Dr. Dre Selling Catalog Rights to Universal Music Group, Shamrock in Reported $200 Million-Plus Deal

Dr. Dre's seminal The Chronic: is it part of this juicy deal?
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Dr. Dre's seminal The Chronic: is it part of this juicy deal?
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Dr. Dre’s seminal The Chronic: is it part of this juicy deal?

Dr. Dre has reportedly sold a sizable chunk of his music rights — at a juicy multiple — to Shamrock Holdings and Universal Music Group.

Outrageous music IP acquisition deals ground to a halt last year — though not entirely. The tail end of ’22 featured rumors of a high-priced deal between Justin Bieber and the Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Song Capital. Now, those who ‘forgot about Dre’ in the IP acquisition frenzy are being reminded of his lucrative catalog holdings.

According to details emerging Wednesday evening (January 11th), Dre’s assets are reportedly being sold for north of $200 million, with Shamrock Holdings and Universal Music Group doing the bidding.

The deals are apparently separate, though more details are expected to emerge over the next 24-48 hours. Billboard pegged the combined acquisition price at $200 million, while Variety pitched it closer to $250 million. The breakdown of ownership between the companies is unclear at this stage. And exactly what is included in those deals also remains unknown, though Dr. Dre’s venerable solo albums and rights in N.W.A releases are reportedly involved.

It’s also worth noting that Shamrock Capital Advisors, instead of Shamrock Holdings, may be the acquirer in question. Those entities are related but separate, with Shamrock Capital a successor company to Shamrock Holdings — a detail frequently confused. In November of 2020, Shamrock Capital acquired the complicated rights to Taylor Swift’s recorded music catalog from Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings and investment group Carlyle Group.

Also unclear is whether Dre’s rights in the seminal rap classic, The Chronic, are factored into the acquisition. The album remains a revered classic decades after its release, and a cornerstone of hip hop and gangsta rap history.

Of course, Dr. Dre is a storied hip-hop producer, which introduces another portfolio of rights. Across his varied catalog, Dre could carry publishing, recording, a writer’s share, or any combination thereof. Billboard and Variety have estimated that Dr. Dre’s holdings in play are spinning off $10 million in revenue annually, putting the $200-$250 million price tag at a frothy 20-25x multiple.

That’s reminiscent of the old days — i.e., the world up until about one year ago.

These days, the biggest bull in the race, Hipgnosis, is largely silent, while mega-multiple acquisitions are rare. Case in point: a rumored $500 million acquisition of Pink Floyd’s catalog has failed to materialize — despite months of speculation. Even the rumored Bieber acquisition has yet to be confirmed.

That would make the deal involving Dre doubly impressive — that is, if it materializes.

More as this develops.