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Universal Music Group Joins Warner Music and Sony in Waiving Unrecouped Debts for Legacy Artists

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(CelebrityAccess) – Last month, Warner Music Group (WMG) joined Sony Music Entertainment (SME) in waiving unrecouped debts for legacy artists. The final big label, Universal Music Group (UMG), has fallen in line.

UMG revealed its plans to waive unpaid advances for legacy artists and songwriters – referring specifically to “eligible creators and their immediate heirs who have not received any payments since January 1, 2000” – in a newly published 2021 annual report.

Coming in at an impressive 289 pages, the document details Universal Music’s “worldwide goodwill program,” with all the details. At the time of Warner Music’s waiver, multiple outlets mentioned that UMG would do the same later in 2022, and they now have.

WMG’s move applied to artists and songwriters alike; SME unveiled an unpaid-advance waiver for artists in June 2021 and for songwriters in July 2021. “UMG is proud to initiate a worldwide goodwill program for certain legacy featured recording artists and songwriters with unrecouped balances,” UMG execs said in the annual report.

“By not applying their unrecouped advances to royalty statements for any period beginning January 1, 2022, eligible creators and their immediate heirs who have not received any payments since January 1, 2000, will begin receiving royalties, subject to certain conditions,” continued the leading label. “Within the coming months, UMG will contact eligible artists and songwriters.”

The major labels’ decisions to do away with unrecouped debts arrive as many legacy acts – including Dwight Yoakam and The Jesus and Mary Chain – are taking steps to recapture their copyrights under the Copyright Act of 1976. Of course, many legacy acts are likewise cashing out of their song catalogs.

Other noteworthy information disclosed in UMG’s 2021 annual report includes:

UMG CEO Lucian Grainge’s 2021 Salary – Grainge pulled down a decidedly healthy 2021 salary of $45,237,587 in 2021, with $14.59 million in base salary and a $27.3 million bonus.

A Payday From Sony Music’s Alamo Records Buyout – “In June 2021, UMG divested its interest in Alamo Records for the total cash consideration of $112.82 million. Total gain on disposal amounted to $108.38 million.”


Spotify and Tencent Music (TME) Stock Ownership – UMG said it owned 6,487,000 Spotify shares and 12,246,000 Tencent Music shares. The former saw their value dip by some $365.02 million from 2020’s end to 2021’s conclusion, against a $131.63 million falloff for the TME shares.

DigitalMusicNews reports that since December 2021, the Spotify shares at hand have parted with another $501.83 million – for nearly $900 million wiped out in total. TME stock, with a day-end worth of $4.87 per share, has fared even worse in terms of value lost as a percentage. Since 2020’s end, UMG’s TME shares have plunged by roughly $154 million.

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