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British firm acquires entire catalog of folk icon Leonard Cohen

(AFP)

British song management firm Hipgnosis said Sunday it has acquired the entire catalog of famed Canadian singer-poet Leonard Cohen, in the latest big catalog purchase to hit the music world. 

The London-based company said it had acquired rights to “all 278 songs and derivatives” written by Cohen, including the haunting anthem “Hallelujah,” which Hipgnosis said had been covered more than 300 times and “streamed more than five billion times.”

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It did not reveal what it had paid the heirs of the Montreal songwriter, who died at age 82 in 2016. 

Cohen’s longtime manager Robert Kory represented the heirs in the negotiations.

In all, 127 of the songs come from Cohen’s “Stranger Music” catalog, for which Hipgnosis acquired “the songwriter’s share” of royalties for songs written up through 2000.

The company said it had also acquired full ownership of copyrights and royalties for the “Old Ideas” catalog, 67 songs written from 2001 to Cohen’s death.

“To now be the custodians and managers of Leonard Cohen’s incomparable songs is a wonderful yet very serious responsibility,” said Hipgnosis founder and CEO Merck Mercuriadis. 

“Leonard wrote words and songs that have changed our lives,” said the Canadian-born Mercuriadis, who has managed artists including Beyonce, Elton John and Mary J. Blige.

The acquisition was carried out by Hipgnosis Songs Capital, a partnership between Hipgnosis Song Management and Blackstone LLP.

Hipgnosis previously purchased the catalogs of stars including American-Canadian Neil Young and alternative rockers Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Several top artists have sold their catalogs for impressive sums. British singer Sting sold his entire catalog in February for an estimated $250 million, American media reported.

Bruce Springsteen last year sold his musical rights to Sony for an estimated half-billion dollars, a record, while Bob Dylan sold his catalog to Universal Music for some $300 million.

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