Leonard Cohen estate sells songwriting catalogue to Hipgnosis

Leonard Cohen is the latest artist whose song rights have been bought, after his estate reached a deal with the Hipgnosis Songs Fund for an undisclosed sum.

according to Rolling Stonethe deal includes all 278 songs that Cohen wrote, including his most popular songs ‘Hallelujah’, ‘Suzanne’, ‘So Long, Marianne’, ‘First We Take Manhattan’ and more.

The investment company obtained the “songwriter’s share” of 127 songs from Cohen’s Stranger Music catalog, which covers the period of the inception of late musician’s career through to the year 2000; derivative works pushes the total to 211 songs.

Hipgnosis also acquired the ownership of 100 per cent of the copyrights, “publisher’s share” and “songwriter’s share” of royalties of the latter part of his catalog, spanning from 2001 to his death in 2016.

“To now be the custodians and managers of Leonard Cohen’s incomparable songs is a wonderful yet very serious responsibility that we approach with excitement and fully understand the importance of,” Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis said in a statement.

“Leonard wrote words and songs that have changed our lives, none more so obvious than ‘Hallelujah’ but there are so many more that we look forward to reminding the world of on a daily basis. He is revered all over the globe because of the magnitude of his work.”

Hipgnosis, which has spent more than $2billion (£1.4billion) buying the rights to hits from iconic artists such as Neil Young, Blondie, Shakira, Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie, producer Bob Rock and many more, brokered the deal in partnership with Cohen’s family and his manager Robert Kory.

“Merck Mercuriadis is unique in the music publishing world with his background as an artist manager,” Kory said in a statement. “We know he cares about artists, and as a Québécois he has a particularly deep appreciation of Leonard’s unique status in popular music. The catalog is in good hands. The Hipgnosis team has been a pleasure to work with throughout the transaction.”

Last year, Mercuriadis said that cultural importance is key when it comes to the artists whose back catalogs they have acquired.

“So, with over £1bn invested, we only own 57,000 songs. But 10,000 of them are Top 10 songs, almost 3,000 of them are No.1 songs. So it’s a very small catalog, relative to Universal, Warner or Sony. But the ratio of success within that catalog is very high, there are very few songs that are not successes.”

Elsewhere, Neil Diamond recently sold his entire songwriting and recording catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group for an undisclosed amount.

Diamond’s deal comes after Sting sold his entire songwriting catalog last month to Universal Music Publishing Group in a deal rumored to be worth over $250 million (£184 million).

In recent months, a wide-ranging series of similar deals by Warner Chappell have seen the label strike catalog deals with Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Quincy Jones, Anderson .Paak and Saweetie, alongside the estates of George Michael and David Bowie.

Other artists who have sold their rights elsewhere include Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

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