In the wake of Hipgnosis Song’s blockbuster growth, former Geffen Records president Neil Jacobson, who launched his own songwriter-producer management firm in 2019, is lining up a $200 million IPO on the New York Stock Exchange for a new company called the Music Acquisition Corporation. The move was first reported by Music Business Worldwide.
While Hipgnosis has spent more than $1.7 billion acquiring catalogs from major artists such as Neil Young and Barry Manilow as well as lesser-known but successful producers and songwriters such as Timbaland, Poo Bear, Mark Ronson, Eurythmics Dave Stewart and dozens of others, Jacobson’s purview is wider.
According to an SPAC S-1 prospectus for Jacobson’s new company, it is raising the money to buy unidentified music assets after its floatation — but not just copyrights. According to the prospectus, the company plans to acquire audio content, for which it will “explore potential target companies serving content creators, IP owners and consumers by unlocking new opportunities for content discovery and monetization”; technology (“verticals of interest include royalty free sample libraries (for production music), music catalog analysis and organization tools, data science and trend research companies, blockchain and other AI-driven platforms”); social media, with TikTok and Triller as examples of the kinds of companies it is seeking; and consumer (citing examples like Beats by Dre and Peloton).
The firm’s top officers include Jacobson as CEO and chairman, Todd Lowen (formerly of Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital). Directors include Michael Levitt (CEO of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors), film-TV producer Ben Silverman and Tunde Balogun, president and co-founder of multi-faceted music company LVRN, which manages Summer Walker and 6lack, among others.
Since its formation in 2019, Jacobson’s company, Hallwood Media, has made aggressive moves with client Jeff Bhasker’s catalog, which includes work with Kanye West, Jay-Z, Mark Ronson, Fun and many others — including selling the producer and writer shares of his publishing catalog to Hipgnosis and an unspecified sale of rights to Morgan Stanley for a reported $60 million.
A graduate of Berklee School of Music — from which he and Bhasker graduated in 1999 — Jacobson spent 17 years at Interscope-Geffen-A&M, where he signed or working closely with Avicii, Black Eyed Peas, LMFAO and others. Hallwood originated as Interscope Records’ producer management division, which Jacobson started in 2013; he spun it off into Hallwood as part of his exit from Geffen. Jacobson represents producers and songwriters Jeff Bhasker (Bruno Mars, Harry Styles), Emile Haynie (Lana Del Rey, Eminem) and Brendan O’Brien (Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam) along with King Henry, Bipolar Sunshine, Alex Salibian and Beach Noise. He is also a key architect in bridging music rights owners and Wall Street.
The prospectus, dated Jan. 15, reads in part: “We believe that our management team’s extensive experience acquiring, operating and growing businesses in the music sector, coupled with their vast network of leading industry executives, entrepreneurs, investors and deal makers, will provide access to attractive business combination opportunities and position us to succeed in consummating an initial business combination.”