Warner Music Taps Goldman Vet Michael Ryan-Southern to ‘Supercharge’ Acquisition Efforts: ‘The Market Is Filled With Opportunities’

warner music group hires michael ryan-southern
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warner music group hires michael ryan-southern
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As it eyes a number of potential acquisitions, Warner Music Group has announced the addition of Goldman Sachs vet Michael Ryan-Southern (pictured) as EVP of corporate development. Photo Credit: WMG

Warner Music Group (WMG) didn’t move forward with plans to scoop up Believe, but it’s hardly abandoning its acquisition ambitions. Goldman Sachs vet Michael Ryan-Southern is officially joining the major label to “lead all stages of M&A activity.”

WMG reached out with word of the high-profile hire, and Ryan-Southern is specifically poised to come aboard on August 5th as the company’s first EVP of corporate development. Most recently, the former EMI finance exec served as Goldman’s global head of music and live entertainment investment banking.

Now, with Robert Kyncl-led WMG evidently eager to spearhead fresh acquisitions, New York City-based Ryan-Southern is expected to zero in on deals for worthwhile catalogs as well as entire companies.

“The market is filled with opportunities, in both recorded music and music publishing, and across different geographies,” Kyncl elaborated in a statement. “We’re bullish on the long-term value of music, and having someone with Michael’s domain expertise and wide-ranging network run point on M&A will supercharge our efforts.”

Of course, this aggressive approach isn’t new for WMG, which, as initially mentioned, previously explored in earnest the possible buyout of Paris-headquartered Believe. Though the major label opted not to submit a formal bid – Believe is being taken private by an EQT-powered consortium after all – the move underscored a broader willingness to pursue sizable investments.

Furthermore, Kyncl during WMG’s latest earnings call said his company was maintaining a “pretty significant” pipeline of potential catalog deals, adding for good measure that as a whole, the plays would cost “more than we can even afford today.”

At the intersection of that point and Ryan-Southern’s quick-approaching start at WMG, it’ll be interesting to see which purchases the strategy delivers. As many know, the efficiency-minded Kyncl spent over 12 years as YouTube’s chief business officer, and in remarks of his own, Ryan-Southern made clear a goal of helping “grow and evolve the company into the future.”

“This is an incredibly exciting time to be in the music industry,” communicated Ryan-Southern, “and WMG’s entrepreneurial spirit and tech-forward approach make it a tremendously welcoming environment for both artistic creativity and business innovation.

“I’m excited by Robert and the team’s vision for the company, and I’m looking forward to working with him and the entire WMG team to help grow and evolve the company into the future,” concluded the former REEF chief financial officer.

Predictably, Warner Music isn’t the only major targeting purchase opportunities. Especially noteworthy here is the $1 billion deal that Sony Music is reportedly exploring for Queen’s body of work. This past February saw Sony Music wrap a record-setting investment in the music IP of Michael Jackson, and Universal Music that same month dropped close to a quarter of a billion dollars on a Chord Music stake.