Jackson continues to develop projects that honor the life and music of, in the memorable words of Berry Gordy, “the greatest entertainer who ever lived.”

Partner David Lande on the catalog gold rush: “This is a unique moment in time fueled by lots of money chasing a limited number of deals. One of the exciting deals that we did in 2020 was the sale of Shakira’s publishing rights to Hipgnosis. In a world of negative real interest rates, investors are searching for yield in bond like investments, and the acquisition of IP rights and/or revenue streams fulfills this goal. For songwriters and owners of IP, it is an opportunity to obtain previously unheard-of multiples and favorable tax treatment.”

Partner David Byrnes on a rollercoaster year: “Talk about disruption. A year of shutdowns and tour cancellations evolved into diverse opportunities, including furniture lines, hard seltzers, fast food, gaming, strategically timed merchandise drops and TV, whether traditional or streaming. Clients figured out different ways to interact with fans and advance their brands in all those areas. For estates, it was business as usual, with the added element of a robust catalog-sales business and healthy streams.”

Complete Ziffren Brittenham profile

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