Justin Timberlake is the latest artist to get a huge payday be selling his song catalog. Timberlake has a respectable 200+ song catalog dating back to his days as a member of N’SYNC. And now that catalog belongs to Hipgnosis Songs Capital, the same fund that has closed similar deals with other artists like Kenny Chesney and the estate of the late Leonard Cohen.
Terms of the deal were not made official, but several respectable outlets have pegged the value of the sale at a bit over $100 million.
While many of those high prices for publishing rights and recordings were believed to be driven by the pandemic (during which more and more people were stuck home listening to music), the Timberlake/Hipgnosis deal shows that there are still some big paydays out there to be had.
The sale gives Hipgnosis full ownership of what was previously Timberlake’s own financial interest in the approximately 200 songs he’s written or co-written over the years, including such hits as “SexyBack” and “Cry Me a River.” Anything Timberlake writes going forward wouldn’t be included in this agreement.
Merck Mercuriadis, founder and CEO of Hipgnosis, released a typical press statement celebrating the deal, citing Timberlake’s artistic legacy and his abilities as a songwriter:
“Justin Timberlake is not only one of the most influential artists of the last 20 years but he’s also one of the greatest songwriters of all time. His hit songs including ‘Cry Me A River,’ ‘Rock Your Body,’ ‘SexyBack,’ ‘My Love,’ ‘What Goes Around… Comes Around,’ ‘Suit & Tie,’ ‘Mirrors’ and ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ are amongst the most iconic of the period.
“Putting this deal together has been a complete labour of love…This is the beginning of what we believe will be an incredible relationship important to us all.”
Timberlake also released a statement of his own:
“I am excited to be partnering with Merck and Hipgnosis – he values artists and their creative work and has always been a strong supporter of songwriters and storytelling. I look forward to entering this next chapter.”
While Timberlake has been active in the music biz since he was a teenager, he’s still one of the younger artists to have closed such a comprehensive deal to his song rights. The practice has been embraced by the biggest artists of older generations, like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, as a way to cash in and also simplify matters of inheritance. But Timberlake joins other younger artists like John Legend who have made such deals, probably in order to strike while the iron is hot, since many business analysts think that the market could still begin to cool down soon.