Red Hot Chili Peppers sell song catalogue, including hits 'Under The Bridge' and 'Californication', for $140 million

British investment firm Hipgnosis bought works by Neil Young, Blondie, Shakira and RZA in the past

Red Hot Chili Peppers. Photo by Steve Keros

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are the latest high-profile act to sell their music publishing rights, in a deal reportedly worth $140-150 million struck with the British investment firm Hipgnosis.

Industry tracker Billboard cited anonymous sources in first reporting the sale of the catalogue that includes hits such as Under The Bridge, Californication and Snow (Hey Oh).

Because most of the songs were written collectively by band members Flea, Anthony Kiedis, John Frusciante and Chad Smith, the purchase required joint approval.

According to Billboard, Hipgnosis sold nine million new ordinary shares at $1.66 a share on April 29 to finance the deal, which brought in $14 million.

The company, led by music magnate Merck Mercuriadis, made its debut on the London Stock Exchange in July 2018, and has dropped well over $1 billion on catalogue acquisitions including from Neil Young, Blondie, Shakira and RZA.

The latest sale is part of a song rights purchasing boom as financial markets increasingly are drawn to the lucrative portfolios as an asset class.

In many cases, the transactions have come at staggering prices.

Bob Dylan sold his full publishing catalogue for a reported $300 million to Universal Music Publishing Group, while Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac sold a majority stake in her catalogue reportedly for $100 million.

The owners of a song's publishing rights receive a cut in a number of scenarios, including radio play and streaming, album sales, and use in advertising and movies.

The sales allow artists to receive immediate payouts rather than wait for those earnings – necessary for some as the pandemic has stopped performances.