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News April 1, 2022

Universal Music Group to Waive Unrecouped Debts for Heritage Artists, Songwriters

Senior Journalist, B2B
Universal Music Group to Waive Unrecouped Debts for Heritage Artists, Songwriters

Universal Music Group is waving unrecouped debts for heritage acts, closely following the lead of Sony Music and Warner Music Group.

UMG confirmed its artist-friendly initiative in its 2021 annual report, published Thursday (March 31).

The music giant is implementing a “new worldwide goodwill program” for certain legacy recording artists and songwriters with unrecouped balances, the report explains.

By not applying unrecouped advances to royalty statements for any period beginning January 1, 2022, eligible creators and their immediate heirs who have not received any payments since January 1, 2000 “will begin receiving royalties, subject to certain conditions,” the document continues.

What that means is that eligible artists and songwriters who had not recouped their advances and/or other expenses will now receive royalties that previously had gone toward paying down those expenses.

UMG will contact eligible creatives in the coming months.

Sony Music last year announced it would strike out unrecoupled debts for heritage artists, and WMG followed suit in early 2022, with a legacy unrecouped advances program where, for its artists and songwriters who signed to the company before 2000 and didn’t receive an advance during or after 2000, the major would no longer apply unrecouped advances to royalty statements, starting July 1.

It was only a matter of time before Universal took the same line. 

UMG also proposed the appointment of four new Non-Executive Directors (William A. Ackman, Nicole Avant, Cyrille Bolloré and Sherry Lansing) and set its annual general meeting of shareholders for May 12, the company’s first since a successful, multi-billion-dollar flotation last September on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange.

Read the annual report in full here


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