Fleetwood Mac, George Benson, B-52’s songs have a new publisher in Hipgnosis

Hipgnosis, a company co-founded by Nile Rodgers, acquired the publishing rights from Kobalt for $323 million.

Stevie Nicks, George Benson and Kate Pierson

Photos: Ross Gilmore / Chris MacKay / Xavi Torrent / Redferns / Getty Images

Behind the scenes of the music industry, a company has emerged as the new publisher of hits by Fleetwood Mac, the B-52’s and George Benson.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund has recently completed a $322.9 million purchase of 33,000 songs, written by over 1,500 songwriters, from Kobalt Music Copyrights S.à.r.l. The purchase is the company’s biggest to date and includes the publishing rights to songs penned by the likes of Lindsey Buckingham, Steve Winwood, Mariah Carey and Katy Perry, among many others.

Some of the songs included in the new deal include Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way and The Chain, Roar and Teenage Dream by Katy Perry, as well as the holiday season favourite All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey.

“These special songs that have had such extraordinary success have a lot more joy to bring the world and we look forward to working with these phenomenal creators in taking their songs to new heights while protecting their legacies,” Merck Mercuriadis, founder of Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited and The Family (Music) Limited, said in a statement.

The deal marks the biggest sale in music publishing after Concord’s full acquisition of Imagem for $550 million in 2017 – although that was for an entire company.

In an announcement, Hipgnosis explained that although the catalogues were owned and sold by investors of Kobalt Capital Limited, publishing of the songs will still continue to be administered by Kobalt.

“Hipgnosis has had a special relationship with Kobalt Music since its inception so it’s only natural that we would eventually make a deal like this for Kobalt Capital’s inaugural fund,” said Mercuriadis.

“[Willard Ahdritz, Johan Land and Laurent Hubert] have curated a wonderful portfolio of proven songs that is incomparable with almost anything other than the Hipgnosis Songs catalogue which it complements beautifully,” he continued.

The acquisition is the latest in a string of purchases made by Hipgnosis this year. It also bought the publishing rights to Blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge’s catalogue in January and 70 per cent of producer Mark Ronson’s catalogue in April, according to Billboard.

Hipgnosis is a UK-listed company founded by music exec Merck Mercuriadis and co-founded by guitarist Nile Rogers.

The company has been making waves since its founding in 2018, when it announced it was attempting to amass $1 billion in funds to change how songs were perceived as a commodity.

Mercuriadis elaborated on the mission of the company in a 2019 interview with Thought Economics.

“Nile and I, one day, just started riffing off of these ideas of how do we change this system, how do we change what’s going on today where the songwriter – who provides the most important component in an artist having success – is the lowest person on the totem pole,” he explained.

“And we realised the only way that we could change the system that was in place was through critical mass and through building a company that will grow to be the billion-pound company, that will grow to being the two-billion-pound company and have the leverage to change that system.”

Rodgers added: “A song, a single song, should be seen as a commodity – like an emerald or a diamond. The interesting thing with songs are they may fluctuate, but they rarely go down – the economics don’t work like that.”

“Songs stay in the marketplace, stay working for you, and as they get older, they become more valuable.”

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