Monday, July 1, 2019

Scooter Braun To Acquire Big Machine Records

Celebrity talent manager Scooter Braun reached a deal to acquire Big Machine Label Group LLC, creating a mini-conglomerate with an array of businesses to help it compete in the streaming-entertainment age.

The price was more than $300 million, according to The Wall Street Journal citing people familiar with the matter.

In acquiring Big Machine, Mr. Braun’s closely held Ithaca Holdings LLC will gain a roster of country and pop artists, plus the six albums Taylor Swift has released to date. That is on top of Mr. Braun’s existing interests, which include his Schoolboy Records label, a music publishing company and management clients such as Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Zac Brown Band and J. Balvin.

Big Machine, an independent Nashville-based music company, is home to artists including Sheryl Crow, Lady Antebellum, Thomas Rhett, Rascal Flatts and Florida Georgia Line. Founder Scott Borchetta will stay on as president and chief executive, and will join Ithaca’s board.

Scooter Braun and Scott Borchetta
As part of the deal, private-equity firm Carlyle Group CG, which has been a minority investor in Ithaca since 2017, will make another investment valuing the holding company at more than $800 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. Braun remains the largest shareholder of Ithaca, according to one of the people.

Borchetta started Big Machine in 2005 with Swift, then 15 years old, the first act he signed after discovering her performing at a cafe in Nashville. Swift released six studio albums on the label, and its growth has largely paralleled the country singer-songwriter turned pop star’s rising success. She became a free agent last year and struck a new, long-term deal with Universal’s Republic Records. Ownership of her previous recordings remains with Big Machine in perpetuity.

Big Machine’s annual revenue is more than $100 million, according to the people familiar with the deal. Last year, earnings before interest, taxes, amortization and depreciation were north of $40 million.

The deal for Big Machine comes amid a wave of consolidation among media companies seeking to bulk up to compete, as streaming has upended how consumers watch television and movies and listen to music.

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