Music Industry

Report: Red Hot Chili Peppers sell their catalogue to Hipgnosis for US$140 million

In the latest gigantic catalogue sale, the Red Hot Chili Peppers have sold the rights to all their songs going back to 1982 to Hipgnosis, the company owned by Canadian Merck Mercuriadis. The band is the latest in a long line of older artists to cash out on a lifetime’s work, taking a whack of future royalties upfront in a big lump sum, setting them up with a worry-free future–at least when it comes to money.

There are apparently still some details to work out, but the reported price for the Chilis’ catalogue is US$140 million. It will now up be up to Hipgnosis to unlock the value in those songs to make their money back and then turn a profit.

How will they do that? Radio performance fees. Mechanical royalties from album sales. Encouraging other artists to record Chili Peppers song. TikTok campaigns. Licensing and sync for TV, movies, and commercials. Efforts to boost streaming of RHCP songs.

This land grab for songs shows no signs of abating and there seems to be plenty of money from not just Hipgnosis, but Primary Wave, Concord, Universal Music Publishing, and a handful of other catalogue buyers.

Who’s next? Let’s speculate wildly:

  • REM
  • Nirvana
  • U2
  • Green Day
  • Nine Inch Nails
  • Oasis
  • Elvis Costello
  • Rolling Stones
  • Ringo Starr
  • Etc.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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2 thoughts on “Report: Red Hot Chili Peppers sell their catalogue to Hipgnosis for US$140 million

  • Oh! I’d like to speculate wildly and of that list of would-be catalog sellers

    REM – I’d think they wouldn’t… for now.

    Nirvana – Would love to see a 3-way battle royale with Dave and Krist Vs Ms. Love.

    U2 – ONE BILLION. It happens this year. And we’ll all cry when we hear Beautiful Day in a McDonald’s commercial.

    Green Day – My gut says no, for now. They’re still on a major upswing. Maybe in 10 years.

    Nine Inch Nails – Who knows? Trent Reznor is a freaking enigma. Maybe?

    Oasis – Speaking of Battle Royale’s!

    Elvis Costello – FOR SURE!!!! He’s getting up there in age. He’d be lucky to get 100 million.

    Rolling Stones – Billion Dollars for sure! Happens soon!

    Ringo Starr – Just his shit? Yeah sure. $50 and a Dunkin Donuts (Tim Horton’s) gift card.

  • What happens if a band wants to perform their music live after selling the rights? I’ve been investigating how this affects the musicians ability to perform the music live. And don’t forget about the taxes.


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