Confirmed: Universal IS disregarding unrecouped balances for heritage artists

Photo: MBW

In February, MBW told you that Universal Music Group was planning to introduce a policy that would see unrecouped balances disregarded for eligible catalog songwriters and artists on its books.

We were told at the time by senior sources in the music industry that this policy would be confirmed publicly by UMG in the coming months.

Today (March 31), UMG has done just that.

The policy was announced within UMG’s Environment Social Governance (ESG) report, included in its Annual Report 2021, which was published today.

In the report, which also highlights initiatives on artist welfare, climate change and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, among other subjects, UMG says it will be launching what it calls a “worldwide goodwill program for certain legacy featured recording artists and songwriters”.

The program will see UMG disregard unrecouped balances on advances for eligible artists.

Within the report, UMG states: “Continuing to build an industry-leading tradition of support programs for legacy artists, in 2022, UMG is proud to initiate a worldwide goodwill program for certain legacy featured recording artists and songwriters with unrecouped balances.

“By not applying their unrecouped advances to royalty statements for any period beginning January 1, 2022, eligible creators and their immediate heirs who have not received any payments since January 1, 2000, will begin receiving royalties, subject to certain conditions.”

UMG says it will contact eligible artists and songwriters in the coming months.

Today’s news means that UMG becomes the third major music company to initiate an unrecouped balance program for legacy acts.

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

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.Music Business Worldwide

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