Ultravox singer Midge Ure sells music rights to Swiss investor

·2-min read
Midge Ure and Ultravox - Michael Putland/Getty Images/Hulton Archive
Midge Ure and Ultravox - Michael Putland/Getty Images/Hulton Archive

Ultravox singer Midge Ure has become the latest rock star to sell his music rights amid soaring investor demand for classic song catalogues.

The Scottish songwriter and producer has sold his writer’s share, master recording and neighbouring rights to more than 300 tracks to MusicBird, a Swiss-based music rights investment firm.

The catalogue covers songs across Mr Ure’s solo career as well as his work with various groups.

The singer rose to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s in bands including Silk, Thin Lizzy, Rich Kids, Visage and as the lead singer of Ultravox.

He produced, co-wrote and performed on several iconic synth-pop and new wave hits including ‘Vienna’ and ‘Dancing with Tears in My Eyes’ by Ultravox, and ‘Fade to Grey’ by Visage.

Mr Ure also secured a Number 1 UK single with ‘If I Was’, and co-wrote and produced the Band Aid charity single ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ with Bob Geldof.

Paul Brown, chief executive of MusicBird, said: “Midge has written some genuinely timeless hits that were ground-breaking, helping to define the 1980s new wave sound and literally paving the way for those that came after.

“We are hugely excited to become the custodian of these incredible songs and we are humbled that Midge has entrusted these precious pieces of art to the MusicBird team.”

The deal comes as a boost to MusicBird, which entered the highly competitive music song rights market in 2021 with the aim of building a “house of hits”.

The company already owns the publishing rights to J R Rotem, the songwriter behind famous tracks by artists including Rihanna, Jason Derulo, Fall Out Boy, Iyaz and Sean Kingston.

It also holds the master income and publishing rights of multiple Grammy Award-winning artist Shaggy, which includes hit tracks ‘It Wasn’t Me’ and ‘Boombastic’.

Last month MusicBird secured a $100m (£81.5m) loan facility from MUFG to help fund future acquisitions.

Mr Ure is the latest music star to cash in on rising demand for song rights as record labels and specialist investment firms look to generate more royalties from back catalogues in the streaming age.

Artists including Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Justin Bieber have all sold the rights to their songs in deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

But the nascent sector is now coming under pressure as rising interest rates are driving up the cost of acquisitions.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund, a London-based investment trust that owns rights to songs by Nirvana and Britney Spears, has seen its market value drop to below £1bn, less than half the £2.2bn valuation it places on its back catalogue.