Keith Urban has sold the master recordings for his wildly successful discography to the music rights company Litmus Music.
A fee was not disclosed, but based on the hundreds of millions that have been spent on music rights in the past few years, one can assume the price tag was high. The sale includes Urban’s 10 studio albums — including blockbusters like 2002’s Golden Road and 2004’s Be Here — a greatest hits compilation, as well as 24 songs that hit Number One on the Country charts.
Adding to the value of this particular sale is the fact that Urban sold the rights to his master recordings, arguably the most lucrative and coveted copyright in music. Publishing rights — which have comprised the bulk of catalog sales — can yield solid revenues, especially from sync licenses, but recorded music rights are more directly tied to things like streams, downloads, and album sales.
As part of the deal, Urban will continue to work with Litmus on future albums, including his next one, which is due in 2023. In a statement, Urban thanked the company’s co-founders, Dan McCarroll (a former exec at Warner Chappell and Blue Note) and Hank Forsyth (a former president of Warner Bros. Records and Capitol Records), saying, “What makes this such a great fit for me, is the genuine passion and respect Dan, Hank, and the team at Litmus have for this music. In working with them, I feel that same collaborative spirit that’s always inspired me as an artist.”
“I have the deepest respect for Keith, his incredible talent and his passion for making great music,” McCarroll added. “He’s a musically insatiable musician, record maker, performer and songwriter.”
Litmus is a very new player in the music catalog gold rush: It was founded in August, and the Urban sale marks its first major acquisition. Litmus was founded with a $500 million backing from Carlyle Global Credit, which does have some experience in the music acquisition space: The private equity giant used to be an investor in Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings and caught some flack when Braun bought Taylor Swift’s catalog (along with the rest of Big Machine Records) in 2019.