The burgeoning world of royalty auctions today hit a whole new level of visibility as one of the most popular songs of the last few years turned up on Royalty Exchange, an online auction site for music royalties. This as a back-up singer on Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again” featuring Charlie Puth put up 100% of his U.S. digital performer royalties on the site with bids starting at $30,000.
The song, which was commissioned for the 2015 blockbuster Furious 7 as a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker, was the best-selling song of 2015 worldwide, with combined sales and track-equivalent streams of 20.9 million units, according to IFPI.
“See You Again” spent 12 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and broke several records including, at the time, the most-streamed track in a single day on Spotify in the U.S. and the most streams in a single week worldwide. More recently, on July 10, 2017, “See You Again” became the most-viewed YouTube video of all time with 2.8 billion views breaking Psy‘s five-year record for “Gangnam Style” (but was shortly thereafter surpassed by Luis Fonsi‘s mega smash hit of this summer ’Despacito’).
Up for sale, according to Royalty Exchange, “is 100% of seller’s interest in the non-featured performer’s share of domestic royalty and 30% of seller’s interest in the non-featured performer’s share of international royalties, attributable to the sound recording of ‘See You Again.’”
The site, which was founded in 2011 and is based out of Denver, says the hit song generated $11,372 last year for the back-up singer. A spokesperson explained the royalties are collected by SoundExchange and administered in this case by AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, a non-profit organization that distributes royalties to session musicians and background vocalists annually.
The bidding which started at $30,000 is now up to $34,000 with the auction closing on Aug. 7 at 3 p.m. MDT. The terms of the deal are for “life of the author + 70 years.”
Buyers, however, should beware as a note posted atop the auction stated, “Historic royalty income is no indication of future royalty income. Future royalty income is dependent upon future sales and licensing revenue generated by the sound recordings or compositions associated with this listing.”
That said, some of Royalty Exchange’s more successful auctions included royalties sold by the estate of Tony Geiss who wrote songs for Sesame Street (including “Elmo’s World” and Abby’s Flying Fairy School”) and which sold for $580,000.
On a smaller scale, a case study on Royalty Exchange’s site concerned Cage the Elephant’s former manger Joey Stratton who wrote the hook to the band’s “In One Ear” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. Stratton listed his songwriter’s share on Royalty Exchange for $4,500 just after the band had won a Grammy and ended up getting nealry $17,000.
One of the largest auctions in Royalty Exchange’s history concerned the royalties and copyright to the master recording of Matt White‘s 2007 song “Love,” which closed at $900,000 last May after starting with opening bids of $600,000.