HITS Daily Double
“[The sale] marks the end of one era and the beginning of another.”
——Chris Wright


Acquisitive German-American Partnership Claims a British Prize
In a deal long-rumored and now fact, BMG Rights Management add to its cache of music publishing acquisitions by purchasing Chrysalis in a deal valued at $168 million. In one fell swoop, BMG has doubled its catalog by adding Chrysalis’ 100k copyrights, which include the songs of David Bowie, Jethro Tull and Blondie. The Bertelsmann-KKR joint venture also picked up Evergreen, Stage 3 and Cherry Lane this year. The acquisition will make BMG the world’s fourth-largest publisher by marketshare, according to some estimates.

BMG offered Chrysalis a 46% premium from the company’s price on Oct. 29, the day before Chrysalis acknowledged it was in talks that might lead to a sale.

The sale of the company “marks the end of one era and the beginning of another,” as co-founder and longtime company head Chris Wright hopefully put it in the joint announcement. BMG says it will keep the Chrysalis name for three years, with Wright becoming the company’s nonexecutive British Chairman.

“It’s clearly a day of extremely mixed emotions,” said Wright. “It’s a very poignant day, there’s obviously an element of sadness, and elements of relief to some extent. And a degree of excitement about what the opportunity presents and to be part of a group that’s got the resources to do the things that we at Chrysalis never had the ability to do, being a pretty small company as we were, without the backing of huge people like Bertelsmann or KKR behind us. It’s very hard to say what I will feel like until I’ve had time to let the dust gather for a few days.”

Chrysalis had managed to maintain both its independence and its competitiveness for 43 years. It did so by way of timely injections of talent on both sides of the Atlantic.

During the last decade, Chrysalis Music USA has earned its reputation as a breeding ground for cutting-edge writer/artists, signing and nurturing the likes of Ray LaMontagne, My Morning Jacket, TV on the Radio, Bon Iver, Mastodon, Helmet, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Bravery (led by Sam Endicott), The Low Anthem, St. Vincent, Thom Yorke and Dan Wilson, as well as esteemed producers Joe Henry, Ethan Johns, Larry Klein and Dave Sitek. Additionally, the acquisition of S1 Music earlier this year brought Sheryl Crow’s catalog into the fold. The U.S. company has also become extremely active in film and TV placements.

In 1967, Wright and Terry Ellis formed a management company repping Ten Years After and Tull launching Chrysalis Records a year later. Wright bought out Ellis in 1985 and sold the Chrysalis label to EMI in 1991.

As for what happens next, the 66-yerar-old Wright was only prepared to concede to “an element” of retirement to the Guardian in an interview on Friday (11/6). “I hope it is less work than as Executive Chairman of Chrysalis,” he said, “but I might be busier than I think. I’m still at that point in my life that, when I’m not in the office, I have nothing else to do but go into the office. I will be in Monday to Friday as long as there is an office for me to go into.”