Business

Reservoir Acquires Tommy Boy Music, Label Home of Hip-Hop Legends

Tommy Boy Music
Courtesy Tommy Boy Music

Tommy Boy Music

Reservoir has bulked up its recorded music division by acquiring Tommy Boy and its entire catalog of 6,000-plus masters, including hits by Coolio, House of Pain/Everclear, Queen Latifah and more.

Reservoir has added a legendary label to its portfolio ahead of plans to go public. The music company announced on Friday it has acquired Tommy Boy Music, the 40-year-old record label credited with launching the careers of Queen Latifah, Coolio, De La Soul and scores of other hip-hop greats.

The deal includes master rights to the entire Tommy Boy catalog, encompassing more than 6,000 songs, and features such hits as Coolio's "Gangsta’s Paradise," House of Pain’s "Jump Around," and Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force's "Planet Rock." Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Founded in 1981 by Tom Silverman in New York City, the label started out as an independent before becoming a jointly-owned in the mi-1980’s by Warner Music Group. During that time, in addition to its own roster, the label also enjoyed multi-platinum success through its arrangement with ESPN in releasing the "Jock Jams," branded compilation albums that yielded platinum awards from the RIAA for four albums in the series.

WMG subsequently bought out the joint venture’s catalog in the 2002, and Silverman took his staff and a few artists with him and launched Tommy Boy as an indie label all over again, a status it has attained through this latest deal.

Silverman reacquired the rights to Tommy Boy Music in 2017, and later acquired the catalogs of Amherst Records, Harlem Music, and Halwill Music, which hold masters and publishing rights for a collection of ‘70s Soul, Disco, and Jazz artists.

Other artists who have released music on Tommy Boy over the decades include Naughty by Nature, Everlast, Biz Markie, Gucci Mane, Digital Underground and others. The label has also delved into electronic music through releases by LFO and Coldcut, among others, and Latin freestyle through releases by TKA and K7.

"The Tommy Boy Music catalog represents the golden age of hip-hop and it holds an incredibly special place in my life," said Faith Newman, Reservoir evp a&r and catalog development, when reached for comment by Billboard. "The first show I ever saw at The Roxy, when I was 16, was Planet Patrol and Afrika Bambaataa. Later, the music in this catalog inspired and influenced me in my formative years at Def Jam and Columbia Records. I am so looking forward to being a part of a musical legacy that has meant so much to me over the years."

Reservoir was founded in 2007 and with this deal now represents over 32,000 master recordings.

The acquisition of Tommy Boy adds to Reservoir’s recorded music division; in 2019 it became a full-service music company when it purchased U.K.-based music company Blue Raincoat Music and its subsidiary Chrysalis Records.

Reservoir said it will continue to market the legendary catalog under the Tommy Boy name out of its NYC headquarters, with Newman in charge. International marketing and distribution of the catalog will be driven by Reservoir’s Chrysalis Records team in London.

The news follows Reservoir’s announcement that it will become publicly traded later this year. A reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Roth Acquisition II was announced April 14. According to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on April 15, Roth Acquisition II shareholders would hold 15.5% of Reservoir under the deal, while Reservoir’s current shareholders will retain 59.9% of the company's 74 million shares after the merger. Anchor equity institutional investors will receive 20.3% of shares. And Roth CH Acquisition II sponsors Roth Capital and Craig-Hallum will receive 3.2%.

Reservoir posted revenue of $64 million in 2020, with 84% ($54 million) credited to the music publishing side of the business. Master recording royalties and other income streams generated the other $9 million.

Ed Christman contributed to this article.