According to the company’s announcement, Justin Bieber has sold his music rights to Hipgnosis Songs Capital, which is backed by Blackstone, for more than $200 million. The pending deal was widely reported last month, after weeks of speculation.
All of Bieber’s publishing copyrights (including the writer’s share of performance), master recordings, and neighboring rights for his entire back catalog, which includes over 290 titles released before December 31, 2021, are included in the deal. Universal Music, the singer’s longtime label, will reportedly continue to handle the administration of Bieber’s music. UMG has, and always will have, sole ownership of all of his master recordings.
This purchase was made by Hipgnosis Songs Capital, a joint venture between Hipgnosis Song Management and Blackstone-managed investment funds. Scooter Braun at Hybe America, David Bolno at NKSFB, Aaron Rosenberg and Audrey Benoualid at Myman Greenspan Fox Rosenberg Mobasser Younger & Light LLP, and Michael Rhodes at Cooley all represented Bieber in legal matters.
According to Bieber’s longtime manager and CEO of Hybe America, Braun, “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 decided to enter into a catalog deal, we wasted no time in determining that Merck and Hipgnosis would make the best partners to help us maintain and expand this remarkable legacy. I’m happy for everyone involved because it’s been an honor to watch this unfold over the past 15 years. His greatness has only just begun.
Hipgnosis Song Management CEO Merck Mercuriadis said, “The impact of Justin Bieber on global culture over the last 14 years has truly been remarkable. With nearly 82 million monthly listeners and over 30 billion streams on Spotify alone, this acquisition is among the largest deals ever made for an artist under the age of 70. Scooter Braun has been instrumental in Justin’s career, and it is with great excitement that we welcome him and his incredible catalog of music to the Hipgnosis family.
William R. Leibowitz Law Group, Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s Seth Traxler and Rory Wellever, and HW Fisher’s Robert Fowler and Lisa Ong represented Hipgnosis Songs Capital.
The singer has been relatively quiet as of late, with the remaining dates of his “Justice” tour having been postponed until “next year.” The tour’s 2020 debut date has been pushed back several times, first because of the pandemic and then because of Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a rare virus that caused facial paralysis in his case. Finally, beginning in March, it traversed much of North America before its creator had to postpone the remaining dates in early June due to health complications.
It also coincides with a general slowdown in the once-booming catalog market, which has become less appealing as asking prices have skyrocketed and interest rates and capital gains taxes have risen.
While Bieber’s catalog includes some of his biggest hits from the past 15 years or so, it is less of a sure bet than the catalogs of artists like Genesis and Phil Collins, each of which reportedly sold for $300 million this year.
But some businesses, like Hipgnosis in particular, have embraced newer catalogs. The Journal says that if the Bieber deal goes through, it will be Hipgnosis’s largest music-rights purchase to date. Earlier this year, the company reportedly paid just over $100 million to acquire the song catalog rights of Justin Timberlake, whose works are a few years older than Bieber’s.
Despite the fact that Bieber’s contribution to the success of songs like “Sorry,” “Love Yourself,” and even older songs like “Baby” is said to be minimal, these songs are nonetheless massive global hits that, for many, define an era. On the other hand, Hipgnosis has also acquired the catalog of legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, which features many timeless classics that are over 50 years old.