Downtown Music Holdings announced its acquisition of South Africa-based independent music publisher Sheer Music on Monday (May 18), expanding the company’s footprint on the continent and providing Sheer’s African artists with new access to global markets.
Under the deal, which builds on a longstanding relationship between Sheer and Downtown’s publishing division, Sheer will continue to operate as a standalone business within Downtown’s portfolio, maintaining its independent royalty platform to service its existing international publishers for sub-publishing in Africa while adapting global best practices on data matching techniques and income tracking. Through the Downtown partnership, opportunities for Sheer’s African clients will include placement in film, television and advertising and the help of a global A&R team to facilitate cross-cultural collaborations.
The agreement is also part of a broader effort by Downtown and Sheer to further the ability of African creators to receive proper compensation for their work, which will be achieved in partnership with other Downtown subsidiaries including CD Baby, Songtrust and FUGA. Sheer and Downtown also plan to develop new services specifically to address the needs of creators on the continent.
“Africa is a high potential market for digital music services due to its large population, high proportion of youth and the people’s passion for music of all genres,” said Sheer managing director David Alexander in a statement. “The rapid penetration of broadband services along with lower data price points makes the African continent a rising star in the music business of tomorrow. We are excited to grow our current relationship with Downtown to leverage their strong team, services and technology to elevate the thriving African music culture beyond the continent to the rest of the world, and return significant value to African creators.”
Downtown CEO Justin Kalifowitz said the deal will “further support Downtown’s vision to create a more equitable and innovative global music ecosystem. David and the entire Sheer team have built a remarkable business that, as we’ve witnessed first-hand, places tremendous value on its clients and the creative works they represent.”
The African music industry has been growing in recent years thanks to the expansion of digital platforms on the continent, greater adoption of smartphones, high-profile collaborations between African and international artists and demographic trends, with approximately 60% of the continent’s 1.25 billion residents falling under the age of 25. According to the IFPI’s 2019 Global Music Report, South Africa alone represents a market size of $59.9 million, up 18.8% since 2018.
One of the largest independent publishers in Africa, Sheer was founded in 1996 and is a direct member of Africa-based royalty collection entities including the South African Music Rights Organization (SAMRO), MCSK in Kenya and COSON in Nigeria. It also has well-established relationships with collection societies across the globe.