After decades of refusing to “sell out” by licensing his songs for use in commercials, Neil Young has made a deal to sell 50% of his song catalog to Hipgnosis Songs for an amount thought to be a record multiple of revenue, according to the standard industry measure. The deal, which could have valued the catalog at between $90 million and $105 million was announced Wednesday (Jan. 6), and terms were not disclosed.
Hipgnosis has been on an acquisition binge, and the company has spent nearly $2 billion on music assets since Merck Mercuriadis founded it in 2018. The Young acquisition is the second big deal in as many days for Hipgnosis, following a Tuesday announcement that it bought 100% of the catalog of Fleetwood Mac frontman Lindsey Buckingham, including the songs he wrote for the band. On Monday, the company accounted that it purchased Jimmy Iovine's royalties as a producer.
Young’s catalog includes some 1,180 songs, according to a statement announcing the deal, which he wrote over the course of a career that’s lasted more than five decades and included stints with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Over that time, Young has released 41 studio albums, plus live albums, soundtracks, and more than a dozen archival sets, which together have accounted for sold 26.5 million album consumption units in the U.S. since May 1991 when MRC Data/Nielsen Music began tracking music activity. Young’s commercial heyday precedes that, of course, and in 1972 he had a No. 1 hit on the Hot 100 with “Heart of Gold,” from the album Harvest, which also topped the Billboard 200.