Last year Sony Music made the news by wiping out all unrecouped balances from artists that were signed before the year 2000. That allowed these artist to finally make some money from streaming, which they hadn’t been doing because of money still owed to the label. Now comes news that both Warner Music and Universal Music will be doing the same soon.
According to a statement by Warner Music, “[We’ve] announced a legacy unrecouped advances program where, for our artists and songwriters who signed to us before 2000 and didn’t receive an advance during or after 2000, we won’t apply their unrecouped advances to royalty statements for any period beginning July 1, 2022 or after. The program will also benefit other artist royalty participants such as producers, engineers, mixers and remixers.”
Although Universal Music didn’t officially announce similar news, it was reported by MBW that senior sources within the label indicated that the same would happen there within the next few months. No other details were given, but the new policy is is expected to be something like Warners Environment Social Governance (ESG) practices. It’s reported that this program will cover both songwriters and artists.
Major labels often get a bad rap (some of it richly deserved) but Warners has done a few things lately in favor of its artists. For one thing, it’s been continually updating its streaming terms with artists and songwriters, and in 2018 the label sold its Spotify stock and shared the $504 million in proceeds with its artists, which no one expected. Sony Music also did the same thing that year when it sold 50% of its Spotify stock for $768 million. Universal has yet to sell its reported 3 to 4% of Spotify stock, and it’s now believed to be now worth billions.
If you’re a legacy artist at a major label and haven’t been making money from streaming due to unrecouped balances, thankfully that’s probably going to change soon. You can read more about the Warner Music initiative in its latest report.