Young is latest artist to sell ownership
Neil Young has sold 50% of his copyright and income interests to British investment firm Hipgnosis Songs Fund. The 75-year-old rocker has nearly 1200 songs that are included in the deal worth reportedly $150 million, although officials numbers were undisclosed.
Hipgnosis makes much of its income by licensing its songs to television, film and advertisements. Young is famously known to dislike his music being used in adverts. In 1988, he released “This Note’s For You,” in which he sings, “Ain’t singing for Pepsi / Ain’t singing for Coke / I don’t sing for nobody / Makes me look like a joke.”
During the Wednesday (Jan 6th) announcement, Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis acknowledged Young’s stance on his music being used in advertising. “We have a common integrity, ethos and passion born out of a belief in music and these important songs. There will never be a ‘Burger of Gold’ but we will work together to make sure everyone gets to hear them on Neil’s terms,” Mercuriadis says.
The “Burger of Gold” reference is to when Young revealed at a 1973 concert that he’d been asked by an unnamed company to use “Heart of Gold” in an advert. He joked he would rename the song “Burger of Gold” if he had agreed.
The news comes a month after Bob Dylan sold his entire catalog of songs, encompassing more than 600 copyrights spanning 60 years, to Universal Music Publishing Group for more than $300 million.
It also comes the same week Hipgnosis acquired catalogues of uber producer Jimmy Iovine and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsay Buckingham. The Buckingham deal features 161 songs, including hits he wrote with Fleetwood Mac, while getting 50% of future songs.
Buckingham’s former Fleetwood Mac bandmate, Stevie Nicks, also sold 80% of her song publishing rights to Hipgnosis’ rival Primary Wave in December.
Hipgnosis has also acquired catalogs by Timbaland, The-Dream, TMS, Mark Ronson, Barry Manilow, Steve Winwood, Blondie, and others.