Justin Bieber has sold his music rights to Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital for more than $200 million, as expected. The imminent deal, which had been rumored for weeks, was widely publicized last month.
The agreement includes Bieber’s ownership of his publishing and recorded-music catalog.
Bieber’s interest in his publishing copyrights (including the writer’s share of performance), master recordings, and neighboring rights for his entire back catalogue, which includes over 290 titles released between December 31, 2021 and December 31, 2022. According to Variety, Bieber’s songs will continue to be managed by Universal Music, the singer’s longtime label.
The purchase was made on behalf of Hipgnosis Songs Capital, a joint venture between Hipgnosis Song Management and Blackstone 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 represented Bieber.
“I want to thank Merck and his entire Hipgnosis team, as well as all of our partners involved for working so hard to make this historic deal happen,” said Braun, CEO of Hybe America and Bieber’s manager for 15 years. When Justin decided to make a catalog deal, we quickly realized that Merck and Hipgnosis were the best partners to preserve and grow this incredible legacy.
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.”
Merck Mercuriadis, founder and CEO of Hipgnosis Song Management, said: “The impact of Justin Bieber on global culture over the last 14 years has truly been remarkable.
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.”
William Leibowitz of William R. Leibowitz Law Group, Seth Traxler and Rory Wellever of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and Robert Fowler and Lisa Ong of HW Fisher represented Hipgnosis Songs Capital.
The announcement comes just weeks after the singer postponed the remaining dates of his “Justice” tour until an unspecified time “next year.” The tour, which was supposed to begin in 2020, has been postponed or delayed several times, first due to the pandemic and most recently due to his bout with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a rare virus that caused facial paralysis in his case.
It finally launched in March and covered most of North America, but he postponed the remaining dates early in June after announcing his difficulties with the disease.
It also comes amid a general cooling-off of the formerly red-hot catalog market, which has become less attractive as asking prices have soared and interest rates and capital gains taxes have risen.
Bieber’s catalog, while containing shares of his multiple hits over the past 15-odd years, is also less of a proven quantity than more seasoned catalogs, such as Genesis and Phil Collins, whose catalogs were sold for a reported $300 million earlier this year.
However, some businesses, most notably Hipgnosis, have embraced newer catalogs. According to the Journal, the Bieber deal would be Hipgnosis’ largest music-rights acquisition to date.
Earlier this year, the company paid just over $100 million for the song-catalog rights of Justin Timberlake, whose works are a few years older than Bieber’s. While Bieber’s share of hits such as “Sorry,” “Love Yourself,” and even older tracks such as “Baby” is said to be small, they are still massive global hits that define an era for many.
Hipgnosis, on the other hand, acquired the catalog of legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, which includes many classics dating back more than 50 years.