John Legend sells his music catalog to KKR, BMG

KKR & Co. Inc. and BMG have acquired the songwriting catalog for John Legend.

The deal, revealed in a regulatory application, closed last fall, illustrating how red-hot the market for music investment has become. Mr. Legend, 47 years old – still an active songwriter, record artist and performer – is younger and earlier in his career than many of his peers who have made deals to help create their legacy and monetize their life’s work.

The R&B crooner sold his publishing rights and the rights to receive royalties from music he wrote from 2004 to early 2021. BMG Rights Management and KKR each bought a 50% stake in the catalog. BMG, which has administered Mr. Legends’ work since acquiring Cherry Lane Music Publishing in 2010 also included an agreement to manage his future compositions, according to a person familiar with the matter. BMG, both a record company and publisher, is a subsidiary of the German Bertelsmann SE.


A result of KKR and BMG’s investment in Mr. Legends work so far is that his future releases and tours are likely to generate continued attention and streaming of his catalog. The agreement includes Mr. Legends praised their debut album “Get Lifted” from 2004 as well as hits such as “All of Me” and “Love Me Now”.

John Legend will perform at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, California, on February 9, 2020. (Associated Press / AP Newsroom)

KKR last March teamed up with BMG to spend at least $ 1 billion on music copyright. This commitment came amid a broader pull to the music last year for KKR, which in January last year signed a $ 200 million deal for a majority stake in Ryan Tedder’s catalog of hits, including songs from Beyoncé, Adele, Stevie Wonder and Mr. Tedders band, OneRepublic. (Mr. Tedder, now 42 years old, was another relatively young player in the market.) In October, KKR spent $ 1.1 billion on the investment advisory firm Kobalt Capital Ltd.’s KMR Music Royalties II portfolio, which includes more than 62,000 copyrights on across music genres.


Together, last month, KKR and BMG invested in the Texas blues-rock trio ZZ Top’s release catalog and recorded royalties on music in a deal worth about $ 50 million, according to people familiar with the deal.

Driven by strong demand from both older publishers and financial players, as well as low interest rates and tax incentives, a rush of artists has been striking agreements over their music rights, including Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.

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