Merck Mercuriadis’ Hipgnosis just spent over $100m on a rock catalog, say MBW sources

After a flurry of huge deal announcements at the start of 2021, there was always going to be periods of relative quiet for Hipgnosis and Merck Mercuriadis.

Some in the industry (not least Mercuriadis’ rivals) will have noted with palpable relief that the Hipgnosis founder has largely been keeping himself to himself in the past couple of months – as giant deals like the Paul Simon catalog sale to Sony get completed elsewhere.

However, MBW hears Mercuriadis is about to grab music biz headlines yet again, with a major deal worth north of $100 million.

Sources tell MBW that that agreement will see Hipgnosis acquire “one of the most sought-after rock catalogs in Anglo-American music”, and that an announcement is not too far away.

Our cast-iron source tell us the deal is inked, and weighs in at “in the same ballpark that Merck paid for Neil Young”.

That’s a reference to the deal Hipgnosis announced earlier this year for the acquisition of 50% of Young’s song catalog, for which it’s understood to have paid somewhere in the region of $150 million.

Mercuriadis wouldn’t be drawn on the rumor today (May 3) when contacted by MBW.

In January alone, in addition to the Neil Young buy, Hipgnosis confirmed its acquisition of Shakira’s publishing catalog, in addition to the song catalog of Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham.

Also in January, Hipgnosis also announced the acquisition of producer royalty streams from Bob Rock (Michael Buble, Metallica) and Jimmy Iovine (Dire Straits, Patti Smith, U2).

In February, via a share issue, Hipgnosis raised an additional $100 million. That money came from existing investors plus New York-based Morgan Stanley Investment Management Inc. – meaning that Hipgnosis had welcomed a US-based institutional investor into its business for the first time.

In March, Hipgnosis came back to the deal table to announce the acquisition of the song catalog of Carole Bayer Sager, who wrote huge hits like Nobody Does It Better and A Groovy Kind of Love.

Other significant catalog deals in the music industry this year have included Primary Wave‘s recent buyout of songs and recorded music created by Madonna collaborator Patrick Leonard, and its acquisition of music publishing rights from Wilson Phillips members Chynna Phillips and Carnie Wilson.

Meanwhile, in February, Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group swooped for a deal, thought to be worth $100 million-plus, to buy a range of rights to the Beach Boys, including a majority stake in catalog IP, plus memorabilia and the band’s branding.

Iconic Artists has also acquired a song and recordings catalog from David Crosby this year, in addition to Linda Rondstadt’s recorded music rights.

And financial giant KKR announced in February that it had acquired a catalog from star songwriter and One Republic frontman Ryan Tedder, reportedly for around $200 million.

KKR has since struck an alliance with BMG, under which both companies will jointly seek out copyrights for acquisition.Music Business Worldwide