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From Justin Timberlake’s catalog sale to Sony’s unrecouped balance program expansion: It’s MBW’s Weekly Round-Up


Welcome to Music Business Worldwide’s weekly round-up – where we make sure you caught the five biggest stories to hit our headlines over the past seven days. MBW’s round-up is supported by Centtrip, which helps over 500 of the world’s best-selling artists maximise their income and reduce their touring costs.


This week brought news of music’s latest superstar catalog deal.

Hipgnosis Song Management announced that it has acquired the song catalog of Justin Timberlake, on behalf of Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital (Hipgnosis Songs Capital ICAV) – a separate entity to the UK-listed Hipgnosis Songs Fund.

Hipgnosis says it has acquired “100% of all of Timberlake’s copyright, ownership and financial interests of the Writer and Publisher’s Share of Public Performance income, and the catalog of musical compositions written by Justin Timberlake”.

Also included in the sale to Hipgnosis are the worldwide administration rights to the compositions, subject to the remaining Term of Universal Music Publishing Group’s administration rights, which expire in 2025…

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but citing sources, the Wall Street Journal reports that it was valued at ‘just above $100 million’.

Elsewhere this week, Matt Pincus’ SONGS, an investment house focused on the music business, raised $200 million in “initial” capital, officially re-launching as a partnership between Pincus and Liontree, plus two new investors – JS Capital Management and Schusterman Family Investments.

Based in New York, MUSIC says it will look to take long-term positions in companies operating across three areas of the music business: (i) the technology sector; (ii) record labels and music publishers; and (iii) companies “dedicated to Web3 innovation”.

Meanwhile, Sony Music Group announced the expansion of its landmark Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program on a rolling basis.

The program will now be extended to eligible unrecouped artists and songwriters globally who have been with Sony Music for over 20 years, and haven’t received an advance in over two decades.

The move was revealed by Sony Music Group Chairman, Rob Stringer, during a presentation to investors at Sony Group’s 2022 Business Segment Briefing on Thursday morning (May 26).

Plus, Tencent Music and NetEase Cloud Music both added more paying music users than Spotify in Q1, while music creation platform Splice has appointed Kakul Srivastava as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Here’s what happened this week…


1) Justin Timberlake sells song catalog to Hipgnosis and its $1bn-backed Blackstone fund

Hipgnosis Song Management has – using cash from its Blackstone-backed private fund – acquired the song catalog of superstar artist and songwriter Justin Timberlake.

Hipgnosis says it has acquired “100% of all of Timberlake’s copyright, ownership and financial interests of the Writer and Publisher’s Share of Public Performance income, and the catalog of musical compositions written by Justin Timberlake”.

Also included in the sale to Hipgnosis are the worldwide administration rights to the compositions, subject to the remaining Term of Universal Music Publishing Group’s administration rights, which expire in 2025…


2) MATT PINCUS’ MUSIC RAISES $200M, AS IT EYES RECORD LABEL, PUBLISHING, TECH AND WEB3 INVESTMENTS

New York-based Matt Pincus is a highly respected entrepreneur in the music business: after all, he founded SONGS Music Publishing, which not only signed The Weeknd, Diplo, and Lorde – but ended up selling to Kobalt Capital for around $160 million in 2017.

After exiting SONGS, Pincus quietly launched an investment house focused on the music business, in partnership with Liontree.

Since 2019, that venture – MUSIC – has made investments in firms such as music-making platform Splice, music financial services company HIFI, the ticketing platform DICE, and others. (Pincus is currently a member of the board of directors of Splice and HIFI.)

Yesterday (May 26), Pincus announced he’s taking MUSIC to the next level…


Sony Music Group Chairman, Rob Stringer

3) SONY MUSIC TO EXPAND UNRECOUPED BALANCE PROGRAM TO MORE ARTISTS AND SONGWRITERS

Last June, Sony Music Group made the landmark announcement that it would no longer apply existing unrecouped balances to earnings for eligible artists who were signed prior to the year 2000, and who hadn’t received advances since.

The move was launched via an initiative called “Artists Forward” which, according to a statement from the record company at the time, focuses on “prioritizing transparency with creators in all aspects of their development”.

The marquee policy from that initiative, The Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program, was extended to songwriters in July, with Sony Music Publishing (SMP) revealing that it too would disregard unrecouped balances for qualifying songwriters.

Now, Sony Music Group is expanding its unrecouped balance program to even more artists and songwriters…


4) KAKUL SRIVASTAVA NAMED NEW SPLICE CEO, AS FOUNDER STEVE MARTOCCI TRANSITIONS TO NEW ROLE

Music creation platform Splice has hired Kakul Srivastava as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Joining the company from Adobe, Srivastava has served on the Splice Board of Directors since 2021.

Splice’s appointment of a new CEO means that Splice founder, and current CEO Steve Martocci, will be transitioning to the joint role of Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer…


Angela Chang (Zhang)

5) TENCENT MUSIC AND NETEASE CLOUD MUSIC BOTH ADDED MORE PAYING MUSIC USERS THAN SPOTIFY IN Q1

Some interesting news out of China: Both of the region’s biggest music streaming providers, Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) and NetEase Cloud Music (NCM) saw significant growth in paying online music users in the first three months of 2022.

That’s ‘paying online music users’ rather than ‘subscribers’ because this specifically-worded metric – particularly relevant to TME – is adopted by both companies in their financials…


MBW’s Weekly Round-Up is supported by Centtrip, which helps over 500 of the world’s best-selling artists maximise their income and reduce their touring costs.Music Business Worldwide



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