Hipgnosis Picks Up Catalog Of 'Smooth' Writer Itaal Shur

Lauren Toub
Itaal Shur

Hipgnosis Songs, the music IP investment company set up by former Beyoncé and Guns N' Roses manager Merck Mercuriadis, has acquired the catalog of Itaal Shur, best known for co-writing the Santana and Rob Thomas smash hit "Smooth."

Originally released in 1999, "Smooth" spent 12 consecutive weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, has sold 1.7 million downloads and over 123 million on-demand U.S. streams, according to Nielsen Music. The song also topped the Pop Songs, Adult Alternative Songs and Adult Top 40 charts, while global streams are approaching half a billion, says Hipgnosis Songs. In 2018, Billboard ranked "Smooth" at No. 2 in the all-time Hot 100 singles ranking, just behind "The Twist" by Chubby Checker.

Terms were not disclosed for the deal, which sees Hipgnosis acquire a 100 percent interest in Shur’s 209 song catalog, including the BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) share. As well as "Smooth," Shur also co-wrote "Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)," a top ten hit for Maxwell on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in 1996.

"When I was considering selling my life’s work, who bought it and what they could do with it was as important to me as anything else. From the first time that I spoke to Merck, I knew that Hipgnosis was fresh and different and that I had found the right home for my catalogue," said Shur, who was advised by Cliff Smallman at the The Riverside Management Group and Jonathan Ain at Kleinberg, Kaplan, Wolff & Cohen, P.C.

"It’s always a good day when you are buying arguably the second most successful song of all time, particularly a song as enduring and iconic as "Smooth,"" commented Mercuriadis, thanking the songwriter for "for entrusting us with a work as special as this."

Hipgnosis acquisition of Shur’s catalog is the second deal that the Guernsey-registered business has concluded in 2019. At the start of the year, the company picked up the rights to 182 songs by multiple Grammy winner Giorgio Tuinfort, including hits recorded by Gwen Stefani, Nicki Minaj, Martin Garrix, Rihanna, Avicii, Usher, Will.i.am, Akon and Lionel Richie. The deal also includes more than 15 U.K. Top 10 singles with David Guetta, including six number 1s. Speaking at the time of the acquisition, Tuinfort called Mercuriadis "a visionary… who recognizes the value of one of mankind’s greatest gifts, music."

Previous acquisitions by Hipgnosis include stakes in the catalogs of Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, The-Dream, frequent Justin Bieber collaborator Jason Boyd, better known as Poo Bear; a 37.5 percent stake in the catalog of Chic co-founder Bernard Edwards; and 121 songs by English song writing and music production trio TMS.

Last June, Hipgnosis raised £200 million ($260 million) in capital through an IPO with its investment prospectus identifying emerging markets, improved tracking of royalties through technology and music usage in social media among the future growth opportunities for royalty income to rise.