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”.
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
This post was originally written for and published on Tradiio’s blog.
Did you know that music creators in the United States earn fewer royalty streams than their international counterparts?
In the United States, there is no national performance right in sound recordings. The US Copyright Act sets out several rights for compositions (songs), such as the right to reproduce and distribute compositions in phonorecords, but thanks to a combination of outdated rules and tough opposition from lobbying organizations that represent broadcasters, the law does not include a performance right for sound recordings.
This means that whenever a recording is performed on AM/FM radio in the US, broadcasters are not required to pay artists or record companies any royalties from the advertisements revenue that they earn on the back of those performances. Considering that there are over 15,000 radio stations across the US performing hundreds of thousands of plays of music each week, US music creators and labels are potentially missing out on millions of dollars in royalties.
Virtually all other developed nations outside of the US have a performance right in sound recordings, which is known as neighbouring rights. When a US artist’s recording is performed on BBC in the UK, it earns neighbouring rights royalties for the US artist.
The fact that recordings earn royalties outside of the US is good news, right? Not so much.
Because the US does not have a national performance right in sound recordings (no neighbouring right), no recording earns these royalties. This includes recordings by artists from countries that do recognize neighbouring rights. So yeah, insert your favorite European band who gets high rotation on US radio.
As a result, the countries who do recognize neighbouring rights do not send the neighbouring rights royalties generated from the performance of recordings by US artists in their territory back to any of the US music rights organizations. They keep it or distribute it to the artists and labels in their territory.
Generally speaking, most indie artists who earn neighbouring rights royalties outside of the US will never see this royalty stream unless the US government makes a change to copyright law. Although there are some small companies who try to capture neighbouring rights royalties on behalf of US music creators, they tend to focus on a select roster of more established artists, leaving up-and-coming indie artists with no support.
So what now?
Well, now that you know US artists earn less royalty streams from their music than their international counterparts, it is really important to maximize the royalty streams that they do earn.
Many independent artists miss out on royalties that their music does earn because they do not properly register their songs, recordings, and releases with the various music rights organizations and licensing agencies who collect and distribute royalties. This is understandable, as it can be a pain to keep up with the many different registration processes across a number of organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Music Reports, Harry Fox Agency, SoundExchange, the Alliance for Artists and Record Companies, and more). It can be burdensome, time consuming, and often confusing to properly register a complete album. However, missing just one registration or filing registrations late can result in lost royalties, or even disputes over ownership.
This is where TuneRegistry steps in to help.
TuneRegistry is an all-in-one music rights and metadata management platform for the independent music community. Easily organize and store your song details, recording metadata, credits and ownership splits, and release information in your TuneRegistry account. It’s your robust music catalog manager that’s accessible online, so you don’t have to worry about tracking down emails, storing through documents in various desktop and cloud folders, losing collaborator contact information, or any of the other messy issues that most indie artists face.
TuneRegistry is your one-stop source for keeping your music catalog in check.
The advantage of TuneRegistry over other catalog management systems is that we’ve integrated the registrations process directly to ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Music Reports, SoundExchange, and many more. Save time, reduce errors, and unlock royalties with our integrated registrations module. We make it super easy to get your music registrations to the organizations and data services who need it.
I can only imagine the music compensation nightmare that will ensue over the next 12 months as streaming, DPD, and airplay royalty checks start to go out to the multi-national team of creators and rights holders.
Who is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of rights holder information across all tracks? Who is checking that digital music services have complete metadata to match sound recordings to their underlying compositions? Who is accounting to the background vocalists and session musicians?
Did every producer and engineer secure letter of directions from Beyoncé and Drake to properly claim a portion of Pandora payouts? Who is looking after the contributors who do not have multinational publishers? Will they capture their piece of neighboring rights, DART royalties, or Spotify mechanicals?
Who will lose out due to inefficiencies? Who will have money left on the table due to an inability to properly claim and collect?
These are the questions that we ask ourselves at TuneRegistry and why we’ve built the next-generation music rights & metadata management platform to empower creators and rights holders.