Music Business

‘Several Hundred Million Dollars’ In Black Box Royalties Is Due To Musicians, Publishers

We’ve known for years that there is a large pool of unpaid royalties from Spotify, Apple Music, and other digital service providers.

Known as “Black Box Royalties,” these unpaid funds usually accrue when a DSP can not trace the writer or publisher of a song.

Last year’s U.S. Music Modernization Act was supposed to fix the problem by establishing a better song database and deciding how much “black box” money was due to artists as well as how it would be divided and paid out.

Things involving Washington move slowly, and those implementing the MMA are no exception. But thanks to a request from the Digital Licensing Coordinator seeking more information, one portion of the mystery is closer to being solved:

How much black box money is due?

… (the) DLC estimated that several hundred million dollars were available to be transferred to the MLC as accrued royalties, even after accounting for the derecognition of accruals based on preexisting agreements containing releases to claims for accrued royalties.”

Several hundred million dollars is sitting there waiting to be distributed to artists and music publishers with no firm promise as to how and when it will be distributed.

H/T to Chris Castle for uncovering the request. He offers an excellent in-depth analysis here.

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