Thursday, March 17, 2011

Royalty Rights to Disney Music Go on the Auction Block

Disney composer Frank Churchill
Have you ever wanted to own a piece of Disney's vast music history? Now's your chance. The song rights auction house SongVest will auction off shares of the royalties from the complete music catalog of Frank Churchill beginning on April 30.

Churchill was the in-house composer for the Walt Disney Studios prior to World War II. He wrote the music for dozens of short cartoons in the 1930s and penned Disney's first bona fide hit Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? for 1933's The Three Little Pigs. When Disney animation went feature length, it was Churchill who scored Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, co-writing the classic tunes Whistle While You Work, Heigh-Ho and Someday My Prince Will Come.

Churchill's compositions were nominated for five Academy Awards. With Oliver Wallace he won the award for Best Score for 1941's Dumbo.

The last Disney feature film he worked on was the score for 1942's Bambi, which included the songs Little April Shower and Love is a Song.

Churchill's talent for sweeping scores and bouncy, singable tunes belied his personal demons. Depressed and alcoholic, he committed suicide at his home near Los Angeles in 1942. He was 40.

Disney spotlighted Churchill's work in this bonus feature clip from the recent Diamond Collection home video release of Bambi on Blu-ray and DVD:

Over the years, royalty rights to Churchill's music passed to the family of the husband of Churchill's surviving spouse. Through SongVest they will be auctioned off in 5% and 10% lots. Bids will be accepted from April 30 through May 7, 2011. The minimum bids will be $500 for the 5% shares and $1,000 for the 10% shares. Once obtained, the winning bidders will receive quarterly royalty payments from the licensing of the music library. These are royalty rights only, not ownership of the songs themselves.

According to SongVest's website, this is the first time the royalties from any Disney song have ever become available to the public. It won't make you rich--5% increments have an estimated value of $346 annually--but, for a Disney fan, the bragging rights would be priceless.

For auction details and information on how to register, visit

UPDATE 4/30/11: Songvest has postponed the Frank Churchill auction. According to their website, the auction will resurface at a later date at the new Royalty Exchange website.

No comments:

Post a Comment