The red-hot music rights space has a major new entrant in Litmus Music, which is being launched by veteran music executives Hank Forsyth (pictured at left) and Dan McCarroll (right) with $500 million of funding in partnership with Carlyle Global Credit, Variety can reveal. Litmus will acquire and manage music rights in both recorded music and publishing, with an eye on diverse genres and vintages. The company has quietly been building its pipeline for months and plans to announce its first deals in the coming weeks.
“It is an honor to partner with Dan and form what we have talked about for years — a music business and team built on integrity and trust,” says Litmus co-founder/CEO Forsyth, who has previously served in executive roles at Warner Chappell Music, EMI Music and Blue Note Records. “These core Litmus values are shared by Carlyle, and we believe they are the best partners to support our team as we start this journey.”
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“Our incredible team is all about collaboration and building a collection of ageless music assets and unforgettable songs that will continue to enrich people’s lives for years to come,” says Litmus co-founder/chief creative officer McCarroll, a former president of both Warner Bros. and Capitol Records who most recently was the global head of originals and artist relations at Amazon Music.
Music rights have become a multi-billion dollar business in recent years and show no signs of letting up, thanks to big investments from Merck Mercuriadis’ Hipgnosis Songs Fund, Primary Wave, KKR&Co, HarbourView Equity Partners and others. The major music companies have also outlaid huge sums to catalog acquisition, including Sony Music’s 2021 purchase of Bruce Springsteen’s recorded music and publishing catalog for a reported $500 million.
For Litmus, Carlyle Global Credit’s initial commitment of $500 million comes in the form of both equity and debt, alongside capital committed by management. “Our partnership with Hank and Dan, two highly regarded executives in the music industry, underscores the value we see in music rights, driven by strong tailwinds and the uncorrelated nature of the asset class,” says the company’s managing director Matt Settle. “Streaming and other new mediums have enabled more ways than ever to consume content, and we believe Litmus has the right mix of skills, experience and connectivity to develop a successful and differentiated business, and to care for works that people have spent their lifetimes creating.”
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