Unassigned Publishing Amounts Now Estimated at $400 Million

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Just how much unassigned publishing revenues are major labels and publishers now haggling over?

According to estimates shared this week with Digital Music News, the total amount of ‘pending and unmatched’ mechanical royalties is more than $400 million.  Digital Music News first disclosed the presence of the massive amount on Monday, and National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) chief David Israelite has since publicly spoken about ongoing label-publisher negotiations in New York.

The breakdown?  Publishers are talking, and sources are pointing to a label-held ‘pending and unpaid’ tranche of just under $300 million.  Separately, sources inside the Harry Fox Agency (HFA) have been outlining an unresolved ledger balance that approached $124 million at the tail end of last year.  That was backed by numerous internal documents, though current-month figures were not disclosed.  Just this week, Harry Fox acknowledged to Digital Music News that an outstanding balance exists, without specifying amounts.  It remains unclear if the Harry Fox tranche will factor into the current negotiations.

Actually, more unassigned cash may exist, and additional sources are stepping forward.  Either way, this is a considerable amount of money for publishers, a group that can thank the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) for forcing the talks.  In its royalty determination earlier this year, the CRB included a late fee for royalties held by majors.  Incidentally, the HFA-held amounts are partly the result of advances paid by majors while mechanical splits and payouts are resolved, according to sources.

Report by publisher Paul Resnikoff.