Hipgnosis and Blackstone acquire 80% of Kenny Chesney’s recorded music royalties

Kenny Chesney

Three months ago, MBW revealed that Merck Mercuriadis‘s Hipgnosis had struck a mega-money partnership deal with investment titan Blackstone.

That deal saw Blackstone commit to pumping a billion dollars (and likely more) into music rights acquisitions struck by Mercuriadis’ own investment management firm, Hipgnosis Song Management.

Today (January 19), the first of those acquisitions has been confirmed: Hipgnosis Song Management has acquired 80% of Kenny Chesney’s recorded music royalties, covering his discography from his 1994 debut In My Wildest Dreams through 2017’s Live in No Shoes Nation.

The acquisition also covers any future Greatest Hits, live and/or acoustic album releases Chesney may issue.

In addition, the acquisition sees Hipgnosis acquire SoundExchange (US) and Neighboring Rights royalties for every album in the country superstar’s catalog, including 2018’s Songs for the Saints and 2020’s Here and Now.

As MBW has previously explained, Blackstone’s billion-dollar music acquisition money is held in a new private fund called Hipgnosis Songs Capital, which is a separate entity to the publicly-listed Hipgnosis Songs Fund. Hipgnosis Song Management (HSM) has access to this Blackstone cash to strike acquisitions, while HSM is additionally then responsible for managing the exploitation of these acquired music rights / income streams.

Separately, Blackstone has made an undisclosed investment into Hipgnosis Song Management, largely so HSM can bulk up its resources in marketing, sync etc. around the world.

The acquisition fee for the Kenny Chesney deal was not disclosed.

Chesney’s catalog spans 22 albums, including 17 studio albums. Chesney, who has sold over 30 million albums worldwide, has racked up nine No. 1 Billboard 200 albums, 17 No. 1 Billboard Country Albums and 18 Top 10 Billboard Country albums.

Chesney was represented in the Hipgnosis deal by his longtime manager Clint Higham at Morris Higham Management, and lawyer Jess Rosen at Greenberg Traurig.

Merck Mercuriadis, founder of Hipgnosis Song Management, said: “Kenny Chesney is one of the truly great American artists. He has been bringing joy to music fans all over the world for almost 30 years. His incredible success of more than 30 million records sold including nine No. 1 albums on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart and 17 No. 1 albums on Billboard’s Country chart tells you everything you need to know.

“Add in his unparalleled success as a touring artist and the juggernaut that is No Shoes Radio, and you realize Kenny is genuinely a phenomenon. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to welcome Kenny and Clint to the Hipgnosis Songs family and we are delighted to launch our new Blackstone backed fund with this landmark acquisition.”

“Kenny Chesney is one of the truly great American artists.”

Merck Mercuriadis, Hipgnosis

Kenny Chesney said: “To know that this music has a home that views the work as a collective body, something that builds on itself and captures the heart of No Shoes Nation, was important to me. How these songs live going forward is critical, and I believe Merck has the best interests of not just the recordings but the people who love them as his driving interest.

“For the people who love these songs and albums, this is a scenario that allows the music to grow and reflect who those of us living inside these songs truly are.”

Clint Higham said: “Kenny has put his life into amassing the collected body of work contained here, and it’s something we have all taken very seriously throughout his unprecedented career. There is no deal that is more important than protecting the legacy of these songs.

“Working with Merck and his team to secure this deal, we found people who are as serious about the recordings as we are, and that suggests there is an incredible future for Kenny’s recorded music through the Hipgnosis team.”

Hipgnosis Songs Fund, the UK-listed fund that Mercuriadis floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2018, recently revealed a string of stats about its own performance over the previous year.

In December, the firm confirmed that it owned a music rights catalog worth over USD $2.5 billion.

Its interim financial report stated: “As at 30 September 2021, [our] Portfolio comprises of 146 Catalogs, 65,413 songs, with an aggregate fair value of $2.55 billion (as determined by the Independent Portfolio Valuer).”Music Business Worldwide