Hipgnosis Songs Capital has closed its deal to purchase 100% of Justin Bieber’s publishing, as well as his artist royalties from his master recordings and related rights, Hipgnosis has confirmed. The deal was priced at just north of $200 million, according to a source familiar with the situation, making this the largest rights sale of any artist of Bieber’s generation. It’s also Hipgnosis’ biggest acquisition to date, covering all 290 titles in Bieber’s catalog released before December 31, 2021, including his latest album, Justice (2021).
Billboard originally reported in December that a Bieber deal worth over $200 million was in the works among founder/CEO Merck Mercuriadis‘ efforts to “close about $500 million in deals” between mid-November and mid-December. Although Mercuriadis didn’t say what the deals were at the time, the Bieber acquisition appears to be part of that disclosure.
After a hot 2021 for catalog sales, with deals with icons such as Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon making headlines, and some of the world’s biggest private equity players including Blackstone, KKR and Apollo Global Management all taking stakes in the market, rising interest rates and changes in Currency Exchanges cooled the sector in 2022. Still, deals have been made. Last year Justin Timberlake, Leonard Cohen, Nile Rodgers, Kenny Chesney, Neil Young and Nelly Furtado all sold some of their rights to Hipgnosis. Sting, David Bowie’s estate, Phil Collins and his Genesis bandmates, Future, Frank Zappa’s estate and Neil Diamond also sold certain assets to investors in 2022.
Typically, newer catalogs like Bieber’s are considered riskier investments since they don’t have as much history behind them to prove staying power. This means that they often sell for lower multiples than classic actions. However, Bieber’s success has been undeniable since his debut album in 2009, My worldand the 2010 follow-up, My world 2.0, the latter of which topped the Billboard 200 and included the hit single “Baby”. In total, Bieber has charted eight No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200, including his most recent full-length studio release, 2021’s Justice.
On the Billboard Hot 100, Bieber has amassed 26 top 10s, including eight No. 1s. His album has generated 28 million equivalent album units in the US, 13.2 million of which are in traditional album sales, according to Luminate. His total songs, billed primarily to him, have generated 16.6 billion official on-demand streams in the US.
Although Bieber’s share of artist royalties for his masters will now be directed to Hipgnosis, UMG will continue to own the recorded music copyright to his works in perpetuity.
“Justin Bieber’s impact on global culture over the past 14 years has been truly remarkable,” said Mercuriadis in a statement. “At just 28 years old, he is one of a handful of defining artists of the streaming era who have revitalized the entire music industry, taking a loyal and worldwide audience with him on a journey from teenage phenom to culturally important artist. This acquisition is among the biggest deals ever made for an artist under the age of 70, such is the power of this incredible catalog that has nearly 82 million monthly listeners and over 30 billion streams on Spotify alone.Scooter Braun has helped him to building a magnificent catalog and it is a pleasure to welcome Justin and his incredible songs and recordings to the Hipgnosis family.”
“I want to thank Merck and his entire Hipgnosis team and all of our partners involved for working so hard to make this historic deal happen,” says Scooter Brown, Bieber’s manager for 15 years, founder of SB Projects and CEO of HYBE America. “When Justin made the decision to do a catalog deal, we quickly found the best partner to preserve and grow this amazing legacy, Merck and Hipgnosis. For over a decade now, Justin Bieber has entertained and moved us with some of the biggest songs in the world. I am so proud of him and all those who over the years have helped put together this incredible body of work. Justin is truly a once in a generation artist and that is reflected and recognized by the size of this deal. For 15 years I have been grateful to witness this journey and today I am happy for everyone involved. Justin’s greatness is just beginning.”
Bieber was represented by Braun, David Bolno by NKSFB, Aaron Rosenberg and Audrey Benoualid by Myman Greenspan Fox, and Michael Rhodes by Cooley.
Hipgnosis Songs Capital was represented by William Leibowitz of the William R. Leibowitz Law Group, Seth Traxler and Rory Wellever of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and Robert Fowler and Lisa Ong by HW Fisher.