Should you invest in an Eminem IPO? Maybe, as music might finally be profitable again

“Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity / to seize everything you ever wanted…”
“Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity / to seize everything you ever wanted…”
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Steely Dan’s 69-year-old Donald Fagan has to go back on tour. Luis Fonzi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” may have lost out on millions. Liam Gallagher can’t afford people to make his “fucking tea.”

The truth is that digital music streaming, as beloved as it is amongst listeners for its accessibility and cheapness, just doesn’t make all that much money for artists. But there is good news yet. Streaming is so popular these days that it’s actually growing the once-dying music business—giving the industry a lift for the first time in decades, and offering a glimmer of hope to the producers and musicians who had been watching profits crash down year after year.

Off the heels of that sudden renewal of optimism, a new music startup, called Royalty Flow, plans to sell shares of rapper Eminem’s royalties—banking on future industry growth as well as the idea that fans will be eager to “own” part of an artist’s work. Jeff and Mark Bass, the two producers who first signed the rapper, are behind the effort, pledging to sell up to 25% of their holdings in his song catalog to the new company. Royalty Flow has just filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to raise between $11 million and $50 million via a crowdsourced fundraising and list on the Nasdaq if successful.

The income stream will include royalties from studio albums that Eminem released between 1993 and 2013, such as The Eminem Show and The Marshall Mathers LP. (Note that this venture has nothing to do with the real Slim Shady; Eminem “was not consulted,” his record label Interscope stated, and is not selling his own publishing.)

Some in the music industry are skeptical of the project, drawing parallels to the “Bowie bonds” that were issued in the 1990s and never saw their promised success—but the odd new era of streaming is volatile and unpredictable enough that things may be different, this time around. According to Nielsen Music, Eminem’s catalog has sold 172 million albums worldwide, 47.4 million of them in the US, to date.

A new report from the Recording Industry of America this month shows that streaming—which is up 48% so far this year—is now 62% of the US music business.