Ryan Tedder — one of the most business-savvy songwriters in the music industry, with songs written with Beyonce, Adele, U2, Paul McCartney, his own group OneRepublic and many more — has sold a majority stake of his music catalog to investment firm KKR, the company announced Monday morning. Following the acquisition, Tedder will retain an interest in his music alongside KKR. Tedder’s management, Patriot Management, and artist development company mtheory, through its MTC Music Royalties fund, will also participate in the equity transaction. Interscope Records will continue to own the master recordings of OneRepublic. Other terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The catalog includes nearly 500 songs written, recorded or produced by the three-time Grammy winner Tedder, also including songs Tedder has written with the above (such as Adele’s “Rumor Has It,” Beyoncé’s “Halo” and the Jonas Bros. “Sucker”) as well as Stevie Wonder, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Jonas Brothers, Thomas Rhett, multiple commercial tracks and all OneRepublic songs including their hits “Apologize,” “Secrets” and “Counting Stars.” According to the announcement, Songs written by Tedder have sold over 420 million copies, or the equivalent of 63 billion streams.
The announcement continues that KKR is taking an “artist-first” approach and in collaboration with Tedder, it plans to “leverage the firm’s vast network, resources and global scale as well as its deep experience successfully investing in market-leading music, digital, media and content businesses to expand upon the success and reach of Tedder and OneRepublic’s music.”
KKR is the majority owner of Gibson guitars and has helped to lead the company out of deep financial distress, and last year invested nearly $50 million in Artlist, a royalty-free music and sound effects company that licenses content to creators on YouTube and other platforms. The company had previously invested in then-new BMG Rights Management in 2009 but exited four years later. KKR also has experience investing in the digital media and content sectors, including investments in ByteDance (TikTok), Jio Platforms, Epic Games, AppLovin, OverDrive, RBmedia, WebMD, UFC, Leonine, Next Issue Media and Nielsen.
KKR is is the latest company to get into the booming song-catalog business, which has seen Hipgnosis Songs invest more than $1.7 billion in catalogs in just two and a half years (and last week acquired 50% of Neil Young’s catalog, as well as those of Fleetwood Mac veteran Lindsey Buckingham and producer/executive Jimmy Iovine), and Bob Dylan selling his entire publishing catalog for a reported sum of nearly $400 million to Universal Music Publishing just last month. Observers expected the already white-hot song-catalog market to heat up even more in the waning weeks of the Trump Administration — president-elect Joe Biden’s administration is projected to raise capital-gains taxes — and it has certainly done so. Along with the above and other big deals, Stevie Nicks, Buckingham’s longtime bandmate in Fleetwood Mac, sold her publishing catalog to Primary Wave for a reported $100 million in December.
“The music industry is undergoing an incredible period of transformation,” said Tedder. “Streaming and all forms of digital content are not only providing new avenues for how we consume music, but also for how artists can reach new audiences in a much more immersive way. KKR really stood out to us from every metric that mattered and it truly impressed upon me and my team their commitment to music as a true focus and passion moving forward.”
“We are excited to partner with Ryan on both his extraordinary body of creative work and on pursuing future opportunities together,” said Nat Zilkha, Partner at KKR and Chairman of Gibson Brands, a portfolio company of KKR. “At KKR, we are focused on a number of investment initiatives across the music and entertainment industries and we believe Ryan’s unique combination of artistic brilliance and business acumen will help us amplify these efforts,”
“KKR’s collaborative approach across investment strategies allows us to provide highly flexible and creative capital solutions to artists and companies across the music and entertainment industry,” added Jenny Box, Partner at KKR.
“Ryan is one of the most creative artists of our time,” said Ron Laffitte, President of Patriot Management. “We were looking for a strategic partner to help us build on Ryan’s incredible success and find new ways to empower his artistic genius. KKR stood out immediately because they understand that the artist should be at the center of everything that involves the creator’s creation.”
KKR is investing in the catalog through its Dislocation Opportunities Fund and private credit vehicles. Jordan Keller and Sarah Smith of Keller, Turner, Andrews & Ghanem represented the Sellers, and Latham & Watkins and FTI Consulting served as advisors to KKR on the transaction. Further terms were not disclosed.