Pophouse Entertainment, a music investment company co-founded by ABBA member Björn Ulvaeus, is announcing today (Sept. 28) that it has acquired 75% of Avicii‘s recording and publishing rights. This is the second major acquisition for the Stockholm firm, which on March 29 bought the recording and publishing rights of Swedish House Mafia.
Like the SHM deal, this one will be set up as a joint venture, in this case with the family of the late DJ (born Tim Bergling), which will work closely with Pophouse and retain the remaining 25% of the artist’s intellectual property. They have already collaborated on the “Avicii Experience,” an interactive museum in Stockholm.
“We’re investing in catalog and we’re not just putting it on the shelf,” says Pophouse CEO Per Sundin, who signed Bergling when he ran Universal Music Sweden.
Although Pophouse is new to the music rights market, it is already a major player in branded entertainment: It developed the ABBA Museum, it’s the lead investor in the London show ABBA Voyage, and it also runs Europe’s biggest gaming center, which includes the Avicii Experience. Sundin says that Pophouse plans to invest in a variety of music assets, not just electronic music, and monetize them in ways that other rightsholders don’t think to do.
“Pophouse has presented a concrete concept and proposal for the long-term care and development of Tim’s musical heritage,” said Avicii’s parents in a statement. “An important part of the negotiation about the catalogue sale has been to retain sufficient control and personal involvement in its continued development for a long time to come, and ensure a dignified tone in activities related to Tim’s music, his legacy, and connection with his ever-growing fanbase.”
The family added that “in our negotiations with Pophouse, we have experienced great respect for our wishes and requirements, and a high level of cooperation.”
Avicii gives the company its second major deal this year. (The artist owned his recordings, although Universal Music distributes them.) On streaming services, at least, his recordings are already more popular than iconic acts like the Beatles or Bob Marley. And if he is not yet as recognizable to some segments of the general population, ventures like the Avicii Experience could change that.
The idea, Sundin says, is to monetize intellectual property in ways that most investors don’t have the capacity — or the creativity — to do.
“If you look at the companies that are investing in music” – including private equity funds – “not all of them know music,” Sundin says. “The team we have knows music.”
Pophouse also has enviable industry connections, including an investment from Universal Music Group, whose CEO of Central Europe, Frank Briegmann, is on the company’s board. Earlier this year, former Capitol Music Group CEO Steve Barnett joined Pophouse’s Investment Advisory Committee to lead outreach to U.S. and U.K. artists who might be interested in selling their rights.
As interest rates rise and the overall market for publishing catalogs seems to be cooling, Sundin says Pophouse will have an easier time than some of its rivals, since it can monetize music in more ways than most.
“We want to unlock the power of music,” Sundin say.