Singer Justin Timberlake became the latest artist to cash out his song catalogue, selling the rights to such hits as “SexyBack” and “Cry Me a River” to a London-based music investment company backed by private equity firm Blackstone.
The terms of the deal with Hipgnosis Song Management were not disclosed, but The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday it was valued at just above $100 million and does not cover future releases.
Timberlake, 41, turns over full ownership and control in some 200 songs he wrote or co-wrote spanning his career as a frontman for boyband NSYNC, as a solo artist and for movie soundtracks.
His stable of hits includes “Bye Bye Bye” and “Girlfriend” from his NSYNC days; “Cry Me a River,” “SexyBack” and “Mirrors” from his solo career, and “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from the 2016 animated film “Trolls.”
“I look forward to entering this next chapter,” the pop star said in a release.
Timberlake’s deal marks the continuation of a trend of a long string of established artists selling their songbooks to big-pocketed investors or music labels. They’re also fueled by streaming, which offers the possibility of more lucrative royalties as customers flock to services like Spotify and Apple Music.
In recent months, Sting sold his song catalog to Universal Music Group for $250 million, and David Bowie’s estate sold his music catalog for $250 million to Warner Chappell Music, the publishing arm of Warner Music Group. Late last year, ZZ Top sold its music catalog to investment firm KKR and record company BMG for $50 million. Just weeks before Bruce Springsteen sold his iconic song and publishing catalog to Sony Music for a whopping $500 million.
Meanwhile, last year, Bob Dylan sold his massive 600-song catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group for a reported $300 million to $400 million in December 2020.
Hipgnosis, which was founded in 2018 by former music manager Merck Mercuriadis, formed a partnership with private equity firm Blackstone in October to launch Hipgnosis Song Capital. Blackstone has poured in an initial $1 billion into the fund, which announced this year that it was buying an 80% interest in Kenny Chesney’s recorded-music royalties, as well as Leonard Cohen’s share of his songwriting catalog from the late singer’s estate.
The Timberlake deal is the vehicle’s third major deal and its biggest so far, the company said.