Why Music Royalties Are an Attractive Asset Class!

In the following paragraphs, we’ll take particular notice in the investment side from the music business and explore why music royalties are thought a beautiful asset class in the present market atmosphere, how active investors can increase the need for their music IP, and just what to look out for when thinking about a good investment.

How Come Music Royalties Considered a beautiful Asset Class?

“I think everybody recognized that publishing catalogs were assets you can finance, just like a building. And also the forecasts an investment banks are earning for the amount of streaming subscribers within the next ten years are remarkable. So investment bankers, hedge funds, private equity finance – all of them see this being an asset class.” – Martin Bandier, former Chief executive officer and chairman of The new sony/ATV Music Publishing

Stability of Streaming

Streaming has introduced greater stability to music royalty cash flows. As you can see the Condition from the Music Business, digital streaming has driven the development in global recorded music revenues after fifteen years of declines brought on by piracy and also the decline from the physical album. There’s now greater confidence in owning music IP assets and also the royalty earnings produced from them.

In a song level, audio royalty earnings generally sees its finest earnings 3-12 several weeks after release. Earnings then declines within the next 5-ten years. At this time, the rest of the “tail” of earnings frequently bounces around but remains relatively stable after that.

Hypothetical Earnings for any Song

Illustrative illustration of royalty earnings from the song with time

For any real example that highlights the outcome of streaming growth, let’s check out a catalog of songwriter performance royalty earnings. This catalog includes interests in hip-hop songs together with a partial curiosity about Jay-Z’s Grammy-winning “Empire Condition of Mind,” offered via Royalty Exchange, a web-based marketplace to purchase and sell royalties.

Performance Royalties from the Sample Songwriter Catalog

Illustration of earnings from performance royalties inside a sample songwriter catalog

The catalog contains songs released between 2001 and 2009, by having an earnings-weighted average release year of 2009. Royalty Exchange provided 3 years of catalog earnings data beginning in Q4 2015, hence we’re analyzing years 7-9 after release (i.e., the normal “tail”). As you can tell within the chart, the catalog’s annual income fluctuates around $30,000 each year. Similar to streaming is driving music business growth, this catalog’s streaming earnings increased 33% throughout the 12-month period just before purchase, supporting the catalog’s income stability. Again, each catalog may have different characteristics, however in general, streaming helps to offset declining earnings in other formats for example downloads and physical (e.g., CDs and vinyl) sales. Greater earnings stability provides music IP investors with increased confidence within the asset class.

Recurring Revenue Potential

Music royalties contain recurring earnings. Music royalty earnings is collected by a number of different distributors, with earnings compensated periodically to music IP legal rights holders. Recurring payments are desirable to investors searching for an origin of foreseeable earnings, typically present in asset classes for example property.

Yield in an enormous amount of Low Interest and Dividends

Music royalties frequently have attractive yields. In the present market atmosphere, investors are trying to find possibilities to earn something on their own cash without a bad risk of losing their principal. For instance, by September 2020:

US 10-year treasury yield was .7%.

S&P 500 dividend yield was 1.8%.

Vanguard High-yield Corporate Bond (VWEHX) yield was 3.9%.

Within this context, music royalties can frequently seem like a comparatively appealing asset class. For the same duration of 2020 data, the next examples stand true:

Royalty Exchange reports the average annualized roi for catalogs offered on its platform was more than 12%.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund’s (SONG) dividend yield is 4.3%.

Mills Music Trust’s (MMTRS) dividend yield is 9.6%.

Simultaneously, you should keep in mind that music royalty earnings fluctuates and isn’t fixed. Once we already discussed, music royalty cash flows for any song frequently decline with time. Quite simply, the final 12 months’ royalty earnings doesn’t always mean the following 12 months’ earnings is going to be equal or greater. We’ll cover this dynamic more later whenever we discuss potential pitfalls of purchasing music IP.

Low Correlation to Business Activities

Music spending has in the past proven little correlation to broader business activities. As observed in Condition from the Music Business, music spending and it is connected royalties are supporting well in accordance with other industries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In the past, both recorded music and music publishing data haven’t seen a obvious correlation with broader spending activity. Within the following chart, Goldman Sachs highlights this insufficient correlation by evaluating the recorded music industry’s 15-year decline because of piracy and it is subsequent streaming-driven rebound versus personal consumer expenses (PCE.) Per Goldman’s “Music within the Air” report, recorded music spending has outgrown PCE growth with a factor of two.4x since 2016.

Low Correlation of Record Music Devote to Personal Consumer Expenses (PCE): 1994-2019

Recorded music spend has proven low correlation with personal consumer expenses (PCE).

Music publishing earnings continues to be more resilient through economic cycles. As discussed within my prior article, CISAC collections data demonstrated steady growth throughout the Great Recession.

Public equity markets provide a few types of music IP asset relationship towards the broader market. Mills Music Trust (ticker: MMTRS) includes a -.65 beta indicating MMTRS generally moves within the other direction from the market. Hipgnosis Songs Fund (ticker: SONG-GB) includes a .21 beta suggesting significantly less volatility compared to broader market.

The mixture of stability, recurring earnings, attractive relative yields, and in the past less correlation to broader economic fluctuations makes music royalties a beautiful asset class for investors.

Do you know the Primary Levers Active Investors Use to improve Worth of Music IP?

Additionally towards the above reasons, investors in music IP can really try to increase the need for their investment. Active investors use three primary levers to improve value:

1) Developing performing artists and songwriters who create audio IP. Traditional record labels and music publishers spend significant some time and capital identifying gifted performing artists and songwriters after which helping them create and market audio IP.

2) Finding creative licensing possibilities for existing music IP. Labels, publishers, and royalty funds, which be capable of license their music IP, will “work” their existing catalog of songs by finding new licensing possibilities in film, TV, advertising, cover songs, and game titles.

3) Decreasing cost and payment timing of royalty collections. The flow of funds from finish customers to music IP legal rights proprietors is complex and frequently involves many “middlemen,” for example collection societies and agencies. Payment timings between these collectors and legal rights holders may take 6-12 several weeks, or perhaps longer. Labels, publishers, and royalty funds, which be capable of administer their catalog of songs, will appear to reduce these costs and also the time lag between payments to be able to maximize income open to shareholders.

Do you know the Potential Pitfalls to think about When purchasing Music?

There are lots of potential pitfalls to think about when purchasing music IP assets. We’ll narrow these risks to ones we have seen since many important when obtaining earnings producing music IP. Particularly, we’re not thinking about risks with finding and developing new artists and songwriters.

Valuation Risk

When choosing a music IP asset, there’s always potential you could pay too much. For instance, as previously mentioned, music royalty earnings typically declines quickly within the first many years after release before leveling off in year 10 and beyond. Should you compensated 8x last year’s income for any song catalog that’s typically baby, that implied 12.5% yield will probably be reduced in year 2 when the cash flows consume a typical decay path. However, should you compensated 8x for any catalog that’s fifteen years old with past consistent earnings, that 12.5% yield will probably, everything else equal, become more stable later on.

Music business journalist Cherie Hu printed an essay about Hipgnosis that covers their average acquisition multiple with regards to its catalog age by which she states, “Multiple sources I spoken with were concerned this maturity mix would struggle within the lengthy term to create the returns Hipgnosis is promising for investors, especially because of the 13.9x multiple the fund is having to pay because of its acquisitions.” Catalog age is simply one essential aspect to think about in music IP valuation. Many others include royalty type, genre, earnings diversification by song, and termination legal rights. In conclusion, having to pay an acceptable cost is crucial to be able to generate compelling returns.

Counterparty Risk

You should perform the necessary legal diligence to ensure the chain of title and ensure the vendor owns the things they claim. Some kind of special factors that may add complexity to some transaction include liens around the seller’s asset, bankruptcies, divorces, and estates.

Technology Risk

Napster disrupted music within the 2000s resulting in fifteen years of recorded music business declines. The proliferation of smartphones and streaming has reversed this trend and helped the go back to growth. Technology may have a material effect on music royalties, for much better or worse.

Regulatory Risk

Many music royalty rates, especially rates associated with the musical composition copyright, are controlled. While the majority of the recent royalty rate decisions happen to be positive for music IP legal rights holders, future changes to rates will have a material effect on music IP cash flows.

Inflation Risk

Most kinds of music royalties don’t immediately respond to cost inflation. As discussed, many royalty minute rates are controlled having a rate structure looking for multi-year periods. Within their 2011 research paper, Professors Peter Alhadeff and Caz McChrystal noted that controlled US physical mechanical royalty rates compensated to songwriters and publishers in america happen to be “devaluing continuously against inflation since 1976.” Simultaneously, unregulated royalty rates frequently possess a duration in excess of twelve months. Meanwhile, streaming services, for example Spotify, haven’t centered on growing prices towards the consumer, producing a loss of their average revenue per user and per-stream royalty rate with time. In a nutshell, an abrupt rise in inflation rarely is in reflected, a minimum of soon, in music royalty rates.

The way to invest in Music IP?

You will find three vehicles to purchase music IP assets:

Record labels and publishers

Music royalty funds

Direct purchases of music IP assets

Record Labels and Publishers

Traditional record labels and publishers take time and effort to achieve direct investment contact with since most are areas of bigger conglomerates (e.g., The new sony, Universal, BMG) or are independently owned (e.g., Concord Music). However, classical labels and publishers ‘re going public. Warner Group priced its IPO in June 2020, and Vivendi announced that the IPO of their subsidiary Universal Group is planned by 2023 or earlier.

Royalty Funds

Music royalty money is mainly private, however a couple of are public. Hipgnosis Songs Fund and Mills Music Trust are a couple of types of openly traded firms that own interests in music royalties and distribute nearly all available income after expenses to shareholders. Within the private market, Shamrock Capital lately closed a $400 million fund centered on music along with other content IP. Round Hill Music has pointed out that it’s presently fundraiser because of its third music IP fund. However, these private royalty funds normally have significant minimum investment amounts ($5 million), meaning their target investors are institutions and ultra-high internet worth investors.

Purchasing Music IP Directly

Direct purchases of music IP exist in the non-public market. Online marketplace platforms, for example Royalty Exchange, are earning direct possession of music IP assets readily available for that average investor. Royalty Exchange offers smaller sized deal sizes that vary from $5k to under $a million as well as offers passive interests inside a catalog of songs, so a trader is just collecting the continuing distributions, similar to “mailbox money” that you simply sit and wait to gather. However, there’s some work needed for a trader to correctly value the catalog, instead of counting on (and having to pay) the managers of the record label, writer, or music royalty fund to get this done.

Music IP: Stability, Recurring Earnings, Attractive Yields, and Correlation Benefits

In a nutshell, many find music IP investing attractive given greater stability, recurring earnings, attractive relative yields, and insufficient correlation towards the broader market. Interested investors have multiple methods for gaining contact with this exciting asset class, before doing this, should think carefully regarding their preferences with regards to investment size, liquidity, growth versus. dividend yield, and passive or active possession.

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