In an internal memo to Universal Music Publishing Group, the company she took over on january after leaving the No. 2 spot at Sony/ATV, Jody Gerson addresses the songwriter equation of the recently hot topic of breakage, as well as the pending reformation of the consent decrees currently under review in Washington D.C.
From: Jody Gerson
To: UMPG Staff Worldwide
Date: June 2, 2015
Re: Direct Performance Rights Licensing
Over the past several months I’ve read or heard comments by self-interested parties that aim to mislead our songwriting community and ultimately devalue songs. These misrepresentations work against the mutual best interests of both songwriters and publishers. To paraphrase that old saying, sunlight is the best disinfectant. So let’s shed some light on the facts and make sure that all of our employees and songwriters — and the greater songwriting community — know where we stand on direct performance licensing.
One thing we can all agree on: songwriters are at the heart of what we do, and at UMPG we put them first. Every day, we work to protect their rights and do all we can to deliver the greatest value for them. I’ve stood behind this my entire career and will continue to make it a fundamental cornerstone of the values of UMPG.
Our tireless efforts on consent decree reform are consistent with and an extension of the following principles that are — and will remain — central to the way we at UMPG conduct ourselves, including:
1. We will adhere to a standard of transparency with our performance rights licenses by sharing with our songwriters terms and all monies under such licenses, whether royalties, unearned advances, or flat payments.
2. We will not apply the writer’s share of performance income against unrecouped songwriter advance balances; in fact, at a songwriter’s election, we will direct licensees to pay the writer’s share of performance income directly to the songwriter’s performance rights organization of choice.
3. To the extent a songwriter is a member of an ex-US performance rights society, we will not license such songwriter’s performance rights unless authorized to do so by the songwriter or society concerned.
As we move into a world of direct performance rights licensing, we need to continue to listen to our songwriters and respect any concerns or questions raised by their representatives and songwriter trade organizations. We need to ensure that they are secure in the knowledge that when we act, we act to serve their best interests.
Put simply: in everything we do, we put the interests of songwriters first. Period. So let’s work together and make a concerted effort to not only implement our principles and our commitment to songwriters, but to effectively communicate them, as well.
I am so proud that we are leading the way for the industry in maintaining the value of copyrights and upholding the highest standards of fairness for songwriters and publishers.
I sincerely thank you for all you do to make UMPG great.