Richard Smirke of BillboardBiz reports:

Round Hill Music has acquired a sizeable stake in Judas Priest’s catalog, following the collapse of founder member KK Downing’s luxury golf course venture, Billboard understands.

Downing’s share of the royalty rights to 136 Judas Priest tongs, including classic songs Breaking The Law, Living After Midnight and Painkiller, were put up for sale earlier this year after a number of his U.K. leisure businesses were placed into administration (similar to Chapter 11 insolvency in the U.S.).

No announcement has been made by Round Hill, although sources say that they won the bidding to acquire the rights, which consist of Downing’s publishing and writer’s share, and his artist royalties from the master recordings. Round Hill has already completed that acquisition. The company declined to comment and terms of the deal are not known.

According to administrators FRP Advisory LLP, who handled the rights sale, Downing’s catalog share generates between $340,000 and $400,000 per year in royalties.

The guitarist — real name Ken Downing — was forced to sell his holding after investing millions into Astbury Hall — a sprawling 320-acre estate in Shropshire, England with an 18 hole, 71-par golf course, which he hoped would one day attract the Open Championship.

After falling into severe financial difficulties, the 320-acre estate was put up for sale by administrators last fall with an asking price of more than £10 million ($13.5 million). Administrators blamed “tougher economic times within the wider corporate hospitality market” for placing “unsustainable pressure” on the business…

…Round Hill’s acquisition of Downing’s royalty rights comes on the heels of it obtaining the recording catalogue of Canadian rock trio, Triumph for an undisclosed sum. Last month also saw the New York-based company, founded in 2010 by Josh Gruss, Richard Rowe and Neil Gillis, acquire the publishing catalog — as well as a number of master rights — to the estate of Jani Lane, the original lead singer and songwriter in the band Warrant; and certain master rights to the Tesla catalog, which complements the company’s ownership of that band’s publishing catalog acquired in 2014.

Earlier this year, Round Hill finalized its $245 million acquisition of Carlin Music, bringing over 100,000 copyrights to the publishing house, including iconic songs, Fever, Happy Together, The Twist, La Bamba,Chantilly Lace, Under the Boardwalk, What A Wonderful World, Splish Splash, Paradise by the Dashboard Light, Owner of a Lonely Heart and Video Killed The Radio Star, ,” as well as musical scores to Fiddler on the Roof, Cabaret and Godspell among others.

Read more at Billboard Biz.


34 Responses

  1. It’s a harsh outcome but I admire KK for taking that kind of a shot at something. He shouldn’t feel bad at all; it’s just money; this life is short.

  2. Tough break for KK. But, as I’ve said before on this site, some people forget that in the end music is a business. It’s not some spiritual or emotional venture for these guys. KK owned rights to his music which he put up as collateral on a business venture that failed, so he lost those rights. If he considered these songs as somehow sacred, he wouldn’t have risked them in this manner. Will it suck to hear classic Judas Priest songs used in commercials for cars or fast food? Yes, it sure will. But, it’s just business. That’s why, while I love and cherish the memories I associate with my love for hard rock/ heavy metal music, I don’t begrudge the artists from making a buck. Or, in this case, risking their musical legacy to make a buck. In the end, it’s still just business.

    1. That music is basically KK’s soul but so was his golf course; he put his heart in both.

    2. KK lives life the way it’s supposed to be lived; he couldn’t fake being in Priest; now these people are on here sort of chiding him for losing his songs, “his business failed, bet he wishes he didn’t quit…blah, blah…” man, look in the mirror first.

    3. Bret is pretty with pretty hands but that butt doesn’t do anything for me, you?

  3. Dana,,
    I didn’t think about that, but you are right. Now there’s the real possibility of Priest’s music being used in that way for commercial gain for Round Hill. The band is very well off financially, as are the five current members. But they couldn’t compete with a corporation with so much funding at it’s disposal. Sad situation all around.

  4. As I understand, KK invested in a corporation for this golf course venture. If true, then his loss will be limited to what he invested in the corporation. I’m sure he consulted with a financial planner to make sure he is somehow still financially secure in the event the corporation failed.

    What’s disappointing, IMO, is his music wasn’t of importance enough to him to protect it, and he risked it….and lost it. I think it’s sad an artist would risk control of one’s art. Many artists try to gain control of their art, but not KK…..

    1. (!)….More like he had confidence in his business that he wouldn’t lose his songs. I can’t believe these comments…this one and also this notion that Glenn and Rob should bail him out or purchase his portion (!). Why in the world would KK not care about his music and why should anybody bail him out for his decision? Also, this co. only owns KK’s portion so the remaining owners, guys in the band, would still have to sign off on jingles, right?

    2. One would hope, but I am not sure how much control the corporation actually has in such matters, nor if KK’s percentage was larger than Rob’s, etc.

      There is nothing wrong with taking a chance, or risk in life. It all depends on the person, the situation and the level of risk. Additionally, there is also nothing inappropriate with a fan being protective of their favorite band’s best interests and expressing one’s concerns about said interests.

    3. Ok, but we’re talking about a specific situation, this one; your qualifications for risk-taking are presupposed in this discussion. I don’t hear KK crying about it; the comments on here are just “Monday morning quarterbacking.” This outcome is harsh but it isn’t the end of the world or anything close to it. KK lived his life thus far like a champion; what he did took guts. It took guts to walk away from a relatively easy paycheck for going through the motions in Priest. It took guts to put his life’s work on the line for his new passion. That’s rock and roll, not this playing it safe b.s. Also, being one member, the majority still goes to the band; thus, if we hear “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” in a QuickenLoans commercial we’ll know who were the guys who weren’t holding out.

    4. Well, I hope that is the case. I know it shouldn’t matter if these songs are used for commercial purposes, but to me, it cheapens the integrity of the product.

      Finally, I applaud Poison, and Bret Michaels, specifically, for never selling the band’s publishing rights, even when they were starving. So, if I ever hear a Poison song used in a commercial, film, or TV show, I know 100%, is was the band’s decision.

    5. I agree with you, I can’t stand to hear songs used like that. Songs are spiritual forms of communication because we don’t normally communicate with each other that way.

    6. Shannon, i never stated KK didn’t care for his music. My point is that he was willing to risk it in a business venture. Everybody is different and what is important to some may not be to others. I know if I was KK, i never would have risked the art/music i created, no matter how remote the risk. Never! It would never become a bargaining chip for any venture. You, on the other hand, perhaps would have been willing to take the risk.

      And as a fan, i am disappointed that a key member of one of my favorite bands didn’t place higher importance in the art/music he created.

    7. Rattle,

      That is one of the reasons why I admire Bret Michaels, he wouldn’t sell Poison’s music to anyone. He said the band was starving, and living like paupers, and he still refused to sell their publishing to the highest bidder.

      The other reason I admire him, he is a very strong supporter of our military, and our vets, oorah.

      Hope all is well 🙂

      D 🙂

    8. Rattlehead, I just don’t think you really understand the situation; KK goes to the bank to get millions of dollars for his business and the bank told him what they needed. Any bank or financial institution would’ve told him that; it would’ve been very irresponsible for a bank not to attach his music. I’m sure it was a tough decision for him but he really didn’t have much choice. If KK said, “Well, what about these other assets? They will cover it.” The bank wouldn’t accept that; it wants to attach to every asset KK has control over. These kinds of transactions are what makes the world run; there was nothing unusual about that transaction.

      As a fan, well, goodness, I’m not intending to sound condescending but I’m not 14 years old anymore and this isn’t Kansas anymore either. 🙂 I hate hearing songs in ads but I just block that stuff out, if I let it get to me it would just be unbearable.

      Speaking of Bret Michaels. well, I’m not sure his publishing would’ve been that valuable when they were starving. What I was gonna say though is I met a woman here in ND who told me her husband works security for Bret and she told me Bret is a great person to work for, which was cool to hear.

    9. I was fortunate enough to have met him up at Eddie’s once as I had always wanted to meet him. I can personally attest to the fact that he is a lovely man. Not only that, but he was a physically pretty man, as well. He even had beautiful hands, it was kind of annoying-LOL!

      Finally, while Poison’s publishing may have not been profitable back then, the point is Michaels had the foresight to know its potential worth in the future. Additionally, he did not want strangers making a profit off of songs that he was responsible for writing, good for him.


    10. Shannon, I am well aware of loan collateralization with a financial institution, and that institution may have asked KK to pledge these song rights. KK did indeed have a choice….he either could have identified other assets the bank may have been willing to accept, secured other investment partners, modified the scope of this venture, walked away from this venture, etc….

      And yes, I’m disappointed KK, or any artist, would risk (no matter how remote) losing control (or selling) of their rights to the music they created. Artists often claim their music is like their children. Maybe a silly analogy, but I have high respect and admiration for artists who have passion like that for the music they created.

      These artists are doing something that only a few have the talent and creativity to do…be successful at creating music. I know if I was successful in creating music, no way in hell I risk it or be willing to collateralize it to a bank. Uh uh, no F’ing way.

    11. Rattlehead, the bank didn’t ask him, it told him; moreover, it doesn’t matter if KK had the Taj Majal to put up, the bank is going to attach everything, his songs, his property, the light fixtures on the golf course, all of it. Any banker who didn’t do that should be fired immediately, millions of dollars and the bank doesn’t attach KK’s music? that would never happen under ANY circumstances, other partners..doesn’t matter. Now, put yourself in KK’s shoes for a second; he really didn’t have any choice if he was going to open a multi-million dollar golf course. Lol..get off his back you guys…come on.

    12. Lol..Rattlehead, if KK’s music were able to have children, the bank would’ve attached those too; also, control agreements for all of his personal accounts…hopefully, his advisor set up a trust for KK before he went into this. The thing is, real estate has high admin fees so the bank isn’t going to want to deal with selling that when it can just sell off his catalog. Real estate value also can change. The bank just wants to get its money with as least hassle and overhead as possible. KK dared to do something, I don’t see anything to fault there; nothing.

    1. It’s called a “Personal Guarantee”…..Your Corporation applies for money. If your Corporation doesn’t have enough equity or assets (or sometimes even if it does but the lender is not confident) they require a personal guarantee and/or Collateral to back up the loan.

      Like anyone entering into an new business with hope, confidence and the best intentions, KK likely felt it was a worthy risk to take (signing off the above to get started).

      Not sure he feels that way now.

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