A prominent song fund just bought the rights to a trove of classic rock music thanks to two separate recent deals. In the past two days, Hipgnosis Songs Fund has purchased the catalogues of Jimmy Iovine and Lindsey Buckingham, according to reports by Billboard and Rolling Stone. The Iovine deal, announced on January 4, includes the producer and Beats co-founder’s producer royalties for 259 songs, including classic albums by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Stevie Nicks along with the films 8 Mile and Get Rich or Die Tryin’. He did not disclose the amount of the deal but said it would fund a school in Los Angeles for a program he co-founded with Dr. Dre. Buckingham’s deal, meanwhile, announced on January 5, includes his publishing and writing royalties for 161 songs, largely with band Fleetwood Mac, also for an undisclosed sum. (Hipgnosis already owned a 25 percent stake in Buckingham’s songs thanks to a buyout from the previous owner last fall.) They both join Hipgnosis’s already extensive portfolio, which includes some share of rights to songs by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, RZA, Timbaland, Mark Ronson, and Jack Antonoff, according to the New York Times.
The Buckingham purchase creates a sticky situation for Fleetwood Mac’s music, after Nicks previously sold an 80 percent stake in her publishing rights to Primary Wave, a Hipgnosis rival, in a December deal. (“He’s stirred the bottom of the barrel,” Primary Wave founder, Larry Mestel, recently told the Times of Hipgnosis’s Merck Mercuriadis. “Merck has been getting a lot of splash because he’s closing a lot of high-multiple deals, but he’s not closing the quality we’re closing.”) At the time, Rolling Stone reported the Nicks deal as worth around $100 million; now, the magazine and the New York Times have put it closer to $80 million. That puts ownership of much of Fleetwood Mac’s catalogue in at least three different hands: Hipgnosis, Primary Wave, and Nicks herself, to say nothing of bandmates and sometimes co-writers like Mick Fleetwood, Christine McVie, and John McVie. So good luck to anyone trying to use “The Chain” in 2021.
Update, January 6: It’s a third catalogue in as many days for Hipgnosis, which just bought a 50 percent stake in Neil Young’s music, per a release. More specifically, the deal includes worldwide copyright and income interests for Young’s 1,180 songs, for an undisclosed sum. In a statement, Mercuriadis addressed Young’s longstanding commitment to not using his songs in advertisements. “We have a common integrity, ethos, and passion born out of a belief in music and these important songs,” he said. “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.” Interestingly, Young’s former bandmate David Crosby has also referenced selling his catalogue in the past month. “I am selling mine also … I can’t work … and streaming stole my record money,” he tweeted, in response to the December news that Bob Dylan sold his songwriting catalogue.