Hipgnosis Songs Fund

Merck Mercuriadis

Hipgnosis Songs Fund is a British Guernsey-registered music IP investment and song management company founded in 2018 by Canadian–American music industry executive and entrepreneur Merck Mercuriadis and co-founded by Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers, Mercuriadis’ former client.

Focused on songs and associated musical intellectual property rights, it was founded on the premise that hit songs are long-term predictable assets unaffected by economic cycles that will increase in value as the worldwide music streaming market grows. In addition to acquiring songs and songwriter catalogues, the company manages the playlist, cover, interpolation, and synchronization revenues of its IP.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund has raised £1.052b to fund acquisitions since it was established in 2018. At the close of its first full year as a publicly traded company, its catalog totaled more than 5,000 songs; of those, approximately 2,000 had been #1 hits somewhere in the world, and 4,000 had reached the Top 10. Five songs co-owned by Hipgnosis Songs Fund appeared in the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 of the decade chart. In July 2020, it was reported that the Hipgnosis music rights portfolio, consisting of approximately 13,300 songs, had been independently valued at more than £760 million. Its market cap surpassed £1b in August 2020.

Merck Mercuriadis has managed artists including Elton John, Iron Maiden, Morrissey, Beyoncé, and Nile Rodgers. The company was named after Hipgnosis, the art and design group founded by English graphic designers Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell. The Family (Music) Limited, an advisory board that included Mercuriadis, Rodgers, Starrah, The-Dream, David A. Stewart, Nick Jarjour, Bill Leibowitz, and Ian Montone was established in 2018. Rodney Jerkins joined the advisory board in July 2020.

Following its original listing, the company reported that it had acquired a 75% interest in its first music rights catalog from musician The-Dream for £18.83 million. Among other hits, the 302-song collection included Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby,’ Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella,’ and Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).’

By the end of 2018, Hipgnosis acquired the Poo Bear catalogue of 214 songs, including Justin Bieber’s ‘What Do You Mean?’ and the English language version of ‘Despacito’; and a 37.5% stake in Chic co-founder Bernard Edwards’ catalogue, which comprised 290 songs including ‘Everybody Dance,’ ‘Le Freak,’ ‘I Want Your Love,’ and ‘Good Times.’ In October 2019, the company acquired Timbaland’s catalogue, which included all six albums by Missy Elliot, and the five Justin Timberlake albums that Timbaland produced. In December 2019, Hipgnosis added the first four studio albums by Kaiser Chiefs, and the songwriting catalog of Jack Antonoff to its repertoire.

In January 2020, blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge sold his publishing rights to Hipgnosis. In April 2020 the company acquired 70% of Mark Ronson’s catalogue. It subsequently acquired the catalogs of Jerkins, RedOne, and Barry Manilow, bringing its portfolio to approximately 13,300 songs.

In September 2020, the company acquired the American music publisher Big Deal Music, adding 4,400 copyrights to the company’s portfolio. Big Deal was renamed Hipgnosis Songs Group. Later that month Hipgnosis announced that it would issue a new tranche of ordinary shares to raise £190 million, stating that the capital would be used to acquire 50 catalogs that it had identified and exclusively secured. The target of £190 million was hit in 72 hours, bringing the fund’s total raise to £1,052b.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund acquired 100% of the 162-song LA Reid catalog in October 2020. Reid also joined the Hipgnosis advisory board. In November 2020, Hipgnosis acquired 42 catalog from Kobalt Music Group, comprising 1,500 songwriters and 33,000 songs, for $322.9 million. The acquired catalogues had been owned by Kobalt Capital’s first fund, included Nettwerk, 50 Cent, Skrillex, The B-52s, Enrique Iglesias, and Steve Winwood. Hipgnosis also bought a 50% stake in the publishing, neighboring rights and recording catalogue of Rick James in November.

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