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Claim Initiative researchers and data scientists locate, retrieve, synthesize and ingest an array of published and unpublished data that reference statutory notifications of certain music licenses, unattributed royalties (so-called “Black Box” royalties) and settlements; and income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.
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”.