(Hypebot) — US performing rights organization SESAC has purchased music publishing digital rights collection agency Audiam from Canadian PRO SOCAN.
Audiam licenses, monitors, collects, and distributes YouTube and other digital-use royalties. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but SOCAN retains a minority share.
The Audiam acquisition means that SESAC can now leverage Audiam’s claiming, income tracking and reporting tech to expand its offerings to songwriters and publishers.
But SESAC also owns Harry Fox and that’s a big problem according to Audiam, TuneCore, and now World Collections co-founder Jeff Price.
“It’s rather ironic but it makes sense,” says Price. “HFA needs to stop Audiam from doing what it does.
“By acquiring Audiam the Harry Fox Agency is eliminating competition and removing the sole entity that revealed HFA’s lack of payments to copyright holders as well as its role in widespread copyright infringement,” he continues. “The sale will also allow HFA’s parent entity to double-dip on the publishing income while obscuring a significant sleight of hand.”
Price’s Full Statement
“By acquiring Audiam the Harry Fox Agency is eliminating competition and removing the sole entity that revealed HFA’s lack of payments to copyright holders as well as its role in widespread copyright infringement. The sale will also allow HFA’s parent entity to double dip on the publishing income while obscuring a significant sleight of hand.
It’s rather ironic but it makes sense. HFA needs to stop Audiam from doing what it does. Through Audiam’s daily auditing of HFA and, more recently, the MLC, Audiam has revealed HFA’s incorrect payment amounts, underpayments and/or complete lack of payments to songwriters and music publishers globally. In addition, Audiam revealed HFA’s role in massive amounts of copyright infringement. The end result of this work can be seen in HFA being sued for contributory infringement and fraud by the Eminem publishing catalog Eight Mile Style and HFA’s handing over a significant chunk of the over $400 million in earned but never paid royalties (some dating back over a decade) to the MLC, only to have HFA not pay them again.
With this acquisition, HFA neutralizes the sole entity that exposes its own actions. In addition, as HFA serves as the back office to the MLC, HFA are being paid by the MLC to pay music publishers, while at the same time HFA is also charging its music publishers to collect their money from the MLC. As they want to keep double-dipping and taking money from both sides to drive revenue, they need to move HFA publishing members from HFA and hand them over to Audiam. This creates the optic of two different companies, when in effect they are both owned by the same parent entity. And in a final twist, the passage of the MMA, will allow HFA not to pay songwriters and music publishers, their money can instead be taken from them and handed to the major music publishers that did not earn that revenue.”
Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is the Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and a professor for the Berklee College Of Music.