Publishing

Sony Extends Royalty Program for Legacy Acts to Songwriters

Jon Platt, 2018
Mary Beth Koeth

Platt photographed on Jan. 10, 2018 at the Faena Hotel in Miami Beach.

Like the Artists Forward initiative announced last month for recording artists, publishing clients signed before 2000 will now have unrecouped balances ignored and will start receiving royalties.

Sony Music Publishing announced the extension of its Artists Forward program to songwriters on Tuesday (July 20), expanding the policy it announced last month to pay through existing unrecouped balances for acts that signed to the company before 2000 and have not received an advance since.  

According to an internal letter to Sony Music Publishing songwriters obtained by Billboard, the new Songwriters Forward program will apply retroactively to Jan. 1, 2021, just like the artists’ version of the program. Although the new move opens up possible earnings for legacy writers who qualify, this does not mean that Sony Music Publishing will modify its contracts or adjust the balance -- instead, it will just ignore the unrecouped balances for those who meet the qualifications. 

Songwriters Forward accompanies Sony’s “ongoing investment in administration modernization,” according to an internal memo from Sony Music Publishing chairman and CEO Jon Plattwhich includes real-time foreign royalty processing and their “Cash Out” payment option that allows songwriters to request their royalties throughout a payment period, fee-free.

These new initiatives seek to position Sony Music Group, the second largest of the three majors, as the creator-friendly option for artists and songwriters at a time when the public is increasingly critical of some contracts from music companies. It also coincides with the global streaming boom which has grown to a whopping $13.4 billion last year, according to the IFPI’s Global Music Report. Although the majority of music streamed today are songs released after the turn of the millennium, the Songwriters Forward program is a positive gesture on behalf of Sony Music Publishing and a step towards greater transparency in the music business. 

Read the Full Letter Here:

Dear Songwriters,

Today, I am pleased to share that we are launching Songwriters Forward, an initiative designed to expand our support of careers at every stage. 

Under Songwriters Forward, we are introducing the ‘Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program’ to qualifying Sony Music Publishing songwriters.  We have been working for some time to develop this plan, which complements Sony Music’s recently announced Artists Forward

We will no longer apply existing unrecouped balances to earnings for eligible songwriters signed prior to the year 2000 who have not received advances since, and this applies retroactively to January 1, 2021.  Qualifying songwriters will be notified separately in the coming weeks. 

These efforts are a continuation of our songwriter-first approach and accompany our ongoing investment in administration modernization, including new SCORE data and analytics upgrades, Cash Out payment options, and real-time foreign royalty processing. With historic policy changes across our business, we are taking important steps toward creating a more equitable, transparent music industry for songwriters and all creators. 

On behalf of our teams around the world, it is our privilege to represent you as we begin this next chapter with Songwriters Forward.    

Jon Platt 

Chairman/CEO, Sony Music Publishing