KKR buys music rights portfolio

KKR, along with the investment office of the Hendel family, Dundee Partners, bought the KMR Music Royalties II portfolio from Kobalt Capital Limited for roughly $1.1 billion.

The portfolio is comprised primarily of music publishing copyrights for established works and includes a diverse collection of over 62,000 copyrights from highly acclaimed artists and songwriters across music genres.

“We are thrilled to purchase this diverse collection of iconic songs,” said Jenny Box, partner at KKR. “We look forward to investing in the success of this music and working collaboratively with Kobalt and the artists and songwriters who created it.”

She added that the transaction allows KKR to have significant scale. KKR is investing in innovative technology, media and entertainment businesses that are connecting fans to music in new ways that can enhance the value and reach of the songs in the portfolio, she said.

The transaction was completed by Chord Music Partners, which is a platform established by KKR with Dundee Partners. KKR will also contribute other music assets purchased over the past year to Chord, positioning the platform as owner of a diversified portfolio of music rights representing some of the most iconic musical works from the last five decades. Music strategy firm mtheory was instrumental in the development of Chord.

KKR has broad experience investing in artist-centric businesses, including household names in the music industry such as Gibson Brands and Alpha Theta (f.k.a. Pioneer DJ), as well as leading digital media and content companies, such as ByteDance (TikTok), Jio Platforms (JioSaavn), Epic Games, OverDrive, RBmedia, ArtList, UFC, Leonine, Next Issue Media and Nielsen.

KKR is investing through its Dislocation Opportunities Fund and certain other private credit investment funds and vehicles.

Dundee Partners’ Hendel family has a long history of promoting and prioritizing artists through investments in companies such as Partisan Records, Knitting Factory Entertainment and Left Music Publishing. One of the more interesting projects was bringing the Broadway hit Fela! to wider audiences. The musical tells the life story of Fela Kuti, the Nigerian activist and pioneer of Afrobeat music.

Kobalt, meanwhile, represents on average over 40% of the top 100 songs and albums in both the U.S. and the U.K.

“Kobalt Music Publishing will continue to act as the core administrator and synch licensing partner for the Fund II portfolio,” said Kobalt CEO, Laurent Hubert. “We are excited to work with KKR, Dundee Partners and the many songwriters we have partnered with for years as we continue to deliver market leading service to all stakeholders to grow the reach of the music we all love.”

Today, Kobalt Music represents over 600 publishers, more than 25,000 songwriters and over 700,000 songs. This vault includes songs spanning the gamut from boomer icons such as Paul McCartney and Stevie Nicks to Spanish superstar Enrique Iglesias and contemporary hitmakers such as Lorde and The Weeknd.

Kobalt will continue to build on its music publishing business and global digital collection society, AMRA.

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