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”.
I’ve been hearing that Spotify is rolling out their BETA for their new Spotify Ad Studio, which they are comparing to Google Adwords and Facebook. Some artist managers I’ve spoken with are already in the beta and using it to run ad campaigns on Spotify.
One manager posted in a group that I’m in:
Everyone go to adstudio.spotify.com and check it out for yourselves. Apparently I already have access. The targeting doesn’t get as fine as Facebook, for example, and there’s a $250 minimum spend which gets about 10,000 airings at $0.025 each. There’s also a $5,000 maximum, I presume per campaign, and above that you’re getting into their Spotify For Brands territory which has a $25,000 campaign minimum spend.
They also specify that they don’t currently support driving traffic to songs or playlists. Their ad objectives are ‘Announce an event,’ ‘Raise brand awareness,’ ‘Drive people to my website,’ and ‘Other.’
If you’re interested in advertising content, they encourage you to email email@example.com
Want to learn more, here’s a Google Doc with FAQs:
Generally speaking, with the industry being the Big Data industry that it has become, I feel that many of you how have experience with financial data modeling, forecasting, and other “financial/number people skills” could be a viable asset to numerous music companies.
Here are a few companies who specifically exist at the intersection of music and money, which could be a good transitional outlet for the right candidates:
Artist Management Firms: If you do not have someone on your team whose sole responsibility is to utilize online music sync agencies, pitch ad agencies, and cozy up with music supervisers, you’re missing out, bigly.
When I owned/operated Renaissance Artist Management (aka RAM Artist), I established an in-house position for the sole purpose of securing music sync opportunities. This was during the early days of micro-sync and the boom of online sync agencies.
We leveraged online agencies (at the time that included Rumblefish before they were acquired by HFA and pivoted). Check out Songtradr, Music Bed, MusicDealers, YouLicense, Pump Audio, and many others like them.
Consider giving some tracks to exclusive libraries who do well pitching your artists’ sound. Red Bull Media House is always looking for good music and they get YUGE placements.
Make sure to read the deats of their contracts.
Here’s a few things to look out for:
- Exclusivity – Try not to give micro sync agencies exclusivity. If you’re giving a company exclusivity, it better be a solid library. (TuneCore PRO users…did you know when you opt-in to their sync licensing program, you’re giving them exclusivity?)
- SoundExchange Royalties – Some pitch houses and libraries have tried to sneak in a cut of your SoundExchange royalties. Don’t let them get it. They are not getting your music placed on digital radio, so they do not participate in your digital radio royalties. I successfully helped an indie artist negotiate that clause out of a library agreement.
- Tagging/ReTitling– Tagging is the practice of adding an identifier to your song title when the song is registered with a PRO. Retitling is creating a new title for the song when registering. The goal of both methods is to disambiguate any performance royalties generated as a result of the libraries sync placement activities. This is necessary when you have multiple non-exclusive libraries getting places of the same song. They want to make sure that when the cue sheet from the TV show gets to the PRO, the royalties earned against that specific placement gets to the right entity. It’s not unheard of for one song to be placed by several non-exclusive sync agencies, each with retitles or tagging and capturing royalties for their specific placement. Do know that the writer gets the writer share for all of the placements. The agencies/libraries participate in the publishers share of their specific title.
- Duration of Term – Exclusive libraries may want up to 3 years exclusivity. Aim for 1 year for the first term.
Learn about royalty forensics, that is the art(science?) of tracking down uses of your music and capturing associated royalties (this is definitely important when it comes to big multi territory placements, TV syndication, and film secondary market distributions). Tunesat and ACRCloud are two audio detection platforms that’ll detect performances of your music in sync media.
You may want to setup your own music licensing store, so that when you meet music sups, you can send them to an easy-to-search library of your own music. Check out Soundgizmo and LicenseQuote for this.
And of course, don’t forget to make sure the music is registered before it starts to generate royalties, with TuneRegistry.
There is something in the industry we call A&R 2.0, and that is music tech platforms that allow unsigned artists to submit music to be reviewed by music industry professionals (often, label A&Rs) for feedback, placement (cover records), and possibly a record deal. There is typically a per transaction fee for some (Music Xray and Blaze Trax) or a subscription fee for others (Audio Rokit).
There are mixed feelings in the music industry about these type of platforms, but they do exist and more and more songwriters and artists are starting to use them. Read More…
After months of development, I’m happy to announce that my music tech startup, ChazBo Music (Beta) and our website is now live!
ChazBo Music is a cloud-based music video digital signage solution for businesses and a music video distribution and promotion platform for artists and record labels.
A more official press release will go out in the next few hours with more details including our launch partners and first customer.
Visit http://www.chazbomusic.com for more information.