Primary Wave has acquired the copyright to Whitney Houston’s songs as part of a deal for around 60 songs written by songwriters Shannon Rubicam and George Merrill, of the American pop music duo Boy Meets Girl.
It is consistent Financial Timesciting people familiar with the matter as reporting that the deal is estimated to be between $50 million and $100 million.
Shannon Rubicam and George Merrill’s catalog includes two of Houston’s biggest hits: How will I know and I want to dance with someone (who loves me), according to FT’s report.
Larry Mestel, CEO of Primary Wave, is quoted FT like saying that “This is one of the bigger purchases we’ve made.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The acquisition of the rights to Houston’s hit song was announced as part of Shannon Rubicam and George Merrill’s catalog following Primary Wave’s $2 billion deal with financial giant Brookfield last month.
The deal includes the acquisition of a minority stake in Primary Wave, and Brookfield is investing $1.7 billion in a fund to acquire music rights.
Under the deal with Brookfield, Primary Wave agreed to invest the majority of the financial giant’s funds in a “permanent capital venture” through the continued acquisition of music IP.
Ace MBW announced last month, Primary Wave still has a little over 1 billion dollars in an unused Brookfield investment after spending an initial $700 million to acquire some rights from Primary Wave’s Fund 1 and Fund 2.
(Fund 3 was born in 2021. MBW sources say it was supported $800 million in the capital. (The opening of fund 3 coincided with a 375 million dollars investment in Primary Wave by Oaktree Capital.)
The new “permanent capital company” is actually the fourth fund – with Primary Wave itself as a minority shareholder.
The new deal means Primary Wave has gained even greater control over the Whitney Houston catalog after acquiring a 50% stake in Houston’s estate in 2019.
As part of that deal, Primary Wave acquired a stake in the singer’s music assets, including royalty streams from her hits Trust me from the movie Waiting To Exhale, I didn’t know my own strength, I got you, like I never left and others.
According to New York Times, Primary Wave also acquired 50% of Houston Estate’s assets as part of the previous deal – including music and film author royalties, merchandise and rights to her name and likeness.
Primary Wave will release a Whitney Houston biopic in December titled I want to dance with someone, produced in partnership with Sony TriStar.
Speaking about the film to MBW last month, Mestel, who is co-producing alongside the likes of Clive Davis, said “It’s going to be amazing”.
Added Mestel to the photo: “I think as a result you’re going to see a very significant jump in Whitney’s brand, in the trends of her catalog in general — and in people’s introduction and re-introduction of a legend.”
Brookfield’s foray into the song-buying market comes as music streaming platforms like Spotify increase royalties for rights holders, making the music industry more attractive to traditional institutional investors.
Brookfield, which has more than $750 billion in assets under management, invests primarily in renewable energy, infrastructure, private equity, real estate and the credit and insurance sectors.
Primary Wave’s catalog consists of more than 800 Top 10 singles and over 400 No. 1 hits by legendary acts including Whitney Houston, Prince, Bob Marley, James Brown, Stevie Nicks, Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Bing Crosby, Def Leppard, Boston , Burt Bacharach and Olivia Newton-John.
“Primary Wave has a history of being friendly to artists, plus artists know we close deals – we don’t walk away from signed letters of intent,” CEO Mestel said. MBW in an interview last month.
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