In June 2021, Sony Music launched a global initiative called Artists Forward which it says is focused on “prioritizing transparency with creators in all aspects of their development”.
The initiative includes various tools and policies, including the marquee policy, The Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program, which has seen Sony Music disregard unrecouped balances for a swathe of heritage recording artists on its books.
That policy was extended to songwriters in July 2021, with Sony Music Publishing (SMP) revealing that it too will disregard unrecouped balances going forward for qualifying songwriters.
In May this year, Sony expanded the program on a rolling basis, to eligible unrecouped artists and songwriters globally who have been with Sony Music for over 20 years, and haven’t received an advance in over two decades.
According to a 2022 recap of the Artists Forward initiative, published on Sony Music’s website this week, the Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program “has already paid through millions of dollars to thousands of our long-standing creators”, and that “over time, thousands of artists globally are poised to benefit from Legacy Unrecouped Balance support as they become eligible for the program”.
Also included as part of Sony’s Artists Forward initiative is a suite of ‘Real Time Artist Tools’, which includes the Sony Music Artist Portal and the Real-Time Insights app.
The Sony Music Artist Portal is a mobile app and website that lets artists and ‘participants’ track earnings, cash out payable monthly account balances, and receive advances on qualifying projected earnings.
The other half of Sony’s ‘Real Time Artist Tools’ suite is Real-Time Insights, a separate mobile app, which according to Sony, gives artists and their teams access to marketing and creative data, “for detailed analysis of the platforms, playlists and audiences driving track breakthroughs around the globe”.
A feature called Real Time Advances, available through the Sony Music Artist Portal, allows qualifying artists (both heritage and non-heritage) to receive advances on projected earnings.
Qualifying artists and “participants” can use the Sony Music Artist Portal to request a withdrawal of all or part of their payable balance each month as soon as it becomes available using SME’s Cash Out feature, which was launched in 2020.
Sony has now published an update on these features, noting in its Artists Forward 2022 recap that “artists and participants have now withdrawn nearly $50 million combined using the Cash Out and Real-Time Advances features available through our Artist Portal”.
“With all of our artist tools we are focused on delivering fast, convenient, easy-to-use solutions in support of your career in a dynamic marketplace,” says Sony in its Artists Forward 2022 recap.
Additionally, in September 2021, SME announced a major expansion of Artists Forward in the form of a wellness-focused program called Artist Assistance.
In a letter sent to thousands of SME artists at the time, and obtained by MBW, SME described the program as a “broad global effort aimed at promoting wellness for our signed talent and providing them with relevant information and key resources for their careers”.
In an update published in its Artists Forward recap, Sony says that it has “helped artists in the US realize close to $500,000 in healthcare cost savings in just a matter of weeks since launching free artist healthcare advocacy services from Music Health Alliance”.
Sony also offers professional counseling services for Sony Music talent at no cost. According to the update published this week, Sony has provided over 100 artists around the world with information and support related to the program since launching last year.
“Putting our artists and their wellbeing first in all steps of the creative journey is the driving priority of everything we do with Artists Forward,” states Sony in its 2022 recap.Music Business Worldwide