KKR, a global investment firm which has invested in companies like Gibson and BMG, has acquired a majority stake in the nearly 500-song music catalog of OneRepublic frontman, songwriter and producer Ryan Tedder, including music publishing and recorded music rights, the parties announced Monday (Jan. 11).
Tedder’s management company Patriot Management and artist development company mtheory each acquire minority stakes in the catalog (mtheory through its MTC Music Royalties fund), and Tedder retains an undisclosed interest. Interscope Records continues to own OneRepublic’s master recordings.
“The music industry is undergoing an incredible period of transformation,” Tedder said. “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.”
The catalog of nearly 500 songs written, recorded or produced by Tedder encompasses all OneRepublic songs — including hits “Apologize,” “Secrets” and “Counting Stars” — as well as Tedder’s work with artists like Beyoncé, U2, Paul McCartney, Adele, Stevie Wonder, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga, Cardi B and Jonas Brothers.
Going forward, KKR will collaborate with Tedder to “expand upon the success and reach” of his and OneRepublic’s music, according to a press release.
Formerly known as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., KKR has a long history of music industry investments. It teamed with Bertelsmann for the music rights joint venture BMG Rights Management in 2009, controlling 51% until Bertelsmann took full ownership in 2013, and has also invested in music or music-adjacent companies like Gibson Brands, Pioneer DJ gear manufacturer AlphaTheta, TikTok parent ByteDance, Epic Games and Nielsen.
KKR also reportedly made a bid for Vivendi in 2006, partnered with Warner Music Group on an unsuccessful offer to acquire EMI Music in 2010, and was mulling a $23 million bid to acquire Universal Music Group in 2019.
Now, the firm is investing in the Tedder and OneRepublic catalog in part through its $2.8 billion Dislocation Opportunities Fund, which was created to focus on investment opportunities caused by the coronavirus crisis.
Nearly a year since the pandemic put a hold on touring and the revenue that comes with it, Tedder isn’t the only artist looking to cash in on his catalog. The past year has seen a boom in music publishing catalog sales especially, thanks to growing interest from companies like Merck Mercuriadis’ Hipgnosis Songs Fund and Larry Mestel’s Primary Wave Music. Last week alone, Hipgnosis announced deals with Neil Young, Lindsey Buckingham and Jimmy Iovine, while Bob Dylan sold his entire publishing catalog to Universal Music Publishing last month.
“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,” Patriot Management president Ron Laffitte said of the deal. “KKR stood out immediately because they understand that the artist should be at the center of everything that involves the creator’s creation.”
“We are excited to partner with Ryan on both his extraordinary body of creative work and on pursuing future opportunities together,” added KKR partner and Gibson Brands chairman Nat Zilkha. “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.”
Tedder and OneRepublic were represented in the transaction by Jordan Keller and Sarah Smith of Keller, Turner, Andrews & Ghanem; and Latham & Watkins and FTI Consulting served as advisors to KKR. Further terms of the deal were not disclosed.