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John Legend Sells Music Catalog to BMG and KKR

The deal covers Legend's personal share of his song copyrights and the recorded music royalties for his music from 2004 to early 2021.

John Legend is taking “All of Me” to another level, selling his signature song as part of a larger portfolio of compositions which were acquired last year by BMG and global investment firm KKR, Billboard has confirmed.

As first reported by Bloomberg, the EGOT recipient sold both his personal share of the copyrights to his compositions as well as the recorded music royalties for his music dated 2004 thru early 2021 to the partnering companies for an undisclosed sum back in September. A UCC regulatory filing indicated that DL Music IP LP, an affiliate of KKR Credit Advisors, and BMG Rights Management each purchased a 50% stake in the Legend catalog.

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BMG and KKR have not formally announced the acquisition, and financial details of the sale are not yet known. Both companies declined requests to comment.

BMG has worked with Legend since it acquired his former publisher Cherry Lane in 2010 and will continue to administer the catalog of songs purchased in the BMG/KKR deal. A source familiar with the acquisition confirmed the sale and indicated a new deal is also in place for BMG to administer Legend’s future compositions.

Legend’s deal with BMG and KKR preceded his signing to Republic Records, announced in November, following a highly successful run on Columbia Records. All of Legend’s previous full-lengths — a total of eight studio albums, including a joint release with The Roots and a holiday LP — were released through G.O.O.D. Music/Columbia or directly through Columbia.

His 2013 album, Love in the Future, remains his top album in U.S. equivalent album units with 3 million to date, according to MRC Data. The set remains his highest-streamed album, with 2.3 billion on-demand streams for its songs — thanks in large part to “All of Me,” the ballad that became his first Hot 100 chart-topper in 2014. Bigger Love, Legend’s most recent album and final project with Columbia, has earned 273,000 equivalent album units in the U.S. since its release in 2020.

The renewed alliance between KKR and BMG — which shook up the publishing world a decade ago — was announced in March 2021 when they outlined a plan to collaborate on pursuing recorded music, music publishing, and other music rights acquisitions. Their first announced deal arrived in December with the purchase of ZZ Top’s music interests.

The Legend acquisition is unique in that it involves the sale of music assets from an artist still in their prime, commercially. In general, most A-List catalog sales are from artists whose work is already decades old. The sales marks the beginning of a busy year ahead for Legend, who is gearing up for the release of his debut album under Republic Records and a highly anticipated residency in Las Vegas.

Legend became an EGOT in 2018 when he won an Emmy as one of the producers of NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. He has won one Oscar, one Tony, two Emmys (one daytime, one primetime) and 12 Grammys. That’s more Grammys than any other EGOT recipient. Legend is the only Black man to achieve EGOT status to date. He is also the only EGOT who is primarily known as a musical performer.

Legend is managed by Ty Stiklorius of the entertainment management and social impact company Friends at Work.