Sony Music has sent a letter to thousands of artists today (11 June) confirming that outstanding debts of artists who signed to the label before the year 2000 will be written off.
According to Music Business Worldwide, the letter was sent to thousands of artists to coincide with the launch of the record label's new Artists Forward initiative, which apparently aims to prioritise "transparency with creators in all aspects of their development".
The letter states that decades-old debts for thousands of artists who signed to the label before 2000 will be cancelled under the new Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program, "As part of our continuing focus on developing new financial opportunities for creators, we will no longer apply existing unrecouped balances to artist and participant earnings generated on or after January 1, 2021 for eligible artists and participants globally who signed to SME prior to the year 2000 and have not received an advance from the year 2000 forward."
BBC reports that no artist names who are eligible for initiative were given, but a source claimed it would "include household names".
The huge move by Sony Music means artists who last received an advance sum from the label before the year 2000 that is still unrecouped now will start receiving streaming and other royalty payments.
Sony Music's Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program won't just include artists either; it'll be open to eligible "participants" too, which could include producers, joint venture partners and distributed labels.
Tom Gray, who is leading the #BrokenRecord campaign to fix streaming, and recently announced that over 50 new names including Tom Jones, Emeli Sandé and Jarvis Cocker had signed the open letter to UK PM Boris Johnson urging the UK government to reform music streaming law, commented on Sony Music's move on Twitter, writing, "This is pretty huge stuff even if it doesn’t go far enough. A major label accepting there is a problem and starting to do something about it. A little pressure can go a long way."
This is pretty huge stuff even if it doesn’t go far enough.— Tom Gray #BrokenRecord (@MrTomGray) June 11, 2021
A major label accepting there is a problem and starting to do something about it.
A little pressure can go a long way. #BrokenRecord https://t.co/XBoWypZ1R8
In another tweet, Gray added, "Congratulations Sony Music! A lovely step in the right direction. What say you Universal Music Group & Warner Music Group? If one of you could do this *and* a minimum royalty-rate, you could be onto something."
Congratulations @sonymusic!— Tom Gray #BrokenRecord (@MrTomGray) June 11, 2021
A lovely step in the right direction.
What say you @UMG & @warnermusic?
If one of you could do this *and* a minimum royalty-rate, you could be onto something. #BrokenRecord https://t.co/WGPP4z3B1T