A month after Sony Music Entertainment announced that it will waive unrecouped debts for artists who signed with the company before 2000, its publishing company has joined the program as well. The program, part of a larger effort called Artists Forward, means that eligible songwriters who had not recouped their advances and/or other expenses will now receive royalties that previously had gone toward paying down those expenses.
Sony Music Publishing chairman/CEO Jon Platt writes in a letter titled “Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program”:
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.
The company made a similar move in 2018 after it sold $768 million in Spotify shares, distributing some $250 million to its artists without allocating them to individual artists’ unrecouped balances, as Warner Music did with its profits. Read more about SME’s program here.