QUESTION: WHERE DOES ROYALTY CLAIM’S DATA COME FROM?
ANSWER: MANY PLACES.
Royalty Claim Initiative researchers and data scientists locate, retrieve, synthesize and ingest an array of published and unpublished data that reference statutory notifications of certain music licenses, unattributed royalties (so-called “Black Box” royalties) and settlements; and income participants (payees) in undistributed royalties that stem from collective bargaining agreements, international reciprocal agreements, statutory royalties, and more. We also analyze data related to music consumption (e.g. downloads, streams, sales), broadcasts, performances, and other types of data to identify trends from which we can interpret insights into the global music licensing ecosystem.
THE FOLLOWING IS JUST A SAMPLE OF THE TYPES OF ROYALTY FUNDS IN WHICH WE ARE INTERESTED:
Royalty Claim attended the Music Industry Research Association‘s first inaugural MIRA Conference at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center this week. Royalty Claim’s Founder and Chief Researcher, Dae Bogan, MIA, had the honor of presenting a preview of our in-progress The State of Unclaimed Royalties and Music Licenses in the United States report before an audience of economists, sociologists, and researchers from universities and institutions from around the world, as well as music industry executives representing firms such as Nielsen, Pandora, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Entertainment.
For the first time, updated statistics regarding the filing of “address unknown” Section 115 NOIs on the US Copyright Office during the first half of 2017 was revealed. Insights included an overview of the organizations that have utilized the procedure, including Amazon, Google, Spotify, iHeart Communications, and Microsoft. However, those large music users were expected. Interesting inclusions to the list were The Recording Academy and the Christian music service, TheOverflow and interesting omissions from the list are platforms that boast millions of tracks — Apple and Tidal — but may not be reaching every independent rightsowner that may have compositions available on those platforms.
The presentation also discussed the nature and causes of so-called “Black Box royalties”. A black box is an escrow fund in which music royalties are held due to an organization’s inability to attribute the royalties earned to the appropriate payee. Examples were given, including unattributed advances from DSPs to music companies, the US’s limitations on sound recording rights, and other issues.
The presentation concluded with a video demo of the Royalty Claim Platform, which received positive reviews from conference attendees. The full presentation is here.
It is very important for background vocalists (and artists who provide background vocals on the side) to understand that they earn money BEYOND the studio session in which they performed. Billboard published an article on how a back-up singer on Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again” featuring Charlie Puth put up 100% of his U.S. digital performer royalties for auction on Royalty Exchange with bids starting at $30,000. These royalties are collected by SoundExchange and administered by AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund.
This is a great example of how a background vocalist can leverage his/her equity in a hit song to get paid big bucks, today! This also applies to session musicians.
Royalty Claim has thousands of records of unclaimed royalties due to non-featured performers (session musicians, background vocalists, etc.) from recordings performed on digital radio (e.g. Pandora, Music Choice, iHeartRadio, SiriusXM, and more). Royalty Claim also provides data on ‘address unknown’ NOIs filed under the Section 115 compulsory mechanical license for services such as Amazon, Spotify, Apple, Google, and many others.
Read more about the auctioning your future royalties in the Billboard story here.
Learn more about Royalty Claim at http://www.royaltyclaim.com. Royalty Claim will pre-launch on August 10th. This is for anyone who pre-registered at www.royaltyclaim.com/comingsoon. Those who’ve pre-registered will be able to secure a life-time subscription to Royalty Claim for only $150. Royalty Claim official launch will be September 1st. At that point, anyone can join for free or choose any of the premium plans.
What musicians should keep in mind is in the event of an untimely passing, your royalty streams are bona fide assets that need to be discussed in a will. Some of the unclaimed royalty information that we have at Royalty Claim is from musicians who’ve passed away, but did not file a beneficiary with the various music rights organizations. So, their music continues to earn revenue, but the organizations do not have beneficiary info to pay it out. Or, musicians who’ve passed away and left no instructions in their will on how their royalties should be allocated, and various claimants have created a dispute.
We should definitely talk more about musician estates (even smaller musicians can have estates). Royalty streams are assets with which musicians can receive loans from companies like Lyric Financial or Sound Royalties, or even sell via platforms like Royalty Exchange. If you’re serious about your music career, be serious about your estate.
I’m so proud to be able to unveil the info website for Royalty Claim today. I’ve had endless sleepless nights developing and designing the info site, and the actual database platform that’s launching soon.
Check it out, get your questions answered (see FAQ page), and pre-register for the beta.
The first public demo will be this Thursday at SCMIP x AMC LA Music Industry Meetup | DTLA Arts District.
In a recent article discussing Spotify’s year-over-year growth, Music Ally suggested that there is “evidence that Spotify may be planning to allow brands to sponsor individual tracks within its service” and shared a Twitter user’s post that appears to show a Sponsored Music / Sponsored Song indicator on the user’s Spotify account.
Not seen this in my Spotify settings before 🤔 pic.twitter.com/hWT58ymj1g
— Talia 🇪🇺 (@talia) June 2, 2017
Music Ally went on to clarify that they “contacted Spotify to ask about sponsored songs, and the [Spotify’s] spokesperson provided this response: ‘We are always testing new ways of putting the right music in front of the right audiences. But we don’t have any more information to share right now.'”
If brands can buy visibility for select songs over others, what is to stop major labels (and major indie labels) from cosying up with any one of their many strategic brand partners to influence the visibility of their songs over others? I suppose they already can and do do this with curated branded playlists.
If this does rollout, how will streaming monitoring services such as Nielsen — which factors streaming data into the ranking algorithm of some of their Billboard charts — take these streams into account? Will the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) allow these streams to be factored into Gold and Platinum certification? How will these sponsored streams affect overall royalty calculations and payments to artists and songwriters? And why does this all reek of payola?
Post your thoughts in the comments.
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).
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”.
I’ve been hearing that Spotify is rolling out their BETA for their new Spotify Ad Studio, which they are comparing to Google Adwords and Facebook. Some artist managers I’ve spoken with are already in the beta and using it to run ad campaigns on Spotify.
One manager posted in a group that I’m in:
Everyone go to adstudio.spotify.com and check it out for yourselves. Apparently I already have access. The targeting doesn’t get as fine as Facebook, for example, and there’s a $250 minimum spend which gets about 10,000 airings at $0.025 each. There’s also a $5,000 maximum, I presume per campaign, and above that you’re getting into their Spotify For Brands territory which has a $25,000 campaign minimum spend.
They also specify that they don’t currently support driving traffic to songs or playlists. Their ad objectives are ‘Announce an event,’ ‘Raise brand awareness,’ ‘Drive people to my website,’ and ‘Other.’
If you’re interested in advertising content, they encourage you to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to learn more, here’s a Google Doc with FAQs:
Artist Management Firms: If you do not have someone on your team whose sole responsibility is to utilize online music sync agencies, pitch ad agencies, and cozy up with music supervisers, you’re missing out, bigly.
When I owned/operated Renaissance Artist Management (aka RAM Artist), I established an in-house position for the sole purpose of securing music sync opportunities. This was during the early days of micro-sync and the boom of online sync agencies.
We leveraged online agencies (at the time that included Rumblefish before they were acquired by HFA and pivoted). Check out Songtradr, Music Bed, MusicDealers, YouLicense, Pump Audio, and many others like them.
Consider giving some tracks to exclusive libraries who do well pitching your artists’ sound. Red Bull Media House is always looking for good music and they get YUGE placements.
Make sure to read the deats of their contracts.
Here’s a few things to look out for:
- Exclusivity – Try not to give micro sync agencies exclusivity. If you’re giving a company exclusivity, it better be a solid library. (TuneCore PRO users…did you know when you opt-in to their sync licensing program, you’re giving them exclusivity?)
- SoundExchange Royalties – Some pitch houses and libraries have tried to sneak in a cut of your SoundExchange royalties. Don’t let them get it. They are not getting your music placed on digital radio, so they do not participate in your digital radio royalties. I successfully helped an indie artist negotiate that clause out of a library agreement.
- Tagging/ReTitling– Tagging is the practice of adding an identifier to your song title when the song is registered with a PRO. Retitling is creating a new title for the song when registering. The goal of both methods is to disambiguate any performance royalties generated as a result of the libraries sync placement activities. This is necessary when you have multiple non-exclusive libraries getting places of the same song. They want to make sure that when the cue sheet from the TV show gets to the PRO, the royalties earned against that specific placement gets to the right entity. It’s not unheard of for one song to be placed by several non-exclusive sync agencies, each with retitles or tagging and capturing royalties for their specific placement. Do know that the writer gets the writer share for all of the placements. The agencies/libraries participate in the publishers share of their specific title.
- Duration of Term – Exclusive libraries may want up to 3 years exclusivity. Aim for 1 year for the first term.
Learn about royalty forensics, that is the art(science?) of tracking down uses of your music and capturing associated royalties (this is definitely important when it comes to big multi territory placements, TV syndication, and film secondary market distributions). Tunesat and ACRCloud are two audio detection platforms that’ll detect performances of your music in sync media.
You may want to setup your own music licensing store, so that when you meet music sups, you can send them to an easy-to-search library of your own music. Check out Soundgizmo and LicenseQuote for this.
And of course, don’t forget to make sure the music is registered before it starts to generate royalties, with TuneRegistry.