Red Hot Chili Peppers sell song catalogue for $187m: Billboard

The catalogue includes hits like Under The Bridge, Californication and Snow (Hey Oh).
The catalogue includes hits like Under The Bridge, Californication and Snow (Hey Oh).PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers are the latest high-profile act to sell their music publishing rights, in a deal reportedly worth US$140 million (S$187 million) to US$150 million struck with British investment firm Hipgnosis.

Industry tracker Billboard cited anonymous sources in first reporting the sale of the catalogue that includes hits like Under The Bridge, Californication and Snow (Hey Oh).

Neither Hipgnosis nor the band's representatives immediately responded on Tuesday (May 4) to Agence France-Presse requests for comment.

As most of the songs were written collectively by band members Flea, Anthony Kiedis, John Frusciante and Chad Smith, the purchase required joint approval.

According to Billboard, Hipgnosis sold nine million new ordinary shares at US$1.66 per share on April 29 to finance the deal, which brought in US$14 million.

The company headed by music magnate Merck Mercuriadis debuted on the London Stock Exchange in July 2018, and has dropped well over US$1 billion on catalogue acquisitions including from singer Neil Young, rock band Blondie, singer Shakira and rapper RZA.

The latest sale is part of a song rights purchasing boom as financial markets increasingly are drawn to the lucrative portfolios as an asset class.

In many cases, the transactions have come at staggering prices.

Rock legend Bob Dylan sold his full publishing catalogue for a reported sum of US$300 million to Universal Music Publishing Group, while Stevie Nicks of rock band Fleetwood Mac sold a majority stake in her catalogue reportedly for US$100 million.

The owners of a song's publishing rights receive a cut in a number of scenarios, including radio play and streaming, album sales, and use in advertising and movies.

The sales allow the artistes to receive immediate payouts rather than wait for those earnings - necessary for some as the coronavirus pandemic has thwarted performances.