Canadian investor snaps up stake in rapper Belly's music, including the Weeknd hits

Ottawa rapper Belly, shown in a handout photo, is selling a 50 per cent stake in his songs, including part of his co-writing royalities for the Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights,” to newly formed Canadian music rights management company Kilometre Music Group. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-David Black MANDATORY CREDIT

TORONTO - Ottawa rapper and long-time Weeknd collaborator Belly is selling a 50 per cent stake in his songs to a newly formed Canadian music rights management company.

Kilometre Music Group tells The Canadian Press it has struck a deal with the Juno-winning musician for partial rights to 180 songs from Belly’s back catalogue. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The performer, born Ahmad Balshe, co-wrote some of the Weeknd’s biggest smashes from his latest album "After Hours," including "Blinding Lights," "Save Your Tears" and "In Your Eyes."

And he's co-written the Toronto singer's past singles "Earned It" and "The Hills," as well as "6 Inch," a track from Beyonce's "Lemonade" album.

Kilometre will also get a stake in Belly's own recordings, among them his 2015 hit "Might Not," featuring the Weeknd, and "Double Up," which appears on the late Nipsey Hussle's 2018 album.

The acquisition is among the first for Kilometre CEO Michael McCarty, who left his position at Canadian music industry organization SOCAN last year to help launch the new private music rights management company.

McCarty said Thursday in a release that the company is "ecstatic that Belly has trusted us with his historic catalogue that will stand the test of time."

Founded with the support of Toronto-based Barometer Capital Management Inc., Kilometre is focused on snapping up the rights to the music libraries of prominent Canadian musicians with an eye on seeking new revenue growth opportunities.

Like many new investors in music rights, the company sees the music industry's shift from record sales to streaming music platforms as an opportunity to turn hit songs into steady revenue.

"I truly believe that we are in the early stages of the greatest era of prosperity ever for recorded music," McCarty said in an interview earlier this year about the launch of his company.

In April, Kilometre announced its first acquisition, a deal with Toronto singer Shaun Frank for his co-writing interests in "Closer," a massive hit by the Chainsmokers that’s among the most streamed songs of all time.

Several other rights management companies have been circling the market during the pandemic, including the Hipgnosis Songs Fund run by Middleton, N.S. native Merck Mercuriadis.

Earlier this year, he secured a 50 per cent stake in the rights for 1,180 of Neil Young's songs, including "Heart of Gold'" and "Harvest Moon" and royalty rights for some of Winnipeg-born producer Bob Rock’s work on Michael Bublé's Christmas hits and Metallica's "Enter Sandman."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 10, 2021.

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