Less than a month after announcing a $100 million fund to acquire catalogs from female music makers, Influence Media has made its first purchase. It has struck a deal with prominent songwriter Ali Tamposi for her publishing rights, the company tells Rolling Stone.
Tamposi has co-written an extensive catalog of hits for artists like Beyoncé, Kelly Clarkson, Selena Gomez and Camila Cabello. Some of her biggest credits include Cabello’s “Havana,” Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” and DJ Snake and Justin Bieber’s “Let Me Love You,” all of which have sold at least four million units, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. Influence Media declined to disclose financial details on the purchase but said it involved a significant amount of capital, adding that Influence would be closing more deals in the coming months.
“I feel extraordinarily lucky that Ali chose us,” Influence Media co-founder Lylette Pizarro told Rolling Stone. “We are completely committed to our partnership with Ali and delivering for her and her work.” The company began speaking with Tamposi’s team while it was still securing capital for its fund. After vetting her options, Tamposi — rather than taking a deal with an already established songs fund — chose to wait for Influence to launch its fund.
“I take great pride in my songs, so it’s great to have a trusted team like Lylette and Lynn at Influence Media to help find new opportunities to share my music with new audiences,” Tamposi said in a statement. “I never thought I’d be able to enter into an amazing partnership like this so early in my career, so I hope to inspire other young musicians to follow their dreams — the rules for what you can achieve are still being written.”
Pizarro founded Influence Media in 2018, and Influence has previously worked with Warner Music to acquire catalogs from songwriters such as Jeff Bhasker. Prior to founding Influence, Pizarro held a number of executive roles in music, entertainment and finance. Co-managing parter Lynn Hazan was previously the general manager and CFO of Sony’s Epic Records. Influence co-founded its current $100 million fund with the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Michigan.
In the coming months, Pizarro says, Influence will unveil more strategies around publishing rights as well as masters, but its initial strategy is identifying and purchasing publishing rights from female music makers, who Pizarro says have been undervalued amid the current boom for copyrights. “We’re focused on women and female songwriters […] When we did a listening tour, they felt like certain buyers weren’t getting back to them, they felt like they were being undervalued from their male peers,” Pizarro says. “They felt like it was hard to get attention with some of their publishers and to get their works focused on. We’re looking to shift that.”
The acquisition market has been booming in recent months as companies like Merck Mercuriadis’s Hipgnosis Songs Fund and Larry Mestel’s Primary Wave throw increasingly high multiples to artists, songwriters and producers. Those who sell their music take an immediate payout rather than rolling the dice on their future catalog earnings, while the buyer takes on the risk, hoping to get songs placed in more media opportunities and drive more streams and song sales for profit down the line. Neil Young, Lindsay Buckingham and Jimmy Iovine have all sold to Hipgnosis, while Stevie Nicks sold to Primary Wave.
The legacy music industry has taken notice of the upstarts, and many other players are now looking to secure the biggest catalogs on the market. Universal Music Publishing Group doled out nearly $400 million for Bob Dylan’s publishing rights late last year, while Sony Music Publishing also paid big bucks for Paul Simon’s catalog in March. BMG and KKR announced a partnership in March, with the companies telling Rolling Stone they’re prepared to spend into the billions, including potentially $500 million on individual catalogs.
The catalog acquisition market has never been more competitive — ad the same players that have shaken up the market in recent years are eager to take more acquisitions, while those with the deepest pockets will likely continue to grab the most valuable blue-chip song collections.
But Pizarro says she believes there remains opportunity for companies like hers to take a meaningful stake. “We were already in earlier, starting with bridge capital, and bought some assets and sold them to a sponsor, then began to raise our own permanent capital,” Pizarro says. “Now we’re seeing this market is really, really hot. What’s kept us on our path and why we were successful in closing our capital is because our vision and our approach is a bit different than our competitors. I still think there’s some opportunity and space here.”