TORONTO (Reuters) - A Canadian fiddler who is no stranger to controversy has put half his future music earnings up for sale on eBay, the auction website.
Ashley MacIsaac, who says he declared personal bankruptcy in 2000, is seeking a minimum bid of C$1.5 million from an investor who would in turn get half of what the Cape Breton musician earns during the rest of his career.
MacIsaac achieved international prominence and raised a few eyebrows in 1997 when he revealed more than his Celtic dance moves while taping "Late Night With Conan O'Brien." According to media reports, he exposed his private parts on the television show while kicking up his kilt during his performance.
"I'm 33, I have at least a good 40 years of earning power ahead of me and I think it's (C$1.5 million) a reasonable starting point," said MacIsaac during a phone interview.
The eBay auction is a variation on a trend started by British rocker David Bowie in the late 1990s. Bowie teamed up with financier David Pullman to issue bonds using future royalties from his numerous hits as guarantee. The deal enabled Bowie to collect tens of millions of dollars immediately instead of waiting for the royalty checks to dribble in over the years.
Last year, pop singer Madonna signed a similar deal with concert promoter Live Nation Inc., reportedly worth more than $100 million.
"I'm not David Bowie, I'm not Madonna, I'm not Eminem, I'm Ashley MacIsaac, so to set a price at that (C$1.5 million), I thought, was fair market value," he said.
In return, the successful bidder will receive 50 percent of the profits from MacIsaac's album sales, concerts, publishing, movies, DVDs and entertainment-related incomes until the end of his career.
His agent at Courage Artists Inc in Toronto says one bidder has expressed interest, and lawyers are looking into the matter.
Compared with David Bowie, who's sold millions of albums over the past four decades, MacIsaac's earnings potential seems modest.
According to MacIsaac, worldwide sales for his album "Hello, How Are You Today?," released in 1995, are approaching half a million copies. He says it was his most commercially successful album.
MacIsaac released his first 10 albums through labels backed by Universal Music Group, a unit of French media giant Vivendi.
The fiddler says he has regained total creative control over his work, and expects his next album, due next year, to be a commercial success.
Reporting by Lionel Perron; Editing by Frank McGurty