Hipgnosis Songs Fund founder Merck Mercuriadis will be joined by acclaimed artist, producer and Hipgnosis advisory board member Nile Rodgers for a special sit-down interview at the RightsTech Summit in New York on October 5. Mercuriadis and Rodgers will discuss Hipgnosis’ plans to raise as much as £1 billion ($1.3 billion) to acquire song catalogs with the goal of delivering long-term returns to investors and, ultimately, boosting payouts to songwriters.The pair will also discuss their views on how the rise of paid streaming, new avenues for sync licensing and other technology-enabled opportunities could help boost the value of music rights over time.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Merck and Nile join us at the summit,” RightsTech Project co-founder Paul Sweeting said. “They’re both legends in the business, and their strategy of offering shares in a fund to invest directly in song catalogs is a bold step toward establishing creative rights and royalties as an asset class in their own right.”
Hipgnosis Songs Fund, Ltd. made its debut on the London Stock Exchange in June, with an initial public offering that raised £200 million ($262 million). Its first acquisition was the 302-song catalog previously owned by composer Terius Nash, who goes by the stage name “The-Dream,” and includes hits such as Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” Justin Bieber’s “Baby” and Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” Hipgnosis paid $23 million for a 75 percent stake in the catalog.
Mercuriadis has said he expects to have most or all of the initial £200 million invested by next spring, after which Hipgnosis plans a secondary offering toward its goal of £1 billion.
“When we talk about gold, oil or diamonds, we talk about things that the financial world feels are priceless and investable. My ambition is that in the future they will feel the same way about songs,” Mercuriadis said of his goals for HSFL.
Key to Hipgnosis’ strategy is to leverage the decades of industry connections and expertise of its founders to identify and acquire valuable song catalogs directly, stripped of the costs or legacy obligations of the publishing companies that typically hold such catalogs.
“Today 90 percent of the artists that are being signed are singing someone else’s song. So the song and the songwriter is clearly the most important component of today’s music industry,” Mercuriadis said. “But they’re not being recognized properly.”
Mercuriadis is the CEO of Hipgnosis Songs, Ltd., and the former manager of such platinum-selling acts as Beyonce, Elton John and Guns ‘N Roses. Nile Rodgers was the co-founder of the chart-topping group CHIC, whose hit “Le Freak” remains the best-selling single in the history of Atlantic Records. As a producer he has worked with a host of musical icons including David Bowie, Diana Ross and Madonna, and was recently elected Chairmanof the Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as being appointed the Chief Creative Advisor at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in London.
Their “fireside chat” will be followed by a panel discussion that will expand the conversation beyond music to focus on the investment climate for assets tied to creative works across a wide range of media types.
The RightsTech Summit will be held on October 5th at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York as part of the 2-day New York Media Festival. For information on how to register for the Summit click here.