Justin Bieber nears $200m deal to sell music rights to Hipgnosis’ Blackstone fund (report)

Justin Bieber released his latest album, Justice, via Def Jam / Universal Music in March 2021

Justin Bieber is reportedly nearing a deal to sell his music rights to Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital.

That’s according to the Wall Street Journal, which citing people familiar with the matter, says that the deal is valued at around $200 million and includes his interest in both his publishing and recorded music catalogs.

Bieber has released six albums, the most recent of which was Justice, via Def Jam / Universal Music in March 2021.

Citing a source, the WSJ reports that the deal ‘would be the largest music-rights acquisition for Hipgnosis to date.’

News of Bieber’s reported deal comes seven months after another pop superstar Justin Timberlake sold his song catalog to Hipgnosis in a deal the WSJ reports was worth $100 million

That acquisition was made by Hipgnosis Song Management on behalf of Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital (Hipgnosis Songs Capital ICAV) – a separate entity to the UK-listed Hipgnosis Songs Fund.

Both of those funds (Hipgnosis Songs Capital and Hipgnosis Songs Fund) have their investments managed by Hipgnosis Song Management, in which Blackstone is also an investor.

In March, Hipgnosis Song Management announced the acquisition of a career-spanning catalog created by legendary Canadian artist and composer Leonard Cohen.

That marked a landmark deal for the private, Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital ICAV fund, which launched last year with an initial commitment from Blackstone of around $1 billion.

Prior to the announcement of its deal for the Leonard Cohen catalog, in January, Hipgnosis announced it had acquired an 80% stake in the recorded music royalty stream of country star Kenny Chesney.

The WSJ notes that Bieber’s songs ‘are considered young in the music copyright market, which has exploded primarily on the back of older artists cashing in on their life’s work’.

This year has seen various big-money music rights deals with such artists.

In September for example, Concord acquired the publishing and recorded music catalogs of Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Mike Rutherford, as well as the publishing and recorded music catalog from their years in the band Genesis in a deal The Wall Street Journal reported to be ‘valued at over $300 million’.

In February, legendary artist and songwriter Sting sold his entire song catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG). One expert industry source told MBW at the time that the final acquisition fee reached north of $300 million.

Although activity in the M&A market was slower in 2022 than it was last year when at least $5 billion was spent on music copyrights, these deals offer evidence that the rights acquisition space hasn’t come to a standstill.

At UK-listed Hipgnosis Songs Fund’s Capital Markets Day at the Maxwell Library in Savoy Place, London on December 8, Merck Mercuridadis, CEO & founder of the Hipgnosis group of companies, noted that “very significant checks” are still being written in music’s M&A world.

At HSF’s Capital Markets Day, Mercuriadis pointed to a Genesis and Phil Collins catalog recently being sold to Concord for a nine-figure sum, as well as Primary Wave striking a $2 billion deal with Brookfield – $700 million of which was immediately deployed to buy existing Primary Wave-managed assets.

Continued Mercuriadis: “But a lot of the people that have come along in the last couple of years that have competed against us are out there [today] writing very significant cheques.

“I can’t comment on the individual catalogs. But what I can tell you is that we are seeing multiples being paid [in 2022] that are significantly above where [Hipgnosis Songs Fund’s] NAV is. I’m not talking about where our share price is, but where our NAV is.”Music Business Worldwide