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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Investors Put $2.4 Billion Into Music

In the 57 investment deals totaling over $2.4 billion tracked by Billboard, nearly 9 in 10 dollars invested went to a traditional music company, an EDM concert promoter or a company that streams music. Most of the investments were made in small, digital startups. Some are trying to improve how people discover concerts. A handful of them are changing how people create music.

A similar company hoping to disrupt the recorded music market is Beats Music, a subscription service that launched Jan. 21. An offshoot of Beats Electronics, the maker of the popular Beats By Dr. Dre headphones, Beats Music raised $60 million from Access Industries, the owner of Warner Music Group. (A year earlier, Access placed $130 million in Deezer, a competitor of Spotify and Beats Music.)

Warner Music Group’s acquisition of Parlophone Label Group was the biggest single investment in music in 2013. The $765 million deal, representing nearly a third of the year’s music investments, gave Warner not only Parlophone and Chrysalis but EMI’s operations in a handful of European countries. Also in this category was the acquisition of Nettwerk Music Group for $10.3 million in April.

Investors in streaming music were attracted to scale, potential and momentum rather than profitability. Services that provide on-demand streaming either audio or video raised $406.5 million. The largest deal was a $250 million investment in Spotify, an unprofitable company that’s a category leader and has 24 million active users — not all of them paying customers — across 55 countries.

SFX Entertainment accounted for the next-largest bucket, concert promotion, worth $480 million. The EDM-focused company’s initial public stock offering in October raised $260 million. It also acquired three EDM promoters: ID&T for $130 million, i-Motion for $21 million and Totem OneLove Group for $69.1 million.

In spite of a reputation for difficult business models and costly licensing fees, services that use licensed music attracted $838.8 million, or 49% of all investments. Four deals landed by Internet radio companies raised $443.3 million. Following Pandora’s $393.3-million secondary stock offering were smaller venture capital rounds by TuneIn ($25 million), DeliRadio ($9.4 million) and Songza ($4.7 million). There is a catch: TuneIn is merely an aggregator of Internet radio streams and doesn’t itself pay any royalties.

Investors backed numerous companies that help consumers find music they like. The smallest investment was $100,000 in, an online tool that aggregates songs from various digital music services. Two other startups that offer aggregation tools, Songdrop and MFiveLabs, received funding. Investors also backed numerous companies that help people discovery music or concerts. Most such deals were small, but music identification app Shazam received a $40-million investment from the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim.

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