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Downtown Acquires British Indie Publisher Salli Isaak Music, Home to Sam Smith Songwriter Jimmy Napes

Downtown Music Publishing has acquired Salli Isaak Music, one of the U.K.'s leading indie publishers and home to Grammy-winning songwriter Jimmy Napes, best known for his work with Sam Smith.

Downtown Music Publishing has acquired Salli Isaak Music, one of the U.K.’s leading indie publishers and home to Grammy-winning songwriter Jimmy Napes, best known for his work with Sam Smith.

The acquisition of Salli Isaak Music Publishing and Salli Isaak Songs brings nearly 700 copyrights to Downtown, including Napes’ co-writes with Sam Smith on hit songs “I’m Not the Only One,” “Too Good at Goodbyes,” “Pray” and “Stay With Me,” which collected the Grammy award for Record and Song of the Year in 2015. 


A year later, Smith and Napes, real name James Napier, were awarded the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Writing’s On The Wall”. Napes additionally has credits on eleven songs on the singer’s sophomore set The Thrill Of It All, which topped the Billboard 200 upon its release last November. Other artists that he has written for include Alicia Keys, Disclosure, Ellie Goulding, James Bay, Madonna, Mary J. Blige, and Ray BLK. Napes also co-wrote Clean Bandit’s ubiquitous global smash “Rather Be” featuring Jess Glynne.   

In addition to Napes’ catalog, Downtown picks up the copyrights of British pop star Paloma Faith, whose most recent album The Architect featured collaborations with Pharrell Williams, Diane Warren and Samuel L. Jackson, and debuted at No. 1 in the U.K.  

Other notable copyrights include works written by Karen Harding, Arlissa, Eliza and the Bear and Olly Murs. Collectively, the Salli Isaak roster has written twenty U.K. top 10 singles, nine U.K. No. 1 singles, and won multiple Ivor Novello Awards.  

Financial terms were not disclosed for the deal, which was led by Downtown’s U.K. office, although Billboard estimates that the publisher would have paid around £12-15 million ($15-19 million) for both catalogs, based on what sources say are an annual net publishers’ share, or gross profit, of around £1 million ($1.3 million) over the past three years. 

In line with its acquisition of Salli Isaak, the company has additionally picked up existing future agreements with Napes, Faith, Shane Filan (formerly of Westlife) and Robert Stapleton.

The above valuation estimate does not include whatever additional amount was paid as consideration for future songs written by writers still under contract.

“Clearly every publisher in town would have loved to have won this deal,” Roberto Neri, managing director Downtown’s U.K., tells Billboard. “For us, it’s meaningful to represent writers of this calibre and the back catalog that we’ve acquired,” he says, calling Jimmy Napes and Paloma Faith “two of the best British songwriters of our time.” 

“Theirs will be the back catalog that everyone desires in 50 years’ time,” predicts Neri, crediting Napes as a hit songwriter for generations to come. “He’s just a natural and he’s got that skill and craft to create future evergreens,” says the MD.  

The acquisition is the biggest deal completed by Downtown’s U.K. office since it opened in 2015. Other songwriters and artists represented by the company include Naughty Boy, Imogen Heap, Saltwives (Alex Oriet and David Phelan), Goldie, Kano, Izzy Bizu, Charlie Sloth, Zeph Ellis, ZDOT and Sacha Skarbek. 

Downtown Music Publishing’s roster also includes songs by The Beatles, John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco, Hans Zimmer, The Kinks, One Direction, Mötley Crüe, Robin Thicke and Santigold, among others. Earlier this year, the publisher opened offices in Paris and Sydney to go alongside its existing departments in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, London, Amsterdam and Tokyo.

The Salli Isaak companies were founded by Nick Raphael and Jo Charrington in 2006. Commenting on their sale to Downtown, Raphael said they were “very pleased that our writers and their incredible songs will now sit alongside the wonderful and prestigious catalogue that Downtown continues to build.”

“I would like to thank Nick and Jo for their trust in Downtown,” said Downtown CEO Justin Kalifowitz in a statement. “As we continue to invest in the future of songs and songwriting our mission is to be a truly global partner to the world’s most inspiring creators. With that in mind, I couldn’t be more honored or excited to welcome these extraordinary writers and their remarkable music to the company.”