Sony’s country club

Label buys Acuff-Rose catalog from Gaylord

Sony/ATV Music Publishing had a lot more country tunes to croon Tuesday after it paid $157 million to acquire the storied Acuff-Rose music publishing catalog from Nashville-based leisure and resort conglom Gaylord Entertainment.

The purchase adds 55,000 copyrights to the Sony/ATV catalog, including popular work from such country and pop acts as Roy Orbison and Hank Williams, as well as newer stars such as Brooks & Dunn and Tim McGraw.

Sony No. 1 for country

Sony was already far and away the largest country-music publisher in the world, with more than 150,000 titles in its archives before the Acuff-Rose deal.

But as songwriters have become increasingly savvy of the earnings power of their copyrights and are keeping them for themselves, “It’s become very unusual to see new catalogs of this quality come on the market,” Sony/ATV chairman Paul Russell told Daily Variety. “This one is a real jewel.”

Russell added that the profit potential of the catalog should increase over time, as Acuff-Rose’s administration deals with other companies expire and Sony takes them over with its own inhouse publishing facilities.

Gaylord plans to use proceeds from the sale to pay down its $400 million debt load and to finance the expansion of its national resort network, which now includes entertainment complexes in Tennessee, Florida and Texas.

New resort

The company is expecting to break ground soon on a new resort near Washington, D.C. — at an expected cost of roughly $450 million. Gaylord also has $89 million in debt outstanding from the development of the Florida property in February, which it expects to cut to $60 million thanks to the deal with Sony and other transactions.

Acuff-Rose deal marks the second time in the past 12 months that Gaylord has sold off a major music property. In November, it sold Christian record label Word Entertainment to Warner Music for $80 million, instantly vaulting the major-label group to the forefront of the genre.

Gaylord also controls Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium, as well as the Grand Ole Opry and country radio station WSM.

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