SESAC, the only one of the three top U.S. performing rights organizations to operate as a for profit privately owned business, has been acquired from Rizvi Traverse Management by private equity firm Blackstone. This transaction is Blackstone’s first investment as part of a private equity strategy designed to hold investments for much longer periods of time than traditional private equity funds.
While a large and sometimes respected firm, Blackstone is also known for aggressively pursuing profits from its assets. In 2013, the company was shown to be self dealing after its affiliate GSO Capital Partners purchased debt and credit default swaps in Codere SA, a Spanish betting, online gambling and gaming company.
SESAC’s 30,000 affiliates include many of the top songwriters including Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, RUSH, Charli XCX (PRS), Zac Brown, Mumford & Sons (PRS), Lady Antebellum, Mariah Carey, Axl Rose, Shirley Caesar, and Robin Thicke.
Little immediate change is expected, according to SESAC Chairman and CEO John Josephson who said in a statement, “Blackstone is acquiring our company with the specific intent of backing the existing management team, and shares our long-term vision for the company with a history of adding value to their portfolio companies as a supportive strategic partner and capital provider. We anticipate a seamless transition in ownership with no disruption to our business activities as a result of this transaction.”
SESAC is the only U.S.-based music rights organization that administers public performance, mechanical, synchronization and other rights within a single company. Thus, SESAC is able to offer singular licenses for the works of its affiliated writers and publishers that aggregate both performance and mechanical rights. SESAC also recently expanded its activities to include the international market through MINT, a joint venture with Swiss collection society SUISA, that will license and administer music rights to digital music platforms on a pan-European basis.