Justin Bieber is nearing a deal to sell his music rights to Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital for around $200 million, sources confirm to Variety. The news, which has been rumored for weeks, was first reported by Hits and the Wall Street Journal.
The deal, which sources stress is not yet done, includes Bieber’s shares of his publishing and recorded-music catalog, which sources tell Variety will continue to be administered and owned (respectively) by Universal even if the deal closes.
Reps for Bieber and Hipgnosis either declined or did not respond to Variety‘s requests for comment.
The news arrives during a troubled time for the singer, just weeks after he postponed the remaining dates in his “Justice” tour until an unspecified time “next year.” The tour, which was originally scheduled to launch in 2020, has been postponed or delayed several times, initially due to the pandemic but most recently following his bout with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a rare virus that in his case caused facial paralysis. It finally launched in March and covered most of North America, but he postponed the remaining dates early in June after announcing his difficulties with the disease.
It also comes amid a general cooling-off of the formerly red-hot catalog market, which has become less attractive as asking prices have soared and interest rates and capital gains taxes have risen.
Bieber’s catalog, while containing shares of his multiple hits over the past 15-odd years, is also less of a proven quantity than more seasoned catalogs, such as Genesis and Phil Collins, whose catalogs were sold for a reported $300 million earlier this year.
However, some companies, particularly Hipgnosis, have embraced newer catalogs. According to the Journal, the Bieber deal would be the largest music-rights acquisition for Hipgnosis to date. Earlier this year, the company acquired the song-catalog rights of Justin Timberlake, whose works are a few years older than Bieber’s, in a deal reported to be worth just over $100 million. While Bieber’s share of hits like “Sorry,” “Love Yourself” and even older tracks like “Baby” is said to be relatively small, they are still massive global hits that for many define an era.
Conversely, Hipgnosis also acquired the catalog of legendary singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, which includes many classics that are more than 50 years old.
The market effectively peaked in 2020 and last year when Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen sold their catalogs for middle-nine-figure sums.
Variety will have more on this situation as it develops.