What does Justin Bieber's $200 million deal look like compared to other artists' deals?
The rights to Justin Bieber's music have been sold to Hipgnosis, a music IP investment fund, for $200 million (€184 million).
Hipgnosis has now acquired Bieber's share of his 290 song back catalogue. The masters and copyrights of Bieber's music mean they will receive payments whenever the star's music is played or featured.
An AFP journalist leaked the value of the deal, which supposedly covers all his music released until 31 December 2021.
Aside from his breakout single 'Baby', Justin Bieber has a string of US #1 singles including ‘What Do You Mean?’, ‘Sorry’, and ‘Love Yourself’. A company like Hipgnosis could be incredibly lucrative by owning these songs. The idea isn't new, and Bieber isn't the first musician to think of it.
A long line of musicians have sold their music rights to Hipgnosis and another company, Primary Wave. Over $1 billion has been spent by Hipgnosis on song rights since 2018.
“If Donald Trump did something crazy, the price of gold and oil are affected whereas songs are not,” said Merck Mercuriadis, CEO and co-founder of Hipgnosis.
There are some musicians who fight desperately for ownership of their music. As a result of Scooter Braun selling her music to a similar company, Taylor Swift is re-recording multiple albums to regain ownership of her music.
Musicians who don't have to worry about that, however, can benefit quite a bit by chucking away their rights. It's a way for them and their children's futures to guarantee the monetisation of their legacy as they approach the end of their careers.
The following are some of the biggest music sales in history:
Bob Marley - $50 million
This was one of the first big music investments made by the music investment company Primary Wave.
As one of the biggest payouts of its kind, the 2018 deal to acquire 80% of the late reggae singer's back catalog made waves in the media.
It's another matter entirely whether the writer of 'Redemption Song' would endorse such a move.
David Bowie - $55 million
David Bowie sold his music decades before most of the names to follow whose catalogs were acquired in recent years. Isn't he always the trailblazer?
David Pullman and Bowie pioneered celebrity bonds in 1997, selling Bowie's music rights for 25 albums over a 10-year period. Approximately $100 million in today's money, Bowie forfeited royalties for the next decade as a result of the sale. In the same period, Bowie's royalties would have dropped with the advent of MP3 sharing, making the deal even sweeter for him. His former management owned songs that he didn't own, and he used some of the profits to buy them.
The Starman's catalog was sold for $250 million to Warner Chappell Music after his death in 2022.
Calvin Harris - $100 million
Several of the artists on this list made their names in the 60s and 70s. Calvin Harris has amassed a huge discography of hits in the 21st century, similar to Justin Bieber. He was able to sell his catalog to Vine Alternative Investments for a reported $100 million in 2020 with over 150 songs featuring collaborations with basically every pop artist.
For a DJ, that's not bad.
Stevie Nicks - $100 million
There is no better example of the monetary potential of buying older stars' catalogs than Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks. Through a viral TikTok of a man skating and drinking cranberry juice, the band's song 'Dreams' from 1977 album 'Rumours' jumped back into the charts.
She sold her songwriting catalog to Primary Wave for $100 million, including hits from 'Rumours' and other classic Fleetwood Mac songs. Nicks knows the enduring value of her legendary catalog.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - $140 million
Every time someone makes a TV show about California, their songs are too topical not to use as background music. Hipgnosis' desire to acquire Red Hot Chili Peppers' discography was no doubt purely mercenary.
There is no doubt that it worked to the rockers' advantage. A $140 million deal was struck with Hipgnosis in 2021 when they sold their ownership.
Paul Simon - $250 million
With a nearly endless list of classic songs, Paul Simon is the half of Simon & Garfunkel without the hair. Paul Simon has a song for every kind of mother, from 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', 'Mrs Robinson', and 'The Sound of Silence' in his folk-duo to 'You Can Call Me Al' and '50 Ways To Leave Your Lover' in his solo career.
In 2021, Sony Music Publishing will buy his entire catalog for a not-insignificant $250 million.
Bruce Springsteen - $500 million
There is no better singer-songwriter than him to personify America. The Boss embraces capitalism more than anyone else.
When Springsteen viewed his 20-album discography in 2021, he thought better of lining his dusty old pick-up truck with them. Selling them to Sony for $500 million would be much better.
Bob Dylan - $620 million
Among the best songwriters of all time, he's 81 years old, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and has a Nobel Prize in Literature. For what purpose does he need to actually own his music?
Clearly, Dylan agrees because in 2020 he sold Universal Music the rights to his 600-song catalog for a reported $400 million. Just last year, he sold the rights to his master recordings to rival Sony for $220 million. Bringing in $620 million, the highest total on our list.