As we gear up for Tuesday’s EconMusic conference in London, we’ve assembled a list of the top five recent music deals by size. Given the tremors in the music industry, it should come as no surprise that the deals — both in size and kind — are quite varied by sector, as players look for exits and felicitous combinations.
— Sony-Sony BMG, $1.2 Billion, 8/5/08: The biggest deal of the lot, a doubling down on the traditional record label business. That Sony (NYSE: SNE) would eventually buy back Bertelsmann’s 50 percent stake in Sony BMG was a matter of “when” and “at what price,” but not “if.” The ticket price came as a bit of a surprise following weak results at the unit just a week earlier.
— CBS-Last.fm, $280 Million, 5/30/07: The next biggest deal is the biggest “Web2.0”-ish acquisition. The sale represented a large exit for the UK music site, whose popular social discovery service lacked anything resembling a real business model. It also marked a key moment in CBS’ (NYSE: CBS) M&A-based digital strategy, culminating this past summer with the purchase of CNET.
The rest of the top five deals and a chart of the top 10 music mergers and acquisitions, after the jump…
— Bennett Coleman & Co.-Virgin Radio; $106 million; 6/1/2008: The parent company of the Times of India newspaper reached outside its borders and its traditional industry with this deal. Virgin Radio was an early online adopter, broadcasting over the internet in 1996. The powerful Virgin brand name was not part of the deal, so Bennett said it would spend $30 million on a rebranding campaign.
— Nokia-Twango; $100 million; 7/23/07: Twango who? Nokia (NYSE: NOK) spent $100 million for social media sharing platform Twango (think: a basic YouTube/Flickr combo), in an effort to build out its online services business. Not surprisingly, given the lack of significant Twango brand value and Nokia’s drive to create its own umbrella brand, the service joined Nokia’s music download service and N-Gage gaming platform as part of Ovi.
— Nokia-Loudeye; $60 Million; 8/9/06: Following hot on the heels of Twango, Nokia’s next acquisition helped it hone in more directly on mobile music. Loudeye rode the hype waves but couldn’t thrive on its own, restructuring multiple times before ultimately selling out. Although Loudeye was involved in online music, this deal was really about mobile. The two companies had worked together for a few years before they decided to officially mesh.