As a former Music Director who previously counted Elton John, Beyonce and Guns N ‘Roses as clients, Merck Mercuriadis has a keen eye for talent and a knack for spotting trends.
As streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music grew in popularity, Mercuriadis formed the Hipgnosis Songs Fund to acquire the music rights. The fund, which went public in 2018, invested $ 2.5 billion to acquire the publishing rights to 64,000 compositions by hitmakers including Timbaland, Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders, Rick James and Neil Young.
He is now looking at another emerging technology for music: non-fungible tokens, unique digital assets – often works of art, photos, videos or digital files – that are traded on the blockchain. Mercuriadis said blockchain, which keeps a record of transactions across a network of computers, can bring a new level of transparency to music royalties.
“Someone like Nile Rodgers, whose songs have been going incredibly well for 40 years … interview at the Reuters Next conference.” In the future, with NFT and blockchain, those billions of transactions can come back to you in real time . ”
NFTs could also provide a new type of collector’s item for music fans, like music or videos, for the same price as a traditional touring book sold at concerts, Mercuriadis said. These more engaging experiences are “an important part of the future,” said Mercuriadis.
Mercuriadis is focusing, more immediately, on establishing songs as an “asset class” that will generate reliable and predictable income.
“Once the pandemic hit, it really proved the point that Merck made about these songs, as long as it’s such a reliable asset,” said Rodgers, a singer, songwriter. and Grammy-winning record producer who advises Hipgnosis. The opportunity has attracted institutional investors including Investec Wealth & Investment, Aviva Investors and the Church of England.
Mercuriadis says Hipgnosis can do a better job than traditional music publishers at managing its hit collection, researching “off-market transactions” and leveraging new platforms such as Peloton, TikTok or Roblox. A new partner, Blackstone, who has pledged to invest $ 1 billion in the purchase of music rights, will help Hipgnosis to further refine its approach to song management.
“The music industry has been very, very unsophisticated as far back as I can remember,” Mercuriadis said. “What we’re getting to is something that’s going to be much, much more sophisticated.”