Neil Young has sold 50 per cent of the worldwide copyright and income rights to his entire 1,180-song-strong catalogue to music IP investment company Hipgnosis Songs Fund.
This marks the third major catalogue acquisition Hipgnosis has made in as many days this week, following deals with Jimmy Iovine and Lindsey Buckingham.
While details of the deal have not been revealed, a source told Variety that the deal was worth $50 million. However, a second source disputed the figure, and the BBC has since written that the deal is valued at an estimated $150 million.
Per Variety, as part of the terms of the agreement, Young will also retain approval rights for sync usage – that is, use of the songs alongside any visual medium, such as television commercials.
This is perhaps unsurprising given that Young has sung about his distaste for the use of his songs in advertisements. The lyrics to his 1989 hit This Note’s For You read: “Ain’t singin’ for Pepsi / Ain’t singin’ for Coke / I don’t sing for nobody / Makes me look like a joke.”
Merck Mercuriadis, co-founder of Hipgnosis, doubled down on ensuring Young’s integrity remains intact. “There will never be a ‘Burger Of Gold’ but we will work together to make sure everyone gets to hear [Young’s songs] on Neil’s terms,” he said in a statement, adding that the Heart Of Gold hitmaker and Hipgnosis share a “common integrity, ethos and passion”.
“I bought my first Neil Young album aged seven,” Mercuriadis said. “Harvest was my companion and I know every note, every word, every pause and silence intimately. Neil Young, or at least his music, has been my friend and constant ever since.
“[Young’s records are] part of who I am, they’re in many ways responsible for who I’ve become and they’re most certainly in my DNA.”
Since his songwriting career began in 1963, Young has released new material – with numerous collaborators – almost every year. His catalogue includes 50 studio albums and 20 live albums, 18 of which are certified gold, seven platinum and three multi-platinum.
The catalogue acquisition follows Hipgnosis striking deals with Lindsey Buckingham yesterday, and Jimmy Iovine the day before. The string of acquisitions also comes less than a month after Bob Dylan sold his entire catalogue to Universal Music Group in one of the biggest music publishing deals in recent history.
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