Neil Young Sells 50 Percent Stake in Song Catalog

Neil Young
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Neil Young

London-listed Hipgnosis in recent days also struck deals with former Fleetwood Mac lead guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham and producer Jimmy Iovine.

Singer-songwriter Neil Young ("Down by the River," "Heart of Gold") is the latest music star to strike a catalog deal, selling a 50 percent stake in his song catalog to investment firm Hipgnosis for an undisclosed price.

It marked the third catalog deal in as many days for the London-listed firm, which was founded by Merck Mercuriadis and went public in 2018 to "offer investors a pure-play exposure to songs and associated musical intellectual property rights."

Earlier in the week, Hipgnosis struck a deal with former Fleetwood Mac lead guitarist and vocalist Lindsey Buckingham, giving it 100 percent of the music publishing rights of his entire catalog and a 50 percent share of any unreleased compositions, and also acquired 100 percent of super-producer Jimmy Iovine's catalog of worldwide producer royalties, "comprising  259 songs and his film production royalties for 8 Mile and Get Rich or Die Tryin."

The deal with Young covers his entire song catalog of 1,180 compositions, with Hipgnosis getting 50 percent of the worldwide copyright and income for an undisclosed cash sum, which the Guardian reported would likely be in the nine-figures pounds range.

"I bought my first Neil Young album aged 7," said Mercuriadis, who previously managed such artists as Elton John, Beyoncé and Guns N’ Roses. "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."

Hipgnosis has used its music catalog in film, television and advertising. But Young is known for having spoken out against using his music in commercials. "I built Hipgnosis to be a company Neil would want to be a part of," Mercuriadis said. "We have a common integrity, ethos and passion born out of a belief in music and these important songs."

Referencing a Young comment about how he had once been asked by an undisclosed company to use his song "Heart of Gold" in a commercial, he added: "There will never be a 'Burger of Gold,' but we will work together to make sure everyone gets to hear [his songs] on Neil's terms. There's a good chance their life will be changed just like mine was."

Music catalogs have seen a gold rush of dealmaking of sorts. For example, Universal Music Publishing Group, part of Vivendi's Universal Music Group, last month unveiled the acquisition of Bob Dylan's entire catalog of songs.