While the major labels and the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) have agreed and are implementing their late fee settlement, A2IM president Rich Bengloff said he is thankful that the music publishers realized that one size doesn’t fit all and is willing to further negotiate with indie labels.
Those comments were made at the National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers Music Law Conference, which was held in conjunction with the NARM annual convention in Chicago.
Without getting too specific, Benloff said that the NMPA is negotiating to make some accommodations for some elements of the major label settlement that might prove troublesome for indie labels. He added that the RIAA helped facilitate the additional negotiations.
As for the major label settlement, Harry Fox Agency (HFA) senior VP of business affairs, general counsel and chief strategy officer Michael Simon said that the implementation of best practices will clear up many of the issues that resulted in the majors collectively holding about $270 million in its pending and unmatched funds for unpaid royalties.
For example, when artists are delivering records to the labels, the labels were supposed to be requiring them to fill out a song split declaration form at that time. But that was hardly ever done. Now, not only will that be done, but also two months later labels will be required to do a split declaration update. Not only will that allow labels and artists to be in compliance with the best practices, but also it should help resolve song split disputes.
Later in the panel, Simon said that while many in the industry advocate for a single global database, he didn’t think that was feasible, given that all the song split databases around the world are incompatible in many ways.
Although he didn’t bring it up, those who have spent millions of dollars building and maintaining a database wonder why they should have to give up their competitive advantage for free. For his part, Simon noted that HFA has represented some music publishers since 1935 and they don’t want to give out their data to others beyond HFA.
Instead of building a single database, which would have to overcome many obstacles, he suggested that it would be more feasible to build a system that allows users to access localized databases around the world through a single portal. “We are prepared, however to make our data available and give access to others,” in a single system set-up, he said.