Faster payments and more-transparent reporting has been the clarion call for a number of companies hoping to disrupt the world of publishing. The implicit (and sometimes explicit) criticism contained within their promises is that traditional music publishers are slow to pay and somewhat opaque in some aspects of royalty reporting. However, the picture isn’t as simple as that: the biggest publishers do realise the growing demand for improvements, and are acting on it.
Witness Sony/ATV’s latest announcement, with the rather grand claim that it is “revolutionising songwriter royalty payments” with its next set of admin upgrades. It’s more evolution than revolution, but welcome for songwriters nonetheless: “real-time inter-company processing for all foreign earnings from every territory in which the company operates” that mean overseas earnings will be reported and paid “in the same period in which they are collected”.
Sony/ATV is also working on a new ‘Cash Out’ service for songwriters to ask for some or all of their current royalty balance immediately, rather than waiting for the next scheduled distribution. The fact that these changes are being introduced “over the next year” show that the speed at which a company the size of Sony/ATV can move has some limits, but it’s clear the firm is well aware of the competition from younger disrupters, and is keen to respond.