Hipgnosis CEO on why stars like Justin Bieber sell their catalogs: “I’m going to take care of those babies”

Justin Bieber just sold his music rights to Hipgnosis Songs Capital for more than $200 million. It’s the largest acquisition yet by the company, whose portfolio includes the music rights of Justin Timberlake, Shakira, Journey, Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young, plus the rights to huge hits like “Smooth.” So why do artists willingly give up their life’s work to Hipgnosis? According to the company’s CEO, it’s not just for the money — it’s a matter of trust.

The founder and CEO of Hipgnosis, Merck Mercuriadis, is a former record executive and artist manager. He told ABC Audio last year, “Those songwriters know and understand that they can put their metaphorical children — that’s how they think about these incredible songs that they’ve written — into the hands of someone like me. And I will manage them with care and respect, keeping in mind the ethos that the artist had created for themselves.”

Citing Neil Young as an example, Mercuriadis explained, “Neil knows that I’m going to take care of those babies just as if they’re my babies, and that I respect the ethos on which he’s built his career. And I’m not going to veer from that.”

That trust, Mercuriadis says, brings other artists into the fold: It “means that other people can then put their songs into my hands, as well, and into the hands of Hipgnosis because they want that treatment for the songs.”

Of course, there’s also the money. Older artists want to make sure their families are financially secure.

“You know, when people get to a certain age, they have estate planning to do,” he notes. “They want to look after their real children and their wife and everyone else. But they also want to look after these metaphorical children. And I’m here to do that.” 

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