Music legends don't come with many more bona fides than does multi Grammy Award winning artist Nile Rodgers. Founder of iconic disco act Chic, Nile has worked with everyone from David Bowie and Madonna to Lady Gaga and Daft Punk. He also partners with music executive Merck Mercuriadis in the Hipgnosis Songs Fund, an investment company that offers exposure for songs, and associated musical intellectual property rights. At Websummit they talked about why they both believe music is as safe a bet as gold.
Before starting Hipgnosis with Nile Rodgers in 2018, Mercuriadis managed Guns N’ Roses, Elton John, and Beyoncé. He and Rodgers first scored copyrights from prolific songwriters the Dream and Poo Bear, which got Hipgnosis the rights to Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean” and “Baby,” along with Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.” In the past two years, the company has been on a frenetic spending spree, funded by investors including the Church of England’s Investment group along with Newton Investment Management. Hipgnosis went public in the summer of 2018 and raised more than $800 million through its IPO, being traded on the London Stock Exchange.
Meanwhile - here is one of our favorite Desert Island Disc episodes with Nile Rogers:
Merck on music consumption
Music consumption is continuously on the up, music is not a correlated assets. It is always being consumed - weather you are living your best life or are going through heartbreak.
A study from the University of Leuven examined the music consumption during the pandemic and found a particular interest in nostalgic songs.
Merck on supporting songwriters
The labels don’t advocate for songwriters. They use their leverage to force songwriters into publishing deals, often within their labels. We want to be a catalyst to change the system.
We are empowering songwriters and want to create a songwriters guild.
That’s never happened in the music business. There are no artists without songs.
We buy culturally important songs. At it’s core we made 117 deals.
Nile on writing music during the pandemic and what inspires him
In the last 6 months I have written more songs than in any period in my life.
The thing that makes me most relaxed is the old stuff ... Coltrane. Every time I listen to the old jazz musicians and producers I hear something new.
The old music inspires me in a very new way.
Nile on his favorite artist collaborations
David Bowie came into my life when we were both at the lowest point of our lives - and it ended up merging into the highest time of our lives.
The amount of trust that David had for me was amazing. I was at the lowest point of my life. I came just off 5 failures, he came off of 1 failure - so we thought let’s get together and make a hit - and we made 'Let's Dance'.
Nile on his favorite guitars
Some people play from the heart, some play from the head.
Fender made a new guitar with an acoustic stratocaster - The American Acoustasonic™ Stratocaster®, that's a new favorite of mine.
I have about 30 strats that were signed by my famous artists.
On writers block ...
I never feel I have writers block.
At the moment I’m working with Dina Menzel.
When I’m writing an album for an artist I want them to be on an arc. I never want it to be the last record - I’m a coach, a musical adviser and a friend.
Right now my focus really sits on giving songwriters financial freedom and change where the songwriter sits in the economical equation.