Warner Music Group Acquires the Assets of Doug Morris’ 12Tone Music

Warner Music
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Warner Music Group (WMG) and 12Tone Music “have entered in an arrangement” that will see the Big Three record label “acquire the assets” of the three-year-old indie label.

Warner Music Group and 12Tone Music announced the transaction this morning, via a formal release that was shared with Digital Music News. Former Sony Music and Universal Music head Doug Morris established 12Tone in 2018, and the label had “most recently” inked a distribution deal with WMG’s ADA, the text notes.

Moreover, creators including Anderson .Paak (who’s partnered with Bruno Mars as Silk Sonic, with the duo’s debut album set to arrive later this year), DJ Illenium, and Joelle James “call 12Tone home,” according to the company’s website. Dolly Parton released A Holly Dolly Christmas via 12Tone, and on the IP side, the entity possesses an interest in works such as Lauren Daigle’s Look Up Child.

Though the financial specifics of the sale weren’t disclosed in the release, the deal “is expected to close towards the end of July,” and the 82-year-old Doug Morris “will continue to be actively engaged in the day-to-day activities.”

Addressing the agreement in a statement, the former Warner Music U.S. CEO Doug Morris said: “After leading all three major music companies, I loved returning to my indie roots by starting 12Tone. I want to thank Steve Bartels and the 12Tone team for being such a big part of the picture.

“This three-year run has been a lot of fun. I look forward to remaining fully engaged with the WMG team, who are outstanding professionals. A special thanks to Max [Lousada, WMG’s CEO of recorded music] – I know the music couldn’t be in better hands.”

The purchase represents the latest in a recent series of high-profile moves from Warner Music, which saw its recorded-music earnings jump 17 percent year over year during 2021’s first three months, to $1.059 billion. On the investment side, the Access Industries subsidiary has backed game-mod marketplace Overwolf, Roblox (in a $520 million pre-IPO raise), Rotana Music, and virtual-concert platform Wave through 2021’s first seven months.

Regarding purchases and partnerships, the company in late March acquired Moscow-based Zhara Music – and established Atlantic Records Russia overnight. (Atlantic Records itself partnered with indie label vnclm_ last week.) Following the announcement of a multiyear licensing agreement with Tencent Music that same month, April brought with it an “innovative podcast development deal” between WMG and Spotify as well as the formation of a Pan-Asian dance label, Whet Records. Finally, June saw Warner Music drop a reported $100 million on the recorded catalog of French DJ David Guetta.

At the time of this piece’s publishing, Warner Music Group stock was up nearly 3.5 percent from yesterday’s close, for a per-share value of $36.53. While the figure marks a small decline from WMG’s worth at 2021’s start, it also reflects a roughly 6.5 percent boost during the last month and a 22 percent uptick since the company’s June of 2020 IPO.