Warner Bros. “Merrie Melodies” Theme + More

Earn royalties from theme music to Warner Bros.’s classic cartoon “Merrie Melodies,” as well as songs performed by Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Nat King Cole, Connie Francis, Louis Armstrong, among many others.


closing price

Auction Closed

Top Bid: Cliff B

The Theoretical IRR is a formulaic guideline based on an extrapolation of the normalized, historical earnings trend of the catalog. The Theoretical IRR is not a guarantee of future performance. It should be used for comparison purposes only. Each catalog has its own risk factors and the Theoretical IRR is not based upon a specific analysis of this catalog. Click here to view the basis for all Theoretical IRR calculations.

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: $55,000
Bidding Increment: $1,000
Closing Price: $81,000
End Date: Sep 13, 2018, 1:07 PM MDT
Last 12 Months' Royalties:


Investment Term:

7+ Years (See Note Below)


ASCAP, Sony/ATV, Warner/Chappell Music, Shapiro Bernstein

Rights Included:

Public Performance, Mechanical, Sync

Interests Included:

Songwriter (World)

Track List:

ASCAP, Shapiro Bernstein, Sony/ATV, Warner/Chappell

First Distribution: October 9, 2018
Distribution Frequency:

Quarterly: ASCAP, Warner/Chappell & Bi-Annual: Shapiro Bernstein, Sony/ATV

Relist-Eligible? Yes
Buyer Fees:


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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, Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Sony/ATV, Warner/Chappell Music


Here is a rare opportunity to collect royalties from a well-established catalog of music, dating back to the 1930s.

Murray Mencher was an American songwriter and composer, best known for his co-writing on the Merrie Melodies theme song for Warner Bros.’ classic cartoon. Merrie Melodies produced from 1931 to 1969, during the golden age of American animation. The theme song "Merrily We Roll Along" plays at the onset of every Merrie Melodies episode — in fact, this song is so recognizable, it’s almost guaranteed you’ve heard it! Take a listen on the “Media” tab.

What’s interesting is that Merrie Melodies has long since been canceled, but “Merrily We Roll Along” still generates royalties — not only for airings of the series, but for the theme music’s use in other TV programs and films. The song is placed within 1996’s Space Jam, the Animaniacs TV series, the feature film Blazing Saddles, and many others.

Another notable work included is “I Want A Little Girl,” written by Murray Mencher in 1930. The song has been recorded by countless legendary vocalists/musicians, including Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, B.B. King and jazz legend Count Basie (who recorded the song 17 times!).

This is a fantastic example of the value in owning a piece of the musical composition interest. The song was written in 1930 and every time an artist records it, the original songwriter (and now the estate) earns royalties for its use. For example, “I Want A Little Girl” was released on Eric Clapton’s 2001 album Reptile. Even though Murray Mencher passed in 1991, his estate is entitled to royalties from the new releases of the song.

The final highlight of this collection is the title “Don’t Break The Heart That Loves You.” Written in 1961 under Murray Mencher’s pseudonym Ted Murray, the song became a success for two artists in two different genres: pop’s Connie Francis in 1962, and Margo Smith as a country release in 1978. Francis’ version of “Don’t Break The Heart That Loves You” hit No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100, and Smith’s release hit No. 1 on Billboard Hot Country Singles.

Key Drivers

Evergreen Catalog. This catalog features works dating back to the 1930s and is highlighted by some of the biggest names in music: Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, and Eric Clapton, to name a few. Opportunities to collect royalties from evergreen artists and royalty stream don’t come around often. It’s important to take into consideration the copyright expiration dates of these works, as some compositions will enter the public domain and no longer be eligible to earn royalties — see “Note About Copyright Length” below for more details.

Income Mix. The winner of this auction can receive income from three different royalty streams:

  • Mechanical: Royalties paid to songwriters and artists when music is sold (think CD or vinyl) but also when music is streamed (streaming mechanicals) “on-demand” (like Spotify).

  • Performance: Royalties paid to songwriters when music is performed publicly. Music played over the radio, in a restaurant or bar, or over a service like Spotify or Pandora is considered a public performance.

    • This catalog earns primarily from public performance royalties — with 76% of last year’s income coming from this source.

  • Synchronization: Royalties paid to songwriters and publishers for the licensing of a song in music for a movie, TV show, or commercial.

    • You’ll notice spikes in the recent Sony/ATV and Warner/Chappell distributions. This is due to upfront sync fees for “Don’t Break The Heart That Loves You” and “Merrily We Roll Along,” respectively. As the winning bidder, you’ll be entitled to any upfront sync fees for the works in the publishing catalogs.


The oldest composition in the catalog, “I Want A Little Girl,” was created in 1930. According to U.S. copyright law at the time, the copyright owner was required to renew the copyright in 1957. The copyright was renewed, and through amendments to the copyright law, the renewal was good for 68 years. That means that the copyright for “I Want A Little Girl” will be valid through 2025. Although the investment term is listed at least seven years due to “I Want A Little Girl,” the copyrights for the other compositions are valid longer.

The seven highest-earning songs are all subject to the 95-year length, and their copyrights will expire as follows:

“Baby’s First Christmas”: Expires 2056
“Christmas Day”: Expires 2047
“Don't Break The Heart That Loves You”: Expires 2056
“Follow The Boys”: Expires 2057
“I Want A Little Girl”: Expires 2025
“Merrily We Roll Along”: Expires 2030
“You Can’t Pull Wool Over My Eyes”: Expires 2031

After the copyrights expire, the compositions will enter the public domain and will no longer be eligible to earn royalties.

Please note the ASCAP royalties are subject to ASCAP’s Average Performance Plan (APP). The works will continue to collect royalties for 10 years after the copyright expiration date from ASCAP only. Please see the “FAQ” tab for more information on ASCAP’s APP plan and how it calculates earnings.

About the Royalty Distributor

American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is one of four United States performing rights organizations, along with BMI, SESAC & Global Music Rights. It collects license fees from music users on behalf of songwriters, composers, and music publishers and distributes them as royalties to those members whose works have been performed. For more information on ASCAP’s distribution schedule, click here.

Shapiro, Bernstein & Co., Inc. is an American publishing company.  Established in 1900 in New York's famed Tin Pan Alley, Shapiro, Bernstein & Co. originally published sheet music. Today, Shapiro, Bernstein & Co. specializes in managing their collection of classic songs.

Sony/ATV Music Publishing is an American music publishing company owned by Sony through Sony Entertainment. It is the world’s largest music publishing company with a network of 37 offices in 29 cities and 22 countries across the globe. Since 2012 Sony/ATV has administered EMI Music Publishing, further extending the reach of the songs, songwriters, and artists it represents. Sony/ATV’s distribution schedule is biannual.

Warner/Chappell Music, the global music publishing company of Warner Music Group, is home to a wide array of legendary songwriters and a rich catalog of contemporary hits and influential standards. With offices in more than 40 countries, Warner/Chappell provides deep expertise across a range of creative services and the most innovative opportunities for songwriters and copyright holders.

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