Songwriter Uses Royalties To Open New Business, But Retains All His Rights

Songwriter wanted to keep the rights to a hit he wrote in high school, but still raise money. Here's how he did it.
July 24, 2017

Joey Stratton knows what it’s like to have a hit.

In high school, he wrote lots of hooks and riffs as part of his development as a budding producer. But one in particular changed his life.

See, Joey went to high school with a group of guys who formed a band called Perfect Confusion. They later changed it to Cage The Elephant. You may have heard of them. The group’s last album Tell Me I’m Pretty won a Grammy for Best Rock Album.

But back in high school, founding brothers Matt and Brad Shultz were just trying to get started as a band. Brad sought out Joey, who he learned had taken some sound recording classes. And before you know it, Joey and the band were in a studio in nearby Nashville laying down tracks.

One of them was the song “In One Ear” using the hook Joey wrote.

The song was the second single from the band’s 2009 self-titled debut album, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in 2010.

Soon after, Joey became the band’s manager. He was booking them gigs, serving as their road manager, and helped get them signed w/ their first label: Relentless Records. Cage The Elephant eventually moved on to other management and labels, and Joey moved on to the radio business. But he would always have that hook.

So when he decided to invest in a Virtual Reality videogame arcade, Joey turned to his first, only hit to fund the project. After all these years, Joey still owned both his publishing and songwriting share of the song.

He knew that selling royalties was a good way to raise money. But he didn’t want to give up his entire stake in his only song. So when he learned that he could sell just his songwriting share on Royalty Exchange and still keep his publishing, he jumped at the chance.

“That was very important, because I could sell a little bit to get a chunk for my needs, but then I don’t feel bad that I gave it all away,” he said. “I created it. I couldn’t give it 100% away.”

And it’s not just nostalgia. Joey knows how the music business works, and knows there’s always the chance that a song like that might get a sync license someday. So retaining a portion of his interest allows him to benefit if and when that happens.

“Maybe Budweiser or someone might want to use it someday, and that can be a good amount of money,” he said.

Joey listed his songwriter’s share in the song on Royalty Exchange for $4,500, 3.8 times what it made the prior year. But he figured bidders would drive that price up, given that this was a 9-year-old-song from a band that had just won a Grammy. He was betting on getting a multiple of around eight.

“I was watching the auction, which was exciting, and fell asleep when the price got up to around $8,000. Then I woke up and saw it was at $16,000 and was like ‘Oh My God!’”

The final price was $16,950, a more than respectable 14x multiple, and more than Joey had hoped for.

“I was aware that if I were to sell it to someone else, I was told seven or 10 would be the multiple, if I was lucky. Going with Royalty Exchange brought it to 14. So I would say this was really great!”

Ultimately, Joey made nearly $17,000 to invest in his new business, AND kept control of his publishing, which will continue to generate annual revenue and offers him the chance to benefit from any future upside it receives.

Do you want to raise money, but still keep a stake in your catalog?



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