Residuals and Royalties: Is There Money Waiting for You?

Article excerpt

Immediately following the long-awaited conclusion of our new TV videotape deal with the major networks in October, our attention turned toward improving the expiring contracts covering musicians who record movie and TV film scores. Negotiations for a successor agreement with the motion picture and television film industries began November 2 in Los Angeles and recessed after two weeks of discussions. Talks will reconvene March 6.

The AFM's film contract dates from the 1930s, and the emergence of the "talkies." It is extraordinarily complex, and like other industry-wide agreements, it contains provisions requiring the payment of residuals by producers whenever films are exhibited in supplemental, secondary markets, or when film underscoring is used as track in other mediums. In the early 1960s, film contract provisions requiring producers to pay into the Music Performance Trust Fund (MPTF) were redrafted to create the Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (FMSMF), which today collects and distributes residual payments owed to individual musicians who participate in the scoring of motion pictures and TV films covered by that agreement.

Former Recording Musicians Association (RMA) President Dennis Dreith became the Administrator of FMSMF in 2000 and he has done an outstanding job assuring that the residuals we bargain from film producers find their way into the wallets of our talented members. From 2000 to present, AFM musicians have scored the overwhelming majority of top-grossing theatrical films, which together have generated many millions in residuals. In 2011, FMSMF distributed nearly $67 million to participants and is the largest and most abundant of AFM's media contract residual funds.

The ongoing film contract negotiations and our concentration on residuals and royalty payments remind me to announce that collective rights management by our Intellectual Property Funds, SoundExchange, and AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund (formerly the AFM & AFTRA Fund), has grown exponentially over the past several years. Last summer, in fact, SoundExchange distributed its billionth dollar in digital royalties since the birth of digital music consumption. So, here are two royalty-related recommendations for recording musicians to consider as the calendar year begins anew.

First, check for unclaimed royalties at SoundExchange. As you may know, SoundExchange collects and distributes royalties on the behalf of sound recording copyright owners-record labels and featured artists-for noninteractive digital transmissions, including satellite and Internet radio. Every time a sound recording is used on satellite radio, Internet radio, or cable TV music channels, SoundExchange collects royalties for artists and labels.

Today, thousands of recording artists and labels, including many AFM members, have yet to claim their digital performance royalties. SoundExchange recently published a list of more than 50,000 individuals with unclaimed royalties, and I would like to direct you to that list. If you are a recording artist or member of a self-contained group with tracks that have been used as indicated above, here is how to determine whether royalties are waiting for you. First, go to the following link http:// unregistered-artists/ and enter your name, or the name of your act. If you are on the unclaimed list, you will be prompted to register with SoundExchange to begin the process of claiming your royalties.

If you are a sound recording copyright owner or record label, as many AFM members are, follow this link http:// unregistered-srcos/ and use the same process as above. …