Kenny Chesney sells his music catalog to Hipgnosis Song Management
In the first blockbuster deal to hit Music Row since artists began shipping catalog rights for mega-bucks in late 2020, superstar Kenny Chesney has sold the majority of his royalties to UK investment firm Hipgnosis Song Management.
Chesney has sold 80% of its catalog to Hipgnosis, according to a press release from the company. Hipgnosis now holds its stake in songs dating from 1994’s debut album “In My Wildest Dreams” to 2017’s release “Live In No Shoes Nation,” Chesney’s final release before signing with Warner Music Nashville.
The deal totals 22 albums, plus rights to future greatest hits, live albums and acoustic releases.
Hipgnosis or Chesney did not disclose a sale price at the time of publication. Longtime Chensey manager Clint Higham and attorney Jess Rosen brokered the deal, the statement said.
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“Knowing that this music has a house that views work as a collective body, something that builds on itself and captures the heart of No Shoes Nation, was important to me,” Chesney said in a statement, mentioning the nickname of his passionate fan base. “How these songs live in the future is essential, and I believe that Merck [Mercuriadis, Hipgnosis founder] is interested not only in recordings, but also in the people who love them.
His statement continued, “For people who love these songs and albums, it’s a storyline that allows the music to grow and reflect who those of us who live inside of these songs really are. ”
It is Hipgnosis’ first major purchase since asset management firm Blackstone invested $1 billion last year in the group’s efforts to buy notable catalogs. Hipgnosis, a multi-billion dollar effort founded by former A-list music executive Merck Mercuriadis. “[offers] investors pure-play exposure to [s]NGOs and associated musical intellectual property rights”, according to its website.
A catalog craze took off in late 2020 when Bob Dylan moved his massive songwriting collection for an amount of 300 million dollars at Universal Music Publishing Group. Widely influencing classic rock, pop and folk music, artists from Stevie Nicks to Tina Turner, Paul Simon and Mötley Crüe followed. Bruce Springsteen holds biggest reported sale to date, moving his life’s musical work to Sony in a reported $500 million deal.
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Past purchases from the Hipgnosis catalog include Neil Young, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lindsay Buckingham, rock producer Jimmy Iovine, Blink-182’s Tom DeLong and more. According to his website, Hipgnosis has over 64,000 songs from 138 catalogs, including 151 Grammy-winning numbers.
But before Chesney, Music Row’s best-selling artists remained largely untouched by the catalog buying blitzkrieg. With a discography including seminal hits from the 1990s and 2000s that remain must-haves for fans eager for country nostalgia, Chesney’s songs align with the idea that investors see catalog music in the age of streaming as a long-term asset with reliable returns.
In 2021, catalog music—songs older than 18 months—accounted for nearly 75% of music consumption in the United States, according to MRC-Billboard, the media data company formerly known as Nielsen-SoundScan. That figure rose from around 66% in 2020, according to an MRC year-end report.
“Kenny Chesney is one of America’s greatest artists,” Mercuriadis said in a statement. “He has been bringing joy to music fans around the world for nearly 30 years. … It is a pleasure and a privilege to welcome Kenny and Clint to the Hipgnosis Songs family.
Four-time CMA Artist of the Year, who remains a stadium-touring powerhouse, Chesney’s parade of country hits includes “When The Sun Goes Down”, “I Go Back”, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy “, “Summertime” and “Don’t blink.” He has recorded nine No. 1 albums on Billboard’s All Genre 200 chart and earned 15 platinum certifications from the RIAA, selling approximately 30 million albums worldwide.