Sony Music Publishing Waives Unrecouped Debts for Legacy Songwriters

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About five weeks after Sony Music Entertainment waived unrecouped debts for legacy artists, Sony Music Publishing has followed suit by waiving unrecouped debts for legacy songwriters.

Sony Music Publishing CEO Jon Platt announced the pivot – one component of a broader “Songwriters Forward” initiative – in a widely circulated letter that was originally sent to the entity’s represented songwriters. “We will no longer apply existing unrecouped balances to earnings for eligible songwriters signed prior to the year 2000 who have not received advances since,” the former Warner/Chappell head Platt explained in the document.

Like its artist counterpart, the waiver “applies retroactively to January 1, 2021,” the text proceeds, and “qualifying songwriters” will receive a notification “in the coming weeks.” More broadly, the development accompanies Sony Music Publishing’s “ongoing investment in administration modernization, including new SCORE data and analytics upgrades, Cash Out payment options, and real-time foreign royalty processing,” the letter indicates towards its conclusion.

“With historic policy changes across our business, we are taking important steps toward creating a more equitable, transparent music industry for songwriters and all creators,” the message finishes. “On behalf of our teams around the world, it is our privilege to represent you as we begin this next chapter with Songwriters Forward.”

Worth mentioning on this front is that the change, in addition to arriving on the heels of the initially highlighted unrecouped-debt waiver for legacy artists, comes about one week after the House of Commons’ DCMS Committee urged Universal Music and Warner Music to follow SME’s lead by looking “again at the issue of unrecouped balances with a view to enabling more of their legacy artists to receive payments when their music is streamed.”

The lawmakers’ recommendation was published as part of a comprehensive analysis of the contemporary music industry, including an in-depth look at the business practices of the Big Three record labels and said practices’ impact upon creators. To be sure, the authors also called on the Competition and Markets Authority (which is already investigating Sony Music’s $430 million purchase of AWAL) “to consider how the majors’ position in both recording and publishing has influenced the relative value of song and recording rights.”

Earlier this month, Sony Music Publishing inked a deal with Alberts to administer AC/DC’s catalog, while late June saw SMP finalize a global publishing agreement with Relative Music Group. And today, the SME subsidiary announced the promotion of Carol NG (who joined EMI Music Publishing back in 1998) to president of the company’s Asia operations.

Also in July, Sony Music Entertainment itself unveiled a “strategic partnership” with Roblox and, more recently, filed a firmly worded copyright infringement complaint against fitness-apparel company Gymshark.

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