Introducing, The American Society for Collective Rights Licensing (ASCRL) — The Organization That Wants To Help Visual Artists Collect Their Unclaimed ‘Black Box” Royalties
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).
This 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.
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:
– 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.
Royalty Claim Announces Unclaimed Neighboring Rights Database – Launches With Nearly 1 Million Records
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.
Claims, Claims, And More Claims – Many Indie Rightsholders Are Filing Claims For The First Time For Section 115 NOIs Thanks To Royalty Claim
We launched Royalty Claim at 6am and dozens of rightholders signed up to search, find, and claim FOR FREE. We’ve already processed many claims within the first 5 hours of doors open.
Royalty Claim launched this morning and within minutes our Slack channel to receive alerts of claims filed has been non-stop! Music creators and rightsholders are easily finding their entitles and filing claims. #UnlockMyRoyalties
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.