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Curb Records Acquires Majority Stake in Christian Market Leader Word Entertainment

Amy Grant
Jim Wright

Curb Records has bought out Warner Music Group’s majority stake in Word Entertainment, making it the sole owner of the heritage Christian music and entertainment company. Word’s printed music division was not a part of the deal and remains jointly owned by WMG and Curb. While terms of the deal were not disclosed, sources suggest that Word brings in about $70 million in annual revenue.

The deal gives Curb Records nearly 1 percent U.S. market share; Curb finished 2015 with 0.52 percent while Word had 0.45 percent, according to Nielsen Music. In the Christian music market, Curb and its distributed labels have 12.93 percent in the Christian marketplace, making it the third largest distributor there, according to Nielsen Music.

Including Word's record label, music distribution and music publishing company, Curb has acquired Word's entire broad entertainment company which includes a presence in film and live events. The deal also includes the Word building, which add to Curb's real estate interest on Nashville's Music Row. Rod Riley, president and CEO of Word, will continue to run that company.

As part of the deal, WMG will continue to distribute Word releases to the general market; Word will do the same for WMG releases to the Christian market. Word’s publishing catalog will also continue to be administered by Warner/Chappell. 

Word became a part of WMG in 2002 when Time Warner acquired the company from Gaylord Entertainment. When WMG was divested, Word went along with the company. Sometime in 2002, Curb obtained what was described as a 20 percent stake in Word.

In a Nov. 26, 2001 Time Warner press release, Word was described Word as owning a catalog of more than 75,000 masters, including some recorded by Amy Grant and Sixpence None the Richer. Its publishing portfolio at the time was said to administer the rights of more than 40,000 songs.

The deal continues a 50-year relationship between Curb and Warner Music Group, according to Mike Curb, chairman of both Curb Records and Word Entertainment.

“During that time I’ve had a chance to work with great leaders such as Jim Van Hook and that led to the merger of Word with Fervent Records, which was the label that was started by Rod and Susan Riley and it turned out to be the most important moment for the future of Word,” Curb said in a statement. “Rod Riley had led the transformation of Word into this century by developing some of the greatest contemporary Christian artists of our time.  We look forward to working with Rod for the future leadership as we bring together Word Entertainment, Fervent Records and Curb Records, which have all had a long history in contemporary Christian music.”


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