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Investing in Individuals: Future Royalties and Future Prospects

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Financial news items periodically remind us that there are a variety of ways to raise funding from any asset or class of investors. David Bowie sold bonds backed by revenue from Bowie's recordings in the late 90s, now crowds fund a wide range of music projects for artists without previous access to such funding. A trend towards funding individuals is also emerging though with a focus on such assets as royalties or projects such as new ventures.

I remember being startled at the news of Bowie Bonds in 1997.

Since then I've realized that anything can be turned into a security but it was a trailblazing maneuver. The outcome was not as good as hoped for investors but music investments seem like an inherently unstable commodity.

Ben Sisario at The New York Times recently wrote about songwriter Preston Glass's use of The Royalty Exchange to auction partial royalty income.

It's an interesting look at a financial service for musicians, one that focuses on an actual asset, however volatile.

A new service called Upstart is designed to connect investors with students and young entrepreneurs in exchange for a limited percentage of their income over a specific period of time.

A number of those seeking funding, some of whom have achieved funding, are focused on music:

Trevor Collins

“Virginia Tech graduate seeking to build his online music [education] platform" Cloud Conservatory.

Richard Washington

“USC Marshall School of Business graduate seeking funds to develop and extend his social mobile application for music."

Kara Drake

“NYU MBA leaving corporate track to launch Signalfy - a platform for discovering & promoting EDM...events."

Omri Mor

“Music producer and recent graduate building a music platform for supporting and discovering new artists and bands."

Melanie Plageman

“Duke University graduate looking to build an online music platform in Kenya."

Shefali Kumar Friesen

“Entrepreneur, producer & singer looking to take patent-pending mobile technology to market, and complete production of solo album."

That's quite an array of projects and emphasizes the entrepreneurial focus of Upstart.

Though some on Upstart are seeking to reduce student debt, it seems to have the most potential as a funding and launch platform for new startups.


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