Neil Young Becomes the Latest Legacy Artist to Sell His Song Rights

Neil Young Trump
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Neil Young Trump
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Photo Credit: Per Ole Hagen / CC by 2.0

“Old Man” singer and songwriter Neil Young has become the latest legacy artist to sell his song rights to Hipgnosis.

Hipgnosis recently announced its acquisition of a 50 percent stake in the 1,180-track catalog of Neil Young, including on the publishing and songwriting sides. The two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee wrote a number of the songs across Buffalo Springfield’s three studio albums, as well as three of the works on Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young’s bestselling Déjà Vu album and many of the four-piece act’s other releases.

Additionally, Young has created 40 studio albums as a solo artist, 13 of which featured his chief backing band, Crazy Horse, and two of which featured Lukas Nelson’s Promise of the Real. At the time of this piece’s writing, Neil Young hadn’t publicly addressed the song-rights sale with Hipgnosis on social media or in his Times-Contrarian digital newspaper.

As an aside, the two-time Grammy winner penned a piece three days back entitled “Tidal Misleading Listeners.” In the brief article, Neil Young explained why the vast majority of his music is unavailable on the Jay-Z-owned streaming platform.

“TIDAL is calling their files of my songs Masters. But TIDAL’s MQA files are not my masters,” he wrote. “If TIDAL referred to their titles as TIDAL MASTERS, I would have no problem, but they don’t. … I had my music removed from that platform.”

UK-based Hipgnosis has now announced three high-profile investments in as many days (also including an agreement for veteran producer Jimmy Iovine’s 259-song catalog as well as the purchase of the 161-song catalog of longtime Fleetwood Mac lead guitarist Lindsey Buckingham). The involved parties have yet to disclose the deals’ financial terms, but the Merck Mercuriadis-founded fund is evidently outbidding competing buyers on decidedly valuable song rights.

Worth noting is that Hipgnosis’s recent tweets don’t appear to link directly to an in-house release about the Neil Young transaction. And upon navigating to the three-year-old company’s homepage, one is now greeted by a message – as well as a prompt to click through this message – that begins: “Due to restrictions under applicable securities laws, access to this website is not permitted in certain jurisdictions.

“To enter please confirm you are not accessing this website from: the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan or South Africa or in any jurisdiction in which such an offer or solicitation would be unlawful,” the text concludes.

It’s unclear what exactly made Hipgnosis – which is traded as SONG on the London Stock Exchange – prohibit U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, and South Africa residents from entering the website. SONG was worth about $1.67 (£1.23) when the market closed today.

4 Responses

  1. SSDD

    Ever Wonder Why Artists Are Discouraged By Labels From Evolving Music?

  2. Jim Norman

    Guess that’s why he abruptly dropped his Trump lawsuit. Couldn’t have sold if he’d been embroiled in a lawsuit.

  3. Uhoh

    Another artist cash grab. Merck is on a slippery slope. There’s not an unending source of funds for these acquisitions and the revenue needed to sustain may not be timed right.