AdRev, a Downtown Music Holdings-owned rights management company that collects YouTube royalties on behalf of rightsholders, has parted ways with its co-founder and former president and strategic advisor Noah Becker. Becker is no longer listed on the company’s website and a source close to the company confirmed that he has left. Neither a spokesperson from Downtown nor Becker could be reached for comment.
Becker’s departure comes a week after Billboard published an investigation about a music royalties fraud in which the company MediaMuv is alleged to have fraudulently collected $23 million in royalties for music to which it did not have rights. The alleged fraud involved 50,000 Latin music copyrights and ran from about 2017 to 2021, according to court documents, and involved compositions or tracks credited to Daddy Yankee, Anuel AA, Prince Royce and Don Omar, as well as smaller regional Mexican musicians and songwriters. AdRev acted as MediaMuv’s rights manager, collecting a large sum of its royalties from YouTube and then transferring it to the company. It is not clear if Becker’s departure is related to this.
Companies like AdRev are usually paid a percentage of the money they collect – usually between 10% and 25%, according to industry professionals. That means AdRev would have potentially made more than $2.3 million for its work for MediaMuv.
Becker was alerted to MediaMuv’s inaccurate royalties claims by another rights manager on multiple occasions, according to emails obtained by Billboard. In one such email, sent on Jan. 19, 2018, Becker replied to the rights manager who told him that over the course of the previous month MediaMuv had incorrectly claimed songs from five of the creators he represented (one of which had 15 different songs claimed at once), saying, “none of this is a product of MediaMuv trying to land-grab revenue or doing anything with mal intent — more miscommunication, misunderstanding and having inaccurate metadata than anything else on our part.”
A few months later, in March 2018, Becker replied to another email from the same rights manager, saying, “Given the volume of repertoire [MediaMuv] deal[s] with vs. issues, we feel pretty comfortable. Plus, we are just the admin, and there’s already so much negative crap out there about us that’s not true, so we just let this stuff bounce off our backs. But we keep a tight eye on this account and lately have been only increasing in comfort level.”
Even though a federal grand jury in Arizona indicted MediaMuv co-founders Jose Medina Teran and Webster Batista Fernandez for 30 counts of wire fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and aggravated identity theft on Nov. 16, 2021, IRS investigators noted in a court document that AdRev deposited $285,344 in a bank account associated with the MediaMuv account two weeks later. (Fernandez later pled guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy.) That same day, Nov. 30, 2021, the bank account was emptied and a cashier’s check for $191,449 was made payable to Teran. The check was deposited into his newly opened business account at the National Bank of Arizona.
AdRev has not been charged with any wrongdoing involving its dealings with MediaMuv. However, a footnote in a warrant to seize one of the bank accounts associated with MediaMuv dated Jan. 5 notes that “further investigation into AdRev is underway.” AdRev previously told Billboard that it could not comment on this, citing the ongoing criminal case against Teran, but that it “has fully cooperated with the investigation into this matter conducted by the IRS and the District of Arizona U.S. Attorney’s office as set forth in the indictment. This matter is ongoing — pending sentencing for Webster Batista Fernandez and trial for Jose Medina Teran. AdRev employees may be called as witnesses at trial or sentencing. As such, AdRev will not be commenting publicly on any facts related to the indictment until the conclusion of the criminal matter.”
During the time AdRev represented MediaMuv, Becker acted as AdRev’s president. According to his LinkedIn page, he stepped down as president and moved to a strategic advisor role a month after the indictment against Teran and Batista was filed.