Tuesday, September 3, 2013

BMG in $150 Million Deal for Music Publishing Assets of U.S. Indie Primary Wave

George Szalai/The Hollywood Reporter

The music arm of Germany's Bertelsmann pushes further into the U.S. and acquires stakes in the publishing rights to such songs as John Lennon’s "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

BMG Rights Management, the music arm of German media giant Bertelsmann, on Tuesday unveiled a $150 million deal to take control of much of the music publishing business of U.S. independent music publisher Primary Wave Music.

The agreement will give BMG "significant rights in Primary Wave’s music publishing assets," including such songs as Earth Wind & Fire’s "September," Hall & Oates "Kiss On My List," John Lennon’s "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and Marvin Gaye’s "How Sweet It Is," the firms said.

The companies didn't provide further details, but Billboard reported that BMG will acquire the bulk of Primary's publishing assets in the deal.

BMG said Primary Wave is "one of the largest and most successful independent music companies in the U.S.," and the deal will involve Primary marketing future BMG/Primary releases in the U.S.

The companies also announced an alliance for the talent management side of Primary's business. They will create a joint venture, BMG/Primary Wave Artist Services, which will focus on signing recording artists who already have a track record.

Primary Wave manages such stars as Cee Lo Green, Natalie Imbruglia and Ginuwine. Plus, its Primary Wave TV unit recently sold its first TV show, which is currently shooting for TBS Network and features Cee Lo Green and Goodie Mob.

Said BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch: "The U.S. remains the heartland of and biggest single market in the worldwide music industry. This strategic alliance with Primary Wave, one of the most respected independents in the business, gives us control of some of the greatest copyrights in popular music in one stroke, while also strengthening our marketing resources in promoting new recordings."

He added: "And from the writer’s perspective, we are confident this deal will open up many new opportunities for the international exploitation of these iconic songs through our pro-active BMG team."

Said Larry Mestel, founder and CEO of Primary: "Having worked closely with the old BMG and Bertelsmann in the past while at Arista Records, I’m looking forward to rekindling that strong working relationship and leveraging our various resources and strengths to create a powerhouse partnership that will give artists a refreshing alternative in the industry.”

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