Merck Mercuriadis to exit CEO role at Hipgnosis Song Management, becoming Chairman; Ben Katovsky promoted to Chief Executive of company

Merck Mercuriadis, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hipgnosis Song Management (HSM) is to be appointed Chairman of the company. Ben Katovsky, currently HSM’s President and Chief Operating Officer, will succeed Mercuriadis as HSM’s CEO.

Confirming the news today (February 2), HSM said that Mercuriadis will continue to “lead engagement with songwriters, artists and the music industry, generate opportunities to increase consumption and enhance the value of HSM’s client’s portfolios, lead acquisitions and advocate on behalf of songwriters, artists and HSM”.

Katovsky will assume responsibility for executive management of the business. HSM says he will “implement [our] strategy to build on the company’s position as the premier platform for acquiring and managing Song assets”.

Hipgnosis Song Management (HSM) is the investment advisor for both the UK-listed Hipgnosis Songs Fund (HSF aka SONG) and the Blackstone-funded Hipgnosis Songs Capital (HSC). HSM, which has approximately $3 billion of music assets under management, also counts Blackstone as a majority investor.

HSF is currently undergoing a strategic review led by Shot Tower Capital.

Ben Katovsky joined Hipgnosis in 2022 from his prior position as Chief Operating Officer at BMG, where he spent seven years. Katovsky began his career at music rights and royalties software platform Counterpoint Systems.

Merck Mercuriadis, Chairman, Hipgnosis Song Management said: “One of our most important goals has been to bring an institutional rigor to Hipgnosis Song Management. Over the last 16 months, Ben has done an amazing job building the team and HSM’s capabilities to deliver the best possible service to our clients and I’m certain this appointment makes us stronger.

“Having invested almost $3 billion on behalf of our clients in extraordinarily successful songs we are at an important juncture in our development where the services we provide to our clients are of paramount importance. Our commitment remains stronger than ever.

“We look forward to continuing our work with songwriters and the creative community to create the greatest possible opportunities from the iconic and culturally important Songs which we manage on behalf of HSM’s clients.”

Ben Katovsky, Chief Executive Officer, Hipgnosis Song Management said: “I am proud to be asked to lead HSM through its next chapter, building on all Merck has achieved. In my time in the music industry I haven’t come across anyone who can match his rapport and relationships with songwriters and artists.

“HSM has two clients, which we are proud to service, and shareholders who are clear in their vision, ambition and on-going commitment to grow music as an asset class through HSM. I am confident that HSM is already the best platform for both capital deployment and Song Management to create value from the Songs that we manage. I am excited to have this opportunity to take it to the next level in its evolution.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with Merck, our senior leadership team, my colleagues, our Songwriters, our clients and shareholders. I particularly hope we will be able to work constructively with the Board of Hipgnosis Songs Fund Ltd, as I believe that HSM is best able to deliver value for their shareholders whether they decide the Company has a future as a long-term operation or wish to pursue the sale of assets following their strategic review.”

Qasim Abbas, Senior Managing Director, Blackstone Tactical Opportunities said: “Merck’s commitment to representing songwriters drives everything that he does – he is a great business partner and I look forward to working with him in his role as Chairman.

“Ben is an impressive leader with significant operational expertise and sector experience. He has the support of a strong senior management team behind him, together focused on delivering the highest standard of service to HSM’s clients.

“Our partnership with HSM is testament to our conviction in the long-term value we see in Songs as an asset class, and we are excited about the future.”

Following the planned transition, Mercuriadis and Katovsky will continue to be directors and members of the Board of HSM. As Chairman, says the company, Mercuriadis will “continue to devote the majority of his time to HSM.

HSM added: “As a matter of prudence, we have requested the Board of Hipgnosis Songs Fund Ltd to approve the planned transition of Merck’s role.”

In a memo issued to HSM employees earlier today (February 2), obtained by MBW, Merck Mercuriadis said: “We are 6 years old now and we have accomplished a lot in that period establishing songs as an asset class and becoming the premiere company for acquiring and managing songs.

“We have $3 billion in assets under management that are amongst the most successful and culturally important of all time

“We have a terrific and supportive partner in Blackstone and we are hopeful that we will resolve our issues with SONG in a positive manner.

“We’ve had a number of good people help us along this journey, who have made important contributions, but no one has made a bigger impact on this company than Ben Katovsky.

“In the 16 months he’s been here he’s been more like a partner to me than an employee.

“His contributions have been immense and I’m proud to announce that subject to approval by the Song board that he will be our new Chief Executive Officer and I will become our Chairman.

“This will allow us to go forward firing on all cylinders with Ben running the executive functions of the company and me focused on our songwriters and songs and getting more out of them as well as leading our acquisitions and advocacy. I am certain this makes us stronger and combined with what I believe is the best team of people we have ever had I am excited for our future.

“As I mentioned we are hopeful we can reach a positive resolution with [HSF] but whatever may happen it’s important to remember that we are a two client company and as you will see from the attached release that was published this morning and outlines all of the above our partners at Bx are also excited about the future.

“It remains only for me to thank you all for your continued efforts and ask you to please join me in congratulating Ben. We both look forward to continuing our work with you to make HSM the best that it can be for our songwriters and our clients!”Music Business Worldwide

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