License to Bill? Licensing’s Lowlights

Just back from the Licensing Show in New York; a much more subdued event this year (read:  lower attendance); however, I found that refreshing.  Everyone there was there for a reason and it seemed to me that more business (rather than busy-ness) was being done in this lower-hype environment.  Pretention was cast aside and velvet ropes were pleasantly slackened.


Maybe not so refreshing were the many tales of woe from licensors who seem to be having a hard time collecting royalties from their licensees.  According to them, some licensees believe that brand behemoths are over-promising and under-delivering when it comes to retail relationships and marketing support.  But what line in that phone book of a one-sided contract that they signed made them think that they could withhold royalty payments and guarantees when the sales didn’t just roll in in spite of it all?


News from the other side:  It seems as though many established licensEES; especially those jaded, not-my-first-time-at-the-rodeo brand skeptics, are incensed at the up-front guarantees that brands think they can demand as a price of entry.  These folks are just saying “no” in droves to fair to middling brands that want six figures as earnest money and don’t care so much about what happens after that (POS?  What’s that?!).


Happiest campers at the confab?  A new breed of collection agencies that do everything but break kneecaps (I’m giving them the benefit of self-imposed limits) to deliver payments to the big studios and brand houses from their miscreant manufacturers.


Enter with caution!  Brand brokering is not for the faint of heart.


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