This Black Female-Founded Global Investment Firm Acquires Iconic Musicians’ Song Catalogs, Changing The Game

A new Black female-founded global investment firm is breaking barriers and pushing limits in the entertainment industry.

More than $4.3 billion was invested in 2021 in Black-founded companies in the U.S., with just over $1.9 billion, or 44%, at the seed or early-stage funding. Adding to that statistic, according to research by Richard Kerby, just 3% of VCs are black, and 1% are Latin—18% of all VCs are women.

HarbourView Equity Partners, founded in 2021 by Sherrese Clarke Soares, defies the odds with $1 billion of investable capital. As a multi-strategy, global investment firm focused on esoteric investment opportunities, Clarke Soares and her team focus on equity and equity-related investment opportunities in iconic intellectual property. The company is backed by Apollo Global Management, whereby HarbourView will acquire and manage music copyrights related to both recorded music and music publishing. Apollo is a leading global alternative asset manager with $472 billion in assets under management as of June 2021.

Clarke Soares and her team have orchestrated monumental deals in the first year of operation. They’ve bought catalogs of famed musicians such as Lady A and Brad Paisley. In October, the firm acquired the music publishing catalog of Incubus. The band generated 12.4 million album consumption units in the U.S. since its formation and over 23 million records sold worldwide.

“What we love about music and this world of IP generally, but certainly music, is it’s pervasive,” Clarke Soares shares. “It’s a core part of the human experience. One of my insecurities coming into the music business was that I wasn’t cool enough; I don’t know all the music. And then, when you stop and realize how personal music is to everyone’s individual experience, it’s not about being the cool kid. It’s just about being human and connecting to the fact that everybody has something that they love. That thing that they love may or may not be in the top forty. That’s a core part of how we think about our investing style, too. It’s appreciating that I never have to have heard of an artist before. We think that it’s meaningful and relevant to somebody.”

Arts education played a significant role in Clarke Soares’ upbringing. Her father, an entrepreneur himself, served as a role model. As a result, she appreciated the art of the deal and decided to major in finance. Her exposure to Wall Street came in 1997 when she interned at Morgan Stanley. Here she began to understand how content drives conversation and society. Her essay for Harvard Business School emphasized her desire to one day create an investment platform that invested in content.

“Even more so now,” she states, “you can be on the other side of the world, and have an understanding, whether right or wrong, of what it means to be a Black woman, simply by what you’ve seen or heard or listened to on television or in music. So that’s an extraordinary amount of power that content has to create subconscious points of view. As a woman of color growing up, I was like, ‘It’s so important for us to be centered in that conversation because otherwise, someone can manipulate that point of view to what they want.’ So it was really important to me to one day be in the center of that conversation. And capital was the way that I knew how and so I wanted capital to navigate that conversation.”

She then worked as a credit analyst in the media and entertainment department at GE Capital. Clarke Soares fostered relationships with individuals who she later left with to start an entertainment financing business platform CIT. With close to $1 billion, they invested heavily in the film and television space. Then the financial crisis of 2008 imploded the markets; CIT had to downsize its business.

She decided she wanted to work at a bigger platform and returned to Morgan Stanley. Clarke Soares helped run a credit book across a rating category for several years. She ultimately was part of the team that managed an $85 billion credit book and became the deputy investment committee chair.

A few years into her tenure, she launched an entertainment structure solutions business within Morgan Stanley. One of the products she developed ultimately became Tempo, an investment platform for premium music rights under Providence Equity Partners. Clarke Soares left the investment management company to run the new music platform.

After building her resume, she decided she wanted to own a business; that’s when she birthed the idea for HarbourView. She’s built a team of investors that understand the media sector’s industrial complex, specifically IP-driven ones.

As Clarke Soares continues to pivot in her career and expand HarbourView, she focuses on the following essential steps:

  • Write down your vision or goal. Seeing it makes it more believable and helps keep you laser-focused.
  • Be a student. What is your skill acquisition like? Do you take the time to learn something new and practice it?
  • Don’t be afraid to fail forward. Find ways to take risks that advance you to where you want to be in life.

“I want to create an institution of scale,” Clarke Soares concludes. “In the U.S., there are no institutionalized asset management companies that are founded by women… If you think about the bulge bracket, private equity firms and asset management firms, all these firms have been founded by men. So it’s very clear to me that someone should do that. I’m hoping maybe it’ll be me. But it may not be, but my hope in the process is to be a beacon of light to inspire someone to become that.”

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