When Warner Music Group followed Sony Music in launching a program to pay through royalties to legacy acts, it led to some pointed questions for Universal Music Group. Why hadn’t it announced a similar initiative? UMG’s response was to tell people to wait for its next annual report’s ‘ESG Commitments’ [standing for Environmental, Social and Governance] section.
Well, the report is out, and it does indeed include an announcement about legacy unrecouped artists. “A worldwide goodwill program for certain legacy featured recording artists and songwriters with unrecouped balances,” is how the report describes it.
“By not applying their 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.”
Details of which may have to wait until UMG begins contacting eligible musicians in the coming months. The ESG part of the report also sets out UMG’s current actions around the climate emergency; diversity, equity and inclusion; and other forms of support for artists. It’s a useful snapshot.