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NEAR TRUTHS: CATALOG JAM

Music valuation continues to surge across the board—witness the massive new deal for Sting’s song catalog by Jody Gerson’s UMPG—and fresh waves of financial players keep strolling to the table, constantly re-energizing the game. Private equity giants Blackstone, Oak Tree, KKR and Apollo Global are among the deep-pocketed funds pouring ducats into the copyright sweepstakes via partnerships. A few new contestants have been going toe-to-toe with Hipgnosis, Primary Wave and the Big Three; these include the Sherrese Clarke Soares-led HarbourView Equity Partners, which recently closed a sizable agreement with Latin superstar Luis Fonsi, and the Josh Gruss-led Round Hill, which just completed a deal with Alice in Chains (Primary Wave announced a pact the same week with the estates of AIC members Layne Staley and Mike Starr). Meanwhile, BMG is a small player in the mix, picking up cheaper offerings as it continues fishing at the bottom of the Rhine. With big catalogs going fast, which players are able to sweeten their offers with something more than a bigger check? What are these new players doing with the catalogs once they get them? Merck, Mestel and the major pubcos all claim to be moving the needle on behalf of their copyrights.

The Sting deal, we should add, is the fourth massive catalog transaction negotiated with the majors by mega-barrister Allen Grubman in recent months, coming on the heels of the colossal Springsteen and Paul Simon deals with Sony and the Bowie pact with WMG. It’s noteworthy that all these sales were done with companies the artists have been working with for decades.

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