Hipgnosis founder quits amid plans to ‘spend time’ backing songwriters over pay

The founder of Hipgnosis Songs Management has announced he is stepping down as its chairman, as the former Beyonce and Sir Elton John manager said he wants to spend more time backing songwriters over fair pay.

Merck Mercuriadis will leave the business once the music catalogue it manages, Hipgnosis Songs Fund, has been taken over by new owners.

The music industry expert said it was the “right time” to step aside, six years since founding the firm.

Hipgnosis Songs Management (HSM) says it manages thousands of songs worth a total of about three billion US dollars (£2.4 billion) from artists including Shakira, Justin Timberlake, Neil Young and 50 Cent.

The company went through a rocky period over the past year amid widening financial losses and an increasingly tense relationship with the board of its songs fund.

But it last month agreed to a deal with US private equity firm Blackstone to buy Hipgnosis Songs Fund for £1.3 billion, which will see it taken off the London Stock Exchange.

Mr Mercuriadis said: “This is a timely opportunity for me to undertake a strategic shift of focus, and to spend more time advocating on behalf of songwriters to ensure that they are properly compensated for their work.”

He said the “time to act is now” amid new laws being discussed around the world and before the next royalties rates are set in the US.

Mr Mercuriadis previously managed artists including Guns N’ Roses, Sir Elton John and Beyonce, and set up Hipgnosis which an advisory board that included Nile Rodgers of Chic.

He added: “As Hipgnosis Songs Fund enters the next phase of its development, now is the right time to hand the reins to a trusted and highly capable team.

“I am excited about the company’s future and its ongoing success with the support of Blackstone.”