Andrian Adams is either selling the future, a great cocktail party story--or maybe a bit of both.
The London-based record producer/manager has taken to eBay to auction off his share of the Britney Spears single "Everytime." By his estimation, it is the first time someone has used the site to sell a copyright interest in a certified hit by an A-list artist.
"I thought this would be a groundbreaking thing to do," Adams said Tuesday.
But more than that, Adams thinks this will make him money.
"Everytime," cowritten by Spears and one of her backup singers, Annette Stamatelatos, appeared on the pop star's 2003 album, In the Zone. During its first two years of recorded life, the single went gold and personally netted Adams $60,000, he claimed, citing a 7 percent ownership in the song. He said he got his cut through Stamatelatos--he was her manager at the time of the song's creation.
Adams said he owns "bits and pieces" of other songs, but nothing as high-profile as "Everytime." He's parting with the hit on eBay, he said, because (a) Spears turned down the chance to buy him out the old-fashioned way; (b) he doesn't want to wait on quarterly royalty checks; and (c) he wants "a chunk of money" ASAP to pursue the proverbial other business opportunities.
In selling off his stake, Adams isn't guaranteeing or even predicting how much "Everytime" will bring its future part-owner--although his eBay copy does strongly suggest the amount could be substantial. ("Can you imagine owning a song...that will likely continue to earn money the rest of your life and an inheritance for your heirs?," the listing asks.)
Adams opened bidding last week at about $26,000, privately hoping it would go as high as $125,000. By late Tuesday, the song--or, rather Adams' cut of it--was going for nearly $31,000. With less than 24 hours to go until the auction's scheduled Wednesday close, Adams was far shy of his dream six-figure payday.
"I'm taking a chance. I just have a hunch it's going to for twice that," Adams said. "If I'm wrong..."
According to one music industry expert, Adams isn't the only one taking a chance.
Steve Gordon is an entertainment attorney and author of The Future of the Music Business: How To Succeed with the New Technologies. When asked if he thought Adams' eBay auction was indeed the future of the music business, Gordon's response was a quick, "Oh, I hope not."
Gordon's initial worry was that someone might overbid on the song share, thinking it will reap far more than it can or does, and end up getting hurt, thus giving the music industry a black eye. "Or a bigger black eye than we already have," he noted.
But after mulling the Adams offer, Gordon decided that it was unlikely to snare the "drunk housewife who's up late at night bidding."
"Nobody who's completely unsophisticated is going to put up that kind of money," Gordon said of the five-figure offers Adams was fielding.
Instead, what Gordon saw in the "Everytime" auction was a potential new negotiating tool for songwriters and copyright holders. Typically, writers sign deals with publishing companies and earn advances based on what the publishing company thinks the song will earn. But if writers establish that they can get their money up front from the open market, he said, then they might be able to score more lucrative deals from the publishing companies.
As for Adams, he didn't sound convinced his sale was the shape of things to come. "It's only going to work for people who have clean copyright interests," he said. "[And] I don't think it's going to work on eBay unless it's a hit record with a hit artist."
Adams hasn't spoken to Stamatelatos about the "Everytime" auction, nor has he spoken to Spears--although he has heard from that latter's lawyer. "They weren't happy about it," he reported.
Spears' discontent, Adams guessed, stemmed more from the eBay description than the sale itself. He didn't think Spears appreciated him dishing online about the genesis for "Everytime"--it's partly about Spears' breakup with Justin Timberlake, he claimed.
That said, Adams said he thinks it's "very likely" that Spears was one of the bidders for his "Everytime" share. If she's not, or if she doesn't win the auction, then come Wednesday, Spears will have a new business partner, one who will split revenue with her and Stamatelatos, and one who will be eligible to buy--yes, buy--any gold or platinum records that the song earns. (Adams said the industry sales awards run about $75-$150 a pop.)
Glamour is not necessarily part of the deal.
"I wouldn't expect that you're going to meet Britney because you buy this song," Adams said. "But you never know."