Concord Bicycle Buys Imagem

New global publishing mini-major is born

Daft Punk performs at the 56th Grammy Awards in 2014

Songs by Daft Punk, which won a Grammy in 2014, are included in the Imagem purchase. (Photo: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Concord Bicycle Music has acquired music publishing and theatrical rights company Imagem Music Group, picking up a combination of wordwide and European rights to songs by Phil Collins, Pink Floyd, Justin Timberlake and Lionel Richie as well as classic theater works by Rogers & Hammerstein, Irving Berlin and more.

In all the company has picked up more than 250,000 copyrights that will be managed under its Bicycle Music publishing group. Bicycle CEO Jake Wisely said the acquisition includes “small rights and grand rights,” grand meaning the right to the entire work, as would be done for a stage production, while small productions would be per-song, as in sync, mechanical, or performance rights licensing.

Wisely emphasized that the expansion makes Bicycle Concord a more global company, with a total of 380,000 copyrights and now offices in the U.K. and Germany to complement existing U.S. offices in New York, Nashville, Cleveland and Beverly Hills, where the company is headquartered. Imagem will continue to be operated as a discrete unit within Bicycle, with its dedicated staff of approximately 130 remaining mostly intact. “We need those specialists to continue their role,” Wisely said.

The Imagem catalog was created in 2008, when Dutch pension fund APB joined forces with CTM Publishing to acquire a number of catalogs sold by Universal Publishing: Rondor, Zomba, BBC and 19 Music.  This brought in 175,000 copyrights, including songs written by Genesis, Daft Punk, Mark Ronson, Linkin Park, Iron Maiden, Will Smith, Steve Miller and 30 Seconds to Mars.

The company immediately snapped up the Boosey & Hawkes classical catalog, which with 74,000 copyrights dating back to 1930 was the largest specialist classical publisher in the world, including composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Béla Bartók, Aaron Copland, Benjamin Britten, Sergei Prokofieff, Richard Strauss, and Sergei Rachmaninoff, along with popular contemporary composers such as John Adams, Steve Reich, and Sir Karl Jenkins.

Bicycle Music Company CEO Jake Wisely.

Bicycle Music Company
CEO Jake Wisely.

In 2009 Imagem became the first corporate owner of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Co., purchasing from the families of composer Richard Rodgers and lyricist Oscar Hammerstein the company they founded in 1943.  With 5,000 copyrights that include masterworks like The Sound of MusicOklahoma!The King and I, Carousel and South Pacific, Wisely calls it “arguably the greatest theatrical rights and publishing company in the world.” The Rodgers & Hammerstein Co. also represents iconic composers such as Irving Berlin, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stephen Schwartz, Jerome Kern and Rodgers & Hart.

Wisely said that while explosive growth is streaming is “the main driver, at this point,” for an uptick in music asset valuations, “the advent of jukebox musicals over the last decade, and the sustained growth of Broadway and the West End and first-class touring have made this an incredible business.” Concorde Bicycle had already owned rights in the songs and scores of Marvin Hamlisch, including works from A Chorus Line, They’re Playing Our Song, The Goodbye Girl and Sweet Smell of Success.

In September, Concord Bicycle made a deliberate expansion in the space, partnering with Andrew Lloyd Webber and his Really Useful Group to launch The Musical Company, to offer “best of class service to the creators of theater works,” including stock and amateur licensing, distribution and marketing for cast recordings and music publishing administration for composers, songwriters and producers. Warner/Chappell Music senior vice president theater and catalog development Sean Patrick Flahaven was named CEO of TMC.

TMC launched as the exclusive licensing agent for not only for Webber works including The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, School of Rock, Starlight Express and Sunset Boulevard, but also works jointly owned by Webber and Tim Rice, like Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. As part of the deal Bicycle Music was awarded administration of Webber’s worldwide publishing rights.

In announcing the acquisition in The New York Times yesterday, Concord Bicycle CEO Scott Pascucci estimated that the Imagem acquisition brings his privately-held firm’s valuation to “nearly $1 billion,” and estimates 2017 revenue will be $290 million.  Terms of the Imagem purchase were not disclosed, but much was made of the fact that APB was unable to get its $650 million asking price in 2014.

A lot has changed since then, though the Times concludes “Concord’s deal is estimated to be for somewhat less than that.” (Billboard put the price at $600 million.)

In addition to the Bicycle Music Company, Concord Bicycle Music owns the Concord Music Group record label. The company is owned by Barings Alternative Investments, Sound Investors, and seventy institutional and individual partners, including more than two dozen executive owners currently in the firm’s employ.  Barings Alternative Investments is a leading investor in intellectual property assets including music, other copyrights, filmed content and patents and trademarks, with over $7.2 billion in total assets under management.

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