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Justin Bieber has sold everything. Everything! “Baby”? “What do you mean?” “I’m sorry?” He’s gone!
Privately held Hipgnosis Song Management bought Bieber’s entire music catalog, i.e., the publishing rights and his master, presumably for big bucks (Universal Music Group retained the copyrights to the recorded music).
Neither party will confirm exactly how much, but the catalog is pure American and Canadian A-list pop music. Billboard estimates its value at just over $200 million.
Catalog sales seem to appeal to musicians at the end of their careers, those who can look back and say, “Sure, use those songs in a car commercial or something. If you need me for anything, I’ll be in my seventh house enjoying the high life.”
People like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Stevie Nicks, Paul Simon, the Beach Boys, Neil Young, who have sold their catalogs or a significant portion of them. They have a proven legacy to build on.
Justin Bieber Sold His Entire Music Catalog. How Much Did He Get For It?
I have long argued that Justin Bieber, whom his manager Scooter Brown discovered on YouTube when he was barely a teenager, has already lived several lives. He’s risen, he’s fallen and he’s risen again. He peed in a bucket. There was the monkey story.
He contracted Lyme disease and had several weddings (to one person, Hailey Bieber). This guy really lived it. Technically, Bieber is two years younger than 30, but he’s a wildly famous pop star. In normal human years, he’s 87. And by that logic, catalog sales are right on time.
Perhaps there’s a reason more firmly grounded in reality, or at least in market trends. In the last half-decade, catalog sales have skyrocketed. Sales of older musicians attract the public’s attention, but Hipgnosis and Vine Alternative Investments have bought catalogs of younger musicians, such as Shakira and Calvin Harris, respectively. Hipgnosis also has Barry Manilow and another Justin, Justin Timberlake.
When Hipgnosis acquired his catalog last year, Timberlake, 41, was considered the youngest catalog sale; The Wall Street Journal speculated that an artist in his 30s or 40s might come to the sale to take advantage of the hot market that has been sparked by the new interest in music rights from private companies.
This interest could be due to the lukewarm feeling for good music during the worst years of the pandemic, as well as companies like Spotify, which have opened up new opportunities for successful musicians to make money.
Moreover, Hipgnosis founder Mercouriadis has made it clear that he wants to turn the artist catalog into an asset class in its own right, which in part requires releasing big numbers from big names.
What Bieber, Timberlake and others are getting, in addition to huge salaries, is also an incentive for their music. The challenge for Hipgnosis is to seek partnerships and new sales avenues, or put another way, the challenge for Hipgnosis is to make its musical legacy more enduring.
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