Artistic freedom has a cost. You can’t take the risks you need as an artist if you’re constantly worrying about where the next check is coming from. Financial security gives you room to create.
Just ask Doug Lazy, the 90s-era house/dance music icon. He scored not one, but three Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart hits back in the day, including three at No. 1.
While he worked with such artists as Marc Anthony, Bo Diddley, Louie Vega, and others over the years, he never followed up with new music of his own. But now Doug’s cutting some new tracks that he thinks has fresh legs.
“I never did a second album, but I’m still doing music and am going to build another catalog,” he told us. “I wanted to invest in a better computer and equipment, and also just have money in the bank. Everything I do is so up and down, so it’s good to have a safety net.”
Rather than seek a royalty advance, or conduct a crowdfunding music campaign, to pay for the time and equipment he needed to create, Doug decided to do something different. He decided to sell a stake in his older catalog to investors instead.
Now this is not just any catalog. His three hits – “Let The Rhythm Pump,” “Let It Roll,” and “H.O.U.S.E.” – are all chart-topping legendary club hits. But “Let The Rhythm Pump” is his legacy. His vocals from the track were sampled in the Fatboy Slim song “Ya Mama.” (He’s the guy rapping “push the tempo” repeatedly at the opening and throughout the song.)
It’s so recognizable that many think the title of the song is “Push The Tempo” rather than “Ya Mama.” What’s more, the song was featured in the movie “Charlie’s Angels” – both in the film and on the soundtrack.
Yet his songwriters share of public performance royalties to his hit songs were bringing in less than $2,000 a year. The first company that offered to buy his catalog tried to lowball him on the price, and tried to make him feel that his catalog had no value.
“The tone was automatically starting off negative,” said Doug. “He said he didn’t think it could get a good price. So I was skeptical at first, because that first guy put a bad taste in my mouth.”
Then he found Royalty Exchange, and learned that private investors are different royalty buyers than music companies. While labels and publishers value for current hits, private investors value a history of consistent earnings. The older the history, the better the song royalties rates.
So he listed his three hit songs on Royalty Exchange for a starting price of $6,000. That’s about three times what the catalog earned in the 12 months prior, and already more than the first offer he received.
Then things got interesting. A bidding war broke out in the closing minutes of the auction. Per Royalty Exchange policy, any bid placed in the last five minutes of an auction automatically resets the auction end by another five minutes. That’s to avoid people (or bots) “sniping” the win.
This rule kicked in multiple times in the closing minutes of the auction. The high bid of $14,000 in the last five minutes quickly shot up to close at $18,500 in a flurry of bidding. That’s over three times the asking price, and more than 13 times what Doug made in the last 12 months.
“It was exciting!” Doug says, who watched the whole auction unfold in real time. “It was great to see people battling over you, rather than dealing with snakes. It was a fun thing.”
Now, Doug is looking firmly at the future. His single “Church Clap” was released last year, and “Sky High” is coming out next month (the dub-only version is out now). Expect more to come.
“It’s not like I have no less talent than when I started,” he said. “In fact I’m better. I have knowledge and maturity. I don’t make the same dumb mistakes I made when I first came out. I want to do music as long as I have my voice.”
And does he have any regrets selling the catalog that made him famous?
“I might do it again,” he said. “Regardless of what people say about not selling (your royalties), there’s always a price that will change your mind. If you’re not going to get a price you’re happy with, don’t do it. You don’t want regrets. But with the right company that respects you, it’s definitely a plus.”