Justin Bieber Nearing Catalog Sale to Hipgnosis in Deal Worth More Than $200M
The deal, which includes the superstar's interests in his publishing and recorded music catalog, is likely to close in the next few days.
Hipgnosis Songs Capital is in talks to buy Justin Bieber’s interests in his recorded music and publishing catalogs for more than $200 million, with the deal likely to close in the next few days, according to sources. The acquisition would include Bieber’s biggest hits, from “Baby” to “Love Yourself” and beyond.
In correspondence with Billboard in mid-November, Hipgnosis founder and chief executive Merck Mercuriadis said the company was working to “close about $500 million in deals between now and mid-December.” Although he did not say what the deals were at the time, the reported Bieber acquisition seems like a possible part of that disclosure. News of the upcoming deal between Bieber and Hipgnosis was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The incoming deal arrives at the end of a year that saw a cooldown in the music catalog market. Though major acts like Justin Timberlake (who sold to Hipgnosis for $100 million), Sting (who sold to UMPG for an estimated $360 million), Genesis (who sold a package deal to Concord for around $350 million), David Bowie (whose estate sold his publishing catalog to Warner Chappell for $250 million) and more have closed deals in the last twelve months for blockbuster prices, 2022 has been a markedly quieter year compared to the red-hot market of the last half-decade.
“The environment has changed entirely since the end of last year — interest rates are significantly up, currency exchange rates are very different — I don’t think the current market is what it was,” explained Joe Brenner, partner at entertainment law firm Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, in an interview with Billboard this fall. In a mid-year report to investors, Mercuriadis also admitted this year’s environment has proven more “challenging.” To top it off, Brenner added, there are simply fewer high-dollar classic rock catalogs left to acquire, as many of them have already been sold (Pink Floyd being a notable exception).
Catalogs only a decade or so old, like Bieber’s, are often considered riskier investments than those that have had a longer runway to prove they will stand the test of time, and, as a consequence, they tend to fetch lower sums. However, these younger song collections are often where Hipgnosis chooses to invest its capital. Between the Timberlake catalog purchase this year and other acquisitions like Jack Antonoff, Mark Ronson, Timbaland and more, the company has bet big on buying modern classics to flesh out its over 65,000-song portfolio, which also includes songs by more seasoned icons like Journey, Leonard Cohen and Barry Manilow.
Hipgnosis Songs Capital is an investment vehicle established by Hipgnosis in partnership with Blackstone. The New York-based private equity firm pledged $1 billion to further investment in music IP and also took a majority stake. Hipgnosis Songs Capital is considered separate from the London-listed Hipgnosis Songs Fund, the acquirer of music publishing and recording rights. Additionally, the Mercuriadis-founded company includes Hipgnosis Songs Management, which manages the publicly traded company’s catalog.
Representatives for Hipgnosis and Bieber have not responded to Billboard’s requests for comment.