top of page

Sony Music wipes out unpaid recoupment for qualifying artists

New Program called "Artists Forward" Major is a signal that Sony will “prioritiz[e] transparency with creators in all aspects of their development”

In a letter sent to the company’s partners, Sony said it “will no longer apply existing unrecouped balances to artists and participant earnings generated on or after January 1, 2021 for eligible artists and participants.” Generally when an artist signs with a label, the label fronts the money for recording, advertising, promoting, touring and the the sales from the music etc then go back to the label until all spent money has been recouped. Then, the artist would start earning. Well for the majority of artists, they never can meet the recoupment and languish is no man's land while the lablel continues to eat off of their art. Here at Songs That Work (#STW), this is what we are working hard to help our fellow creatives avoid. But it looks like Sony is trying to make good with their roster.

“With unrecouped balances, a lot of times artists don’t see additional funds for years to come,” says Stephanie K. Hay, an entertainment attorney. “I think this is, in general, a good faith effort [by Sony] and a good step forward.”

For artists to qualify to start receiving royalties even if they’re unrecouped, the acts must have signed to a Sony company before 2000. In addition, artists must not have received any advance payments from the company since 2000. The letter did not say how many artists would be impacted or how much money would start being paid out to artists under the new plan.

Sony Music Publishing chairman/CEO Jon Platt writes in a letter titled “Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program”:

Dear Songwriters,

Today, I am pleased to share that we are launching Songwriters Forward, an initiative designed to expand our support of careers at every stage.

Under Songwriters Forward, we are introducing the ‘Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program’ to qualifying Sony Music Publishing songwriters. We have been working for some time to develop this plan, which complements Sony Music’s recently announced Artists Forward.

We will no longer apply existing unrecouped balances to earnings for eligible songwriters signed prior to the year 2000 who have not received advances since, and this applies retroactively to January 1, 2021. Qualifying songwriters will be notified separately in the coming weeks.

These efforts are a continuation of our songwriter-first approach and accompany our ongoing investment in administration modernization, including new SCORE data and analytics upgrades, Cash Out payment options, and real-time foreign royalty processing.

With historic policy changes across our business, we are taking important steps toward creating a more equitable, transparent music industry for songwriters and all creators. On behalf of our teams around the world, it is our privilege to represent you as we begin this next chapter with Songwriters Forward.

Previously the company has also made overtures toward their artist rosters when they sold a chunk of $768 million in Spotify shares, distributing some $250 million amongst it's artists without allocating them to individual artists’ unrecouped balances. The fact that they had to do this says more about how little artists are being paid for streaming but that is a story for another day.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page