Iconic Etta James Song with Commercial Appeal

Earn royalties from the classic 1962 song “Something's Got a Hold on Me” by Etta James. Plus, earn the same royalties for recent hit songs that sampled the original.


closing price

Auction Closed

Top Bid: David L

Historic royalty income is no indication of future royalty income. Future royalty income is dependent upon future sales and licensing revenue generated by the sound recordings or compositions associated with this listing.

Starting Price: $36,000
Bidding Increment: $2,000
Closing Price: $144,000
End Date: Oct 10, 2017, 3:08 PM MDT
Investment Term: 40+ Years
Last 12 Months' Royalties: $20,833
Royalty Type: Mechanical, Performance, Sync
First Payment: March 2018
Buyer Fees: $225/Year - Guild Fee*

*The Songwriter's Guild of America charges a $225 yearly fee. It will be deducted from the owner's first royalty payment in each calendar year.


This asset is a fantastic example of the value in owning a piece of the musical composition copyright. Leroy Kirkland was a co-writer on the song “Something's Got a Hold on Me,” released by Etta James in 1962. If you don't know the song by title, you surely know it by James' vocal hook in the opening of the song (click on the “Media” tab for a listen). The song reached No. 4 on Billboard's Hot R&B Sides chart, and No. 37 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

In the years after its release, it was covered by The Kingsmen (1964), Ike & Tina Turner (1973), Natalie Cole (1978), Christina Aguilera (2010), and others. On its own right, it is a classic, evergreen song. Since 1962, the musical composition owners (songwriters and publishers) have earned royalties not only from the original version but all of the cover versions as well. However, an interesting thing happened in 2011 -- James' iconic hook was sampled in two massively popular Top 40 tracks. First, by Avicii in the song “Levels,” and then by Flo Rida in “Good Feeling.” Both reached No. 1 in charts all over the world.

But the most interesting thing is this: because of the use of the sample, the original composition's songwriters were given songwriting credits on these new songs. So, even though Leroy Kirkland passed in 1988, his estate is entitled to royalties from these 2011 songs as well. The seller of this auction owns 1/3 of Leroy Kirkland's share, for the life of the copyright for each song. See below for more information about copyright lengths.

This auction is for 100% of the seller's share of mechanical, sync, performance, and print royalties attributable to the musical compositions listed in the “Financials” tab. Together, “Something's Got a Hold on Me,” “Levels,” and “Good Feeling” make up 95% of the earnings for this catalog. Since the 2nd half of 2013, the catalog has earned $99,692. It has earned $20,833 in the last 12 months.

In the financials tab, you'll see that 73% of the income since 2H 2013 has come from sync. Sync royalties are generally one-time, up-front fees that media users pay for the rights to include a musical work in an audiovisual project. And clearly, “Something's Got a Hold on Me” and its sampling songs have been incredibly popular with TV, film, and commercial producers. In fact, they were recently used in major ad campaigns by Royal Caribbean cruises and the phone manufacturer LG, among others. You can see both of these commercials in the “Media” tab.

Bid now to own this evergreen royalty stream, which has earned since 1962!

Key Drivers

  1. Evergreen Song. “Something's Got a Hold on Me” has earned royalties since its release in 1962. It's a classic song whose staying power is proven. It's been covered several times by high profile artists, sung live on TV shows like The Voice and American Idol, and used in several movies and commercials. Etta James' opening hook is immediately recognizable — it's been sampled in at least 26 tracks. Its history indicates a potentially lucrative future for years to come.
  2. Extended Life through Samples. Because of songwriting credits on sampling tracks “Levels” and “Good Feeling,” this catalog has achieved a new life. These songs have been big earners and effectively extend the earning potential of the catalog by many more years. They show the value in the musical composition copyright, where a songwriter's estate can benefit from sample tracks released years after the songwriter's death.
  3. Synchronization. Recent earnings are driven by up-front sync royalties. They are by definition irregular, but the popularity of “Something's Got a Hold on Me” has proven longevity. And sync royalty payments can be big. On three separate occasions since 2H 2013, the seller's 1/3 share of sync royalties has earned more than $10,000 in a single sync payment.

a note about copyright length

The original composition, “Something's Got a Hold on Me,” was created in 1962. According to U.S. copyright law at the time, the copyright owner was required to renew the copyright in 1990. The copyright was renewed, and through amendments to the copyright law, the renewal was good for 67 years. That means that the copyright for “Something's Got a Hold on Me” will be valid through 2057. Copyrights for the other two major tracks, “Levels” and “Good Feeling” are valid for the life of the last surviving author, plus 70 years. Although the investment term is listed as 40+ years due to “Something's Got a Hold on Me,” the copyrights for the other two major songs will be valid for much longer.

What is being sold?

This auction is for 100% of the seller's share of mechanical, sync, performance, and print royalties attributable to the musical compositions listed in the “Financials” tab. The seller's share is a 1/3 interest in the Leroy Kirkland songwriter account with the Songwriter's Guild of America. The catalog includes various compositions administered by several different publishers. The vast majority of the royalties flow to the Guild from EMI-Sony/ATV.

How does this asset make money?

Earnings from this catalog come from up-front sync fees and mechanical royalties for sales and streams of the compositions and their covers. A small percentage of the earnings come from public performance and print licensing. The Songwriter's Guild of America makes payments biannually in March and September and the first distribution you will receive is March 2018.

What rights are included?

  Musical Composition Sound Recording
Copyrights included? No
Public Performance
Sources: Internet Streaming, AM/FM & Satellite Radio, Digital Downloads, CD Sales, TV/Film/Commercial Placements & Performances, Print Licensing etc. Internet Streaming, Satellite Radio, Digital Downloads, CD Sales, TV/Film/Commercial Placements & Performances, Samples, etc.
Distributors: Songwriter's Guild of America

About the Royalty Distributor

Since 1931, the Songwriter's Guild of America has sought to protect songwriters, and the music they write, by ensuring them a living wage and an environment conducive to improving their craft. The Songwriters Guild of America carries out its mission through legislative advocacy, services to professional and developing songwriters and via its non-profit, charitable Foundation.


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