Innovation That Matters

Auctioning the rights to popular songs


Music fans can now participate in the music industry as never before, whether by funding and promoting their favourite bands or creating and selling custom mixes–to name just a few of the opportunities we’ve already written about. Now, however, a North Carolina company is giving consumers a way to buy what it calls the ultimate fan collectible: the songs themselves. Aiming to connect songwriters and fans in a new way, SongVest has developed a platform for live and online auctions of songwriters’ rights that lets consumers buy as much as 100 percent of the rights to a given song–including the associated royalty streams. Songwriters determine the terms of each auction, including what percentage of each song they’d like to auction, the reserve price and the auction length. None of the copyright gets released, ensuring that the writers still retain control of usage. But as partial or full owners of the songwriters’ rights, buyers are entitled to earn royalties on their songs, and SongVest acts as a clearinghouse (for a fee of between 10 and 20 percent) to manage those payments. Buyers also get a personalized plaque denoting their status as song co-owners along with a one-of-a-kind, RIAA-certified gold or platinum album award, handwritten lyrics and other collectible items. SongVest sellers pay a commission of between 10 and 15 percent when their song sells, while buyers pay a commission of between 15 and 25 percent, depending on the final bid price. The company’s first major auction is due to begin 4 October 2008, including songs made famous by Aerosmith, Ringo Starr, Cher, Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, Carrie Underwood, Faith Hill and The Monkees. Besides appealing to consumers’ gravanity and giving them some status stories to share, SongVest’s concept promises to create a new revenue stream for recording artists and–potentially–provide a model that could be used to help ensure the sustainability of the other arts as well, or even for other types of intellectual property. One to watch! Spotted by: Jan-Olof A.



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