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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.

Introducing, The American Society for Collective Rights Licensing (ASCRL) — The Organization That Wants To Help Visual Artists Collect Their Unclaimed ‘Black Box” Royalties

ascrl

ASCRL homepage. Featured photo © Neil Zlozower

As many of you know, I’ve researched and have written extensively about unclaimed music royalties held in escrow or so-called “black boxes,” which are monies owed to music creators and rights-holders (and founded RoyaltyClaim to address this issue). Today, I want to draw your attention to a similar matter in the world of visual art (e.g. photography, illustration, stills, text design).

eugene-mopsikThis morning I had the pleasure of speaking with Eugene Mopsik, the CEO of the American Society of Collective Rights Licensing (ASCRL). A successful corporate /industrial photographer with over 32 years of experience, Eugene was previously the Executive Director of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP).

Eugene and I talked about issues related to the representation and rights of visual artists and the monetization of their works outside of the United States. He and his co-founders of ASCRL are working to help visual artists claim their fair share of royalties that have long gone to the publishers of visual works.

Similar to musical works (aka compositions or songs) that earn mechanical royalties when the work is reproduced, visual works, in many cases, earn reprographic royalties. Whereas mechanical royalties outside of the U.S. are collected by mechanical rights organizations (MROs) in territories under the MRO’s jurisdiction, reprographic royalties are collected by reprographic rights organizations (RROs) in territories under the RRO’s jurisdication. And, much like the complex web of legal and regulatory issues that makes it challenging for songwriters to collect their ex-U.S. mechanical royalties, similar limitations make it challenging for visual artists to collect their ex-U.S. reprographic royalties.

Antitrust laws has made it difficult to form a collective licensing body. Consequently, the U.S. does not have a local RRO to enter into reciprocal agreements with foreign RROs for the purpose of passing through ex-U.S. reprographic royalties to be paid to U.S. visual artists. Once again, this is similar to the absence of a U.S. MRO for songwriters. Notably, however, the U.S. has made an exception for the collective licensing of performance rights in musical works.

Since 1914, songwriters and composers have been able to join a performance rights organization (PRO) for the collective licensing of performance rights and payment of performance royalties. In the United States, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), SESAC, and Global Music Rights (GMR) are PROs that represent the performance rights of songwriters and publishers.

Currently, when reprographic royalties are earned outside of the United States, they are collected by RROs. RROs then distributes royalties to the publishers of visual works and authors of visual works (visual artists) who’ve joined the RRO. The RRO passes reprographic royalties for works due to members of foreign RROs to the RRO in the respective territory. In cases where the publishers or authors of works are unknown or if the author is an unrepresented U.S. visual artist, royalties are held in escrow and eventually distributed by market share to publishers. In the latter, royalties that are fairly owed to U.S. visual artists are being distributed to publishers. This is what the American Society of Collective Rights Licensing aims to address.

Joining ASCRL is free. Members can submit their works and use the ASCRL claiming portal to claim their entitlements and unlock unclaimed royalties. To learn more about ASCRL or to begin the process of joining, visit http://www.ascrl.org.

Spotify Is Launching A New Streamlined Playlist Submission Tool

An email from ADA announcing Spotify’s new playlist submission tool has gone viral on social media, passed between music industry insiders.

Here’s the full version of the email:

Starting tomorrow July 19th, Spotify is rolling out a beta feature designed to help your teams share unreleased music for playlist consideration. As part of this beta period, both the existing processes and this new, streamlined process will co-exist.

Our beta feature will give you a streamlined way to share unreleased music with our global editorial team. This feature will be available to you in Spotify Analytics and for artists in Spotify for Artists. If you don’t have access to Spotify Analytics, you can reach out to your central team to get access.

“Beta” means this is the first step in making our playlist process better for our partners and for artists. This is a big focus for us, and we’re going to continue to work to make the process better. We definitely encourage you to try out this feature and share any feedback you have with me, so we can continue to improve the product.

Click here to download a pdf overview Spotify has provided. https://adamusic.app.box.com/s/a6bg9iz4u100j9we14ua4014px3m9bc1

Current open questions communicated to Spotify:
– Visibility into which editors have listened to the track
– Ability for editors to insert feedback
– Functionality to get unfinished music to editors
– Functionality to pitch released music – Label filter

Here are guidelines/FAQs we have complied to assist you with this new process:
– How is music pitched?
Music can be pitched from within Spotify Analytics or Spotify for Artists. The track has to be delivered via our standard feed, with an upcoming release date. All pitch-able content is contained in a new ‘upcoming’ tab in the Catalog view within Spotify Analytics.

– Who can pitch music?
Anyone with Spotify Analytics and/or Spotify for Artists access can pitch music.

– What happens if the wrong track is pitched, or if we decide to change the focus track?
Pitches can be overwritten. Spotify will consider the most recent pitch. Submissions show the name of the person who submitted a track, and when the submission was made.

– How long does it take from delivery to ingestion in Analytics?
Product should be visible in Analytics shortly after Spotify has received delivery from the ADA feed.

– I have music that’s not finished but want to share with Spotify. Can this be done?
At the moment, this tool is designed only for music that has been delivered via the feed. Spotify has suggested that we submit music for ingestion via the feed as early as possible. However, music/release planning meetings for long-lead projects should continue to be utilized as a forum to play music for editors in advance.

– What about music that has already been released?
We cannot pitch music through this tool that is already released. Continue to use forms in the short term (although these will be phased out eventually) and communicate priorities directly with the Artist & Label Marketing Team, as well as editors, when relevant.

– What information needs to be provided for a submission?
The follow criteria has been outlined:
Genre
Music culture
Mood
Language
Recording Type
Instrumentation
Artist Origin
Song Description
Marketing Details

– What editors will receive my music?
All submissions are global, meaning all relevant editors based on the criteria submitted will receive the pitch. We have been advised that updates and advance music links should be sent to Artist & Label Marketing team as well as appropriate editors when applicable, but the new process should also be followed.

– If submissions are global, what if local markets want to pitch different tracks?
We will not be able to submit different tracks in different markets. The repertoire owner will be responsible for which track is pitched, but please follow up with local editors to reiterate these track priorities.

– How much music can be pitched each week?
There is no cap on how much music you can pitch weekly. However, you can only pitch one track per product.

– What if you decide to pitch a track from an album?
A pitched track from an album will be highlighted as a priority to editorial, as well as for Release Radar. However, the full album will be available to editorial for programming.

– Release Radar Impact
Pitched tracks will be prioritized within the algorithm for Release Radar playlists. Tracks must be submitted 5 business days prior to release for Release Radar consideration.

– What will happen to the Google Forms we’ve been using?
The current Google forms will continue to run for a period as we transition to the new system. Phase-out has been tentatively scheduled for October 1, 2018.

I wonder how this will affect the numerous Spotify playlist submission services out there.

Dae Bogan To Join Panel On The Future Of Rights Technology At A2IM Indie Week In New York

a2im indie week dae bogan speaker

Dae Bogan will join Shanna Jade (Director of Brand Strategy, Stem) and Rob Weitzner (Head of North America, The state51 Music Group) on the panel “Future of Rights Technology” on Wednesday, June 20th at A2IM (American Association of Independent Music) Indie Week conference taking place at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center in New York. The panel will be moderated by Anna Siegal, SVP FUGA North America.

For more details, visit https://a2im.org/event/a2im-indie-week-2018/

Google To Enable DIY Musicians To Capture Their Mechanical Royalties

Google

Two months ago I published an investigative report on Google’s mechanical licensing practices that left DIY music creators without mechanical royalties from Google Play Music and YouTube.

Today, I’m happy to say that after weeks of discussions, Google has come onboard to Royalty Claim to make it possible for DIY music creators to get DIRECT LICENSING DEALS with Google Play Music and YouTube.

Read more in Royalty Claim’s Facebook post.

CreativeFuture Releases ‘The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label & Publisher’ Written By Dae Bogan

CreativeFuture Dae Bogan DIY Musician Starter Guide

Over the last 10 years, I’ve had the honor of working with and supporting many DIY musicians in the development, launch and growth of their music careers. As an artist manager, indie label owner, music publisher, music retail executive and music tech entrepreneur I’ve directly contributed to the creation, promotion, release, administration and monetization of hundreds of releases.

It is from these experiences working with DIY musicians (and indies) and through my advanced education having earned a master’s degree in music business that I operate today as an entrepreneur, educator and advocate for DIY musicians.

I try to assist DIY musicians make sense of the music business through articles and insight, workshops, courses, webinars and now a short ebook.

I am excited to present The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide to Being Your Own Label and Publisher

The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide to Being Your Own Label and Publisher was written to (1) help DIY musicians become better advocates for themselves by demystifying some of the confusing concepts behind how the digital music industry operates, (2) to address and offer solutions to many of the challenges that DIY musicians face in their careers, and (3) to educate DIY musicians on the processes with which they must become familiar to increase the possibility of being properly compensated for the
use of their music across the digital music ecosystem.

In this guide, you will learn about the basics of music copyrights and the business implications of the difference between compositions and sound recordings. You will learn what it means to be your own label and publisher and the four different hats you wear in the world of music royalties. You will also gain practical knowledge and steps
for asserting your rights and capturing the royalties that your music earns across the digital music industry.

Get it FREE here.

[Infographic] Royalty Claim Launch Month Review

Royalty Claim Launch Month In Review Cover

We’re excited to share this infographic representing a review of Royalty Claim‘s launch month.

Highlights from the infographic:

• The Royalty Claim Initiative has ingested nearly 60 million records of entitlements currently available for search and claiming in the Royalty Claim Platform.

• Over 350 music creators and music industry companies from 16 countries have joined Royalty Claim.

• Users have conducted over 4,500 searches and have created over 600 claims resulting in a 13% “find rate.”

We have a ways to go, but we are thrilled to see that so many music creators and rightsholders are feeling just a bit more empowered with data.

 

View the infographic here.

Royalty Claim Announces Unclaimed Neighboring Rights Database – Launches With Nearly 1 Million Records

Royalty Claim David Guetta

Neighboring rights is becoming a hot ticket music rights issue as download decline (and thus, mechanical royalties) and Internet streaming soars. However, the fact that US music creators and rights owners get the short end of the stick in terms of the global view of neighboring rights protections and financial reward, it is more important than ever of US stakeholders to see where and how their music is performing around the world. Neighboring Rights Agencies have boomed over the last several years to address this issue, but they’re still highly selective and most work with a few dozen performers, if any at all.

This is why we are happy to announce our Unclaimed Neighboring Rights database which launches today with nearly 1 Million records from several collective management organizations (CMOs) and foreign collection societies.
royalty claim neighboring rights

Complete details and a demo here.
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