18 May, 2020Print
Downtown Acquires Sheer Music Publishing, Africa’s Largest Independent Publisher
Sheer Music Publishing Joins Downtown’s Portfolio Of Global Music Businesses To Bring Enhanced Services to African Creators And Expands Downtown’s Global Footprint To Sub-Saharan Africa
New York and Johannesburg, May 18, 2020 — Global music company Downtown Music Holdings (Downtown), announced today that it has acquired South Africa-based Sheer Music Publishing (Sheer). Building on a long-standing relationship between Sheer and Downtown’s eponymous music publishing division, this acquisition formally expands the company’s geographic footprint to the African continent, while also providing the African music industry greater access to artist and label services available through Downtown.
Sheer, the largest independent music publisher in Africa and a longstanding advocate for creators’ rights across Africa, will continue to function as a standalone business within Downtown’s portfolio of music publishing, distribution, monetization, artist and label services businesses. As part of a broader enterprise, Sheer will further the ability of African creators to receive proper compensation for their work in partnership with other Downtown companies, including CD Baby, Songtrust and FUGA. Additionally, Sheer and Downtown plan to develop new services specifically designed for the needs of African creators.
“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 David Alexander, managing director of Sheer. “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.”
Sheer will gain new market access for its African clients, positioning the many styles of African music for film, television and advertising placements around the world, along with a strong global A&R team to facilitate cross-cultural collaborations. Sheer will maintain its current independent royalty platform to service its existing international publishers for sub-publishing in Africa, and will adapt global best practices on data matching techniques and income tracking to better serve its clients.
“For Downtown, as we've expanded across six continents and more than 20 cities looking to markets that have a rich tradition of music is a key driver in our global strategy,” said Justin Kalifowitz, CEO of Downtown. “The vibrant music industry across Africa reflects the diversity of the continent itself. We are excited to collaborate with Sheer Music Publishing to expand the artist and label services available to African creators, and 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. We are genuinely thrilled to welcome them to Downtown and excited for what lies ahead.”
The African music industry has expanded in recent years, thanks to a combination of digital platforms, high-profile collaborations between major African and international artists, accelerated adoption of smartphones, and demographic trends. According to data in The Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings Institute’s annual “Foresight Africa” report, approximately 60 percent of the African continent’s 1.25 billion people are under the age of 25, the youngest population in the world with Sub-Saharan Africa’s youth population is growing faster than any other region. Global music streaming services have quickly expanded into the region, following strong growth from Pan-African streaming competitors.
Founded in 1996, Sheer has well-established relationships with collection societies around the world, and is a direct member of Africa-based royalty collection entities, including the South African Music Rights Organization (SAMRO), MCSK (Kenya) and COSON (Nigeria). In addition, Alexander brings a wealth of industry experience and serves as a non-executive director of SAMRO, a director of the Music Publishers Association of South Africa (MPRA-SA), and vice-chair of the Composers and Publishers Association of South Africa (CAPASSO), among other affiliations.
Advances in music creation and distribution over the past several years, as well as broader shifts in how music is discovered and consumed, have proven to be a boon for the industry worldwide, particularly independents. According to Billboard, approximately 35 percent of the global recorded music industry is now controlled by independents. In fact, independent artists are a significant growth driver within the recorded music sector, with a recent report from MIDiA Research citing independents growing at a faster rate and continuing to take market share from major label incumbents. Downtown’s acquisition of Sheer is the latest move by the company to capitalize on these trends, as it continues to expand its global portfolio of music publishing, distribution, monetization, artist and label services businesses. In early 2019 Downtown purchased AVL Digital, which includes the CD Baby®, Soundrop®, DashGo℠ and AdRev® businesses, followed by the January 2020 acquisition of FUGA®, the Netherlands-based B2B music technology and services company.