Warner Music Group has announced they will be introducing a “legacy unrecouped advances program”, cancelling out unrecouped label balances from thousands of artists.
It comes after Sony Music Group shocked the global music industry last year by announcing it was disregarding unrecouped balances for thousands of heritage artists and songwriters who had signed to the company in previous decades.
An artist will get an advance when they sign with a record label, like Sony or Warner, which the singer will then have to pay back once they start making money.
For some artists, especially from older generations, this has become particularly difficult in the age of streaming.
Today’s announcement shows how major labels are now following suit amid the pressure on labels to address the struggle for more vintage artists in a modern streaming era.
In Warner’s own words: “[We’ve] announced a legacy unrecouped advances program where, for our artists and songwriters who signed to us before 2000 and didn’t receive an advance during or after 2000, we won’t apply their unrecouped advances to royalty statements for any period beginning July 1, 2022 or after.”
“The program will also benefit other artist royalty participants such as producers, engineers, mixers and remixers.”
Since 2009, WMG has been sharing all advances and minimum guarantees from streaming services with artists – “treating breakage like other digital revenue”.
In 2016, it became the first major music company to confirm it would be sharing any proceeds from the sale of its equity in Spotify with its artists.
Today’s announcement puts enhanced pressure on Universal Music, the other key player, to change its own policy.
Sources have told Music Business Worldwide that Universal Music will also be scrapping unrecouped label balances, however this is yet to be confirmed by the label.