Merck Mercuriadis’ Hipgnosis Songs has acquired independent publisher Big Deal Music, Billboard has learned. A formal announcement is expected as soon as Thursday.
Under the deal, Big Deal will keep its Los Angeles-area office and staff, rebrand under the Hipgnosis banner and operate as Hipgnosis’ full-service U.S. office, a source familiar with the situation tells Billboard.
Big Deal’s catalog includes songwriters Teddy Geiger (Shawn Mendes, Niall Horan), Kamasi Washington, Gary Numan, Ross Golan (Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande), and Sleater-Kinney, among others, as well as joint venture deals with Ricky Reed (Lizzo, Jason Derulo) and Diplo’s Mad Decent. The company was founded by publishing vet Kenny MacPherson, whose resume includes founding Redhead Music Publishing and running Warner Chappell’s New York office and Chrysalis Music as president of its North American division. He founded Big Deal with fellow former-Chrysalis execs Jamie Cerreta and Dave Ayers in 2012.
“My experience at other publishing companies was predominantly really good, but they were corporations and I came from starting my own business. So my journey has come full circle where I wanted to be an owner again,” MacPherson told Billboard last year. “I wanted to build a place that was culturally significant and great for people to work, where manners, courtesy and high touch are important.”
Big Deal is the latest — and likely the largest — in a long line of high-profile acquisitions by Hipgnosis, which has in the past two months acquired the catalogs (either outright or stakes in) of Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx, Blondie, Barry Manilow, Dion “No I.D.” Wilson and more.
Mercuriadis — former manager for Beyonce, Elton John and Guns N’ Roses — founded Hipgnosis as a London-based publicly-traded music IP investment company in 2018. According to its annual report — released in July — for the fiscal year ending March 2020, Hipgnosis earned $81 million over the last year. It also announced then that it planned to raise £200m ($249 million) through sales of a new tranche of class C Shares, and cited over £1 billion ($1.3 billion) of acquisitions “in the pipeline.”
Its catalog also includes songs by Benny Blanco (Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez), Jack Antonoff (Taylor Swift, Fun.), Johnny McDaid (Ed Sheeran, P!nk), Tom DeLonge (Blink-182), Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), Mark Ronson (“Uptown Funk,” Amy Winehouse) and more.
“When compared with the 3 major song companies we have achieved between 7% and 12.5% of their revenue on between 0.5% and 0.9% of their number of Songs,” Mercuriadis said in the earnings report. “Our small Catalogue of 13,291 Songs, albeit with an extraordinarily high ratio of success within it, is earning £4,868 per song vs something less than £150 per song for our competitors.”
Hipgnosis did not comment at time of publishing.