UPDATED: Songs Music Publishing, home to the publishing interests of The Weeknd, Lorde and Diplo, among others, will sell its catalog to Kobalt Capital’s fund, the companies announced today. The price tag is believed to be in the vicinity of $150 million, according to sources with knowledge of the deal. At the same time, Songs president and cofounder Ron Perry has been tapped to fill the chief executive role at Columbia Records, Variety has confirmed. He’ll step into a spot vacated when former chairman/CEO Rob Stringer took the helm of Columbia parent Sony Music Entertainment as CEO in April.
The Songs catalog will be administered and serviced by Kobalt Music Publishing, home to Paul McCartney,Kelly Clarkson, Dave Grohl, Dr. Luke, The Chainsmokers, the Miles Davis estate and many others. Kobalt’s Capital Fund recently secured another $14 million to its recent Series D round of growth capital, bringing the total to $89 million.
Rumors of a Songs sale have been percolating for months, after the independent publishing house, cofounded by Matt Pincus in 2004, received an unsolicited offer earlier this year. Among the suitors, whose offer was rejected in a last-minute turnaround, was Scooter Braun, insiders reveal. The power manager, whose clients include Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Kanye West, recently marked the 10-year anniversary of his company SB Projects, telling Variety that he was in “asset acquisition” mode.
A source tells Variety that Pincus and Songs’ third principal, Carianne Marshall, will stay on to assist with the transition but are not expected to take on permanent roles at Kobalt; a source tells Variety that Songs will wind down on a gradually, with some employees moving over to Kobalt.
Manatt Entertainment and Media partner Jeff Biederman and counsel Michael Rexford led the deal team for Kobalt Music Group.
“I met Willard [Ahdritz, Kobalt founder and CEO] when I first started Songs in 2004,” Pincus said in a statement. “He was one of the first people to believe in our vision of a music publishing company providing revolutionary creative service to contemporary songwriters. Carianne Marshall, Ron Perry and I built Songs with a forward-thinking stance, a fierce commitment to songwriters and their compensation, and a focus on long-term relationships. Songs is a truly independent company – 100% owned and operated by us since its inception. After many years of hard work and personal investment in the company, we decided that it was time for us to look for new horizons.”
“Matt has built a remarkable company with a combination of great creative vision and a deep business understanding,” Ahdritz said. “The results are an extraordinary music publishing company. I am honored that Matt has trusted Kobalt to take care of his songwriters and songs. We are looking forward to delivering an outstanding service in their new home.”
“Matt, Ron and Carianne have done an incredible job of building Songs into a truly viable alternative to the majors for the world’s most creative artists,” said Kobalt Music President and Chief Revenue Officer, Laurent Hubert. “We agreed early on, that any deal with Songs should be a win all around and most importantly, benefit the Songs clients. I made a promise to him, as I do to all of our publishing clients, that we will maximize the value of their music through superior collection, creative and marketing services.”
Ron Perry, President of Songs, commented: “Today is the bittersweet culmination of a journey that I joined Matt on 14 years ago. From the very first writer signing, to many of today’s premier writers, artists and producers, I couldn’t be more proud that we were able to build a company that has substantially impacted the creative discussion around music publishing. I thank each and every one of the songwriters who entrusted us to play vital roles in their careers, and I know they are all in great hands at Kobalt.”
Carianne Marshall, Head of Creative Licensing commented: “It’s been my great privilege to work at Songs, a company we built around the idea of empowering songwriters. It’s been an incredible journey that I owe to our amazing writers and our dedicated team both past and present, along with the people in the industry I get to work with every day. I have great faith that our songwriters and catalog will continue to flourish in Kobalt’s trusted hands.”