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.
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/
“‘The MMA gives a digital service like Spotify or Amazon a more convenient way of licensing songs,’ Dae Bogan, founder of music management platform TuneRegistry and a longtime music rights advocate and executive, explains. ‘And it opens a potential windfall of income to legacy artists who were left out of the digital boom.’ But Bogan adds that the legislation doesn’t come close to fixing all, or even most, of the problems in music royalties for labels, publishers and musicians; the simplified processes just make it more likely they’ll get the money they’re due.” via RollingStone
In light of the CRB’s ruling today to increase mechancial royalty rates for on-demand DSPs, I would caution against passing the Music Modernization Act without first amending it to include some very necessary guarantees for DIY musicians.
Given the recent ruling to increase mechanical rates, penalize DSPs for late payments, and remove the TCC cap DSPs will be more incentivized to cling to the safe harbor components of the MMA to limit their financial responsibility to songwriters.
I also fear that the blanket license (combined with the elimination of the statutory damages provision against infringement) would hurt more DIY musicians than protect compared to the existing compulsory licensing schema where today an independent can fully self-administer his/her mechancial rights via a service like TuneRegistry or with a third-party administrator like Songtrust. Why? Because the unclaimed/unpaid (aka “black box”) royalty fund will also increase by 44%, giving major publishers a bigger windfall of market share distributed gains from a royalty pool that generally belongs to unidentified independent songwriters.
What incentive does DSPs, who must pay the rates anyway, and major publishers, who will undoubtedly control the mechanical licensing collective body, have to ensure the works of DIY musicians are properly represented and accounted to and what power do DIY musicians have to assert their limited rights?
I could be completely and utterly wrong.
However, the devil is in the details and the MMA, while it does streamline the process of mechancial licensing in the United States for DSPs it also effectively limits the warranties and representations of DIY musicians.
Every article written about MMA is generally written from the perspective of publishers and NMPA members. As an advocate for and service provider to DIY musicians, my perspective is a bit different and more nuanced.
The decision today by the CRB was a win for all songwriters. The MMA is a win for major publishers. It must be amended.
Today, I’m happy to say that after weeks of discussions, Google has come onboard toRoyalty 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.