Hipgnosis bought the rights to 178 songs by New Zealand songwriter Joel Little, including hits like Taylor Swift’s “Me!,” Khalid’s “Young Dumb & Broke,” Imagine Dragons’ “Whatever It Takes” and Lorde’s “Royals.” The acquisition includes both the publishing and writer’s shares of his catalog.
Music Business Worldwide reveals that those 178 songs accounted for $4.32 million of revenue in 2019, $2.98 million in 2018 and $1.32 million in 2017. They broke down the income streams to 5% mechanical royalties, 15% performance royalties, 30% streaming royalties, 14% synchronization royalties and 36% writing royalties.
“Royals” wasn’t the only Lorde song he co-wrote. He was heavily involved with all of her releases, including her debut EP, The Love Club, her first full-length record Pure Heroine and her sophomore album Melodrama.
Little’s Taylor Swift collaborations were all for her 2019 album Lover, including co-writing and production credits on four songs from the album, three of which were singles – “Me!,” “You Need to Calm Down” and “The Man.” The other song was “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince.” He also co-wrote a non-album single that came out in 2020 called “Only the Young.”
Along with “Young Dumb & Broke,” Little co-wrote two other tracks from Khalid’s 2017 debut album American Teen, “8teen” and “Therapy.” He also wrote a Shawn Mendes hit that features Khalid named “Youth,” and another Mendes song called “Queen.”
“Whatever It Takes” wasn’t the only Imagine Dragons song he co-wrote either. He was involved with their latest hit, “Follow You,” as well as “Birds” from Origins.
Other artists that Little has co-written songs for include Broods, Sam Smith, Ellie Goulding, Fitz and the Tantrums, Tove Lo, Bebe Rexha, Kesha, Alison Wonderland, Mikky Ekko, 6lack, Lennon Stella, Marina, James Bay, Jonas Brothers, K Flay, Bishop Briggs, Foster the People, Gracie Adams, Vance Joy and more. According to Merck Mercuriadis, the Founder of The Family (Music) Limited and Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited, the music that Little has co-written has racked up over 15 billion streams in total.
Mercuriadis stated, “Joel is one of the most important songwriters in the world today. More than eight years on from the iconic song that is Royals, he has continued to deliver massive hits for Lorde, Taylor Swift, Khalid, Imagine Dragons and many more. His songs are amongst the most streamed songs of the last 10 years amassing more than 15 billion streams globally. It’s wonderful to welcome Joel and Ashley to the Hipgnosis Family.”
In his part of the announcement, Little stated, “I feel incredibly grateful for my career in songwriting up to this point. It’s really nice to know that these songs will be so well taken care of by Merck and his team of passionate music people. Hipgnosis has big plans and I’m very excited to see how far they can champion the cause for all songwriters in the coming years.”
This is the latest acquisition in a series of many similar purchases Hipgnosis has been making recently. Hipgnosis also acquired rights to songs from songwriters, artists and producers including Andrew Watt (Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello, DJ Snake, etc.), Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Rock (Metallica), Shakira, Neil Young, Lindsey Buckingham and Jimmy Iovine. They’re not the only company making purchases like this either, others include Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group, BMG and Primary Wave.