A mapping of the many Hipgnosis entities and their connections to one another. Any questions?
So, what is Hipgnosis Songs Fund, and how is it different than a dozen other Hipgnosis entities? Last week, we took a trip down the music industry’s most treacherous rabbit hole.
For a complete breakdown of the Hipgnosis Songs Fund’s legal battle with Hipgnosis Music Limited, check out our recent DMN Pro Weekly report on the rumblings and possible fallout from ‘Hipgnosis v. Hipgnosis.’ In that report, we take a closer look at complex web of Hipgnosis companies, the less-than-savory past of now-defunct Hipgnosis Music Limited, and what this might mean for the future of a once-bubbling music industry darling.
Over the past few months, the term ‘Hipgnosis’ has become treacherously complicated and loaded with questions. As the most prominent Hipgnosis entity — Hipgnosis Songs Fund — has shifted from splashy industry darling to slow-motion train wreck, the music industry has become exposed to an incredibly complex matrix of interrelated companies.
Adding to the complexity: all of these overlapping entities have ‘Hipgnosis’ in their titles with overlapping roles, executives, and ownership structures.
Whether that has the markings of a scammy house-of-cards remains to be seen. For many observers, the level of organizational complexity raises red flags, with some big ones appearing this year.
In September, investors were treated to a bizarre proposal by Hipgnosis Songs Fund to sell 29 catalogs to Hipgnosis Songs Capital, which is backed by private equity investor The Blackstone Group and overseen by Hipgnosis Songs Management. The deal, eventually valued at $440 million, was unsurprisingly rejected by shareholders, partly because of the overlapping entities and resulting conflicts of interest.
By November, another glimpse at Hipgnosis’ complexity emerged: a lawsuit against Hipgnosis Songs Fund (HSF) by the defunct Hipgnosis Music Limited (HML). That legal battle is just getting started, though it has already raised some unsavory details about Hipgnosis’ past. Founded in 2015 by Hipgnosis topper Merck Mercuriadis and Swedish businessman Afram Gergeo, HML owed approximately $4.54 million (£3.6 million) to creditors at the time of its collapse, according to The Telegraph.
That ‘Hipgnosis v. Hipgnosis’ war is unlikely to rally investor confidence, as we’ve raised in our recent DMN Pro weekly report examining the sordid lawsuit. But for those desperately trying to pick apart the web of interrelated Hipgnosis companies, here’s a quick breakdown of a few of the biggest units.
- Hipgnosis Songs Fund (HSF): This is the ‘big one,’ the most prominent member of the complex web of Hipgnosis brands. The UK-listed investment company is focused on music IP, with extremely bullish acquisitions of both publishing and recording assets.
- Hipgnosis Songs Management (HSM): This is a related advisory firm led by Merck Mercuriadis that oversees the music catalogs acquired by HSF and other related Hipgnosis funds, including —
- Hipgnosis Songs Capital (HSC): This is a private fund overseen by HSM, with heavy financial backing from The Blackstone Group.
Those are just three entities in a sea of other Hipgnosis-named companies, however. Shifting to the lawsuit, we have Hipgnosis Music Limited, which is now defunct but whose original cofounders are now litigating against the mainstay Hipgnosis Songs Fund. That was also tied to a company called ‘Hipgnosis Copyrights Plc,’ which was terminated in 2022.
All in, Digital Music News has counted roughly one dozen different entities with ‘Hipgnosis’ in their titles (see above), which doesn’t include a number of companies and funds owned by Hipgnosis Holdings.
Some are alive, some are defunct, though they all share a common thread: the founder or cofounder Merck Mercuriadis. Beyond the five companies mentioned above, here are seven more identified by Digital Music News: Hipgnosis Songs Group, Hipgnosis Holdings UK, and 10 distinct ‘Hipgnosis Holdings’ subsidiaries including Hipgnosis Acquisition Corp.
Hopelessly confused? Join the club.