Old time rocker Neil Young was once a critique of other ageing musicians who he felt had ‘sold out’. However, with the turmoil of 2020 and the future looking more uncertain, it’s no surprise ageing rockstar Neil Young has chosen to sell off the rights to 50% of his back catalogue.
The British investment company Hipgnosis has bought the 50% of rights to Young’s songs, after spending over $1 billion already in the purchasing of other famous singer and bands back albums. The deal is reported to have been worth $150 million and to give Hipgnosis the rights to nearly 1,200 songs. The songs range from his solo career with the Crazy Horse backing band, through other periods of his life such as the Nash & Young era, as well as his time as Buffalo Springfield.
In the last two years Hipgnosis has also purchased other ageing stars back catalogues such as Lindsey Buckingham, whose albums include songs from with Fleetwood Mac as well as his solo career. The founder of Hipgnosis Songs Fund, Merck Mercuriadis, says that he will protect and preserve the back catalogue of Young. Mercuriadis has previously been known as the manager for megastars like Beyonce, Elton John and Guns N’ Roses. Other back catalogue acquisitions from Hipgnosis also include the likes of others such as Steve Winwood and Blondie, as well as producers such as Jimmy Lovine, who worked with artists including Bruce Springsteen and U2.
The not so young 75 year old musician has previously been noted for his reported criticisms over the music industry. Young is one of many musicians to declare a perceived commercialisation of the music industry and a resulting negative consequential effect.
The deal is part of a trend in big music companies buying up rights to back catalogues following Stevie Nicks selling 80% of her back catalogue to Primary Wave, and Bob Dylan’s staggering deal with the Universal Music Group.