Merck Mercuriadis on his mission for songwriters

Merck Mercuriadis on his mission for songwriters

Merck Mercuriadis has told Music Week that his quest to change where the songwriter sits in the economic equation is "closer than ever" to being achieved.

In response to the findings of the DCMS Committee's report, the government last month unveiled its action plan for the next 12 months. The plan will involve working alongside the music industry to form a contact group that will scrutinise the key issues.

Since launching song management company Hipgnosis in 2018, Mercuriadis has consistently advocated for songwriters to receive a greater share of a song's income - and said his hopes have been raised by recent events. 

"I think we're closer than ever," said Mercuriadis. "Who would have ever thought that government and politicians would actually be able to sort out the issues of the music business? But I'm delighted that people like Kevin Brennan and Julian Knight, and also even people that are outside of the DCMS [Committee], like Esther McVey, have rallied the politicians to look at the fact that the songwriter is not being rewarded properly, and even that artists are not being rewarded properly, and that this money needs to be shared."

Universal are the 900lb gorilla and they deserve everything they are getting. But the money must now be shared with artists and songwriters

Merck Mercuriadis, Hipgnosis

The music mogul, who also manages Nile Rodgers, spoke to Music Week at the recent Ivor Novello Awards on September 21 - the same day as Universal Music Group debuted on the EuroNext exchange in Amsterdam.

"They are the 900lb gorilla [of the music industry] and I think that they deserve everything that they are getting," said Mercuriadis. "But the money now must be shared with artists and songwriters."

In the last financial year, Hipgnosis acquired 84 catalogues for $1.089 billion during the 12 months, taking the total value across 138 catalogues to approximately $2bn.

"My focus is solely on proving songs as an asset class, establishing song management as the new paradigm, providing my shareholders with great returns and advocating for songwriters to move them from the bottom of the economic equation to the top where they belong," added Mercuriadis.

"Our only concern is serving the great songwriters who have entrusted us to be custodians of their songs and the shareholders who have made that possible. I’m not interested in the rest of the noise."

Big deals have included songwriter’s shares in catalogues by Neil Young, Lindsey Buckingham, Chrissie HyndeSteve Winwood, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie.

Mercuriadis insisted that Hipgnosis was able to help classic artists reach new audiences "by managing the songs with great responsibility and that requires bandwidth".

"Last October we saw that Miley Cyrus had covered Blondie’s Heart Of Glass in concert," he added. "Amy [Thomson, chief catalogue officer] and Ted [Cockle, president] connected her and Debbie and Chris and encouraged them to collaborate on creating some content. This allowed us to launch Blondie on TikTok and nine months later we are heading for 200 million streams on the song over and above the previous run rate of almost a million a month. Miley has now just done us another favour by covering Cher’s Believe in concert, so you can probably figure out our next move."

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