Music Business

A Good Time To Be A Songwriter As Universal Music Publishing Connects Others With Royalty Portal

While some legacy songwriters are nostalgic for royalty systems from days gone by, the reality is that such systems were sluggish and often unreliable when it came to actually paying artists. Now, with Universal announcing its plan to launch a real-time online royalty portal, similar to the one developed by Kobalt, it’s a good time to be a songwriter.

Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0

Many classic songwriters lament days gone by when mechanical royalties from vinyl and CD’s ruled, but the fact of the matter is that the accounting back then was archaic. You never knew how well you were doing until you received a statement, and even then it came from royalties earned months and even years back. On top of that you couldn’t be sure if the figures were correct, and there was no way to check them unless you launched an expensive audit. Kobalt changed all that about 5 years ago when it launched it’s almost real-time online royalty portal.

For most songwriters, the thought of an online royalty portal is a no-brainer. If streaming services can provide up-to-the-minute or daily charts, why can’t royalty accounting, which is mostly based on streaming numbers these days, do the same thing? On top of that, if you pretty much know how much money is coming in, why can’t you draw on that money if it’s already accounted for?

Kobalt set the tone for the royalty portal back in 2015, but the major publishers have been slowly catching up. Last July Sony/ATV announced that it was launching a similar system, complete with cash withdrawals, and most recently Universal Music Publishing Group has announced a similar system.

Its portal is called UMPG Window and is available via an iOS or Android app. According to UMPG, it’s based on “the latest in cloud-indexing technology” that allows clients to view earnings by work title, accounting periods, territory, digital service provider, income source, income group, income type, local/international and more. It also provides society registration information, but also registration status and full song copyright information on all works.

What UMPG songwriters will like best though is the “unique ability for clients to request no-fee advances based on both current period earnings and international pipeline earnings.”

You might wonder why it’s taking major publishers so long to step into the present with their accounting, but the fact is that it’s not an easy task. Old-school publishers have accounting systems that have worked for decades in many cases. It’s a massive task to change to a new system, not to mention costly, and make sure it works.

The good news is that the publishing industry as a whole recognizes that today’s songwriters expect this level of up-to-date reporting, and if they expect to attract new songwriters it’s in their best interest to upgrade.

Thank Kobalt for putting everyone in a win-win situation.

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