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No Joke: Music Industry Veterans Turn to Royalty Collections for Comedians, Podcasters

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Spoken Giants, the first royalty administration company for creators of spoken word copyrights — comedians, podcasters, authors of speeches/lectures — launched today Oct. 28. The new entity is vowing to be the single, credible, transparent, and scalable collective organization for rights for creators of spoken word compositions.

Former BMI executive Jim King said after learning that many spoken word copyright holders were leaving millions of dollars in unclaimed royalties on the table, he teamed up with 800 Pound Gorilla Records co-founders Ryan Bitzer and Damion Greiman to form Spoken Giants, a collective to collect and administer those rights.

While blanket licenses from music PROs exist for music performance, BMI and ASCAP's blanket licenses do not collect on behalf of spoken word creators. Bitzer and Greiman, former comedy managers, said they discovered more than four years ago that comics weren't getting all they were owed for their work. They brought that information to King and together they worked  to "build the marketplace for all spoken word creators," according to a company press release.

"There is no representation of the underlying composition value for jokes, for podcasts, for audio books, and for speeches," says King, Spoken Giants’ CEO and co-founder. " That's how Spoken Giants came to be with the three of us coming together and realizing there was a totally underserved market."

The new company is partnering with Muserk, an AI technology-driven administration platform for tracking, royalty collection and reporting. Muserk says their technology has found millions in uncollected royalties for copyright holders around the world, delivering a 25% increase in royalties on average for its clients, according to the company press release.

The group will collect performance royalties for spoken works that are streamed publicly. In addition, the new entity will administer royalty tracking and collection for mechanical rights for spoken word creators when an album is pressed onto vinyl, compact disc or converted to a download or stream.

King says his company already has hundreds of members signed to multi-year agreements, including comedians Lewis Black, Dan Cummins, Gerry Dee, Pete Holmes, Kyle Kinane, and Kathleen Madigan. With those signed agreements in hand, he plans to go now to the DSPs — Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Sirius and Pandora — to negotiate blanket licenses for the works that they represent as well as to receive retroactive payments for them.

"This should have been done for decades," says King. "It's so exciting, but more importantly it is something that will return value especially in this very difficult time for creators."

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Spoken Giants

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