It’s official: Justin Bieber has agreed to sell a career-spanning catalog to Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital (HSC) in a nine-figure deal.
Hipgnosis has today (January 24) announced via a media release that HSC has acquired “Justin Bieber’s 100% interest in his Publishing Copyrights (including the Writer’s Share of Performance), Master Recordings and Neighboring Rights for Bieber’s entire back catalog, comprising over 290 titles released before December 31, 2021″.
[Universal Music Group continues to own the master recordings of Bieber’s back catalog; it appears that Hipgnosis will now receive Bieber’s artist royalty stream on those masters via Universal. UMPG will continue to administer Bieber’s publishing.]
The Wall Street Journal reported in December that the Hipgnosis/Bieber deal would be worth around USD $200 million.
MBW understands that, prior to the Bieber deal, Hipgnosis Songs Capital (not to be confused with the UK-listed public entity, Hipgnosis Songs Fund) had spent around $300 million on previous acquisitions. Those HSC acquisitions have included catalogs/income streams associated with artists such as Justin Timberlake, Nelly Furtado, Leonard Cohen, and Kenny Chesney.
As a result: Hipgnosis Songs Capital has now splashed over half a billion dollars on catalog deals since being launched in Q4 2021. (UPDATE: Sources close to HSC suggest the fund has in fact spent over $600 million at the time of writing.)
The Bieber acquisition was made on behalf of Hipgnosis Songs Capital by its investment manager, Hipgnosis Song Management (HSM). (HSM is also the investment manager for Hipgnosis Songs Fund.)
According to Merck Mercuriadis, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hipgnosis Song Management, the deal with Bieber, whose songs have been streamed over 32 billion times on Spotify alone, “ranks among the biggest deals ever made for an artist under the age of 70”.
Bieber has estimated sales of over 150 million records worldwide to date. All of Bieber’s six official studio albums have been certified Platinum or multi-platinum by the RIAA and 33 platinum or multi-platinum singles globally.
Bieber has three singles – Baby, Sorry, and Despacito – which have earned Diamond certifications for US sales exceeding 10 million, and a fourth in Love Yourself that is set to soon achieve the same status.
“At only 28 years of age, he is one of a handful of defining artists of the streaming era that has revitalized the entire music industry, taking a loyal and worldwide audience with him on a journey from teen phenomenon to culturally important artist.”
Merck Mercuriadis, Hipgnosis Song Management
Merck Mercuriadis, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hipgnosis Song Management, said: “The impact of Justin Bieber on global culture over the last 14 years has truly been remarkable.
“At only 28 years of age, he is one of a handful of defining artists of the streaming era that has revitalized the entire music industry, taking a loyal and worldwide audience with him on a journey from teen phenomenon to culturally important artist. This acquisition ranks among the biggest deals ever made for an artist under the age of 70, such is the power of this incredible catalog that has almost 82 million monthly listeners and over 30 billion streams on Spotify alone.
“Scooter Braun has helped him build a magnificent catalog, and it’s a pleasure to welcome Justin and his incredible songs and recordings to the Hipgnosis family.”
“Justin is truly a once-in-a-generation artist and that is reflected and acknowledged by the magnitude of this deal.”
Scooter Braun, Hybe America
Scooter Braun, CEO of Hybe America and Justin Bieber’s manager of 15 years, said: “I want to thank Merck and his entire Hipgnosis team and all of our partners involved for working so hard to make this historic deal happen.
“When Justin made the decision to make a catalog deal we quickly found the best partner to preserve and grow this amazing legacy was Merck and Hipgnosis.
“For over a decade now Justin Bieber has entertained us and moved us with some of the biggest songs in the world. I’m so proud of him and all those involved over the years in helping amass this incredible body of work.
“Justin is truly a once-in-a-generation artist and that is reflected and acknowledged by the magnitude of this deal. For 15 years I have been grateful to witness this journey and today I am happy for all those involved. Justin’s greatness is just beginning.”
News of Bieber’s deal comes eight months after another pop superstar, Justin Timberlake, sold his song catalog to Hipgnosis Songs Capital in a deal the WSJ reported was worth $100 million.
Elsewhere, in March 2022, 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.
Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital (Hipgnosis Songs Capital ICAV) is 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.
Many of the biggest catalog deals to date have indeed been achieved by so-called ‘heritage’ artists.
In December 2021, Sony Music Group acquired two sets of rights from Bruce Springsteen – both recordings and music publishing – covering the entirety of Springsteen’s catalog, in a deal worth at least $500 million.
Bob Dylan, sold his recorded music catalog to Sony Music Entertainment in January 2022, in a deal industry sources suggest was worth north of $150 million. Universal Music Group acquired the publishing rights to Dylan’s songwriting catalog in one of the biggest acquisitions in UMG’s history in December 2020, for a price likely sat between $300 million and $400 million.
Sting, meanwhile, sold his entire song catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) in February 2022 for somewhere around the $300 million mark.
Elsewhere in the music rights acquisition space in 2023, on Monday (January 23) Warner Music Group struck a “milestone deal” with legendary British progressive rock band YES to acquire the recorded music rights and income streams from the band’s “complete” Atlantic Records era catalog.