ZZ Top sells music catalog for $50M to BMG, investment firm

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ZZ Top is selling its music catalog to investment firm KKR and record company BMG for $50 million, according to a report.

The legendary Texas trio, known for hits like “Legs,” “Cheap Sunglasses” and “Gimme All Your Lovin,’” sold their music interests, which includes the publishing catalog as well as income from recorded music royalties and performance royalties, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The sale follows a slew of high-profile deals in which legendary rock stars are cashing out. Earlier this month, Bruce Springsteen reportedly sold his iconic song and publishing catalog to Sony Music for a whopping $500 million.

Last year, Bob Dylan sold his massive 600-song catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group for a reported $300 million to $400 million in December 2020. Around the same time, Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks sold 80 percent of her rights to her own songwriting catalog, including hits like “Landslide” and “Edge of Seventeen,” to music publisher Primary Wave for a reported $100 million.

And according to reports last month, Universal Music Group has been in advance talks with Sting to buy his music for $250 million, while Warner Music Group is raising $535 million to buy David Bowie’s music.

The ZZ Top deal includes 15 albums released over a 50-year span, including the commercial breakthrough “Tres Hombres” in 1973, “Degüello,” “El Loco,” “Eliminator,” “Afterburner,” “Recycler” and “Antenna.”

Dusty Hill of ZZ Top passed away in July amid the band's North American tour, which is slated to run through spring 2022.
Dusty Hill of ZZ Top passed away in July amid the band’s North American tour, which is slated to run through spring 2022.
Redferns/Getty Images

The trio of Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard formed ZZ Top in the late Sixties. Known for their distinctive long red beards, the band was was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. Hill died in July at age 72 during the band’s North American tour, which is slated to run through spring 2022.

The deals are part of a long string of established artists selling their songbooks to deep-pocketed investors or music labels. They’re also fueled by streaming, which offers the possibility of more lucrative royalties as customers flock to services like Spotify and Apple Music.

And deals have ramped up during the coronavirus pandemic due in part to low interest rates that make it easier for companies to borrow money to purchase large assets.

ZZ Top's Dusty Hill, Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard.
The sale of ZZ Top’s music catalog follows a trend, in which legendary rockers are cashing out on their work.
R. Diamond/WireImage

According to The Journal, BMG Rights Management—both a record label and publisher, and a subsidiary of Germany’s Bertelsmann SE—and KKR in March joined forces to spend at least $1 billion on music copyrights. Last January, KKR inked a $200 million deal for majority stake in Ryan Tedder’s catolog of hits, including songs from Beyoncé, Adele, Stevie Wonder and Tedder’s band, OneRepublic.

In October, KKR spent $1.1 billion on investment advisory firm Kobalt Capital’s KMR Music Royalties II portfolio, which includes more than 62,000 copyrights across music genres, The Journal said.

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