Neil Young joins music rights bonanza with sale to Hipgnosis
London — Hipgnosis Songs Fund has bought 50% of the rights to folk songwriter Neil Young’s discography, marking the latest in a bonanza of music rights acquisitions after artists, cut off from touring income by the coronavirus pandemic, look to raise cash.
Hipgnosis announced on Wednesday the purchase of half the copyright and income interests for the Canadian singer’s 1,180 songs, including hits such as “Heart of Gold”, after deals for the music of producer Jimmy Iovine and Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsay Buckingham earlier in the week. In December, Neil Young’s fellow 60s icon, Bob Dylan, sold his music rights to Universal Music.
Since floating in 2018, the London-listed company has raised more than £1.05bn in equity capital to bet big on the value of song royalties. Founder Merck Mercuriadis believes hit songs have become an asset class that will generate reliable revenues from consumers who are treating music as essential and signing up to streaming services such as Spotify.
Hipgnosis now co-owns ten of the streaming platform’s top 30 most-played songs. During 2020, Mercuriadis scooped up rights to songs by crooner Barry Manilow, producer Mark Ronson, the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, and the co-founders of 80s pop group Blondie. He was previously a manager for acts including Elton John and Guns ’n Roses. Hipgnosis did not reveal the value of the deal for Neil Young’s back catalogue.
Mercuriadis is now contemplating further fundraising as he spies further catalogues. The company’s stock price rose 12% over 2020 to £1.24bn despite a wider UK stock market slump.
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