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By Chris Cooke | Posted on Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Sony Music has extended its recent new policy regarding unrecovered balances from its recording business to its publishing business. This means that songwriters who signed with the Major before 2000 and who never recovered their original advances will now receive royalties on the exploitation of their songs.
Sony announced that it was enforcing this policy on the record side of its activities last month. This means that artists who signed their deals with a Sony record label in the 20th century will now collect royalties every time their music is streamed, even if they have never fully repaid the advances they received and paid them back. other recoverable costs incurred by the label before 2000..
The fact that many artists are still paying reclaimable balances decades after a record was released came to light during the recent parliamentary inquiry into the streaming economy, as it means that a heritage artist whose catalog has been revitalized through streaming may not receive new payments because the royalties owed to them pay off old debts.
Some independent companies, like Beggars Group, already write off unclaimed balances after a certain period of time. Other labels, including the majors, were encouraged to follow suit in the parliamentary inquiry, with some pointing out that – because conventional record deals only pay an artist a minority share of the money generated by their recordings – it is common for a label to profit from a deal long before the artist recovers any recoverable advance and fees.
Publishing contracts are generally much more generous for songwriters than recording contracts are for artists, with the author receiving the majority of the money generated by his songs, making it easier to repay advances. . Although at least 50% of the money generated from a song’s performing rights actually goes directly to a songwriter through the collective licensing system, even when there is an advance to be recovered. In the short term, this is obviously to the benefit of the writer, even if it means that it takes longer to collect the advances.
It should also be noted that publishing contracts in the 20th century – while still more generous to songwriters than recording contracts were to artists – were not as favorable to writers as contracts. modern edition.
Over the years, songwriters’ share of money on the average deal has grown – plus copyright term agreements, through which a publisher has control over an author’s songs. as long as copyright exists, have pretty much disappeared, certainly in the Anglo-American markets. This means that a publisher will now only have control of a writer’s songs for a set period of time.
But for writers who signed life-long copyright agreements in the 20th century and paid lower songwriter royalties, Sony’s latest move could lead to the influx of new money. every year. The new policy will also be applied retrospectively in early 2021.
Announcing the new songwriters policy yesterday, Sony Music Publishing boss Jon Platt wrote in a note: “Today I am happy to share that we are launching Songwriters Forward, an initiative designed to expand our support for songwriters. careers at every step. Under Songwriters Forward, we are introducing the Legacy Unrecouped Balance program for eligible Sony Music Publishing songwriters. We have been working on this plan for some time, which complements the Artists Forward program recently announced by Sony Music ”.
“We will no longer apply existing unrecovered balances to earnings of eligible songwriters signed before 2000 who have not received advances since, and this applies retroactively to January 1, 2021,” he said. he then explained. “Qualified songwriters will be notified separately in the coming weeks.”
Checking out the name of other recent Sony Music Publishing innovations in royalty reporting and payments, he continued, “These efforts are a continuation of our songwriter-centric approach and support our continued investment in administration modernization, including further upgrades to SCORE data and analytics, cash out payment options and real-time foreign royalty processing ”.
“With historic policy changes in our business, we are taking important steps to create a more equitable and transparent music industry for songwriters and all creators. On behalf of our teams around the world, we are privileged to represent you as we begin this next chapter with Songwriters Forward ”.