Sesame Street & Classic Kids' Movies

Earn royalties from songs featured in the iconic TV show Sesame Street. Also earn TV and film residuals from screenwriting credits for episodes of Sesame Street and two classic animated films: An American Tail and The Land Before Time.


closing price

Auction Closed

Top Bid: DAVID G

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: $430,000
Bidding Increment: $10,000
Closing Price: $580,000
End Date: Jun 09, 2017, 1:05 PM MDT
Investment Term: At least 64 years
Last 12 Months' Royalties: $108,500
Royalty Type: Musical Composition + TV/Film Residuals
First Payment: June 2017
Fees: $75 ASCAP assignment fee


This is an incredibly rare chance to earn royalties from of one of the most iconic television shows of all time. Sesame Street has reached millions of children all over the world ever since its debut on PBS in 1969. This auction includes songwriting and publishing royalties from some of the show's most recognizable songs.

The songwriter is the late Tony Geiss. He was a long-time staff writer and songwriter for Sesame Street, and was responsible for co-creating some of the show's most popular segments. His estate is the seller of this asset, who will donate the proceeds of the sale to charity, as specified in Tony and his wife Phyllis's will.

The highest earning songs in this catalog are “Elmo's Song” and its spin-off “Elmo's World.” “Elmo's World” is the theme to the massively popular character's recurring segment on Sesame Street episodes. “Elmo's World” appeared in every episode of Sesame Street from 1998 to 2009. In 2015, HBO purchased the rights to Sesame Street. The cable network airs new seasons and past episodes are available to stream online. Prior episodes continue to air on PBS in syndication and are available to stream online as well.

Another top earner for the music catalog is the the theme for “Abby's Flying Fairy School,” another popular Sesame Street segment that ran from 2009 to 2012. Although the two songs no longer regularly appear in new episodes of Sesame Street, they still continue to earn public performance royalties thanks to the show's continued syndication. In fact, in 2016, “Elmo's World” made more than $25,000 and “Abby's Flying Fairy School” made more than $10,000.

But this catalog earns more than just public performance royalties. It also earns mechanical royalties for streams and downloads of the music, as well as synchronization royalties each time the songs are used in a new Sesame Street spin-off, such as a home video release or movie. And the synchronization royalties can be significant. In 2016, sync royalties totaled $14,437. Also, this catalog earns compulsory royalties when new online streaming services license the songs for use on their platform.

In addition to music royalties, this auction also includes screenwriting residuals for Sesame Street and two classic animated films. Film and TV residuals are a bit different from music royalties, but in general they are paid for the “reuse” of movies and TV shows. A “reuse” can be a syndicated airing on TV, a DVD release, or a stream on the internet. Screenwriting residuals are handled by the Writer's Guild of America. You can learn more about them here.

Tony Geiss's Sesame Street screenwriting credits begin in 1978 and run through 2007. His other major credits are from two Steven Spielberg-produced animated classics: An American Tail (1986) and The Land Before Time (1988). Those credits still earn residuals and profit participation shares today, 30 years after the films' release. (Profit participation earnings are a percentage cut of the film's profits from theater, TV, and video releases.) For example, in 2016, profit participation earnings from The Land Before Time were $6,384.

In 2016, the total income for all sources including music public performance, mechanical, sync, and compulsory royalties, plus TV and film residuals and profit participation earnings, earned a total of $108,500.

use of proceeds

One great thing about this asset is that the proceeds of the sale will go directly to ten different charities, per Anthony and Phyllis Geiss's will. Those charities are:

Doctors Without Borders
Citi Harvest
American Cancer Society
National Foundation for Cancer Research
Wildlife Conservation Society
Central Park Conservancy
Nature Conservancy
Audubon Society
National Parks Conservation Association

Key Drivers

  1. Longevity. Some royalties in this catalog have been paying for more than 30 years. “Elmo's World” has been earning for nearly 20. This asset is driven by the continued worldwide popularity of Sesame Street, which is currently in its 47th season. It's an American institution that has also been broadcast in 120 countries. And Elmo, Sesame Street's phenom character, continues to resonate with audiences. The original “Elmo's World” has not regularly been in episodes since 2009, but it still earns significant performance and sync royalties. Those come from syndicated airings of Sesame Street, as well as spin-off videos and DVDs like 2016's “Monster Magic.” And because of the recent HBO deal, viewers can stream prior Sesame Street episodes on a new platform for the series. Recent trends indicate that the catalog has a chance to continue earning for years to come.
  2. Variety of Royalty Streams. This auction includes both songwriting and publishing shares in some of the most popular songs from Sesame Street. Earnings come from public performances, online streams, downloads, and synchronization. This auction also includes screenwriting residuals and profit participation earnings for dozens of Sesame Street episodes and two animated films. That means that this auction includes built-in diversity that is not often found in royalty assets.

What is being sold?

(1) 100% of the seller’s interest in the songwriter’s and publisher's shares of public performance, mechanical, synchronization, and compulsory royalties for the musical compositions in the track list in the “Financials” tab; (2) 100% of the seller’s interest in the residual and profit participation payments attributable to Tony Geiss’s film and television screenwriter credits.

How does this asset make money?

This asset will earn public performance royalties every time the music is streamed on the internet or when one of the shows that uses the music airs on TV. It will earn mechanical royalties when the music is streamed or sold online. It will earn sync royalties any time the music is licensed for use in a video production. The asset will also earn residual income each time a TV show or movie in the screenwriting credits re-airs on TV or online. Finally, it will earn profit participation income based on the yearly video and streaming earnings for The Land Before Time.

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, etc. Internet Streaming, Satellite Radio, Digital Downloads, CD Sales, TV/Film/Commercial Placements & Performances, Samples, etc.
Distributors: ASCAP, Sesame Workshop

*Plus, residuals and profit participation earnings for screenwriting credits.

About the Royalty Distributors

ASCAP is the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. It is a membership association of more than 575,000 composers, songwriters, lyricists and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP also represents music creators worldwide through agreements with affiliated international societies.

Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit media and educational organization behind Sesame Street, the pioneering television show that has been reaching and teaching children since 1969. Today, Sesame Workshop is an innovative force for change in more than 150 countries, with a mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder.

Payments also come from the Writers Guild of America, Entertainment Partners, NBC Universal, Music Reports, and Google/Rightsflow.


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