Spoken Giants is a new royalty administration agency that claims to be the first of its kind for copyright holders of spoken-word works including comedians, podcasters, speeches, lectures and the like.
Founded by former BMI executive Jim King and 800 Pound Gorilla Records co-founders Ryan Bitzer and Damion Greiman, according to the announcement Spoken Giants represents hundreds of members, including Lewis Black, Dan Cummins, Gerry Dee, Pete Holmes, Kyle Kinane, Kathleen Madigan, the Ralphie May Estate, Leanne Morgan, Theo Von, among others.
Spoken Giants represents underlying composition copyrights and their revenue is based on a percentage of monies collected, the announcement continues. For members, this is an additive income stream, supplemental to revenue already earned from SoundExchange for sound recordings. Members retain all rights to their work and gain access to data, analytics, deep market knowledge, copyrights administration and repertoire management across all affiliates, and royalty administration processing.
Spoken Giants CEO and co-founder Jim King aYA, “Although US copyright law protects spoken word assets, it’s an area where even having a marquee name doesn’t guarantee you’ll be paid what you’re owed. We’re changing that with transparent, collective representation for all in order to strengthen the marketplace in favor of the creator. While copyright law is clear, a dedicated team and detailed technology are needed to pursue underlying composition royalties, so, our message is, ‘membership is a must,’ especially with the overwhelming rise of podcasting and streaming over the past decade.”
For tracking, royalty collection and reporting, Spoken Giants has partnered with Muserk, the AI technology-driven administration platform.
Muserk CEO and newly appointed Spoken Giants board member Paul Goldman noted, “In recent years, spoken word content has become increasingly valuable to the tech platforms that monetize this type of content. And just like music, if there isn’t a rights organization like Spoken Giants, you can bet the content owners will not be paid their fair share, if anything at all. Partnering with Spoken Giants is a perfect fit for Muserk. As new and emerging types of content rise to the top of the ecosystem, Muserk’s mission is to be one step ahead of the tech platforms in order to administer the content owner’s rights and collect their royalties with accuracy and transparency. Spoken Giants is filling a massive void in an exploding market and it’s exciting to partner with them, paving new paths.”
Spoken Giants’ payments are facilitated by Exactuals, a wholly owned subsidiary of City National Bank and the Royal Bank of Canada, which will provide secure royalty disbursements through their PaymentHUB service, which allows affiliates to manage how they receive royalties. The portal also retains statements for future reference.
According to the announcement, these are the ways that spoken word copyright holders earn income through Spoken Giants:
PERFORMANCE ROYALTIES: When a performance (e.g., a comedy track) is played/aired/streamed publicly. Streaming platforms are considered public platforms; therefore, when a performance written by the performer is streamed, a royalty is owed to the author. 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.
MECHANICALS – When a mechanical reproduction is made (i.e. a comedy album is pressed into a vinyl or compact disc, or converted to a download or stream). With the consumption of each, a royalty is owed to the author. Prior to Spoken Giants, no entity pursued these royalties for spoken word. *The Music Modernization Act (2018) did not address spoken word content when it updated copyright law to address music streaming.
SYNCHRONIZATION – When a recorded work (a speech, a song, a comedy bit) is synchronized with other media such as video and film. For example, if copywritten spoken word content – such as a famous speech – is used in a film, the film production would obtain a license from Spoken Giants.