Country hitmaker Blake Shelton has sold the ownership of his commercially-released master recordings from 2001-2019 to Influence Media Partners, the company announced Tuesday (Oct. 4).
Over his career, Shelton has enjoyed 72 Hot Country Songs entries, including 14 No. 1s and 33 top 10s; 58 Country Airplay entries, including 28 No. 1s (3rd-most all-time) and 36 top 10s; two No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200; and seven No. 1 albums on Top Country Albums. The catalog sale includes tracks like “Boys ‘Round Here,” “Honeybee,” “Nobody But You” (with Gwen Stefani), “God’s Country” and “Austin,” among others.
Additionally, Shelton will team up with Influence Media for a joint venture that will serve to promote his music while still allowing him to earn a share of the profit generated from his recorded catalog. This partnership allows the singer to continue to earn money from his music post-sale, and it incentivizes him to continue to promote his 2001-2019 works in the future through various public engagements like touring. Warner Music Group will continue to handle distribution and Sony Music Publishing will continue to serve as his publisher.
WMG still owns the Shelton recorded music catalog, but the albums’ ownership is slated to begin reverting to the singer in the near term, according to a source close to the deal. The exact timeline for the reversion and the price tag of the deal were not disclosed to Billboard.
In Feb. 2022, Influence Media partnered with Shelton’s longtime label home WMG and BlackRock Alternative Investors to provide $750 million to fund the company’s Influence X Music Fund II to buy high-value music catalogs; the deal also allowed WMG and BlackRock to participate as investors in Influence Media. The partnership lets Influence utilize WMG’s corporate infrastructure, and the major music group will also lend support to manage copyrights — all on an as-needed basis.
Previous to the Shelton deal — which includes 10 studio albums, a Christmas album and two EPs — Billboard reported that Influence Media had deployed about $300 million of its $750 million in funding for the purchase of musical works including select copyrights from songwriters like Tainy (Bad Bunny, J. Balvin) the Stereotypes (Bruno Mars), Jessie Reyez (Dua Lipa, Sam Smith) and Skyler Stonestreet (Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber).
Shelton was represented by Mitch Tenzer and David Byrne of Ziffren Brittenham, LLP. Influence Media Partners were represented by Lisa Alter, Katie Baron and Jaclyn Felber of Alter, Kendrick & Baron, LLP.
Influence Media was founded in 2017-2018 using bridge financing from Morgan Stanley. With this, it acquired music assets from hitmakers like Jeff Bhasker, Shane McAnally and Ben Rector. The entertainment and music company then sold these rights to Tempo Music in 2019. In 2021, Influence Media’s Fund I was launched with $100 million backing from the Municipal Employees’ Retirement System of Michigan. In 2022, the partnership with BlackRock and WMG was announced to further fund their acquisitions. In total, Influence Media has now invested in over 20 catalogs.
“I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since my first album and single,” said Shelton in a statement. “Sometimes I still feel like the kid from Oklahoma I was back then! While a lot has changed during that time, my passion for music hasn’t. I’m excited to be working with Lylette [Pizarro], Rene [McLean] and the team at Influence Media on so much of my catalog and to introduce my songs to the next generation of country fans.”
“Blake is one of the most exciting luminaries to emerge in both country music and television in the past two decades,” said Influence Media founder and co-managing partner, Lylette Pizarro. “His music’s continued resonance with new and established audiences makes him the perfect business partner for Influence. We’re particularly proud of the fact that Blake will continue to be an active participant in his catalog moving forward, and to have a tailored joint venture in place that will ensure he remains an active profit participant. We’re excited to work closely with Blake, his management team at Starstruck and our partners at Warner Music Nashville to identify strategic opportunities for his modern country classics.”
“Blake is one of the most important artists, not only in our genre, but also in the wider world of music and television. We are excited about the opportunity to introduce Blake’s music to more fans, and we look forward to our partnership with Influence,” Warner Music Nashville co-president Ben Kline added.
Additional reporting by Ed Christman