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Sony Music to expand unrecouped balance program to more artists and songwriters

Last June, Sony Music Group made the landmark announcement that it would no longer apply existing unrecouped balances to earnings for eligible artists who were signed prior to the year 2000, and who hadn’t received advances since.

The move was launched via an initiative called “Artists Forward” which, according to a statement from the record company at the time, focuses on “prioritizing transparency with creators in all aspects of their development”.

The marquee policy from that initiative, The Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program, was extended to songwriters in July, with Sony Music Publishing (SMP) revealing that it too would disregard unrecouped balances for qualifying songwriters.

Now, Sony Music Group is expanding its unrecouped balance program to even more artists and songwriters.

Going forward, SMG is expanding the program on a rolling basis, to eligible unrecouped artists and songwriters globally who have been with Sony Music for over 20 years, and haven’t received an advance in over two decades.

Qualifying artists, songwriters and participants will be notified of their eligibility later this year.

The move was revealed by Sony Music Group Chairman, Rob Stringer, during a presentation to investors at Sony Group’s 2022 Business Segment Briefing on Thursday morning (May 26).

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Sony’s enhanced program, which kicks off this autumn, will begin with qualifying artists and songwriters who signed to SME prior to the year 2001 and have not received an advance from the year 2001 forward.

Pre-2001 participants who qualify will be eligible to receive streaming and other royalty earnings generated on or after January 1, 2022.

Moving forward, qualifying artists and songwriters who hit the milestone of over 20 years between signing to Sony Music and their last advance, will also be eligible to participate in the program.

SMG is already paying through on any eligible royalty earnings on or after January 1, 2021 to qualifying artists and songwriters who signed to SMG prior to the year 2000 and had not received an advance from the year 2000 forward.

MBW understands that SMG has already paid millions of dollars to thousands of qualifying pre-2000 artists and songwriters globally to date.

“At Sony Music Group we take pride in our efforts to be the most creator friendly company in the modern music industry and we will keep searching for the most principled ways to represent our talent.”

Rob Stringer

During his presentation, Rob Stringer said: “At Sony Music Group we take pride in our efforts to be the most creator friendly company in the modern music industry and we will keep searching for the most principled ways to represent our talent.

“Examples like our new Artists and Songwriters Forward programs which promote complete supportive transparency in our relationships.”

He added: “We became the first major company to pay through earnings to many long standing artists and songwriters regardless of any recoupment status.

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“And now, we are expanding that effort to include even more qualifying artists who have been signed to us for more than 20 years, by offering eligibility on a rolling basis.”

Stringer noted further that this initiative follows Sony becoming “the first company to share our equity from Spotify”, and cited Sony’s suite of “digital insight tools that offer real time earnings, reporting, cash out and advance capabilities which allow our creators to have more knowledge and control of their career finances”.

Stringer also referenced Sony’s wellness-focused program called Artist Assistance, which SME launched in September as a major expansion of Artists Forward.

Added Stringer: “Related to this transparent approach, we believe in the wellbeing of our artists and songwriters. So, we have launched an Artist and Songwriter Assistance program that offers multiple ways of helping them with the rigors of the music business.

“We believe we are game changers in our desire to look after our talent properly in this complex digital age.”

In February, Warner Music Group, the world’s third largest music rights company, also confirmed that it is introducing a “legacy unrecouped advances program”, which will go into effect on July 1.

In March, Universal Music Group confirmed that it would also be disregarding unrecouped balances for heritage artists.Music Business Worldwide

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