Manilow, a Grammy, Tony and Emmy winner, is among the most successful recording artists of the 1970s and 1980s with 50 Top 40 singles to his name. Manilow’s career has continued to flourish in the decades since as a live performer.
Hipgnosis Song Fund already controls approximately 12,000 songs, ranging from Rihanna’s “Umbrellas” to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” and the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams,” representing $1 billion in acquisitions after its July 2018 IPO on the London Stock Exchange successfully raised $265 million. Mercuriadis boasted of having made “60 deals in the past 21 months” in April, acquiring song publishing catalogs by the likes of Tricky Stewart, Richie Sambora, Benny Blanco, Mark Ronson, Starrah, Poo Bear, Rodney Jerkins and others.
Said Mercuriadis in announcing the acquisition: “Barry Manilow is an International treasure. He’s an incomparable artist, songwriter, arranger, musician and performer. In the 1970s and 80s he redefined mainstream entertainment and drove it to new heights of success with truly classic songs. From ‘Mandy’ to ‘I Write The Songs’, ‘Copacabana’ and ‘Looks Like We Made It’ he is one of those rare artists that unites everyone. We are honored to have Barry and Garry join the Hipgnosis Family. ”
“Merck has created a new type of music company and I’m looking forward to being part of the family at The Family Music and Hipgnosis Songs,” added Manilow.
Songwriting catalogs have become a hot commodity in the last year as deep-pocketed financiers eye their steady income as a sound investment, although many have criticized the model for paying larger-than-market-value multiples.
Hipgnosis Songs recently released its annual report, which showed its revenues soaring in its first full year of business, climbing to $81 million in the 12 month period ended in March 2020 from around $8.9 million in the preceding period. The firm, which has been on an unprecedented acquisition binge of hit songwriter and producer catalogs — been buying up catalogs by hitmakers ranging from Timbaland and Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart to Jack Antonoff and Jeff Bhasker — began trading on the London Stock Exchange in July of 2018. Between March 2019 and March 2020, the company spent nearly $700 million to acquire 42 catalogs.
In the report, cofounder and CEO Mercuriadis notes, “When compared with the three 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.” This is a result of the group’s highly selective investments, which he summarizes in the report thus: “All of our songs have a proven track record and we do not speculate on new songs regardless of the past performance of the songwriter, producer or artist. These proven hit Songs produce reliable, predictable and uncorrelated cash flows which are highly investible.”
Manilow was represented in the deal by manager Garry Kief and attorney Doug Davis at The Davis Firm.