Colombian superstar Shakira has sold her music catalogue rights to the UK music investment and song management firm, Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited. The 145-song catalogue, including Hips Don’t Lie, Whenever, Wherever and She Wolf, was transferred for an undisclosed fee, but the company typically pays the equivalent of 15 years’ royalties in a lump sum.
Shakira – the best selling female Latin music artist of all time, with 80 million records sold worldwide – becomes the latest in a series of internationally renowned stars to sell their music to Hipgnosis. Most notably, Bob Dylan, Blondie, Mark Ronson and Neil Young have all cashed in with Hipgnosis in the last year. Speaking on the acquisition, Shakira stated that she felt Hipgnosis would offer a “great home” for her music. “At eight years old – long before I sang – I wrote to make sense of the world. Each song is a reflection of the person I was at the time that I wrote it, but once a song is out in the world, it belongs not only to me but to those who appreciate it as well,” she said.
Merck Mercuriadis is the founder and CEO of Hipgnosis, as well as the former manager of numerous pop sensations including Elton John and Beyoncé. He targets a value of £3 billion for the company in the coming years, building revenue streams – via licensing, merchandise and performance royalties – through the newly acquired assets. However, Mercuriadis maintains that Hipgnosis employs an artist-centric approach to acquiring and managing music rights.
Speaking to Music Week, he said: “The first main motive, above making money, is to change where the songwriter sits in the economic equation. I had a very good sense that it would be successful, and that it would give me the leverage of great assets to help to be a catalyst for changing where the songwriter sits in the economic equation. That’s important to me. When I look at Universal, Warner and Sony, which are great companies that have great people in them, they’re operating under a paradigm that I don’t agree with when it comes to how a songwriter is paid.
“They use the passive income of their great hits, their incredible catalogues, to underwrite that business. We’re not in that business, we’re in the business of managing songs. And I believe that the way that you get more out of songs is by putting more into them.”
Mercuriadis co-founded Hipgnosis in 2018 with Chic guitarist and industry legend, Nile Rodgers. An outspoken critic of financial distribution in the music industry, Rodgers appeared before a digital, culture, media and sport select committee last year to provide evidence pertaining to the economics of streaming. Rodgers described the current system as “just ridiculous”, while accusing major labels of intentionally withholding money from artists. However, addressing the committee, he expressed his optimism that a fairer deal could be struck, asking MPs to make the UK a “leader” in regulating the streaming market.