During The Coronavirus Pandemic, Dae Bogan Has Helped DIY Musicians Unlock Tens of Thousands Of Dollars In Unclaimed Music Royalties – Here’s How
For over twelve years I have helped thousands of DIY musicians administer and monetize their copyrights to be properly accounted to and paid for the use of their musical works and sound recordings in the United States and abroad. To date, I’ve helped self-published songwriters and self-released artists collect millions of dollars in royalties that would have otherwise gone unclaimed and eventually forfeited and/or redistributed due to a confusing web of regulations and company policies surrounding the fragmented music licensing ecosystem.
I’ve also helped background vocalists, session musicians, and music producers understand how their contributions, while often detached from copyright ownership, generates entitlements that yield royalties that often go unclaimed for many years. I am passionate about the issue of remuneration for music creators and have published research, built technology platforms, and have spoken at the Library of Congress on the topic.
A few years ago I wrote the free ebook “The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label And Publisher” for the non-profit creator advocacy group CreativeFuture as a checklist for DIY musicians who own their publishing and/or masters. The ebook has helped many DIY musicians to get setup with US music rights organizations to collect their royalties. I’ve also written dozens of articles on specific issues surrounding royalty collection that have been published on my blog DaeBoganMusic.com and other websites.
All of this to say that for over a decade I have been championing, educating, advocating for, and empowering DIY musicians and yet I still feel that so many of them are underserved and missing out on their own earnings.
Right now tens of thousands of artists, songwriters, composers, lyricists, session musicians, background vocalists, and music producers have been hit hard by the closure of live music venues and slow down of music production during the coronavirus pandemic. Many have struggled to get financial assistance due to the gig economy nature of much of the work in the music industry. But the sad part is many DIY musicians may have money due to them from their music and contributions over the last 5 to 7 years!
Since the pandemic began, I’ve helped several DIY musicians uncover royalties that have been sitting in unclaimed royalties databases or so-called “black boxes” (Tip: Search “black box” in my search field above to find articles I’ve written on the topic) to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars (Note: I did this work prior to joining The MLC in May 2020 and I am not currently accepting clients due to the fact that I am 100% committed to my work at The MLC, but please continue reading to learn how to do this yourself).
Searching for unclaimed royalties is part of the royalty forensics process. Understanding what entitlements a musician has based on their contribution(s) to any given work, what royalties are due based on type of use and territory, and where the royalties flow to be accounted to and paid out can be a challenge. I did this work for my clients, but I also have a workshop on the topic (Tweet me @daeboganmusic to request FREE access to the workshop).
For example, my cousin, independent singer-songwriter Durand Bernarr had around $8k in unclaimed royalties for his contribution as a background vocalist on the song “Girl” by The Internet sitting unclaimed at just one organization in the United States. Although these royalties were due to him in 2018, the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund did not know who Durand Bernarr was or how to reach him. I helped Durand uncover these royalties during the coronavirus pandemic and the payment couldn’t have come at a more needed time.
Unclaimed royalties is a common problem for new and up-and-coming music creators (but it also affects emerging and established music creators) and it stems from poor metadata and production credits creation and distribution (this is why I founded TuneRegistry and RoyaltyClaim (I no longer own these companies)). It also stems from DIY musicians not being properly setup and registered everywhere (I cover this in my free ebook).
I now work at The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC) as its Head of Third-Party Partnerships where I am building relationships between The MLC and a variety of organizations and companies to help self-administered songwriters and music publishers interface with us to unlock and collect digital audio mechanical royalties from the use to their songs in the United States by digital service providers such as Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Google, Pandora, Deezer, Tidal, SoundCloud and more.
Now is the time for DIY musicians to take the time to hunt down unclaimed royalties that may go back as far as 7 years. Check out my free ebook as a starting point!
Pro Tip: If you find unclaimed royalties in one place, there may be more and other places. Check with the organization where you find your royalties if those royalties are for the US only or the world. If for the US only, you may have counterpart unclaimed royalties for the same set of rights and types of usage in other countries!
(This was originally post on my Facebook page, so my apologies if the hyperlinks directs you to Facebook pages of the mentioned companies).
On Digital Radio Royalties
DIY Musicians – If/when you get a recording placed on non-interactive Internet, satellite, or cable radio (e.g. Pandora, SiriusXM, Music Choice) it earns multiple royalty streams. It is important to understand how to collect them all. I will get granular below to break this down.
Let’s use for example the recording “6 Inch (feat. The Weeknd)” by Beyonce. When this recording is played on Pandora (or iHeartRadio, 8Tracks, TuneIn or any of the other 2,500+ properly licensed webcasters serving the United States), here are the royalty streams:
1. Master Royalties for Featured Performers – Royalties paid to SoundExchange for the featured performers, which are the “named” artists on the track. For “6 Inch,” the featured performers are Beyoncé (main artist) and The Weeknd (guest artist). They each must have an account at SoundExchange to collect these royalties. Here is the unclaimed royalties list for featured performers: https://www.soundexchange.com/…/does-sou…/search-for-artist/
2. Master Royalties for Master Copyright Owner (Label) – Royalties paid to SoundExchange for the copyright owner, which is the label. For “6 Inch,” the label is Columbia Records. The label must have an account at SoundExchange to collect these royalties. (A Few Notes: (1) Major labels have direct deals with most music services, so it is likely that Columbia is paid directly by Pandora. (2) Unsigned artists can collect this income if you properly create your free account with SoundExchange as the copyright owner. This means, you cannot only sign up as the Artist. You are the label!). Here is the unclaimed royalties list for copyright owners: https://www.soundexchange.com/…/do…/search-for-rights-owner/
3. Master Royalties for Non-featured Performers – Royalties paid to AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund (“the Fund”) for the background vocalists and session musicians who performed on the recording. For “6 Inch,” the non-featured performers include Ahmad Balshe (background vocalist) and Derek Dixie (session musician) among others. (Note: 5% of the royalties paid to SoundExchange is passed to the Fund. The Fund conducts research to identify the non-featured performers. They use published credits, such as those published on AllMusic.com (Ex: https://www.allmusic.com/album/lemonade-mw0002940342/credits), Discogs, and other resources to identify the vocalists and musicians on a recording. Keep in mind that if the producer of the track contributed background vocals or live instrumentation, it is important to credit him/her separately as such in addition to his/her producer credit, so that they can access this income stream. At TuneRegistry, we deliver credits to TiVo, which makes metadata available to AllMusic, among other services. If the Fund does not have the non-featured performer on their list, you can check and submit. See “6 Inch” only shows two (2) non-featured performers, but there may be more who just do not know: https://www.afmsagaftrafund.org/covered-rec-artist_SR_Maste…). Here is the unclaimed royalties list for non-featured performers: https://www.afmsagaftrafund.org/unclaimed-royalties.php and here is the list of recordings that the Fund has credits for here: https://www.afmsagaftrafund.org/covered-rec-title_sr_master…
4. Publishing Royalties for Composers/Writers – Royalties paid to performing rights organizations (PROs) such as American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), and SESAC in the United States for the composers and writers, which is Jordan Asher, Burt Bacharach, Ahmad Balshe, Hal David, Ben Diehl, Beyoncé Knowles, Noah Lennox, Terius Nash, David Portner, Danny Schofield, Abel Tesfaye, and Brian Weitz. Because “6 Inch” uses samples, there are more composers/writers credited on the recording. You can view the full publishing credits for “6 Inch” at ASCAP here: https://www.ascap.com/repertory#ace/search/workID/890413300 (Note: US PROs, like most PROs/CMOs around the world, do not have a public list of unclaimed royalties. It is important to register your song before the release or as soon as possible after release to limit the possibility of having your royalties fall into the “black box,” which is an industry term of unclaimed or unmatched royalties. Also note that if you collaborate with someone who has not affiliated with a PRO, that can slow down the registration process.)
5. Publishing Royalties for Composition Copyright Owner (Publisher) – Royalties paid to PROs for the copyright owner in the compositions. This is the publisher or a self-published songwriter’s own publishing entity. For “6 Inch,” the publishers are 2082 Music Publishing, BMG, Domino Publishing, KMR Music Royalties, New Hidden Valley Music Co, Oakland 13 Music, Sal And Co LP, Songs of FujiMusic, Universal Music Corportation, WB Music Corporation. Because “6 Inch” uses samples, there are more publishers credited on the recording. You can view the full publishing credits for “6 Inch” at ASCAP here: https://www.ascap.com/repertory#ace/search/workID/890413300 (Note: In the US, if you are a self-published writer, you do not need to have a publishing account at BMI in order to unlock your publishing income. You will need a writer AND publisher account at ASCAP. So, if you do not have a publisher account at ASCAP and you are self-published, you literally leave 50% of your income on the table because ASCAP will not pay out the so-called “publisher’s share” to writers (unless they’ve changed this policy).)
In conclusion, if you get a recording on a digital radio platform and it takes off, make sure you have your business in order. We help with all of the above at TuneRegistry. This is what I am doing every day — helping thousands of independent music creators properly register their music so that they are 1.) identified, 2.) accounted to, and 3.) PAID.
Check out my free ebook “The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label & Publisher” available for download at www.daeboganmusic.com (subscribe to my blog) and catch me speaking Oct 12th at A3C Conference in Atlanta or Oct 30th at Music Tectonics Conference in Los Angeles.
CC: Dae Bogan Music
Come learn from me at Musician Mastery Summit 2019! I’ll be sharing my story and strategies on what it takes to succeed in the industry today. Attend online on June 21st and 22nd and gain lifetime access to all of these interview sessions.
Check out the full agenda & get your ticket now: https://aaronwolfmusic.lpages.co/mms-home-2019/?ref=daebogan1 #MMS2019
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Order: Click here to purchase.
Every day, millions of music streams, downloads, digital transmissions, public performances, and broadcasts generate tens of thousands of dollars in unclaimed royalties. To date, the estimated pool of unclaimed royalties exceeds $2 billion.
These royalties are often due to independent music creators, heirs and beneficiaries, and legacy artists. After a period of time, these unclaimed royalties accrue in escrow accounts around the world only to be disbursed by market share to the major labels and publishers leaving the indies, to which much of the money belongs, underrepresented and unaccounted to. Music royalties forensics is the process of searching for, identifying, and claiming these royalties. This course is an introduction to the art and science of finding and unlocking unclaimed royalties.
Your instructor, Dae Bogan, is a music rights and royalties tech entrepreneur (original founder of music rights administration platform, TuneRegistry, and the world’s first search engine of unclaimed royalties and music licenses, RoyaltyClaim), music creators’ rights advocate, and lecturer of music industry entrepreneurship at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. He has written about black box royalties extensively on his blog DaeBoganMusic.com. He has helped hundreds of music creators and rights-holders find and unlock hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid music royalties from around the world. And his research on the state of unclaimed music royalties was used by US Congressional Budget Office in its analysis of the Music Modernization Act of 2018.
- What are your rights, entitlements, and income participations as a music creator and/or rights-holder?
- What are the most common royalty streams generated from a variety of music usage types and where do those royalties flow?
- How are music royalties allocated and distributed by music rights organizations?
- What are niche funds and sub-funds that often generate unmatched so-called “black box” royalties and how do you check for your records?
- How to track music usage to leverage usage and detection reports to reconcile or audit royalty statements?
- What are some tools and resources to help you search for, identify, and claim unclaimed royalties and music licenses?
- What are the requirements to properly setup to be accounted to and paid royalties from previously unaffiliated sources going forward?
- What are some tips for managing your music rights affiliations?
- What are some tips for preparing your music rights and royalties for beneficiaries?
It is always a pleasure contributing to Bobby Owsinski’s books and podcasts. Get your copy of “The Music Businesss Advice Book: 150 Immediately Useful Tips From The Pros” in Amazon.
Dae Bogan Included In Bobby Owsinski’s ‘The Music Business Advice Book: 150 Immediately Useful Tips from the Pros’
Bobby Owsinski is one of the music industry’s greats. His ability to curate music industry knowledge into easy-to-ready texts across his over 20 books has helped thousands of music creators and music industry professionals in their careers. I’ve had the pleasure of being on Bobby’s podcast, Inner Circle, and participating on several music conference panels with Bobby. He is truly an inspiration. In fact, it was partially my participation in the making of his book “Music 4.0: A Survival Guide for Making Music in the Internet Age” that inspired me to write my first, very short, ebook “The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label & Publisher.”
I am honored, once again, to have been included in Bobby’s latest book, “The Music Business Advice Book: 150 Immediately Useful Tips from the Pros,” available on Amazon.
About the book:
The music business can prove to be a difficult career road when you’re first starting out, but it can be traveled a lot easier with some helpful guidance from a pro who’s willing to share a few hard-earned hints. The Music Advice Book is a compilation of the pearls of experience from 130 top music pros from various segments of the industry who have previously shared their most important tips on Bobby Owsinski’s Inner Circle Podcast over the course of almost 5 years.
These 150 tips cover everything from following your passion, learning to network, and working well with your musical team, to owning your own content and even figuring out how much to charge for your services. Also included are even some useful music production words of wisdom, as well as the indispensable “10 Rules Of Networking.”
The insights in The Music Business Advice Book are essential for those new to the music industry but valuable to seasoned pros as well.
Ever since I wrote the article “How To Get A Facebook, Instagram and Oculus Direct License For DIY Musicians & Indie Publishers” for the TuneRegistry blog, musicians who own their publishing have flooded my inbox with questions regarding the Harry Fox Agency Online Account application process.
The Harry Fox Agency represents the reproduction rights in songs for thousands of publishers in the United States and issues millions of direct and complusory mechanical licenses to music users on behalf of its HFA affiliate publisher members. In addition, its Rumblefish division performs an array of licensing and administrative (e.g. royalty accounting) responsibilities for dozens of digital service providers, start-up music apps/websites, and other digital music clients. In a word, HFA issues licenses, collects royalties, and make payments to rights-holders to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
An HFA Online Account enables publishing rights-holders who are not eligible to become an HFA affiliate (e.g. DIY musicians) to still receive and enter into some direct licenses for the use of their songs in the products and services of HFA/Rumblefish clients. This includes powerhouses like Spotify, Facebook/Instagram and LyricFind, among many others. Once you’ve entered into a license, you must give HFA a list of your songs with proper metadata. You can remit your catalog of license-ready songs to HFA, and other music rights organizations and rights clearance houses, via directly from within your TuneRegistry account.
Admitingly, I did not go into much detail in the Facebook license blog in regards to how to apply for an HFA Online Account (although, I did include the HFA client services email for additional questions). Having reviewed the application form, I can see how a DIY musician could become confused. The form was designed for publishers and administrators, so a DIY musician who wears the hat as his/her own music publisher may get easily confused.
Download my free ebook, The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label & Publisher here.
To aid in providing clarity to DIY musicians, I have written instructions for each question/field on the application form in the order as it appears. This should clarify the questions that I often receive regarding the application form.
[Note: In writing this article, I sought feedback from John Raso, VP of Client Services at Harry Fox Agency, who verified and approved my field instructions/comments and added his own notes as needed. Where applicable, I have included additional notes from John below.]
Form completion instructions for an HFA Online Account publisher application for DIY musicians who own and control their publishing and do not have a publishing deal or an applicable publishing administration deal:
1. Publisher Name: If you have a publisher or have hired a publishing administrator, stop here. Your publisher should be handling licensing with HFA. You can contact your publishing representative for clarification. If you do not have a publisher, then enter your publishing entity name as used with ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. If you have not created a publishing company and joined ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC enter your full legal name.
2. HFA Account P#: Skip, unless you’ve received correspondence from HFA with an HFA Account P#.
3. Administrator Title: Enter “Self” if you are representing yourself. Enter the title of your representative if you’re giving them authority to oversee your HFA Online Account (e.g “Manager”, “Attorney”).
4. Administrator Name: Enter your full legal name if you are representing yourself or enter the full name of your authorized representative who will be overseeing your HFA Online Account. This is just who should be contacted aout your catalog.
5. Administrator Mailing Address: Enter the contact information of the individual identified in #4. Where should HFA mail things to?
6. Administrator Settings: This is where much of the confusion arises. Here are some scenarios:
- If you are applying as an individual self-published songwriter with no publishing entity, then select “Individual/Sole proprietor”, enter your tax ID (SSN or ITIN), and enter the name that should appear on tax documents (generally, your legal name).
- If you are applying as an individual self-published songwriter who has hired a publishing administrator, then you should not complete this application in the first place. Contact your publishing administrator.
- If you are applying as an individual self-published songwriter who has setup a business entity for the purpose of administering your own publishing with ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC and you have input this publishing entity in #1, then select the business entity structure that you have setup to form your company. For example, if your entity is a Limited Liability Company, then select “Limited Liability Company”. If it is a DBA, then select “Individual/Sole proprietor.” Enter the tax ID for the entity (this may be your personal SSN/ITIN if you are a sole proprietor or it may be your EIN if you’ve applied for one with the IRS for your LLC, Corporation, or Partnership). Enter the name on tax return that matches the entity type that you’ve selected.
- Note from John Raso, VP of Client Services at HFA: “We run the tax ID and payee name provided (“Name on Tax Return”) against the IRS database. If it doesn’t match, we cannot pay this person (or we will get fined). We hold any royalties until we get a proper name/tax ID match (we reach out several times a year to people we are holding royalties for this reason).“
For additional questions or to check on the status of an HFA application, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Was this article helpful? I am considering writing more like it for other music rights organizations’ application processes. Let me know in the comments.
Ask me your music business question and I’ll attempt to provide you with an answer or direct you to a resource with a better answer or guidance. I cannot provide specific legal advice, but I can discuss general music business practices. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or DaeBoganMusic.com. Simply drop your question in the comments section wherever you see the above image.
2017 is coming to an end. Here’s a quick rough rundown of some things you can (and some that you must) accomplish before the end of the year:
1. GET YOUR GROOVE MUSIC MECHANICAL ROYALTIES BEFORE ITS FORFEITED. Microsoft is shutting down Groove Music on December 31, 2017. Legally speaking, they are not required to pay mechanical royalties to songwriters and publishers who have not registered their copyrights with the United States Copyright Office. Therefore, in theory, on January 1st, 2018 Microsoft could expunge any unclaimed mechanical royalties. Royalty Claim shows you how to find your songs and begin the process of unlocking any accrued mechanical royalties.
2. GET DISCOUNTED CONFERENCE PASSES FOR 2018. If you’re thinking about going to music industry conferences in 2018, you should know that many of them offer early-bird discounts now. These savings really add up when you attend multiple conferences in one year. SXSW is currently offering lower rates that end on set dates. The next rate increase will be on Nov 17th. NAB is offering a variety of packages at more than 50% off through Nov 24th (including a FREE pass for the Exhibit floor). There are more offers out there such as Music Biz Expo with discounted rates through March and ASCAP’s “I Create Music” Expo with discounted rates through the end of the year.
3. RELEASE A HOLIDAY COVER SONG LEGALLY AND SUBMIT TO BLOGS FOR END OF YEAR EXPOSURE. It’s not too late to record and release a holiday song this season and leverage the exposure from blogs and background music services. I breakdown how to do this in my piece “5 Tips For Making, Marketing And Monetizing Holiday Music This Season”.
4. GET OR RENEW YOUR GOOGLE PLAY MUSIC MECHANICAL LICENSE. If you distribute music to Google Play Music, you may be earning mechanical royalties that you have not collected. Mechanical royalties are different from your master use royalties (paid to labels, distributors, and aggregators) and performance royalties (paid to performing rights organizations (PROs) such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and GMR in the United States). Mechanical royalties are royalties paid for the distribution of the underlying musical work embodied in a sound recording — that is, the “song.” Mechanical royalties are owed to songwriters and publishers and is not paid to labels, distributors, aggregators, or PROs. To enter into a direct agreement with Google for your Google Play Music mechanical royalties, you can do one of two things: (1) Sign a direct deal with Google Play Music, whereby you will be responsible for data ingestion as well as ongoing account management. Please reach out to email@example.com should you like more information about the direct license; or (2) Opt in via the Harry Fox Agency, whereby they will manage your content on your behalf. You can do so by logging into your HFA account at harryfox.com and click the “Authorizaions” link located in the “Licensing” box. If you do not have an HFA Online account, you can fill out a Request for Administrator Account form at https://secure.harryfox.com/public/forms/online-account/form.jsp. You do not need to be a member of HFA to pursue this option. You can easily streamline and expedite the delivery of your song registrations to Harry Fox Agency (and Music Reports Inc., Loudr, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SoundExchange, and many others) using the affordable music rights and metadata management platform TuneRegistry. TuneRegistry was built to empower the independent music company and DIY musicians who self-publish.
5. CLAIM / VERIFY YOUR ARTIST PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA. Go into 2018 with a tight marketing infrastructure by making sure that you control all of your presence across the top DSPs and social platforms. Symphonic Distribution breaksdown how to claim your label/artist page on DSPs and music marketing agency View Manic can help eligible artists verify their profiles on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
***BONUS ITEM – DUE IN EARLY 2018***
6. PREPARE AND SEND FORM 1099s. Did you hire a publicist or digital marketing consultant to work your campaign this year? Did you book a photographer for a photo shoot? Hire a graphic designer to overhaul your website? Got a new music video from a production company or indie video director? If you hired freelancers or independent contractors this year, make sure to prepare and send them a Form 1099. This form is required (few exceptions) to be sent to non-employees when you’ve paid them $600 or more for services remitted. The information for the form is gathered from payments you’ve made and the contractor’s information, which you should also collect on a Form W-9. Contractors must receive the 1099 by January 31st, 2018. Read more about 1099s here and W-9s here. In the past, I’ve used Track1099 to easily generator and file 1099s. Check them out or others on the market.
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