Justin Bieber sells his entire music catalog for $200 million

Justin Bieber sells music catalog for $200 million
Justin Bieber sells music catalog for $200 million

Justin Bieber

Joining a growing list of songwriters and music legends who have chosen to sell off the rights to their songs, Justin Bieber has sold his entire music catalog for a “One Time” payday of over $200 million. The valuable pop asset has been acquired by Hipgnosis Song Fund, a U.K. investment company that has been steadily buying up some of the most important and influential songbooks in modern music history.

The Biebs’ book is Hipgnosis’ biggest acquisition to date, according to Variety, with 290 titles including his most recent album Justice. This includes “publishing copyrights (including the writer’s share of performance), master recordings and neighboring rights” (which deal with public performance royalties). Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis praised Bieber and his longtime manager, the infamous Scooter Braun, in a statement, calling the artist’s impact “remarkable” and saying that the duo have cultivated a “magnificent catalog.”

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Lack of touring funds during the pandemic apparently spurred a number of artists to sell their catalogs, but that’s not the only reason major artists have taken this particular plunge. Rolling Stone broke down some of the relevant factors, including tax benefits (surprise, surprise), estate planning (for older artists like Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen), and the generally unpredictable nature of the music industry. With new technology like streaming disrupting how music is consumed, younger artists like Bieber can’t guarantee that their music will have an enduring legacy (at least, financially). The logic goes, better to take the payout now—at apparently multiple times the value of the catalog’s historic annual income—then wait for that catalog to become obsolete.

Hipgnosis, in particular, is on a tear to own most of the songs you’ve ever heard. In addition to Bieber, the company owns copyrights from artists like Young, Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, Richie Sambora, Tom DeLonge, the cofounders of Blondie, Mark Ronson, Jack Antonoff, Rick James, Barry Manilow, Lindsey Buckingham, Shakira, and more. As to why Hipgnosis is willing to pay such steep fees for these rights, Mercuriadis “wants to disrupt the music publishing industry so completely that it ceases to exist in its current capacity,” according to Complex. The idea is to “see if songs can function as investments, similar to the way oil, gold, and publicly traded companies do,” except more stable, “because music is the most predictable commodity available (according to Mercuriadis anyway).”

This evolution is supposed to benefit not just Hipgnosis and its artists, but the average person, too, if Complex’s explanation is to be believed. (Because further entangling art with commerce is always a net good for society...) Here’s to music’s bold new future, we guess!

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