As part of its first report on social governance of the environment, Warner Music Group announced on Tuesday that it would waive unrecouped debt for heritage artists, following Sony Music, which had made the decision the last year.
Hours later, a source confirmed Variety that Universal plans to make a similar announcement as part of its ESG report later this year; Music Business Worldwide reported this news for the first time.
This means artists, songwriters and other eligible individuals who had not recovered their advances and/or other expenses will now receive royalties that were previously intended to reimburse those expenses. This situation means that many artists have received low or even zero royalty payments, as the company has used their income to pay off debts they may have incurred by signing advances or other recoverable expenses than the standard contracts of the record companies force the artist to cover.
In the report, WMG states that it “announced an Unrecovered Legacy Advance Program whereby, for our artists and songwriters who signed with us prior to 2000 and did not receive an advance during or after 2000, we will not apply their uncollected advances to royalty statements for any period beginning on or after July 1, 2022.
“The program will also benefit other royalty participating artists such as producers, engineers, mixers and remixers.”
The purpose of ESG reporting is “to communicate to key stakeholders and a baseline against which WMG can measure its ESG progress in areas such as employee well-being, diversity, equity and inclusion, social impact and climate change”.
Other highlights from the Warner report include:
WMG has calculated its first direct greenhouse gas emissions footprint (including Scope 1 and 2 emissions, as well as employee travel) and will propose a goal to the Science-based Targets initiative in 2022.
WMG became one of the founding signatories of the Music Climate Pact, developed with support from the United Nations Environment Program, to collectively address the environmental impacts of the industry.
The company avoided using 46 tons of virgin plastic by producing 100% recycled vinyl records for artists like Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Gorillaz, Biffy Clyro and Foals.
In light of the impacts of the pandemic, WMG has increased its investments in mental health programs, learning and development, and technology to support its employees.
In 2021, WMG was certified as a Great Place to Work in the United States and France, and was included in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for the third consecutive year.
WMG established a set of North Star DEI commitments, implemented new support for its 45 Employee Resource Group chapters, and developed new recruitment and education programs to foster more inclusive thinking and behaviors.
The company has piloted mental health initiatives for its creative community. It is also launching an Unrecovered Legacy Advance Program for eligible artists and songwriters who signed with WMG before 2000 and did not receive an advance during or after 2000. The program will also benefit other participants in royalties from artists such as producers, engineers, mixers and remixers. It comes into effect for royalty periods from July 2022.
Throughout the pandemic, WMG has contributed to more than 20 nonprofits around the world, helping frontline workers, small business owners, out-of-work concert/tour staff and others. people who need help during this difficult time.
Since its inception in 2020, the $100 million Warner Music Group/Blavatnik Family Foundation Social Justice Fund has pledged $22.5 million in grant commitments to 24 organizations.
WMG CEO Steve Cooper said, “Becoming a more equitable and sustainable company is a moral, business and creative imperative. WMG operates in over 70 countries around the world, each with distinct customs, cultures, needs and regulations. Thus, our global and sustained approach to ESG requires us to have a sophisticated and individualized local line of action. We explore what creating positive change should look like for our business, our artists and songwriters, and the wider community. We’ve made great progress so far, but this report isn’t just a snapshot of what we’ve done so far – it’s a long-term commitment to action and accountability.
The best of variety
Subscribe to the Variety newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Click here to read the full article.