Hipgnosis Songs Fund, Primary Wave, and other firms are on a shopping spree for high-profile music catalogs, snapping up publishing rights from songwriters ranging from Bob Dylan to Stevie Nicks to Neil Young. But Diane Warren, who’s been writing hits for 37 years, from DeBarge’s “Rhythm of the Night” to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” to Toni Braxton’s “Un-Break My Heart,” says she has no intention of selling her songs to anyone.
Merck Mercuriadis, founder/CEO of Hipgnosis and a music-biz lifer, is well aware that Warren isn’t interested, she says in a career-spanning interview on our Rolling Stone Music Now podcast. “I’m friends with Merck,” says Warren, who will release a guest-singer-laden debut album, Diane Warren: The Cave Sessions Vol. 1, later this year. “He knows that’s a non-starter. It would be like selling my soul, and that’s not for sale.”
Warren has her own publishing company, Realsongs, which handles all of her material. “The way I started my company wasn’t because I was a savvy business person,” she says. “It was basically because I was in a lawsuit with a publisher. It was right after ‘Rhythm of the Night,’ so everybody kind of wanted to sign me and I couldn’t sign anywhere. My lawyer was like, ‘You need to start your own publishing company.’… And then all of a sudden, all these hits started happening. And these were songs I owned, and I never looked back. So it wasn’t because I was super-savvy or anything. It just happened. It’s my company, with one writer, and it’s a pretty successful company.”
Warren does understand why other writers are selling. “I get it,” she says. “I mean, times are hard. And if you need the money, publishing is so valuable. Truly one of the most valuable assets, I guess, in the world is a great song. But yeah, I’m not interested in selling.”
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