This is a good day for fans of soul and R&B music — and the business people behind it. Two unrelated deals suggest that we’ll hear a lot more of the classics from the 1960s and ’70s.
Viacom’s BET Networks says it bought Soul Train, a library of 1,100 television episodes and 40 television specials.
And Primary Wave Music Publishing forged a publishing partnership with Steve Cropper, the legendary Stax Records guitarist, producer, songwriter known for hits including Wilson Pickett’s In the Midnight Hour, Otis Redding’s (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay and Eddie Floyd’s Knock on Wood. Movie-goers also will remember him as the leader of the star-filled band in The Blues Brothers.
BET bought Soul Train for an undisclosed amount from two private equity firms: Leo Hindery’s InterMedia Partners and Ron Burkle’s The Yucaipa Companies. The cable programmer says the deal will enable it to build on the Soul Train Awards, which it relaunched in 2009, and “grow the ways in which audiences of all ages are able to interact with this iconic brand, creating a host of ancillary revenue opportunities ranging from live events to consumer products.”
BET’s EVP of Strategy and Operations Richard Gay says the content from the show created by the late Don Cornelius is “forever relevant to all segments of our audience.” They’re already working on a Broadway play and concert tour and “we look forward to finding engaging and smart ways to grow the brand while preserving its heritage and legacy in music, dance and fashion.”
Soul Train was one of the most important trend setters in pop music and dance during its run from 1971 to 2006 featuring stars including Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and Barry White. It billed itself as the “longest-running, first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history.”
Meanwhile, Primary Wave says it plans to “aggressively market” Cropper’s music catalog — especially for use in films, TV shows, and commercials.
Here, too, the company didn’t disclose financial details. But this deal is the first by Primary Wave’s new music IP acquisition fund which it says “will announce its formation and its substantial resources in the very near future.”
As part of the partnership with Cropper, his longtime manager Geddes Bootwright will represent Primary Wave in Nashville.
“Timeless music like Steve Cropper’s speak to all generations,” says Primary Wave founder Larry Mestel. “The music of the 70’s is woven into the fabric of today’s pop culture music landscape. We believe the value will only increase over time.”