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Claim Initiative researchers and data scientists locate, retrieve, synthesize and ingest an array of published and unpublished data that reference statutory notifications of certain music licenses, unattributed royalties (so-called “Black Box” royalties) and settlements; and income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.
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.
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”.
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.
In an email sent to YouTube Music partners this week, YouTube announced that it will change the way it handles publishing.
Currently, YouTube allows rights holders to submit metadata and ownership information to a single global composition record. If there are multiple rights holders, their information is aggregated and rolled up into the “global” composition asset. Then various owners of sound recordings can create relationships (matches) between the “global” composition and their sound recordings. For example, 3 cover song recordings matched to a single “global” composition. However, YouTube is changing this process.
YouTube is doing away with a “global” composition and Composition Asset ID, which all rights holders on the composition would share, and now requiring that rights holders submit a “Composition Share” asset (think of it in relationship to a Split Sheet, the writer/publisher share) and provide their own unique Custom ID to YouTube, which associates back to the composition in the rights holder’s own database (e.g. a catalog number).
Notably, YouTube will no longer create composition to sound recording relationships on behalf of rights holders. It will become more important than ever for right holders to stay on top of their ownership splits and submissions. Furthermore, because YouTube will now rely on rights holders own Custom IDs, it will be important to implement and maintain a clean unique ID database. This could be the catalog number or the same unique ID the publishers use when registering works to PROs via CWR.
Read the full email below…
Dear YouTube Music Publishing Partner,
We are launching a new publishing data model to give you more transparency into and control over how your rights are associated with sound recording assets. In this new model, we will no longer have one “global” composition asset with metadata, ownership, and embedded relationships provided by various owners. Instead, each owner will have their own “Composition Share” assets. These “Composition Share” assets represent only the metadata and ownership information provided by a single owner. Your provided embedded relationships between “Composition Share” assets and sound recording assets will always be applied.
Our current planned launch date for this change is four weeks from now, on Monday, April 3.
This new model will require one major change on your side. Because we will be deprecating our historical Composition Assets and replacing them with a new asset type, today’s Composition Asset IDs will no longer be used. In most cases where you now use Composition Asset ID (including delivery and reporting), you should transition to using the Custom ID field. We recommend that the data you provide in this field always mirror the proprietary work codes that you use in your own database. In order for your Custom IDs to behave in a sensical and deterministic manner, it is critically important that your Custom IDs function as a primary key. That is, every Composition Share must have a Custom ID, and each Custom ID must refer to one and only one Composition Share. We strongly urge you to examine your Custom ID data now and confirm that your Custom IDs refer to only a single work each. If you suspect that this is not the case, please reach out to [omitted] for assistance. We would be happy to send you reports of how you are currently using Custom ID and where any gaps in your data may exist. If your Custom IDs do not function as a primary key in our new model, you may experience errors and ingestion failures.
Because this is a major change, this may require some workflow adjustments on your side. A few important things you should be aware of:
You will have greater control of embedded relationships between Sound Recordings and “Composition Shares.” Any embedded relationships delivered by any publishing partner will always be applied. If partners deliver conflicting data, these conflicts will immediately manifest in the YouTube Content Manager. By the same token, if you do not deliver us a Composition-Share-to-Sound-Recording relationship, we will not create one for you based on other partners’ data. You can continue to create these relationships through CSV ingestions, and we will be adding the ability to delete these relationships in bulk via CSV ingestions. We are also adding functionality to the Content Manager to allow you to edit these relationships directly in the user interface.
Conflicts now exist at the Sound Recording level, rather than at the Composition level. This means that you will see a larger number of conflicts in your conflicts queue. This increase in the number of assets in conflict does not necessarily represent a larger number of views in conflict; conflicts are merely being reported to you on a more granular level. Given that you will now have greater control over embedded relationships, conflicts caused by bad data should be much easier to resolve. When communicating about conflicts with other partners, you should now use Sound Recording Asset IDs instead of Composition Asset IDs.
Asset revenue will be reported at the Sound Recording level, rather than at the Composition level. This means that your asset revenue reports will grow (they will have more lines). To see revenue reported to you at the Composition level, simply pivot the asset revenue report on Custom ID. If you need assistance processing these larger reports, please reach out to your technical account manager or send an email to [omitted].
We recognize that this is a major change that may result in substantial changes to your current workflows. We want to make this change as easy as possible for you and we are here to help and to listen to your feedback. If you have any questions not addressed in this email or on the Help Center, please contact your regular YouTube representatives. To submit feedback directly to our product specialists, please hit the “Help & Feedback” button in CMS. For operational or technical support, please reach out to [omitted]. We will also be hosting office hours and workshops at our New York City office, at our Los Angeles office, and in Nashville in the weeks after the new model is launched. If you are interested in attending, please reach out to your regular YouTube contacts.
YouTube Music Publishing Team