Search results for black box

Introducing, The American Society for Collective Rights Licensing (ASCRL) — The Organization That Wants To Help Visual Artists Collect Their Unclaimed ‘Black Box” Royalties

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ASCRL homepage. Featured photo © Neil Zlozower

As many of you know, I’ve researched and have written extensively about unclaimed music royalties held in escrow or so-called “black boxes,” which are monies owed to music creators and rights-holders (and founded RoyaltyClaim to address this issue). Today, I want to draw your attention to a similar matter in the world of visual art (e.g. photography, illustration, stills, text design).

eugene-mopsikThis morning I had the pleasure of speaking with Eugene Mopsik, the CEO of the American Society of Collective Rights Licensing (ASCRL). A successful corporate /industrial photographer with over 32 years of experience, Eugene was previously the Executive Director of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP).

Eugene and I talked about issues related to the representation and rights of visual artists and the monetization of their works outside of the United States. He and his co-founders of ASCRL are working to help visual artists claim their fair share of royalties that have long gone to the publishers of visual works.

Similar to musical works (aka compositions or songs) that earn mechanical royalties when the work is reproduced, visual works, in many cases, earn reprographic royalties. Whereas mechanical royalties outside of the U.S. are collected by mechanical rights organizations (MROs) in territories under the MRO’s jurisdiction, reprographic royalties are collected by reprographic rights organizations (RROs) in territories under the RRO’s jurisdication. And, much like the complex web of legal and regulatory issues that makes it challenging for songwriters to collect their ex-U.S. mechanical royalties, similar limitations make it challenging for visual artists to collect their ex-U.S. reprographic royalties.

Antitrust laws has made it difficult to form a collective licensing body. Consequently, the U.S. does not have a local RRO to enter into reciprocal agreements with foreign RROs for the purpose of passing through ex-U.S. reprographic royalties to be paid to U.S. visual artists. Once again, this is similar to the absence of a U.S. MRO for songwriters. Notably, however, the U.S. has made an exception for the collective licensing of performance rights in musical works.

Since 1914, songwriters and composers have been able to join a performance rights organization (PRO) for the collective licensing of performance rights and payment of performance royalties. In the United States, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), SESAC, and Global Music Rights (GMR) are PROs that represent the performance rights of songwriters and publishers.

Currently, when reprographic royalties are earned outside of the United States, they are collected by RROs. RROs then distributes royalties to the publishers of visual works and authors of visual works (visual artists) who’ve joined the RRO. The RRO passes reprographic royalties for works due to members of foreign RROs to the RRO in the respective territory. In cases where the publishers or authors of works are unknown or if the author is an unrepresented U.S. visual artist, royalties are held in escrow and eventually distributed by market share to publishers. In the latter, royalties that are fairly owed to U.S. visual artists are being distributed to publishers. This is what the American Society of Collective Rights Licensing aims to address.

Joining ASCRL is free. Members can submit their works and use the ASCRL claiming portal to claim their entitlements and unlock unclaimed royalties. To learn more about ASCRL or to begin the process of joining, visit http://www.ascrl.org.

Music Business Association To Host Webinar On Black Box Royalties Presented By Dae Bogan

music business association

Music Business Association will host Dae Bogan’s webinar on black box royalties on Thursday, October 26th at 11am PDT / 2pm EST. Open to all.

Description: The global music licensing ecosystem is ripe with inefficiencies, complexities and legal mumbo-jumbo that affects the livelihood of music creators and copyright owners when royalties become trapped. The idea of not being paid when your music earns royalties is frustrating. Some would even call it highway robbery! But there are some practical solutions that every interested party in music royalties can put to use immediately to ensure that your music industry administration operations get you paid. This webinar will demystify so-called “Black Box” royalties and demonstrate how rights-holders can leverage technology to combat this global issue.

Register at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/5742451649783265539

Do So-called Music Advocacy Groups Avoid Deeper Discussions On Black Box Royalties To Appease Their Major Members?

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Over the last few weeks I’ve come to consider the notion that some of the biggest so-called “advocacy” groups for music creators censor their discussions on black box royalties due to the top-heavy makeup of their membership.

I’m Working On A Side Project Addressing ‘Black Box’ Royalties

I feel that some directors avoid, or lighten, their criticism of major labels and publishers, at the expense of their independent and DIY members, because representatives of the majors sit on the boards of these organizations. They have deep pockets for annual gifts and dues, and a non-profit can’t afford to see those dwindle.
In my presentation on the state of unclaimed royalties and music licenses at the Music Industry Research Association’s first inaugural MIRA Conference earlier this month, I presented several arguments of how black box royalties manifest. This included cash advances paid to music companies by digital service providers that go unattributed to their artists at the end of the contract term. What I didn’t include are the distribution of unattributed royalties to major publishers, by market share, from music rights organizations.

[Preview] The State of Unclaimed Royalties and Music Licenses in the United States (7)
Major labels and publishers cannibalize most distributions of black box royalties in an unfair and imbalanced manner. It is my belief (and feel free to correct me if I am wrong) that the majors have the resources and manpower to do a better job of registering their works and claiming their earnings. It is my opinion, based on my work through TuneRegistry — a music and rights metadata management platform for the independent music community — that the independent sector have the most difficult time in this respect; especially the DIY segment, which is all but blacklisted from being represented in these secret imbalanced conversations and distributions.

But who should be the outspoken opponents of these types of distributions? The advocacy groups? When “watch dogs” should be shining the light in every dark corner of the royalty vault, some of these groups tend to prefer dim conversations regarding black box royalties and how those funds are cannibalized by their major members.

This is why I believe A2IM (American Association of Independent Music) and AIMP (Association of Independent Music Publishers), despite my concern for how the music industry categorizes independents, is a great thing overall for DIY musicians.

DIY musicians need to do a better job of joining and navigating the worlds of trade associations. After all, they are their own record label and music publisher.

Lead Photo by Jonny Clow on Unsplash

I’m Working On A Side Project Addressing ‘Black Box’ Royalties

music_and_money_by_bobvogler

As of this writing, there are currently 116,133 verifiable* payments owed to music creators and rights-holders that are sitting in unclaimed/undistributed royalties escrow accounts (referred to as “Black Box” funds**) in the United States.

The actual number of individual payments owed is likely closer to or exceeds 1 Million, however the actual number is unknown because the administrator(s) of some of the biggest Black Box funds have not made public their list of payees to whom they owe royalties.

Unfortunately, due to the statute of limitations on these funds many of these payments expire. Every month payees unknowingly forfeit their rights to these payments and the interest in the royalties revert back to the administrator. This happens because the payee does not contact the administrator of the fund to claim their royalties. Granted, most payees are unaware that these payments are waiting for them because the administrator is unable to reach the payee for various reasons.

It has been estimated that the global “Black Box” royalties could be in the billions of dollars owed to music creators and rights-holders.

Imagine working somewhere and then you do not receive a paycheck because the HR department does not have your new address. Not a perfect analogy, but not receiving monies that you’ve earned as a result of your hard work seems unfair.

THIS IS A HUGE PROBLEM

So, I am happy to announce that I am working on a side project called Royalty Claim. Royalty Claim will attempt to work with as many of these administrators to aggregate their databases of millions of records of unclaimed/undistributed royalties and make that information available to the public. There are other services and insight that we will offer through Royalty Claim to help educate music creators and rights-holders on Black Box funds and how to limit/prevent their earnings from falling victim to the broken global music licensing ecosystem (such as taking control of your music catalog with TuneRegistry).

Want to get updates on the Royalty Claim project and be the first to know when we have something to reveal? Sign-up for our email list at www.RoyaltyClaim.com.

Also, follow @RoyaltyClaim on Twitter.

* These 116,133 payments are specifically verifiable because the list of payee names can be gathered from several databases.
** I am currently aware of over 30 funds and sub funds being managed in the United States. However, there are definitely many more that are “private”.

ETLA, The Research Institute Of The Finnish Economy, Publishes Report On State Of Digital Music Infrastructure – Calls For Transparency And Addresses “Black Box” Issues

etla-digital-music-industry-background-synthesis

I had the honor of being interviewed by researcher and author, Derek Sellin, for his industry report “Digital Music Industry – Background Synthesis” for ETLA Working Papers No. 48, published by Elinkeinoelaman Tutkimuslaitos – The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.

Black boxes materialize for many reasons, including but not limited to: the inability to identify rights holders despite payments made for the use of their compositions; the lengthy time required for filing domestic and ultimately international copyrights, often begun only when a recording is actually released; multiple claims for the same rights exceeding 100% of ownership, resulting in indefinite disputes; international collaborations with less than all creators asserting their rights; international legal inconsistencies regarding what type of performances result in payments (most visible in the fact that radio play does not generate royalties for recording artists in the United States); and the slow and often manual processes to report usage and clear payments under international reciprocal agreements. – Dae Bogan

You can download the report at https://www.etla.fi/en/publications/digital-music-industry-background-synthesis/.

About ETLA
The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (Etla) is engaged in applied economic research with emphasis on topics that are important from the Finnish point of view. The main focus is on issues that relate to productivity and drivers of its growth, to the functioning of the labour market, as well as to challenges in maintaining a balanced macro economy including sound public finances. Etla monitors economic development, compiles forecasts as well as assesses economic policy and comments on it.

Etla is a private non-profit organisation. Its operations are backed by the supporting association, the members of which comprise the Confederation of Finnish Industries and the Confederation of Finnish Industry and Employers (TT) Fund. The funding from the background organisations covers more than a third of the institute’s budget and forms a solid base for its operations. Read more.

What Can The Socioeconomic Context Of The Culture From Which Hip-Hop Is Derived Tell Us About How The Biggest Genre In The World Gets The Shitty End Of The Royalty Stick?

talib kweli

A young Talib Kweli on a New York City block as published on this Cuepoint article.

This piece is not meant to answer the question presented in its title, but rather to preface a discussion that should be, that needs to be, had in the music industry.
Streaming services are a beast that needs constant feeding. Younger hip-hop artists, already accustomed to providing sites such as SoundCloud with a constant stream of mixtapes and features, have adjusted to its demands more quickly than artists from other genres, and have thrived accordingly. At the heart of rap’s streaming dominance is something more ephemeral: Some songs just stream better than others, for reasons that no one can really explain yet. Hip-hop streams better than other types of mainstream music, and trap music streams better than other types of hip-hop. – The Washington Post (April, 2018)
R&B/hip-hop music was the year’s biggest genre, accounting for 24.5 percent of all music consumed….R&B/hip-hop genre represented 24.5 percent of all music consumption in the U.S. — the largest share of any genre and the first time R&B/hip-hop has led this measurement for a calendar year. (The 24.5 percent share represents a combination of album sales, track equivalent album units and streaming equivalent album units — including both on-demand audio and video streams.) — Billboard Magazine (January, 2018)
The statistic presents the number of on-demand music streams worldwide in 2016 and 2017, by genre. According to the source, the number of urban [Hip-Hop and R&B] on-demand streams rose from 55.9 billion in 2016 to 100.34 billion in 2017 – Statista (2018)

Most Hip-Hop and R&B artists do not have publishing representation. Therefore, a significant number of their digital music income streams fall into the unclaimed royalties (aka black box). After 3 years, those royalties can be forfeited to major publishers without the rapper kid from the block ever knowing he/she had money sitting on the table. Feeling so disenfranchised that you won’t even try (or know where to begin) to properly setup and unlock what is owed to you is part of the socioeconomic context from which much of this street music is derived.

This is part of the reason why I founded TuneRegistry and why I wrote the ebook “The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label & Publisher” available for free download.

In a culture where access to institutional and compounding forms of wealth is but a dream and where living paycheck to paycheck is such a prevalent reality, how does this condition young Hip-Hop and R&B artists to be blinded to the ways in which their craft earns residual income? Let’s discuss in the comments.

Songwriters Are Owed Nearly $2B In Unclaimed Royalties!!! — Maybe More — I’ve Been Saying This For Some Time Now (Against Pushback), But Finally The Press Has Confirmed It

Over the last few years, I’ve been researching and sounding the alarm on the growing problem of unclaimed music royalties or so-called “black box” royalties.

I’ve estimated the value of the collective black box to be nearly or above $2B. I’ve presented research, have written extensively and have spoken publicly about this problem, which disproportionately affect independent and legacy songwriters.

Despite my fanfare, industry insiders and stakeholders have shrugged or have blatantly called my estimates a gross overstatement and have held that unclaimed royalties are at best a few hundreds of thousands of dollars and mostly owed to “long-tail artists” who do not quite understand how the music industry works. This is a very myopic, company-focused view. These talking heads tend to speak from their position of administering one right for some music licensees. My estimates are looking at multiple rights administered by multiple entities, which would make the collective black box exponentially greater than the escrow account of a single entity.

Also Read: State of Unclaimed U.S. Music Royalties and Licenses

Yesterday, Variety published an article on the Music Modernization Act where a very important fact was tucked away on a single sentence in a paragraph near the end of the piece:

The DSPs are holding some $1.5 billion in unmatched mechanical royalties. If the MMA passes, that money would be passed through to the MLC which would match it to the songwriters and publishers. [bold and underline added for emphasis]

via Variety

https://variety.com/2018/music/news/music-modernization-act-blackstone-sesac-congress-senate-1202881536/

$1.5B of royalties (I still believe this number is higher) is sitting in, probably, interest-bearing escrow accounts while songwriters and small-to-medium sized music rights holders struggle to understand how and why.

Last year I founded RoyaltyClaim, the world’s first search engine of unclaimed music royalties and licenses, which has recently been acquired by Made In Memphis Entertainment. We’ve helped DIY musicians and rights-holders identify thousands of unclaimed entitlements in just a few months, with one paricular music producer uncovering nearly $150k in unclaimed royalties due to him.

The problem is huge. The system is not transparent. And the people in charge could do a better job communicating these things to rights-holders.

Also Read: I’m Working On A Side Project Addressing ‘Black Box’ Royalties

I’ve been on many panels at music industry conferences where I’ve maintained my position that DIY musicians and small-to-medium sized rights-holders are owed hundreds of millions of dollars, if not several billion, and often my co-panelists have taken a position that my claims are sensational and overstated.

I disagree.

When those on the panel talk about black box we are talking about the aggregate of unclaimed royalties that occur because of any number of factors,’ and not just limited to one service or one collection society, explained moderator Dae Bogan, CEO of TuneRegistry.”

via Billboard

Source: https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8456271/black-box-royalties-myths-panel-music-biz-2018

Read the Variety article here.

Check out my commentary on black box royalties here.

Rule Takers vs. Rule Makers: Congress Should Support Startups in the Music Modernization Act

Chris Castle eloquently expresses a view and sentiment on the MMA, in regards to its potential impact on startups and competition, with which I agree. One could also argue that antitrust regulations would suggest that the proposed MLC (Music Licensing Collective) ought to have competiton in much the way ASCAP directly competes with BMI. Ironically, though, I recently wrote about the antitrust regulations that prevent visual artists from entering into collective licensing mandates in the United States for their reprographic rights, which ultimately result in unclaimed “black box” reprographic royalties internationally.

Music Technology Policy

If you read the current version of the Music Modernization Act, you may fine that it’s more about government mandates that entrench incumbents than a streamlined blanket compulsory license that helps startups climb the ladder.  Yet in the weeds of MMA we find startups dealt out of governance by rule makers and forced as a rule taker to ante up payments by their competitors in a game that the bill makes into the only game in town.

Billboard reports that Senators Cornyn and Cruz suggested a fix for this flaw—allow private market competition alongside the MMA’s government mandate.  (Vaguely reminiscent of the “Section 115 Reform Act” from 2006.)

Let’s review why this fix is necessary and how it could balance the roles of rule makers and takers.

It’s necessary because the problem doesn’t come from songwriters.  It comes from the real rule makers—Amazon, Apple, Facebook…

View original post 777 more words

Say “Hi” At ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo And Music Biz 2018

If you’re planning to attend the ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo or Music Biz 2018, please add these panels to your schedule. I’m looking forward to re-connecting with industry colleagues to discuss topics around music rights, royalties, and being a kick-ass business-savvy DIY music creator in the ever-changing digital music landscape.

 

Here’s my Spring 2018 music conference schedule:

 

ASCAP I Create Music Expo 2018

Panel: Revolutionizing Rights Management for Artists

Panel Date/Time: Monday, May 7 • 4:15pm – 5:30pm

Panel Description:  Understanding how to manage and make money with digital rights is key to an artist’s financial success. New technologies are dominating the news across industries, and music is no exception. These new technologies promise to empower entrepreneurial artists with affordable, revolutionary rights management and monetization tools. Immediate benefits include fair compensation and transparency around ownership, but the full potential of this technology remains untapped. Join our expert panel to hear more about how new technology and other alternative financing options are revolutionizing the industry.

Panelists:

  • Edward Gennis – Founder & CEO, OpenPlay
  • Dae Bogan – Music Industry Consultant
  • Shari Hoffman – CEO, Transparence
  • Ray Young – CEO, RightsLedger

 


 

Panel: New Industry. New Rules: The Songwriter’s Guide to Earning a Living in the Digital Age

Panel Date/Time: Wednesday, May 9 • 1:30pm – 2:30pm

Panel Description:  The way fans pay for music has changed fundamentally. And that’s had major ramifications on how songwriters and other music creators make a living. Fortunately, there are many new paths to revenue in today’s new music industry. This panel will compile them all, with examples of how artists at every stage is taking advantage, and what that means for your career.

Panelists:

  • DeDe Burns – Director, Strategy Services, Royalty Exchange
  • Dae Bogan – Music Industry Consultant
  • Vickie Nauma – 23 Capital
  • Tracy Maddux – CEO, CD Baby

Moderator:

  • Andy Hermann – Former LA Weekly Music Reporter

 

Music Biz 2018

Panel: Shining A Light On The Black Box: Best Practices For Reducing Unclaimed Royalties

Panel Date/Time: Tuesday, May 15 • 1:45pm – 2:45pm

Panel Description:  In recent years, issues related to unattributed and unpaid royalties have made more headlines than ever before. As the digital music ecosystem continues to grow the licensing mechanisms, data flow infrastructure, and royalty attribution and payment methods have been challenged to keep up with and support an insurmountable aggregate of transactions, often leading to unclaimed royalties. This panel will discuss perspectives around unclaimed royalties and review best practices that rights-holders can implement to better capture all of their earned royalties.

Panelists:

  • Bill Colitre – VP & General Counsel, Music Reports, Inc
  • Kayce Laine – Publicist & Musician, Gold Sky Music
  • John Raso – HFA & Rumblefish, SVP of Client Services

Moderator:

  • Dae Bogan – Founder, TuneRegistry & RoyaltyClaim
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