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Warner, BlackRock Bet Big on Diversity in Music

Spearheaded by Influence Media Partners’ Lylette Pizarro, a new fund aims to invest $750 million in rising artists, songwriters, and producers from diverse backgrounds, and especially women.

Financial mammoth BlackRock has joined forces with Warner Music Group to fund a series of music catalog acquisitions. The effort will proceed in partnership with music investment and management firm Influence Media, a company founded by Lylette Pizarro, who has previously backed songwriters like Julia Michaels and Ali Tamposi.

The deal, according to an exclusive story from the Wall Street Journal, is expected to inject almost $750 million into amassing music rights specifically for artists from diverse backgrounds, particularly women. In an effort to support younger, up-and-coming artists, the fund will favor supporting contemporary music with sonic staying power, which stands in contrast to the recent trend of major investment in catalogs from older, more established artists.

The partnership has already produced almost $300 million of investment into 20 different catalogs, including 29-year-old Puerto Rican producer Marco “Tainy” Masís, the powerhouse behind Cardi B’s super-hit “I Like It” featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin.

Additionally, the deal will also see Warner Music Group and BlackRock acquire a stake in songwriting all-stars including the Stereotypes, Jessie Reyes, and Skyler Stonestreet, the latter of whom has worked with the likes of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.

While it’s more often the case that catalog investors focus their aim on proven artists and catalogs, Influence and Pizzaro are hoping for a vibe shift. And she’s never been afraid of the road less traveled.

“What we’re seeing now is newer titles behaving differently than they have historically,” Pizarro told the Wall Street Journal of working on license copyrights that go beyond one-off placements in advertisements, film, or TV.

As music has become increasingly immersed in the fully digital world, the industry has had to adjust, with artists turning to alternative routes like social media as revenue drivers. As the model evolves, Pizarro points to video games as an additional growth area in the years to come.

It’s that outlook that informs this new investment effort — and if it goes according to plan, it could present a roadmap for future moves in the industry. But critically, Influence Media has often empowered artists to retain a stake in their catalogs and a strong hand in promoting and marketing their music.

Warner has taken outside capital to invest in music rights before. Last year, it was reported they held over $1 billion in music rights after purchasing catalogs from the Jonas Brothers, Florida-Georgia Line, Wiz Khalifa, and several top producers.

And with this latest step, they’re only doubling down on this intriguing trajectory for the business of music.

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