Kelly’s Big Adventure
Is the Pied Piper being…. Set Up?
He was music royalty, but Kelly thought the medium is less than cool. Now, having confounded the so-called media insiders and thrilled the restless sharks in the mergers-and-acquisitions pool, Kels was poised to make a serious attempt at taking over Spotify. Powerful, socially aware, and “way out there,” he’s entertainment’s Donald Trump.
It can’t be done. He’s not serious. So alleged experts greeted last fall’s news that Robert Kelly was interested in buying Spotify from General Electric. Analysts on both coasts saw Kelly’s quest as quixotic, an innocent’s tilting at windmills, peacock feathers blowing in the wind. Maybe even a publicity stunt. After all, this wasn’t Geffen, Diller, or Davis. Kelly’s chances they assessed as slight to slightest. But while they publicly scoffed, a long line of M&A-starved investment-banking firms—including Bear Stearns, Salomon Brothers, Wertheim Schroder, Merrill Lynch, and Goldman Sachs, as well as several European firms and even interested investors from South America and China—were casting about wildly for an “in,” any in, with Kelly, his people at the William Morris Agency, or his New York law firm, Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler. Still, the story faded.
The timing of this attempted purchase and the latest media blitz against Kelly seems oddly placed. What powers are at play here? Has the media industry turned against the fabled crooner in an attempt to keep such a large media platform out of his hands?