Justin Timberlake sold his entire song catalog to a Blackstone-backed management company, joining a wave of recent mega stars who are selling the rights to their music for big bucks.
London-based firm Hipgnosis Song Management announced Thursday the purchase of all the singer’s copyrights on tracks he wrote or co-wrote – a total of around 200 songs, according to Hipgnosis CEO Merck Mercuriadis. Among JT’s No. 1 hits now under their control include “SexyBack,” “Can’t Stop the Feeling” and “Mirrors.”
The dollar figure behind the deal has not been disclosed, but people familiar with the matter have it valued upwards of $100 million, according to the The Wall Street Journal.
Timberlake’s music collection spans over 20 years. The singer found fame in 1995 as a member of boy band phenomenon NSYNC. Following the international breakout success of the group, Timberlake launched a solo career that has included five studio albums and 40 singles.
The sale took over a year to close, according to Mercuriadis, and is part of a rising trend of megastars selling their music catalogs who include the likes of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Stevie Nicks. At 41 years old, however, Timberlake is younger than the other musical icons inking deals.
“A lot of the artists that are selling their catalogs are getting to a point in their lives where they are planning their estates, sort of planning for the future and they are at a point in their lives where it makes sense to sell their music to provide for their families,” Hannah Karp, editorial director at Billboard told CNN.
Timberlake is not alone among younger stars getting immediate payouts for their younger work with Hipgnosis. The Chainsmokers, an electronic music hit maker duo, sold their catalog to the firm in 2019, and Shakira struck a deal with Hipgnosis in January.
“In the case of those younger songwriters, they’re looking to de-risk their future,” Mercuriadis told CNN Business. “They’re looking to be put in a position where they can make music for pure purposes going forward based on what they want to do, as opposed to what they have to do for money.”
Other artists who have made deals with Hipgnosis include the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Journey, Blondie and Neil Young.
“I am excited to be partnering with Merck and Hipgnosis – he values artists and their creative work and has always been a strong supporter of songwriters and storytelling,” said Timberlake in a press release Thursday. “I look forward to entering this next chapter.”
The deal covers Timberlake’s publishing rights only, so only songs that he had a hand in writing are included in the deal. While Timberlake has written or co-written many of the songs that have brought him solo success – and several songs for other artists such as Rihanna and Madonna – the same is not true for a large chunk of NSYNC’s musical catalog. That means hits like “Bye Bye Bye” lie outside the scope of the Hipgnosis deal.
The purchase was made on behalf of Hipgnosis Songs Capital, a $1 billion partnership between Hipgnosis Song Management and funds managed by private equity firm Blackstone (BGB). The fund makes profit off of purchases such as Timberlake’s music through movies, television, streaming, cover music and performances.
Blackstone declined to comment on the acquisition.
Hipgnosis, created by legendary music manager Mercuriadis who has managed artists like Beyonce, listed on the London Stock Exchange in July 2018. Since then, the company has been on a steady music buying spree in a quest to establish songs as an asset class, offering huge payouts for ownership of some of the biggest tracks of all time.
“Justin’s incredible catalogue will join other amazing works at Hipgnosis which we know will serve as a great steward of his work,” David Lande and Mitch Tenzer of Ziffren Brittenham LLP, Timberlake’s lawyers, said in the press release.
That Timberlake’s lineup joins a group of highly selective, top tier assets held by Hipgnosis is the whole point, says the firm.
“These are not only some of the most culturally important songs and extraordinarily successful songs of the last 25 years, but they’re going to continue to be so for decades and decades to come,” said Mercuriadis. “I want Justin to be proud to be standing next to Nile Rodgers, and I want Nile Rodgers to be proud to be standing next to Neil Young, and I want Neil Young to be proud to be standing next to Chrissie Hynde, and I want Chris Hynde to be proud to be standing next to Timbaland.”
Additional reporting by Chloe Melas.