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Publishing Briefs: Hipgnosis Aims to Raise $211M With Share Sale; Clairo Signs With UMPG

A rundown of the latest moves in music publishing.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited intends to raise 150 million pounds ($210 million) by selling new shares on the London Stock Exchange, the company announced on Wednesday (June 16). The company expects to use the proceeds to acquire catalogs already lined up by The Family (Music) Limited, the investment advisory firm that recommends purchases to Hipgnosis and uses what it calls “song management” to extract value on the back end.

As money has poured into music assets in recent years, Hipgnosis has raised over 1.1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion) through an IPO in 2018 and six subsequent raises, the most recent in February 2021. But this round will give investors “the only chance for the next 12 months” to buy into Hipgnosis, Merck Mercuriadis, founder of Hipgnosis and The Family (Music), said in a statement.  

Hipgnosis, a member of the FTSE 250 Index, had revenue of $138.4 million pounds in the year ended March 31, 2021, a 66% increase year-over-year, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $106.7 million, according to preliminary financial figures the company released on June 8. Its catalog, currently valued at $1.7 billion pounds, is a who’s who of well-known songwriters ranging from Neil Young to Barry Manilow, recording artists and producers such as Jimmy Iovine and Bob Rock, as well as more recent hitmakers such as Joel Little (Lorde) and RedOne (Lady Gaga). Hipgnosis, a Guersney-based royalty fund that typically acquires songwriters’ and producers’ shares of royalties, also owns Big Deal Music, a full-service music publisher.  — Glenn Peoples

On the heels of her recent signing to UMG’s Republic Records, rising singer-songwriter-producer Clairo has struck a global publishing agreement with Universal Music Publishing Group.

Born Claire Cottrill, Clairo broke through with her single “Pretty Girl,” which racked up over 74 million YouTube views. She followed that with her debut EP Diary 001, which was itself followed by her debut studio album Immunity in 2019. The album featured the tracks “Bags” and “Sofia,” which became her first single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 while gaining traction on TikTok. Other successful tracks include “4Ever,” “Flaming Hot Cheetos” and “Are You Bored Yet?” with Wallows. A press release states that Clairo’s songs have drawn over 3 billion streams to date.

Clairo is currently ramping up for the release of her sophomore album Sling, which is co-produced by Jack Antonoff.

“I remember the first time I heard Carole King’s ‘Tapestry.’ I also remember the first time I heard Carly Simon’s ‘No Secrets’ and Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue,’” said UMPG chairman and CEO Jody Gerson in a statement. “I get the same feeling today when I listen to Clairo’s music. I am so personally proud to represent her and to give her all the support she needs from our global UMPG family.”

“Thank you so much to Jody for believing in me, but also believing in this record,” Clairo added. “I’m so grateful for her honesty, care, and ability to make everyone feel comfortable while they develop as artists. Her attention to detail and to her craft is what makes her an unstoppable force – and someone that I know will be there for me for years to come.”

In addition to Republic, Clairo is signed to the record label FADER.

The recently-formed Canadian music rights management company Kilometre Music Group, in partnership with Barometer Capital Management, has acquired 50% of the rights to artist and songwriter Belly’s catalog of 180 songs. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Born Ahmad Balshe, Belly has co-written some of The Weeknd’s biggest hits, including “The Hills,” “Earned It,” “Save Your Tears,” “Blinding Lights” and “In Your Eyes.” He also co-wrote the Beyonce track “Six Inch” and Nipsey Hussle’s “Double Up.” As a solo artist signed to XO and Roc Nation, he has released tracks including “Might Not,” “What You Want” and “Maintain,” with a new album forthcoming. He is a two-time Grammy nominee and received an Oscar nod for co-writing The Weeknd’s “Earned It,” which was featured in the 2015 film Fifty Shades of Grey.

“Belly is essentially a double threat as very few artist/songwriters have had the success that he has achieved over the course of his fifteen-year career,” said Kilometre president of A&R and acquisitions Rodney Murphy. “From his edgy and poetic verses as a rapper to co-writing music’s biggest hits that are shaping the sound of popular music today, Belly will go down in history as one of Canada’s greatest songwriters.”

“I am thrilled to officially partner with Kilometre, a company who has believed in my vision from the start and whose leadership I have deep-rooted history and strong mutual trust in,” Belly added.

Twenty-two-time Grammy winner Vince Gill has signed a publishing and writer management agreement with indie music publisher Jody Williams Songs. A press release states that Gill has been self-published since the start of his career, which would mark the new deal as the first time Gill has engaged with a publishing company.

Under the agreement, Jody Williams Songs will manage Gill’s writing calendar and promote both his new songs and catalog of unrecorded songs.

“I’ve known and appreciated Vince since the mid ’80s when he first started having solo success as an artist,” said Jody Williams in a statement. “His self-recorded body of work has always been anchored by his exceptional skill as a songwriter. Those songs, along with that unmistakable voice and skill as a musician, have earned him a place of honor among the entire songwriting community… not to mention the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Now, we look forward to helping forge new writing relationships and facilitating the next chapter of his song catalog.”

“I look forward to my partnership with Jody and Nina Jenkins and their passion for songs,” added Gill. “Having never done this before, I am grateful for their willingness to champion what’s next for me creatively, and for an even closer friendship that’s already pushing forty years.”

Global music distribution and record label services company Ditto Music has launched a new publishing division, Ditto Music Publishing. The new division adds to Ditto’s suite of services, which also includes management.

The new division will led by Tom Weller, who joined Ditto Music in 2020 as managing director of Ditto Music Publishing. Before that, Weller spent more than 15 years at UK collection societies MCPS and PRS for Music in roles encompassing sync, digital licensing, production music, business development, strategy and, most recently, as senior publisher relationship manager. In that role, he was responsible for the societies’ operational relationship with Universal Music Publishing, Sony Music Publishing, Warner Chappell and BMG.

Through Ditto Music Publishing’s platform, users will be able to collect publishing royalties internationally while also receiving detailed analytics. The new division has deals in place covering more than 150 territories and it will be able to collect digital, broadcast and live royalties directly in every country where it has clients.

Ditto will additionally pitch users’ music for sync opportunities and serve their tracks to broadcasters for use under broadcaster blanket licensing agreements with collection societies. Open to Ditto Music’s distribution subscriber clients across the globe, the service is available for a fixed annual rate of £39/$49, in addition to a 10% commission on royalties collected and 20% commission on sync placements. Co-writers will be able to sign up to the service for free.

Along with the subscription-based model, another service called Ditto Plus Music Publishing will offer administration and sync services to Ditto Music’s label services clients, as well any other music companies and artists interested in collaborating. Initial signings to Ditto Plus Music Publishing include East/South East Asian creative collective Eastern Margins, Dimzy and other members of Brixton Drill group 67, folk/pysch band Rokurokobi, indie rock artist lostboy and Kenyan artist Chris Kaiga.

“The launch of Ditto Music Publishing is a huge step for the company and means we’re close to being able to offer a comprehensive suite of services to our clients,” said Weller in a statement. “At Ditto we’re proud of the accessibility and simplicity of our platform, and our publishing offering is a continuation of that – it will help demystify a complicated area of the music business and make it easy and cost effective for artists and songwriters to collect all of the royalties they’re due.”

Ditto Music CEO Lee Parsons added, “The launch of Ditto Music Publishing means artists and songwriters will have the global reach of a major publisher while retaining complete control of their rights and their creative vision. Tom and the team will help them capitalise on the power of independence so they can reach new audiences, create life-long fans and, most importantly, make sure they get paid.”

Warner Chappell has signed Brit Award and Ivor Novello Award-winning artist and songwriter Shaznay Lewis to a global publishing deal covering her full catalog and future releases.

Lewis is best known as the founding member and main songwriter of the U.K. group All Saints. She co-wrote the majority of songs on the group’s self-titled debut album and its follow-up, Saints and Sinners, as well as singles including “Never Ever,” “Bootie Call” and “Pure Shores.” She has additionally written songs for other artists, including “How Ya Doin’?” for Little Mix and “Black Heart” for Stooshe. Alongside Idris Elba, she also co-wrote the theme music to the Netflix original series Turn Up Charlie.

Emily Foreman, who recently re-joined Warner Chappell as creative manager, brought Lewis into the fold.

In 2004, Lewis put out her debut solo single, “Never Felt Like This Before,” which peaked at number eight on the U.K. charts. Her first solo album, Open, was released later that year.

All Saints reunited in 2016 with the release of a new album, Red Flag, which was co-written entirely by Lewis alongside a number of collaborators. She also co-wrote every song on the group’s 2018 album Testament.

Jazz composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, singer and DJ Emma-Jean Thackray has signed a global publishing deal with Warner Chappell covering her full catalog and future works.

Thackray has released one EP (Um Yang) via Night Dreamer as well as three EPs (Rain Dance, Walrus and Ley Lines) through her own record label Movementt, which she founded in partnership with Warp. Her debut album, Yellow, is slated for release on July 2.

Warner Chappell’s newly-created bespoke score and neoclassical initiative WCM Neo will also work closely with Thackray on her moves into the world of film and TV scoring, where she already has several projects in the works.

Thackray attended the Royal Welsh College Of Music And Drama before taking on a Master’s with Issie Barratt at the renowned jazz facility at TrinityLaban. In 2018, she became an artist-in-residence at the London Symphony Orchestra.

Sony Music Publishing Nashville and Jimmie Allen’s Bettie James Music Publishing have jointly signed emerging songwriter Tate Howell to a global co-publishing agreement covering his future works and some past releases, including Allen’s “Why Things Happen” feat. Charley Pride and Darius Rucker, which Howell co-wrote. Howell is the first songwriter signed to the newly-launched Bettie James.

Howell rose to prominence through his collaborations with Allen as both a co-writer and bass player. Most recently, he worked with Allen on his EP Bettie James, which included “Why Things Happen.”

“It’s truly surreal to get to work with such a distinct and historic company like Sony Music Publishing!” said Howell in a statement. “I am so grateful for Anna Weisband and my team over at Sony, my road boss Mr. Jimmie Allen, and my manager Melissa Spillman for working so hard to help me make music and live out my dreams! Here’s to making so much more together.”

“From the first time I met Tate, he showed me he was motivated and willing to work. Not only is he one of my best friends, but he is also one of the hardest working and kindest people I know,” Allen said. “I feel like when a person comes along as talented as Tate, it’s easy to want to build a business around him. I’m honored to have him as the first signing to Bettie James Music Publishing, and I look forward to watching his career grow as a songwriter.”

The California Copyright Conference has announced its newly-elected officers and board of directors for the 2021-2022 season.

The new officers are comprised of president Mara Kuge (president and founder of Superior Music Corporation); vp Renee Jeske (manager, income tracking, Disney Music Group); treasurer Cheryl Dickerson (a music industry consultant); secretary Jean Montiel (a music publishing and licensing consultant); and assistant secretary Rene Merideth (co-founder and COO of Exploration).

The following board members have been re-elected: Elizabeth Henderson (senior manager, sync clearance at Warner Chappell); Sherry Orson (chief creative officer at Star Vibe Group); Marrsha Sill (executive vp at Chicago Music Library); and Josh Young (CEO at Atrium Music).

The board also has one newly-elected member, Jonathan Lane, who works as the senior director, synch & licensing at 5 Alarm Music and is also a founding partner at Tapestry Music Services.

Serving their second board of directors terms are Jane Bushmaker (director, royalty audit & contract compliance at Prager Metis CPAs); Reggie Calloway (director music royalty funding at Sound Royalties); Dana Childs (music business and operations lead at HiFi Productions); Sabrina Ment (vp, business and legal affairs, music at Walt Disney Television); Paula Savastano (senior director, copyright and royalties at Angry Mob Music); and Carolyn Soyars (manager, copyright administration at BMG). First alternate is David Streit (creative director at BMI) and second alternate is the newly-elected Kristina Benson (founder at Sweet on Top).

The new officers and board is currently in the midst of crafting a series of new webinars, in-person meetings and social events to provide updates on the most significant changes in the music industry.

BMI, in collaboration with the BMI Foundation, has announced the winners of the 69th annual BMI Student Composer Awards, which recognized “superior musical compositional ability” with scholarships totaling $20,000. This year’s winners, which were chosen from nearly 500 applicants, were showcased across BMI and BMI Foundation’s digital platforms.

The 2021 award winners are:

Micangelo Ferrante, age 18, studies with Dr. Jules Pegram. Ferrante was awarded the Carlos Surinach Prize, which honors the youngest winner of the competition.

Elizabeth Gartman, age 24, awarded the William Schuman Prize for most outstanding score, studied with Susan Botti at Manhattan School of Music.

Grey Grant, age 27, studies with Paul Schoenfeld at University of Michigan.

Lara Poe, age 27, studies with George Benjamin at King’s College in London.

Nicholas Denton Protsack, age 26, studies with Michael Norris at New Zealand School of Music (Victoria University of Wellington).

Elliot Roman, age 21, studies with J. Mark Stambaugh at Manhattan School of Music.

Lucy Chen, a 16-year-old private student of Yiming Wu, and Sofia Ouyang, a 21-year-old student of Andrew Norman’s at The Juilliard School, received honorable mentions in this year’s competition.

“It is such a pleasure to honor these deserving and talented young composers, especially after the challenging year that our entire industry has faced,” said Deirdre Chadwick, BMI executive director of classical and BMIF President. “Their creativity is alive and well, and we look forward to not only seeing their future works and achievements but also hopefully celebrating them in person at next year’s ceremony.”

Preliminary panelists for the competition included Alexandra du Bois, Jeremy Gill, Trevor Weston and David Schober. The final judges were Pulitzer Prize-winner John Adams, Daniel Roumain, Kristin Kuster and Sean Shepherd. Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Music, serves as permanent chair of the competition. All works were judged anonymously.