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Royalty Profile for Art-based Licensed Merchandise


Sector value, U.S. & Canada, 2017: $5.86 billion

  • Art & Artists: $4.36 billion
  • Museums: $1.50 billion

Proportion of retail sales of licensed merchandise, U.S. & Canada, 2017: 5.4%

  • Art & Artists: 4.0%
  • Museums: 1.4%

Average royalty, U.S. & Canada, 2018: 6.13%

  • Art & Artists: 6.11%
  • Museums: 6.11%

Royalty range, U.S. & Canada, 2018: 4%–15%

  • Art & Artists: 4%–12%
  • Museums: 4%–15%

Average royalty, U.S. & Canada, (10 years) 2009–2018: 6.23%

  • Art & Artists: 6.33%
  • Museums: 6.17%


The average royalty for art properties has remained relatively stable at 6–7% over the past decade. Royalty rates within product categories can vary, depending on whether the product is targeted for mass (lower rate) or specialty distribution. Art & artists accounts for the bulk of this sector, and commands a slightly higher rate than museums, although the difference is closing.

A-list contemporary artists and photographers can command royalties a couple of points higher than others. Advances are tough to come by for newer artists, and there is competition from artists willing to sell rather than license their work, although the latter numbers are decreasing.

For some fine artists, the royalty is less significant than the exposure, publicity, and other factors that can affect the value of their works overall. For surface designers, royalties form the bulk of their income, and the royalty rate is important.

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