Hipgnosis buys half of Neil Young’s back catalogue

Counter-cultural icon Neil Young has sold a 50 per cent share of his back catalogue to Hipgnosis, the UK music publishing company, in the latest high profile rights deal triggered by the soaring valuation of music in the streaming age.

The deal covers the writing and publishing rights to almost 1,200 songs composed by the singer ranging from his 1960s groups Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to his long solo career including the 1972 album Harvest and up to the 2020 release Colorado. 

It is the latest sign that established artists are looking to take advantage of the soaring valuation of established hits and follows Universal Music’s acquisition of Bob Dylan’s catalogue for a nine-figure sum in December.

Hipgnosis provided no financial details but Music Business Worldwide, the research company, estimated that the deal could be worth $150m based on the Bob Dylan sale. 

It is one of the largest deals landed by London-listed Hipgnosis, which has spent £1.2bn buying back catalogues of well known artists and songwriters and owns some of the rights to about 60,000 songs.

Merck Mercuriadis, founder of Hipgnosis, said: “Neil Young, or at least his music, has been my friend and constant ever since. Over the last 50 years that friendship took me back to Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’, ‘After The Gold Rush’, and guided me forward to ‘On The Beach’, ‘Tonight’s The Night’, ‘Zuma’, ‘Comes A Time’, ‘Rust Never Sleeps’, ‘Trans’, ‘This Notes For You’, ‘Freedom’, ‘Ragged Glory’, ‘Greendale’ and through each successive album and on to last year’s ‘Colorado’.

This is a deal that changes Hipgnosis forever.”

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