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Know Your Catalog’s Worth: Test-Driving the ‘Zillow for Royalties’

One neat function of the Know Your Worth app: a “Latte Index,” measuring how many spins on various streaming sources it would take to afford a Starbucks beverage — size not specified.

A promising start and a worthwhile idea, the new Know Your Worth app is a tool for rights holders (songwriters, music publishers and the like) to get a sense of their catalog’s potential market value.

Launched by music royalties broker Royalty Exchange, Know Your Worth is a free algorithm for rights holders, who can enter their ASCAP or BMI login (it doesn’t yet work for performing rights organizations SESAC or GMR) and analyze their various performing-rights royalty streams and trends to come up with a price they can show to potential sellers.

There’s a reason you might want to know this: Music publishing valuations are higher than they’ve been in some time. Prices for top catalogs have been hitting “multiples” — the industry term for how many years’ worth of Net Publisher’s Share a catalog sells for — of 10- to 15-times NPS. Even newer, less proven catalogs are getting into the 5- to 10-multiple range. No wonder publishing assets are selling.

As one might suspect, the folks at Royalty Exchange aren’t providing projections out of the goodness of their hearts; they have an interest in gathering your information. The company serves as a broker between the owners of music copyrights and those who’d like to purchase them, and this is a great way for them to identify potential new businesses. To wit: “Sell your catalog” buttons pop up at various points throughout the process.

The algorithm does have some cool features, including a personalized pie chart of your various PRO-related royalty sources like film, television, and satellite radio; a graph illustrating the ups and downs of your past several PRO statements; and a list of your top-earning songs. It accounts for abrupt occurrences like a spike in royalties due to a prominent synch, as well as attrition of a song’s income over a period of time (also known as “decay”). There’s also a simultaneously cute and depressing “Latte Index,” measuring how many spins one needs from their various streaming sources to buy a Starbucks beverage (Tall, Grande or Venti not specified).

For all its nifty functionality, though, things aren’t quite in place yet to give rights holders a complete appraisal of their catalog’s worth. With SESAC now a major player in the PRO space, its absence from this app is glaring. Know Your Worth will indeed analyze your performing rights income if you’re with ASCAP or BMI, but it doesn’t factor in any of the many additional income sources that comprise the whole of a Net Publisher’s Share: namely, fees from synch licenses, mechanicals sold from CDs and vinyl and sales of downloads.

For instance, an artist who may have significant album sales but not much in the way of performing rights money won’t get a complete picture of their yearly revenue via this method. And for artists with an interest in getting investors on the recording side, this won’t help at all.

The app is still in beta, and the company does promise more revenue sources will be added in the future. And, as with most new apps, we caught a bug or two in the system as well:  A trial run produced only results from 2009 onward for a writer who’s been affiliated much longer.

Still, once Royalty Exchange locks down a wider range of partners, Know Your Worth will be a nice tool for rights owners to get a big-picture assessment of their catalogs.

Mara Schwartz Kuge is the president and founder of Los Angeles-based Superior Music Publishing

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