The Carlyle Group is a private equity firm that was founded in 1987 and, given its namesake, its founder held the first meeting at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Throughout the 90s the company found success through taking in investments from Saudi Arabia and putting money into various companies that worked with American military contractors. The company’s backstory and connections to the Saudi royal family have oddly received a late 2010s update when Hasan Minhaj talked about the company’s connection to military involvement in the Yemen civil war after it invested $500 million in Supreme
. This was nearly fifteen years after the documentarian Michael Moore in his film Fahrenheit 9/11
exposed the company’s rather deep ties to the Bush family, including employing former president George H. W. Bush. Now, none of this is at all related to music but I want to ground us on where the money to buy Taylor Swift’s catalog came from.
By the early 2000s, the Carlyle Group was starting to find new ventures outside of companies that mostly profited in the theater of war. In 2006, the firm, along with a cluster of other private equity firms (including the Blackstone Group, which recently bought SESAC, the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers, and helped guide Sony’s purchase of CBS Records back in the late 1980s) bought Nielsen
, the media analytics company. This allowed Nielsen to continue hovering up other advertising and media-centered companies over the last decade. However, the Carlyle Group’s first real venture into music came only a few years ago.
Perhaps it shouldn’t have been too surprising that the company helped back Ithaca Holdings through the purchase of Big Machine Label Group, especially for the tune of “only” $300 million, (compared to the company’s other investments). Yet, as the Financial Times reported
, even employees at the Carlyle Group were a bit surprised by the intense fan blowback caused by Taylor Swift’s fans after seeing their favorite singer lose her back catalog. Perhaps these employees weren’t around when the company was being accused of profiting off the September 11th attacks. That social media hot water scolds a little bit hotter than being accused of helping one of the largest attacks on United States soil in recent memory! Either way, the Carlyle Group did hit some tripwire, since the Financial Times
reporting brought up the issue that Taylor Swift doesn’t even have control over her music due to the way the music industry is set up at the complete disadvantage of artists, which is where I’d like to close.