Axios Pro Exclusive Content

BMI pulls sale plans amid music rights slowdown

Tim Baysinger
Aug 15, 2022
Illustration of a pencil writing sheet music with dollar and cents symbols
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Broadcast Music Inc.'s decision to shelve its sale plans is the latest sign that the once white-hot market for music rights has cooled in recent months.

Why it matters: It was only last year that $5 billion was spent on catalog and music rights, as older artists looked to cash out on their decades-long careers.

  • Since 2020, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen have scored massive nine-figure deals. Early in 2022, those big sales included David Bowie, Sting and Neil Diamond.
  • Many of these sales were bankrolled by private equity firms like Apollo, KKR and Blackstone.

Driving the news: On Friday, BMI confirmed to Axios that a sale of the company was "no longer an avenue we are considering."

  • BMI hired Goldman Sachs earlier this year to explore its options and was seeking at least a $1.5 billion sale price — and as much as $3 billion — per Bloomberg, which first reported Friday's news.
  • A BMI rep told Axios that "nothing has been left off the table" in regards to whether or not the company would pursue a sale in the future. "We’re continuing to evaluate our next steps and remain excited about our prospects for delivering long-term growth for our affiliates and our shareholders, and for what's to come."

The big picture: BMI isn't the only music rights holder to drop sale plans after getting low offers.

  • Concord, one of the largest independent music companies — it owns the Rodgers & Hammerstein catalog, among many others — decided not to sell after not getting the offers it wanted.
  • Other music companies like Round Hill Music, Anthem Entertainment Group and Tempo Music are trying to sell but have not yet found buyers, per Bloomberg.

Yes, but: The music rights market isn't completely dry. Pink Floyd is eyeing a $500 million sale of the band's recording and songwriting catalogs.

Go deeper