Royalty Income

Dominic Thomas
Dec 2023  •  1 min read

Royalty Income

For those of you who are business minded or ‘entrepreneurial’ (perhaps the most overused business word), the ‘rules’ around royalty income may be changing.

In recent decades we have all seen, particularly in the arts, how doing your work once and then getting paid repeatedly for it is the most honest definition of a ‘passive income’.

This is most evident in the music and film sector where stars of the past continue to earn income from repeats, resales, commissions and so on of a performance long ago. In fact I think it was George Lucas and his Star Wars franchise that really brought this to most people’s attention.

Imagine, you worked hard, made an album or wrote a book and forty years later you are still collecting money for your labour. Some of our clients are in this happy position.

So the twist is that this appears to be changing, well for some anyway. Various financially successful artists have been selling their back catalogue for a single, substantial lump sum, forfeiting the future royalties.

I wonder what this suggests? Perhaps that they would prefer to have the lump sum to spend, invest or gift rather than a lifetime of income. Perhaps they are concerned about the ability and resources to prevent plagiarism in the future or to restrict the use of their materials in other ways. Perhaps they are concerned that AI will actually make them irrelevant. I don’t know why, but it’s certainly an unexpected change to the basic business model in some sectors.

In September we learned that pop princess Katy Perry has agreed a deal to sell her back catalogue for around $225m. Her actor husband Orlando Bloom played Will Turner in Pirates of the Caribbean, so no need for bootleg albums for Katy (or perhaps bootstrap albums, with such a load of pieces of eight).

Katy Perry reportedly makes $225m by selling her music catalogue: