The global music rights acquisitions space’s biggest players have been predominantly based in the US and Europe to date.
But over in Asia, new big-money funds have started to make some serious noise over the past few months.
In June, for example, Seoul-based Beyond Music, which claims to be Asia’s largest single music IP asset management company, set out plans “to conquer the global music IP market”. The firm said it expects to have 1 trillion South Korea Won ($800m) worth of assets under management by the end of this year.
Today, MBW can reveal that a new Asia-focused fund just entered the space and it’s launched with an initial raise of USD $100 million.
Managed by Prime Asia Asset Management, and based in Singapore, the blackx Music Fund is headed up by its founder and Group CEO, the widely respected music industry veteran Chee Meng Tan.
He has over 25 years’ experience in senior roles across media, technology as well as both independent and major labels. He was previously appointed to lead Asia expansion plans for ADA, Warner Music Group‘s independent label and artist services arm.
Prior to ADA, he was Spotify‘s first employee in Singapore and its most senior industry-facing executive, responsible for the subsequent launch of the streaming service in all the markets in Asia.
The new Singapore-based firm’s leadership team also includes Garand Wu (President, Greater China), the former Managing Director of Universal Music (China).
Wu is a veteran musician and music executive, with over 25 years’ experience in senior industry roles that span live entertainment, media, and music across Asia.
He joined Universal Music China as MD in 2013, and left the role in March, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Speaking with MBW, Chee Meng Tan said that, “whilst music royalties as an asset class for private equity is in a nascent state in Asia”, the fund is “very encouraged by the confidence from our early investors”.
He added: “USD $100 million at launch is a very healthy indication of the confidence of our investors.”
Looking to the future, Chee Meng Tan is bullish about the fund’s prospects in the Asia-based rights acquisition market and he says that the fund’s goal “is to be the leading artist-centric creative rights platform in Asia”.
Here, Chee Meng Tan, founder and Group CEO of Singapore-based blackx Music Fund, tells MBW why he launched the company, what type of catalogs it plans to acquire, and his predictions for the catalog market in Asia and globally.
Why did you decide to launch blackx at this time?
I have been very fortunate to be part of the industry for well over 20 years and benefitted greatly from it, particularly from the incredible talents from Asia. It is important to contribute back and play my part at this point to help fuel even further growth in the industry and create more value for the creativity of these amazing talents.
“By connecting private capital more efficiently with creative capital in Asia, blackx provides a platform for both the creative and investment communities to participate in each other’s successes.”
As technology continues to evolve and influence the consumption behavior of music fans, we have identified more opportunities to generate higher value for artists, musicians, and investors as we continue to have different approaches to the changing landscape and address some of the existing inadequacies and inefficiencies. We have reached a point in time where the intersection of music, technology and creativity presents the perfect stage for blackx to take flight.
Asia accounts for half of the world’s total internet users at 2.2 billion and is where the biggest addressable market base resides and also a hotbed for innovation and technological advancement that continues to change the way music and entertainment is consumed and monetized.
Besides the potential of massive domestic markets such as China, the increasing popularity of genres originating from Asia such as K-pop is also accelerating growth.
By connecting private capital more efficiently with creative capital in Asia, blackx provides a platform for both the creative and investment communities to participate in each other’s successes.
What will you be looking for in the catalogs you acquire?
We want to give musical art pieces a worthy home and a base for creators to thrive, while also giving investors reasons to support music as an asset class. We believe mutual success is key.
We are very considered in our curation and will allocate resources to support unique creations that we believe will contribute meaningfully to the appreciation of the Asian culture.
Most importantly, the catalogs will have to benefit under blackx’s stewardship for both the creator and investor.
What are your ambitions for blackx over the next five years?
Our goal is to be the leading artist-centric creative rights platform in Asia, furthering understanding and deepening appreciation for Asian culture globally.
We drive participation in music beyond what the current eco-system allows for and maintain quality curation to ensure the music is protected and its creators are enriched fairly. We seek out and embrace innovations to enhance revenue streams and consumption satisfactions.
“Our goal is to be the leading artist-centric creative rights platform in Asia, furthering understanding and deepening appreciation for Asian culture globally.”
In this way, we aim to empower, impact and nurture the Asia music community. Asia has an incredible community of talents and we are creating new ways and a new platform that can enable these creative talents to be successful in their pursuit of their art – both creatively and commercially.
Are there any specific markets in Asia in which you will be looking to acquire catalogs?
Through our diverse and wide-reaching network as well as deep relationships in the industry, we are constantly assessing opportunities across the region. There’s very robust potential in genres originating from Asia and also enormous, untapped potential for Asia / SEA as growth markets.
Our key consideration is that it has to be mutually beneficial to both the creator and investor.
You mentioned that the presence of private equity in music royalties as an asset class is still at an early stage in Asia – Would you say that your initial raise is evidence of enthusiasm for music rights amongst the investment community in the region?
Asia has a very deep pool of liquidity and investable capital-seeking returns. There is a strong appetite to reposition capital towards private markets and assets that are relatively shielded from the global economic uncertainties and volatilities.
“Asia has a very deep pool of liquidity and investable capital-seeking returns.”
We think that assets such as music royalties that are underpinned by unique creative value have a home in every investors’ portfolio – both for returns and for the overall vibrancy of music as a collective experience.
What are your predictions for the catalog market in Asia, and globally?
blackx expects more participation from both sides of the marketplace, and curation is key whilst gearing up for explosive growth by embracing the next wave of innovations for the consumption of music.
There will be increased interest in music as an investable asset class – and the industry will continue to evolve and grow, leading to increased expectations on things to be done differently and for the better.
Music Business Worldwide