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Business of music rights: Shakira becomes latest star to sell back catalogue

Hipgnosis Songs Fund adds the Colombian artist to growing portfolio

Shakira has joined Bob Dylan and Stevie Nicks in the growing chorus of chart-toppers cashing in on their back catalogues in big-bucks music acquisition deals.

Colombia-born Shakira - the best-selling female Latin artist of all-time - has sold the rights to her entire catalogue of 145 songs to London-based Hipgnosis Songs Fund for an “undisclosed sum”, reports ShareCast

Major-league asset

Hipgnosis is “leading the charge” in song rights acquisitions, says The Guardian. Since launching in 2018, the music investment company  has spent “£1.1bn snapping up rights” and “is already in talks on spending a further £1bn on deals” this year, the paper reports. 

In the past couple of weeks alone, Hipgnosis has announced the acquisition of Jimmy Iovine’s production royalties, as well as 100% of Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham’s publishing catalog, plus 50% of Neil Young’s publishing catalogue.  

And the acquisition of 100% of Shakira’s music publishing rights – including both publisher and writer’s share – marks another “major-league music asset”, adds Music Business Worldwide.

With hit tracks including Hips Don’t Lie and 2010 Fifa World Cup theme Waka Waka, Shakira has sold a total of more than 80 million records, won three Grammys and has nearly 20 billion views for the videos on her official YouTube channel.

Top of the ‘song-management’ pops 

Co-founded by Merck Mercuriadis and legendary producer Nile Rodgers, Hipgnosis has raised £1.2bn from investors since launching and has acquired more than 120 catalogues to date for artists including Blondie, Barry Manilow, Timbaland and the Kaiser Chiefs. 

In an interview with Rolling Stone in October, Mercuriadis emphasised that he was “not in the publishing business, I’m in the song-management business”. 

“These are highly emotional transactions,” said the Hipgnosis CEO. “As songwriters, they’re effectively giving their children to surrogate parents, and they know they can trust me and that I’ll respect their art and only use songs in ways they’re comfortable with. 

“We only buy directly from songwriters because I’m looking to empower songwriters and the songwriter community.”

Other chart-topping deals 

In one of the biggest acquisitions yet in the booming music-rights market, Universal Music last month announced what The New York Times described as a “blockbuster deal” to buy Bob Dylan’s entire publishing catalogue. The collection of 600-odd songs reportedly sold for the tune of more than $300m (£220m).

Universal - which also bought the rights to Prince’s “legendary” music vault in 2017 - called the Dylan deal the “most significant music publishing agreement this century and one of the most important of all time”.

The buy-up was announced a week after Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks sealed a deal to sell the majority stake of her publishing catalogue to music publisher Primary Wave for $100m. 

Music rights acquisitions has become an increasingly big business in recent years.

A total of more than $4bn was spent on buying artists’ music catalogues in 2019, according to MIDiA Research. And that figure was expected to be “easily surpassed” in 2020, says The Guardian.

Mark Mulligan, an analyst at MIDiA Research, said: “The music publishing deal market is at its peak. There has never been a better time, there may never be a better time, for a hit artist from the 70s, 80s and 90s to sell their rights.

“These deals are being done at 17, 18, 19, 20 times value.”

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