In its third acquisition in as many days, Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited (LON:SONG) has acquired 50% of the rights to the back catalogue of Neil Young, the singer-songwriter who has railed against ‘selling out’ and commercialization his entire career.
The £1.2bn music investment fund will own half the worldwide copyright and income interests of over 1,180 songs from Young, who started with Buffalo Springfield and segued via the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young folk rock supergroup and into a prodigious solo career with and without his Crazy Horse backing band, with almost 50 studio albums and more than 20 live albums, of which 18 have been certified gold, seven are platinum and three are multi-platinum.
For Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis this seemed to be a particularly important acquisition, saying he bought Young’s ‘Harvest’ solo album when he was aged seven and ever since then the music has been his “friend and constant”, with the deal “a dream” for him.
He said songs are “part of who I am, they're in many ways responsible for who I've become”.
“I knew I would never be a singer or songwriter myself so my love for Neil also extended to his manager Elliot Roberts, who is sadly no longer with us. Elliot was the template for who I wanted to be.”
Roberts, who died last year, was a mentor to Mercuriadis as a younger music industry executive, which enabled him meet Young on many occasions from time to time, as well as another member of his management team, Frank Gironda, who took over as Young’s manager.
Mercuriadis said: “I built Hipgnosis to be a company Neil would want to be a part of. We have a common integrity, ethos and passion born out of a belief in music and these important songs. There will never be a "Burger Of Gold" but we will work together to make sure everyone gets to hear them on Neil's terms.”
There's a good chance their life will be changed just like mine was. This is a deal that changes Hipgnosis forever and it's a dream to welcome Neil, Frank, Bonnie and the team to the Hipgnosis family.”
Late last year, Bob Dylan sold a back catalogue of more than 600 songs, though Mercuriadis and co lost out to Universal Music.
Hipgnosis is also facing competition from newly London-listed Round Hill Music Royalty Fund LP (LON:RHM), which owns the royalty rights to several early Beatles hits as well as artists ranging from Gil Scott-Heron to Neil Sedaka and Craig David, and has raised funds to make more acquisitions.
London’s music investment scene also includes One Media IP Group PLC (LON:OMIP), which specialises in acquiring and repackaging nostalgic music and TV programmes, and has a powerful piece of proprietary technology called the Technical Copyright Analysis Tool to clamp down on piracy.