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NEAR TRUTHS:
BOUGHT FOR A SONG

The big-money topic of the last couple of years, catalog acquisition, was unquestionably affected by inflation. But while the cost of money pumped the brakes somewhat on the formerly feverish marketplace for copyrights, the biggest players in the game—the major pubcos, Merck MercuriadisHipgnosis and Larry Mestel’s Primary Wave—were able to line up more than a few fat targets, with more promised in the near future. Merck’s year-end numbers offered an upbeat assessment that countered the gloom and doom of the business press, with net revenue up 5.8% year-over-year. Mestel’s shop received a $2b infusion from Brookfield Asset Management, quickly planning $600m in new deals by year’s end. PW’s financials, we’re told, were particularly unaffected by the aforementioned economic speed bumps, the company having locked in its funding at low interest rates.

A few new players are expected to enter the fray soon, notably Firebird, the newco being launched with heavy investment from Joe Ravitch and Fred Davis of Raine Group, to be led by erstwhile Ticketmaster and Twitter exec Nathan Hubbard; management giants Coran Capshaw and Michael McDonald are set to play major roles there.

Another hotly anticipated new entrant on the horizon is the venture being fashioned by former Apple Music rainmaker Larry Jackson, whose blend of artist-whispering and tech expertise is said to have prompted discussions with an array of A-list creators and execs. Some believe there will be a tech-acquisition component to the newco; insiders say a preliminary announcement is due early in 2023.

Eldridge leader Todd Boehly is rumored to be eyeing more music and tech investments, having helped finance the enormous Bob Dylan and (with Sony Pub) Bruce Springsteen deals and having made the massive Chelsea FC franchise purchase. He also bought the Golden Globes, which will become a for-profit enterprise. Will his next moves affect the center of gravity in music?

Much chatter surrounds the rumored move of Quality Control from its Motown/UMG perch; insiders say the company, which is thought to be valued at around $400m, will be going to WMG, though sources there deny this. Meanwhile, DJ Khaled, Megan Thee Stallion, Kendrick Lamar, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Travis Scott and Usher are all said to have legal teams working on significant new deals.