You could say that songwriters can’t find their royalties.
But many have no idea where to look! There are multiple PROs in the US, overlapping societies all over Europe, for starters. It’s immensely complicated and time-consuming for the little guy, which is where Tunecore CEO Jeff Price comes in: Tunecore has just launched its Songwriter Publishing Administration Service, which is designed to track the arcane and put it into songwriter wallets.
These are scraps on the table for bigger publishers, but it all adds up. “There’s another $100 to $150 million dollars owed [to Tunecore artists] out in the world right now,” Price estimated. “That money is being paid to third-party organizations that sit on it, unless you show up to get it. If you don’t, they give it to Warner Bros., Sony, Universal, EMI, and others based on their marketshare. It’s wrong, it’s got to stop, and we’re going to do something about it.”
That means registering, collecting, and policing songwriter royalties from places like iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube, according to Price.
But it’s gonna cost ya: it looks like Tunecore will be charging a flat, $49.99 charge plus a 10 percent fee for songwriters, though we’re awaiting confirmation on this structure. That sounds modest on its face, though we’re not sure if most smaller songwriters will even cross that watermark.
Which is actually a much bigger problem with Tunecore’s economics: Price created a great, game-changing service that answered a big need for smaller artists (ie, iTunes distribution). But most don’t even make enough to cover the yearly dues. Then again, these songwriter fees are probably smaller than the administration costs associated with tracking and collecting from various PROs – that is, if the songwriter is actually doing this.