Sony Music Acquires Brazil’s Som Livre In $250 Million Deal

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Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photo Credit: Agustín Diaz

Sony Music has acquired Rio de Janeiro-based indie-music company Som Livre in an approximately $252 million (R$1.44 billion) deal.

The Big Three record label unveiled the high-profile buyout in a formal release, and the quarter-billion-dollar transaction’s value came to light in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing. Rio-headquartered Globo, Brazil’s biggest media conglomerate, had placed the 52-year-old Som Livre (meaning “free sound” in Portuguese) up for sale in November of 2020.

Som Livre will operate as a standalone business unit while part of the Sony Music banner, according to the announcement message, including by continuing “to sign, develop and market its own roster of talent.” Besides functioning as a record label, Som Livre produces multiple music festivals and owns distribution platform Fluve. Additionally, Marcelo Soares, who began leading Som Livre 14 years back, will stay on as CEO.

Addressing the sale, Soares emphasized the considerable growth that the last 10 years have brought for Som Livre and struck an ambitious tone when discussing the company’s future as a division of Sony Music.

“Globo’s support was key to the growth of Som Livre, especially during the last decade when we built the business to what it is today. When facing the future now and seeing all the opportunities ahead, it is very exciting to know that we’ll have Sony Music with us. We are once again in the right place to allow the best possibilities of career development for our artists and employees,” he said in part.

Well-known artists such as Gusttavo Lima, Lu Alone, and Kelly Key have released music via Som Livre, and Sony Music’s buyout appears to represent the latest in a long line of music-industry efforts to establish footholds in quick-emerging spaces.

To be sure, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) revealed that Brazil – the largest music market in Latin America, which itself recorded growth of 15.9 percent on the year – had generated 84.1 percent of its recorded-music revenue from streaming in 2020. Building upon the latter point, the IFPI last year touted the takedown of multiple “fake-stream” platforms in Brazil, which is home to approximately 211 million individuals.

In February, Warner Music Group – which had previously invested a reported $200 million into Rotana Music, “the Arab world’s leading independent record label” – acquired Moscow-based Zhara Music and rebranded the indie label as Atlantic Records Russia. Plus, Universal Music continued its African expansion (ahead of a 2021 IPO) by inking a bolstered licensing deal with Boomplay,