Welcome to 2021 in the global music industry, where some things will dazzle, shock and overwhelm you with their newness. And where some things will very much remain Business As Usual.
Today’s news lands firmly in the second camp: Hipgnosis Songs Fund has struck a big-money deal to acquire a valuable asset from a major name in the music business.
This story comes with a couple of twists, though, as it sees Hipgnosis agree a deal with legendary music executive Jimmy Iovine.
Hipgnosis acquires Iovine’s worldwide producer royalties across 259 recordings, in addition to his movie production royalties for two films that showcased major rappers of their time – 8 Mile and Get Rich Or Die Tryin’.
Iovine won’t be using the money to feather his own nest, either: he’s going to invest the undisclosed fee into building a high school in South LA under the USC Iovine And Young Academy initiative.
Los Angeles-based Iovine is best known as the founder of Interscope Records, as well as the co-founder of Beats By Dre, which sold to Apple for $3bn in 2014. (As a result of that deal, Iovine went in-house at Apple, becoming a key architect of the platform known as Apple Music today.)
Iovine has also racked up an impressive list of credentials as a producer and engineer down the years. He rose to prominence as an engineer in the 1970s, working with John Lennon (Walls & Bridges, Rock & Roll) and Bruce Springsteen (Born To Run, Darkness On The Edge Of Town).
In 1978 Iovine produced Patti Smith’s Easter and its UK Top 5 hit single Because The Night.
“I’m happy that my work as a producer with so many great artists has found the right home with Merck and Hipgnosis.”
Iovine then produced Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ breakthrough third album Damn The Torpedoes (1979) which was certified 3x platinum in the US in the year of its release. That album included two hit singles with Don’t Do Me Like That and Refugee.
In the 1980s Iovine produced a run of blockbuster albums including Dire Straits’ Making Movies (featuring Romeo and Juliet and Tunnel Of Love) and Stevie Nicks’ debut solo album Bella Donna (featuring Edge Of Seventeen plus Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around with Tom Petty).
In addition, Iovine produced U2’s Under a Blood Red Sky and Rattle and Hum (featuring Desire), Simple Minds’ Once Upon A Time (featuring Alive and Kicking), and The Pretenders’ Get Close (featuring Don’t Get Me Wrong).
In 2002, Iovine co-produced the hit movie 8 Mile starring Eminem, which grossed over $240m. 8 Mile’s soundtrack has been certified 4x platinum in the US and has sold over 15 million copies globally.
Three years later Iovine co-produced the film Get Rich or Die Tryin’ based on 50 Cent’s album of the same name. Iovine was also executive producer on the soundtrack which has sold over 3m copies worldwide.
“His incomparable success with Interscope and Beats means that he would never have to make a deal for money again, but leave it to Jimmy to figure out the most efficient way possible to use his producer royalties to build a best-in-class high school in the inner city and once again make a massive difference, as he has throughout his life.”
Merck Mercuriadis, Hipgnosis Songs Fund
Merck Mercuriadis, founder of Hipgnosis Songs Fund, said: “While barely in my teens I noticed that so many of my favourite albums had one name in common. The best albums by John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith all had Jimmy Iovine on them. This continued through the ’80s with Stevie Nicks, Dire Straits, U2, Simple Minds, The Pretenders and more from Tom and Patti.
“I have been glued to everything Jimmy does ever since. His incomparable success with Interscope and Beats means that he would never have to make a deal for money again, but leave it to Jimmy to figure out the most efficient way possible to use his producer royalties to build a best-in-class high school in the inner city and once again make a massive difference, as he has throughout his life. It’s an honor to now be a custodian of his incredible work on these iconic albums and I’m very happy to welcome him to the Hipgnosis family.”
Jimmy Iovine said: “I’m happy that my work as a producer with so many great artists has found the right home with Merck and Hipgnosis. I am going to use the proceeds from the deal to help Iovine Young Academy’s initiative to build a high school in South LA as part of the Iovine Young Academy at USC and continue our efforts to support education.”
Jimmy Iovine was represented by Paul Wachter of Main Street Advisors and attorneys Eric Sacks and Don Friedman of Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks.Music Business Worldwide