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Here Are 10 Ways That The Music Licensing Collective (MLC) Can Set The Bar As A Collective Licensing Organization In The 21st Century

music licensing collective dae bogan

If you work in the music industry and own a radio, TV, smartphone, or computer then you’ve probably already heard that the The Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA) has been signed into law. At this point, every major music rights organization has published their praise of the legislation, which will create a blanket streaming mechanical license for Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Google, Tidal, and other on-demand music streaming companies; bring pre-1972 sound recordings under federal copyright protection and open up a flow of royalties from digital services to the artists (or their estates) and copyright owners of those recordings; and codify an allocation of digital radio royalties to music producers.

Title 1 of the MMA, also called Music Modernization Act, sets out  provisions and guidance for the formation of a collective mechanical licensing body to be called the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC). The MLC will administer a safe harbor blanket license for the streaming of musical works, collect licensee fees from licensees, prepare and remit statements of earnings to songwriters and music publishers, and make royalty payments to the same.

The MLC will join the ranks of SoundExchange, ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC in the sense that it will become a powerful representative of the collective rights of thousands of music creators and rights-holders in the United States. However, unlike its counterparts, the MLC will be born in the 21st century. And as a 21st century collective licensing organization, the MLC has the unique opportunity to implement, at inception, 21st century business practices utilizing 21st century best practices and technologies.

Here are 10 ways that the Mechanical Licensing Collective can set the bar as a 21st century collective licensing organization:
 
1.) Provide its members with a data BI (business intelligence) dashboard to better visualize their mechanical royalties data and dive deeper into their statements. The dashboard could enable forecasting based on projected streaming activity (maybe offer scenario planning, which makes it possible to attract loans against future royalties). They could ingest data from a service like BuzzAngle to offer estimated royalty accrual in real-time so that members who are artists can see the net effect of playlist streaming campaigns on their bottom line and choose to invest more into campaigns in virtual real-time.
 
2.) Maintain a public and accessible unclaimed royalties database. Deploy artificial intelligence to evaluate unmatched usage reports as opposed to relying solely on exact name and ISWC matches. And expand the statute of limitations on unclaimed royalties to 10 years
 
3.) Require DSPs who take advantage of the safe harbor streaming mechanical license to recommend (and provide guidance) to aggregators and labels to provide composition ownership information in their metadata when uploading releases to the DSP. This can be done with custom parameters in DDEX ERN or via the new DDEX MWN (Musical Works Ownership) message schema.
 
4.) Work with the U.S. Copyright Office to create an integrated musical works registrations process so that works are simultaneously registered with the MLC and LOC.
 
5.) Expand the statute of limitation period on unclaimed royalties to 10 years and hold funds in an interest-bearing escrow account from which 25% of the interest flows to the general fund of the MLC and 75% of the interest is paid to the payee, along with the balance of unpaid royalties, once the payee has come forward or have been found.
 
6.) Commission an annual audit and publish the findings to members.
 
7.) Use blockchain, where applicable.
 
8.) Remit statements and payments monthly when a member opts to receive direct deposits and electronic statements.
 
9.) Display assessed administration fees on royalty statements.
 
10.) Do not implement high usage weights or bonuses.

How Blockchain And Cryptocurrency Can Speed Up Spotify International Publishing Royalty Payments To US Songwriters

cryptocurrency and music

There’s been a lot of talk about applications of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency payments in the music industry. In fact, there isn’t a single major music industry conference that doesn’t dedicate some programming to related topics. There are several projects and startups currently underway to address licensing, discovery, attribution, remuneration and more with blockchain, smart contracts, and cryptocurrency.

For those of us who aren’t blockchain developers, simply keeping up with the many applications of blockchain in the music industry is the closest we’ll get actually knowing how this all (could) works.

I’ve been thinking about how blockchain and cryptocurrency could speed up the process of paying U.S. songwriters, who wait upwards of 1.5 years to get paid for the use of their songs on Spotify outside the U.S.

The current state of the flow of international publishing income to U.S. Independent Songwriters who own their publishing and use traditional publishing administrators to collect in the U.S. is quite depressing.

As an example, Tommy released a song on Spotify in January 2018. In the United Kingdom, the song earned $100 “publisher share” Spotify UK digital public performance royalties.

Here’s the breakdown:

START: $100 “publisher share” of Spotify UK digital performance royalties in January 2018.

1. PRS collects Tommy’s publishing income in the UK ($100) in January 2018.

2. PRS retains 10% admin fee and remits the balance ($90) to ASCAP in October 2018.

3. ASCAP retains 12% admin fee and remits the balance ($79.20) to the Publishing Administrator in February 2019.

4. Publishing Administrator retains 20% admin fee and pays Tommy ($63.36) in July 2019.

END: Tommy is paid $63.36 for his Spotify UK “publisher share” income (earned $100) after waiting 1.5 years and experiencing a reduction of 37% of his royalties. Imagine $1,000 reduced to $633.60 or $10,000 reduced to $6,336.00.

Had Spotify used blockchain technology to dynamically identify Tommy as the rightsholder in his song and paid him instantly at the close of the month with cryptocurrency, Tommy would have already spent his $100 on studio time!

Dae Bogan To Join Association of Independent Music Publishers’ Panel Event “UNCONVENTIONAL MONEY: Royalty Sources You Might Not Think Of”

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Dae Bogan (Founder & Executive Consultant, Rights Department) joins Landon Austin (Co-Founder and President, Noisely),  Larry Mills (Co-President, Tresóna Multi-Media) and Mitch Rubin (VP Label & Publisher Services, Dubset Media) on a panel to be moderated by Michael Eames (President, PEN Music Group / AIMP President) at the Association of Independent Music Publishers‘ panel event:

UNCONVENTIONAL MONEY: Royalty Sources You Might Not Think Of To license your music is to monetize your music.

Whether it be via marching band, show choir, orchestra rentals, iPhone apps, online games and uses, wedding videos, photograph montages – the possibilities are endless. Join us for an exploration of non-traditional outlets and how the variety of them just might surprise you.

Date: September 27, 2018
Time: 11:30 – 1:45 p.m.

Register: https://www.aimp.org/events/register/922

Reservation Cutoff: September 26, 2018

Place: View Map
Lawry’s The Prime Rib
100 N. La Cienega Blvd. (near Wilshire)
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Entrees:

  • Lawry’s Roasted Prime Ribs Of Beef (Cutoff: September 26, 2018)
  • Crispy Chicken w/Lemon Butter Glaze, Mashed Potatoes & Vegetables (Cutoff: September 26, 2018)
  • Blackened Salmon w/Black Bean Pineapple Salsa, Mashed Potatoes & Vegetables (Cutoff: September 26, 2018)
  • Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa (vegan) (Cutoff: September 26, 2018)

Cost:
AIMP Members – $44.00 per person
AIMP Non-Members – $57.00 per person

Our banking sponsor for this event is:

 

City National Bank

Parking: Self-parking is available on site at no additional charge.

Reservations accepted online at www.aimp.org or by telephone at 818-771-7301 until Wednesday, September 26th at noon.  Advance registration deadline with entree choice also ends on Wednesday, September 26th at noon Premier Members and/or groups of 5 or more who have RSVP’d and paid online may request reserved seating by e-mail or phone, 818-771-7301.  We will do our best to accommodate late reservations made the day before the event, but please be advised that entrée selection and space may be limited. Online reservations can be paid online by credit card.  Payment at the door is by cash, check or credit card (with a $5 surcharge).  Those who walk up without a reservation will be served whatever is available, but most likely prime rib, and may have to wait at entry.  

Full-time students with a current student I.D. – $47.00 per person*

*Qualifying students must reserve by phone and pay in advance by check or at the door. There are no online reservation or payment services for this discounted rate.
NOTE TO BERKLEE ALUMNI: If you are inquiring in response to a special offer via the Berklee Newsletter, please email LAinfo@aimp.org for registration instructions.

Attention Students!  The AIMP has launched its education initiative at Lawry’s.  What this means is that up to 8 students are allowed to attend each panel for $20 per person.  The fee does not include food. This is a great opportunity to learn about music publishing and network. You must RSVP and pay in advance via e-mail or by calling 818-771-7301.

Attention attorneys: this activity has been approved for 1.0 hour of Minimum Continuing Legal Education Credit by the State Bar of California. Attorneys wishing to register for MCLE credit should bring their state bar number with them for the sign in sheet.
[Pick up your certificate at the luncheon – AIMP cannot issue certificates after-the-fact.]

Additional Speaker Information

Landon Austin is the co-founder and President of Noisely which is a licensing search engine for content creators. His career began as a creator where he gained a large online following from finishing top 3 in Dorito’s Crash The Super Bowl competition. His music videos on YouTube have accumulated over 25M vews and resulted in an international touring schedule and over 1.5M monthly listeners on Spotify. In 2017 Landon transitioned to an executive and founder role with Noisely to help bridge the gap between traditional publishing and the necessity for a more streamlined approach to licensing music in smaller applications such as wedding videography, photography, in-app music, YouTube and more. Noisely is currently focused on working with publishers and helping them to launch their own white-label micro-licensing platforms to increase bottom line revenues through access to niche markets.

Dae Bogan is a music rights executive, serial entrepreneur, music creators’ rights advocate, and educator with over a decade of experience in the music industry. Through his boutique music rights & technology consulting firm, Rights Department, Dae assists tech founders license and bring their products and services to market. Dae also works with small to medium-sized music rightsholders to help them navigate and evaluate new media deal terms. He has worked with Beatshare, mydiveo (acquired), PicPlayPost, Acappella, Stryve, WeGo Concerts, and many others.

A serial entrepreneur, Larry Mills has forged his way in the entertainment business over a 25-year career, which has seen him start Record Labels, Marketing Companies, Management Companies, and most recently as Co-President of music licensing company Tresona Music. Tresona is the world’s leader in the issuance of custom arrangement licenses. Tresona exclusively represents the catalogs of Sony/ATV, EMI, Universal Music Publishing, Kobalt, BMG, the catalogs of Hal Leonard, Disney and nearly 7,000 other music publishers for these rights. Tresona’s world class technology makes the licensing process seamless, and currently works with nearly 10,000 performing ensembles worldwide. Larry’s career kicked off with a record company he founded, Steam Records, which was started in the kitchen of his apartment in Atlanta back in 1992. Steam put out early releases by Rusted Root, Lisa Loeb, Shawn Mullins, Kristian Bush (Sugarland) and others. Soon after starting Steam, Larry was brought in to run Autonomous Records, another independent label, which spawned the careers of Sister Hazel and Creed. Autonomous was sold to Roadrunner Records in 1997. After that acquisition, Larry was brought in to run marketing for Pump Audio, the independent music licensing company, which was ultimately sold to Getty Images. After the acquisition, Larry ran the music division of Getty Images for 3.5 years. In 2011, Larry was recruited to be the VP, Strategic Marketing for Sony/ATV Music Publishing. During his tenure, he conceptualized and realized We Are The Hits, which is an on-line music video network, predominantly on YouTube, which allows the aspiring artists of the world to share in the advertising revenue from their cover songs, legally. Currently WATH generates over 3 Billion views a year on YouTube and pays out millions of dollars a year to both songwriters and independent artists. Larry acquired WATH in 2013 from Sony, and at that time partnered with Tresona.

Mitch Rubin is Vice President of Label & Publisher Services at Dubset Media, which offers an innovative music marketplace for artists, labels, publishers, distributors, and DJs. Through cutting edge technology, a rights management database, and easy to use dashboards, Dubset creates new mix & remix distribution and monetization opportunities built on transparency, ownership control, and simplicity. Mitch held senior management positions as a music publisher and for a digital music service, both in the United States and Internationally. He was an integral member of the team that grew BMG Music Publishing into the third largest music publisher in the world prior to its acquisition by Universal Music Publishing in 2006. Among his more notable accomplishments were developing BMG’s production music library business, now the largest in the world and, as Managing Director, turning around and growing the historically unprofitable Australia/New Zealand operation. Immediately prior to Dubset, Mitch was the Global Head of Licensing, Composition Rights, for Nokia, Microsoft, and MixRadio (a division of Line Corp). In that role, he oversaw the licensing of composition rights and managing rights holder relationships in more than 40 countries for such innovative products as Comes With Music and MixRadio. He concluded and managed dozens of agreements, many of which required bespoke licensing solutions due to lack of commercial precedents. Mitch joined the startup Dubset Media in early 2017.

Michael Eames is President of PEN Music Group, Inc. Founded in April 1994, PEN is a full-service independent music publishing company with a worldwide presence who is celebrating its 23rd anniversary in 2017. PEN offers efficiency and personal attention as a boutique company. With PEN’s A-list music contacts in film, TV and advertising, and a success rate that continues to grow (with 100+ placements each year), it is an effective alternative to the large multinational publishing companies. Eames and PEN proudly represent the catalogues of writer/artists as diverse as: JOHN FARRAR (legendary producer of Olivia Newton-John who wrote many of her biggest hits); DON FELDER (formerly of The Eagles who co-wrote the classic copyright “Hotel California”); Oscar®-winner DONNY MARKOWITZ (including the smash hit “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” from DIRTY DANCING); OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN herself; Grammy®-nominated artist/producer WENDY WALDMAN (who co-wrote “Save The Best For Last”); Emmy®- nominated lyricist AMY POWERS; GINA SCHOCK of the Go-Gos; the estates of late composers EARLE HAGEN and ALLYN FERGUSON who between them co-wrote classic TV themes such as The Andy Griffith Show, Barney Miller (and its spinoff Fish), Mod Squad, I Spy , Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and The Dick Van Dyke Show, and many others. PEN is also well known for supporting and developing indie buzz artists such as Kimberly Cole and ShyBoy (both of whom have over 1 million followers on Twitter), as well as many other up-and-coming artists and writers. PEN has also recently begun to represent the videogame scores owned by Zenimax Media which include the Elder Scrolls franchise. PEN’s songs have been recorded by artists including The Black Eyed Peas, Celine Dion, the cast of GLEE, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Cazzette, kd lang, Santana, Christina Aguilera, Corinne Bailey Rae, Faith Hill, Paulina Rubio, Macy Gray, Kenny Rogers and Luther Vandross, among countless others. In the current climate of change in the music business, PEN has also partnered with various independent labels such as Oglio Records and Cheap Lullaby Records to leverage collective strengths. PEN has similarly been entering into joint ventures with respected music executives who start their own companies, most notably Eddie Gomez (formerly of Bug Music) who launched his Little Brother Music in 2012 and Lynn Grossman whose Secret Road Music Services manages Ingrid Michaelson and is a very successful company licensing music to film/TV/ads.
Register for this event now by clicking here.

Why So Many Hip-Hop Producers Are Putting Business Before Beats

I shared my thoughts on music business for Hip-Hop producers in this piece by Cherie Hu for Pitchfork:

“The way many of these companies are trying to match and verify their data? Hundreds of emails,” says Dae Bogan, founder and CEO of TuneRegistry, a rights management platform for indie artists. “Many labels are still using old software and systems to manage their digital catalog, and their rights department is different from the one responsible for metadata, which is different from the one responsible for collecting royalties. There’s a lot of bureaucracy involved.”

Read the full piece here.

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.

5 Ways The Music Modernization Act Could Be Fairer To ALL Music Creators

music modernization act

 

Today, the Music Modernization Act has passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a unanimous 415 – 0 vote (16 reps abstained from voting at all).

The mega bill — which consists of a bundle of Titles that were previously independently proposed bills — will change the way in which musical works are licensed by digital service providers and provide a safe harbor for infringement under a blanket licensing mechanism (Title One – Musical Works Modernization Act); it will bring recordings made before 1972 under federal copyright protection (Title Two – Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service, and Important Contributions to Society Act or CLASSICS Act); and it will codify an allocation of digital radio royalties to music producers and sound engineers (Title Three – Allocation for Music Producers Act or AMP Act).

On its surface the MMA sounds amazing, when summarized this way.

Accordingly, the passing of the MMA in the House was widely praised by executives from the most recognizable U.S. music rights organizations and trade associations (e.g. NMPA, RIAA, DiMA).

However, there remains many uncertainties in the language of the bill presenting an opportunity for the Senate to course correct before the bill becomes a law that would take over 20 years to improve, again (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was the last piece of legislation impacting the music business — it was enacted in 1998).

 

Also read: I Was Interviewed By The Congressional Budget Office Regarding The Music Modernization Act, And Now I’m Even More Concerned For DIY Musicians

 

So, what could the Senate do to make the bill more fair to the tens of thousands of music creators who are not represented (or underrepresented) by the industry sponsors of this bill? Well, there’s at least five issues that can be addressed immediately:

  1. Ban the practice of distributing by market share unclaimed royalties that rightfully belong to DIY musicians and songwriters.
  2. Mandate that record companies provide complete and accurate (at the time of release) publishing information for each track within the metadata delivered to distributors/aggregators, and that the latter provides that information to DSPs.
  3. Do not expunge all past copyright infringement claims, only future claims upon the date of the enactment of the law.
  4. Maintain a representative MLC board of 50% publishers and 50% songwriters (with at least 1 unsigned songwriter on the board (e.g. Chance the Rapper)) as opposed to the BS 10 publishers, 4 songwriters (who’ll likely come from the major publishers anyway) that has been written in the bill.
  5. Respect the Berne Convention by not disregarding the musical works of non-US songwriters who have not (and will not) register each of their songs with the USCO or MLC.

How else could the MMA be improved? Or do you feel that it is fair enough? Let’s discuss in the comments.

I Was Interviewed By The Congressional Budget Office Regarding The Music Modernization Act, And Now I’m Even More Concerned For DIY Musicians

cbo1

I just spent the last hour giving a copyright law and music publishing crash course to a Principal Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office who’s tasked with determining the economic impact of the revised Music Modernization Act (which, by the way, now includes the Musical Works Modernization Act (which is an update to the originally proposed MMA, affecting songwriters and publishers), AMP Act (affecting producers and engineers) and CLASSICS Act (affecting recording artists of Pre-1972 records)) on states, DSPs and music creators.

He emailed me yesterday and asked to speak with me about the magnitude of the unclaimed royalties market, although we ended up discussing much more than that. Apparently he had discovered a presentation that I gave at the Music Industry Research Association’s MIRA Conference last year titled “The State of Unclaimed Royalties and Music Licenses in the United States.”

Screenshot (533)

Email from a Principal Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office

At the top of the one hour call he began by stating that he’s had to learn copyright and music publishing in 2 days (2 days!!!). The guy who’s going to contribute to a recommendation to Congress that will impact whether or not 3 different bills will be enacted and change our copyright law has spent only 2 days learning about the complex web of regulations and customs that govern an entire industry and its millions of constituents. I guess this is how legislation is vetted; economically.

The good news is he had a lot of great questions and had did a significant amount of research prior to our call. To be fair, I meet plenty of music industry professionals who have (or at least demonstrate) less knowledge of what’s going on in the world of music rights administration and music publishing than this gentleman; and they’ve spent years in the industry! It is refreshing to know that the government does inquiry with non-lobbyist from time to time when considering the impact of proposed legislation.

At any rate, he was open to hearing my advocacy on behalf of music creators (specifically songwriters, music producers, and recording artists of Pre-1972 records) as well as my substantiated opposition to some features of the revised MMA (generally those features that would disproportionately benefit music licensees (primarily, DSPs) and major publishers while leaving DIY music creators to fend for themselves).

[This paragraph was omitted on 4/20/2018 as a result of a clarification that I received for Title 3 of the MMA]

Another issue I have is with the ownership of the unclaimed mechanical royalties fund(s). The Musical Works Modernization Act (Title 1 of the MMA) would, for the first time, codify the existence of a mechanical royalties black box in the United States. The current US Copyright Act does not give copyright owners a right to earn or collect mechanical royalties if their musical works are not registered with the US Copyright Office.

Here’s an excerpt from one of my articles on the matter:
After the NOI has been filed, it is then the copyright owner’s responsibility to become aware of and locate the NOI, and then take action in order to receive mechanical royalties. The law states, “To be entitled to receive royalties under a compulsory license, the copyright owner must be identified in the registration or other public records of the Copyright Office.” (17 USC 115(c)(1))
The law also makes it clear that the licensee is not required to pay mechanical royalties until after the copyright owner has been identified. “The owner is entitled to royalties for phonorecords made and distributed after being so identified…” (17 USC 115(c)(1)) What’s worse, the law does not require the licensee to pay retroactively for mechanical royalties earned before the copyright owner is identified. “…but is not entitled to recover for any phonorecords previously made and distributed.” (17 USC 115(c)(1))

However, intermediaries (e.g. Harry Fox Agency, Music Reports, Loudr) that process NOIs (Notice of Intent to Obtain a Compulsory Mechanical License) on behalf of their DSP clients do encourage their clients to set aside unattributed mechanical royalties into an escrow account (the so-called “black box”). The royalties sit there until the copyright owner raises his/her/their hand to collect the earnings or until the entity decides to disburse or absorb the uncollected funds.

Generally, this is a “good faith” policy.

Now, since the MMA will codify the black box as a matter of law, this private sector matter will become a government matter. The question, then, is will federal government or state governments have the right to maintain the unclaimed royalties black box?

Currently, unclaimed property laws enable states to receive and hold unclaimed property (such as money) when the property owner can not be reached. For example, California’s Unclaimed Property Law requires corporations, businesses, associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies (referred to as “Holders”) to annually report and deliver property to the California State Controller’s Office after there has been no activity on the account or contact with the owner for a period of time specified in the law – generally (3) three years or more. I’ve had a few refunds from services that I used and cancelled when I moved from one place to another. I did not provide the service with a forwarding address, so my refund became unclaimed property and ended up with the California State Controller. By searching the CSC’s database, I was able to find and then claim the property (pictured below).

If your property goes unclaimed too long (each state has their own statute of limitations), the state has the right to liquidate the property (e.g. sale an unclaimed vehicle) and absorb proceeds as miscellaneous revenue to the state’s budget [lawyers, correct me in the comments if I’m wrong].

Because states unintentionally (benefit of the doubt) benefits from unclaimed property, I could see states with significant music industries (e.g. California (Los Angeles), New York (Greater New York City), Tennessee (Nashville), Georgia (Atlanta)) suing the federal government or the Mechanical Licensing Collective (the entity that would be granted under the MMA to administer a new blanket licensing system along with a centralized database of musical and sound recording copyrights to match works with usage reports submitted by digital services) over the right to collect unclaimed royalties, especially if the black box is hundreds of millions of dollars (which I believe it is).

There are many other issues that I have with the MMA such as the proposed formation, structure (especially the imbalance of representation on its board where there would be 10 publishers and only 4 songwriters (why not 7/7?)), and governance of the MLC and similar unclaimed royalties issues related to the CLASSICS Act; among other issues. I’d be happy to discuss, but this post is already yuge!

In a word, I am all here for improving royalty rates, ensuring the fair treatment of music copyrights and moving towards a more equitable representation of music creators. However, the MMA is not quite there yet and passing it as-is, with all of its ambiguity, would be a shame. I don’t know if the music industry will have another shot to make this kind of update to the Copyright Act in the next 20 plus years (the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 was the last significant update).

We should probably get it right — now.

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