Eminem stock follows in footsteps of 'Bowie Bonds' as producers aim to cash in

Key Points
  • Royalty Flow is selling a little more than 3.3 million shares to the public for $15 each, with a minimum investment of $2,250, using the proceeds to buy the Eminem catalog.
  • Twenty years ago, David Bowie turned heads on Wall Street by bundling hundreds of his songs into a $55 million "Bowie bond."
  • The Royalty Flow deal is just the latest example of crowdfunded IPOs under recent rules allowing ordinary investors to take stakes in small companies.
The music industry is booming right now: Royalty Exchange CEO on investing in music

Move over David Bowie. The brothers who brought the world Eminem are trying to cash in by selling up to $50 million shares in a startup that makes money off the hip-hop artist's music collection, including "Lose Yourself" and "The Real Slim Shady."

The startup, Royalty Flow, filed an offering at the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, outlining plans for a "mini-IPO."

Royalty Flow is selling a little more than 3.3 million shares to the public for $15 each, with a minimum investment of $2,250. It also aims to list on the Nasdaq. It will use the proceeds from the IPO to buy as much as 25 percent of Eminem music royalty rights from Jeff and Mark Bass, the Detroit-area producers who took on Eminem in his early days. Eventually the company plans to acquire more royalty rights.

The IPO could net the Bass brothers as much as $18.7 million.

"The music industry is booming," said Matt Smith, the CEO of Royalty Exchange, the company that is rolling out Royalty Flow, in an interview on CNBC's "Closing Bell." "Unfortunately for investors there aren't very many ways they can participate directly in this. So that's why we're doing this. To give people direct exposure."

It would be just the latest example of a crowdfunded IPO under five-year-old rules allowing small companies to raise capital from regular investors. Prior to these rules, startups and young companies looking for money had to shop themselves around to private funds or affluent individuals who met certain income and net worth criteria.

Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment listed on Nasdaq last month after its own $30 million crowdfunded IPO, which it billed as the largest yet.

David Bowie turned heads on Wall Street 20 years ago when he packaged up rights to some 300 of his recordings and sold them in a $55 million bond to Prudential Insurance Company of America. The "Bowie bond" paid a 7.9 percent annual rate over 10 years backed by the income from his royalties and record sales.

It was the first in what was to become one of the stranger corners of finance, where bankers managed to create bonds and other securities for a host of cash-generating businesses, including billboard rentals, film libraries and restaurant franchises, selling them to specialty hedge funds and other professional investors.

The Royalty Flow IPO could be the first music royalty-backed security open directly to ordinary people on an exchange. But the music streaming company Spotify is exploring a direct listing, which could come later this year or early next year.

Royalty Flow is calling itself an emerging growth company. Its plan to focus on music rights that generate 8 percent to 16 percent annual returns and eventually branch out to movie, television and trademark rights. It will pay investors dividends based on those returns.

Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, sold over 172 million records worldwide. The royalties earned by the portion of his catalog being acquired grew 43 percent from 2015 to 2016, according to the offering document. Streaming was 46 percent of royalties earned last year.

Correction: An earlier version gave the wrong first name for Royalty Exchange CEO Matt Smith.