Don’t Let Your Royalties Go Uncollected!

Royalties. They can be quite helpful when paying the bills, but they’re difficult to manage and there’s often a great deal of confusion surrounding their collection. So many musicians aren’t receiving the money they’ve earned, but there is information out there to help you make sense of it all. In a recent Musician Coaching article, music and entertainment attorney Jeff Gandel was interviewed on this subject.

Jeff started Royalty Recovery a few years back with the intent of aiding those in the industry who aren’t being paid the royalties they’re owed. So far, his company has helped correct over 2,000 royalty streams and copyrights. He cites volume as a reason so many artists aren’t getting paid – there’s too much information passing through the industry to accurately keep track of the money trail. Additionally, many musicians don’t really understand the rules or know the precautions they should be taking to lay claim to their work. Check out more of what Jeff has to say in the article below.

-Lynsey

(MusicanCoaching) Revenue Streams for Musicians and how Royalties Go Missing

Credit: Rick Goetz and Jeff Gandel

Jeff Gandel is an experienced music and entertainment attorney with is own practice based in NYC. Jeff also founded a company called Royalty Recovery that helps artist collect on Royalties they are owed – a problem that is far too common. Jeff’ specializes in intellectual property law including music, digital media, technology, videogames and movies. His clients include producers David Bendeth and Jason Nevins, artists Warren Haynes, Gov’t Mule, Jared Scharff, Scott Schreer and Serge Devant, music distributor The Orchard and many others. I caught up with Jeff recently to discuss some of the things he felt musicians should be aware of from his fifteen years of practicing law.


Music Consultant: Jeff, thanks for taking the time to speak today. Tell me, how did you get into the Music business?

JG: I’ve been around this my whole life. When I was growing up, my grandparents owned a record distributor. I remember being three or four years old and running around their warehouse in stacks of records higher than the biggest buildings. My whole life, I’ve been around music and was lucky enough to find a way to have a career in it.


Music Consultant: I always remember you as a music attorney. What was your first legal job?

JG: Tuff City (records) was the first legal job, but during law school, one of my good friends and I opened up a company called Gravity Hits, where we did merchandise and touring and booking and that side of it. That’s how I first got back into it during law school. And then I got out of law school and did it in house at Tuff City. I was there for a while, and while being in-house there I started my own practice, since it was a small indie label, and they didn’t need a full-time attorney. I had the benefit of being in-house and having a steady gig and a place to learn, but being able to get out and be an entrepreneur and build my own thing.


Music Consultant: What kind of practice have you had for the last 15 years? You’ve been really doing this in that kind of format on your own and taking clients. What kind of practice would you say you have? I know you represent a lot of labels, producers, music tech companies, etc. Do you have a specific area of focus?

JG: It’s pretty general for the most part, though we focus primarily on the music industry. I’d say 90% of my clientele fits in some relationship to the music industry. I’ve represented a couple of movies, a couple of books etc. over the years. But generally, whether it’s technology, a website company or a delivery or tracking company or a band or musician or one of the corporate entities I represent, somehow they tie into the music world. A lot of them aren’t traditional, so I’m not a lawyer always representing the traditional band stuff you hear about. But everything for the most part ties back into music.


Music Consultant: When did Royalty Recovery come about, and tell me what the problem is that that’s a solution to?

JG: Our industry has a volume problem. When I say volume, I mean the amount of information that goes through it. Because of the number of songs, artists and record labels out there, a lot of artists and writers and even smaller record labels are not properly accounted to. For the most part, it’s just because people change addresses, don’t sign contracts, etc. Most of it is not malicious. But then again, there are some people that have disputes over rights or are stealing rights. I continued to see the combination of these things for almost the first 10 years of my law practice, and represented a number of people within that, most notably the estate of a writer named Harry McClintock, who wrote a big song called “Big Rock Candy Mountain.” I worked with him within my law practice to make sure he was getting paid, particularly by the “Oh Brother Where art Thou?” movie. I worked with the estate to try to clean it up so they could get paid on that and a lot of other uses.

For a number of reasons, working with people that weren’t getting paid didn’t necessarily fit within the normal law practice model. So, almost seven years ago, I started a company called Royalty Recovery that works with any people in the industry who are not receiving their royalties. And some of it is as innocent as people don’t know that in the U.S. you collect your money directly from the record labels. It’s the same in Canada. Outside of the U.S. and Canada, you have to go to the local society to get your money. It can be something as simple as not having the knowledge or the tools to understand where your money is, or something as bad as, I’ve had clients whose parents were managing them and their parents are not passing through all the money. It runs the gamut of stuff. And we’ve been very successful. We’ve been in business about 7 years, and we’ve helped correct and recover over 2,000 royalty streams and copyrights. We’ve recovered several million dollars in unpaid royalties and have thankfully been successful in helping clients reclaim what is theirs.


Music Consultant: Are there things that artists doing things for themselves can do to ensure they don’t have slip ups with registering and paperwork that are preventing them from getting what is due to them? Are there common mistakes that you see musicians making?

JG: I think it’s important to understand the structure of where money gets paid and who pays that money. I think that’s the biggest problem I run into with young artists: not understanding the place in the world all these different societies fall into. I’ll run through that quickly.

The first set of rights that falls within music, which is the one we all think about, is tied to sales. You sell a record and you get paid. If you sell it yourself on iTunes in the U.S., they send you the money and it’s all good and all taken care of. If you sell it in Canada, you get some of the money as an artist, but if you’re also the writer, that money is then taken and sent to a society, and as a writer you need to be signed up with the society to collect that money. And it’s the same in most of the rest of the world. If you sell a record in the UK, that money is then collected by a society, and if you’re not signed up with that society as a writer, you’re not getting that piece of the royalties. iTunes will send you the artist side, but you’re not going to get your full share if you’re both the writer and the artist.

Read the rest of the article on MusicanCoaching.com!

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