Casualties of the Music Business
Royalty Recovery Work (Finding Out Where The Bodies Are Buried)
(c)2000 Lynne Robin Green (worldwide rights reserved)

 

Some things in life may happen that are really painful to talk about -so people tend to put it aside and they just don't talk about it at all. Sometimes they may not talk about it to anyone - for many many years..  Like a deep dark secret, people tend not to admit their mistakes to anyone. Their frailty. And in this business of handling music rights and royalties   - (there are a few people like myself who dharmically end up ON THIS SIDE of the desk becoming a confidential party to hearing these horror stories, and to keeping these terrible secrets).  When we hear the real story, its incredible how these tangled tales of legal malappropriation and extreme unilateral financial loss come flying out of the closet. Like a cold slap in the face. (And, this is precisely where I seem to come in to the picture)..

As a royalty recovery consultant - I often am called upon by attorneys and by Artists and Writers themselves (both very famous and some lesser known) to do the dirty work, play the Sherlock Holmes part, work to open the problems up - put it on its feet, explain it, and define it legally -- THEN see IF we can go and get it, go and fight the fight, to try to right some of the wrongs, as it were. And sometimes the people that hire you may be the heirs of the Artist -- and this issue may be already long foregone (due to a statute of limitations) -but their heirs simply want to understand what happened. It's usually where did the money go and why, or some horrific document that was signed years ago -- suddenly is found --(and guess who gets to explain it to them ?). This is not often pretty. The kind of document that someone may coerce you to sign off all your rights on. My big problem with this is -- a lot of the time (my client or their heirs had not any idea what they were giving up at the time). They didn't see the horizon you might say.. Why? Because someone may have obscured the view , if you understand what I mean...

On the other side of Rights recovery -- lies royalty recovery. This is where you hire someone to get you what's unpaid and due to you. All itemized and tied up with a ribbon and a check! This work can be a major tenacity and endurance test -as I begin fighting to get the back accountings that are due to an Artist or a Writer. But be not mistaken that IF we hit a wall - and you need an attorney to help ME fight for you legally, we will enjoin one .. It's a good idea for me to know the ones who will work contingencies and those guys that really care to help fight for the Artist, selflessly - at the ground level, in sending demands and more. And I keep an elite and special group of those cats handy. But sometimes the client may find that all their lawyer correspondence work -(still doesn't settle the outstanding issues and may lead to having to get a big litigator and file a big major lawsuit)...

Did you know that it takes a ' very wealthy person'  just to file one of these cases? Even if you have a lawyer on contingency, you still have out of pocket costs, depositions, and fees that maybe - (will knock you right outta the box). So what do we do, (well, I beg and beg and fight sometimes to try to do everything short of a lawsuit, to force the perpetrator's hand.) That's one strategy. Still the price of justice ain't cheap. And the facts are that 98% of all situations started sometimes have to give up, due to running out of legal funds. Even though I have devoted my life to working some of these incredible cases on a finders fee, it's not always enough, even when I'm kicking my work in to try to help...

Welcome to the music royalty graveyard ,the place where misfortunate Artist's, Musicians and Writer's dreams end up . I have spiritually asked myself "How did I ever got into this area of specialization?" I never asked for this talent that I was given to do this work, and didn't learn how to help in this area until at least sixteen years of being an independent music publisher owner of these firms. With my own firms founded in 1958 I was virtually thrown into the frying pan to handle over 800 songs worldwide -and later this through goodwill and recommendations brought me many many other Artist's Publishing firms to handle - (and I try to handle all these client's firms with the same diligence, vigilance and love that I handle my own with).

But something else kept popping up, like a signal of some kind; I SAW A NEED THAT WAS CRYING OUT TO BE FILLED. And when I'd be taking a meeting with an Artist or Writer  (who had quite a recording/song dossier) from the 50's-60's or 70s- we would somehow end up -not just talking about what they had that they needed administrated , but what they NEVER were paid on at all. And I'll tell ya it's a ball of worms that every time I attempt to untangle it--(asking them invasive questions like a bloodhound, their story unfolds, unravels, tightens, constricts) and later it usually spits out a bunch of horrific old documents that this person had (usually) - unadvisedly and unwittingly signed in the past. And guess what? They never knew what it all meant. But they knew something was really wrong, and sometimes even their own lawyers didn't advise them NOT to have signed it - but may have helped to coerce them to sign them anyway. To sign away what would represent irreparable damage to them, forever...

    Quite recently I got to the bottom of a very long time music business mystery - in just this way. I found this key piece missing - this piece of paper that was the real key as to why someone took their life over that situation. Never had I imagined I would find this reason out. It was shocking and sad, to all of us. But it was really shocking what their lawyer DID.. But that's a really a drastic exception to anything I'd ever seen before, or hope to ever see again, thank god. The normal case is usually just a contract that granted rights to someone who in turn was to account to YOU ,but they JUST never did -- nor had you pursued chasing this accounting ...

And while we're talking about this -- and I'm looking at your papers (IF you are lucky enough to HAVE kept copies)--IT sorta becomes surreal at points, like a stage play that has already been through two acts - the curtain falls before the third, and in I walk into this play that has already been played out.

And if you DON'T have copies--(after my requisitioning copies of all those documents) - THEN, I'M left again with the job of explaining to you 'WHAT THE HELL REALLY HAPPENED'.  That's how well I've mastered reading this legalese in contracts. I've learned to comprehend it voraciously and endlessly. In fact many people send me contracts, including attorney's just to get my input and negotiating ideas on them, sometimes. And some send me contracts BEFORE they sign them, too, as I can tell them what's missing, what should be changed sometimes, firstly .. On older documents I can usually find out- WHY you aren't getting paid, and WHY you should be -and WHAT you should be getting. Explaining this to someone IS not fun and sometimes the news may not be so good . And sometimes I'm really encouraged at the outset looking at the whole case objectively, knowing YES WE CAN DO THIS - and go get you paid. Bear in mind that usually getting your rights back will take an attorney's help (and I will work hard to build the situation and points up on paper chronologically with all the facts and research) as I try to advise you of everything we can expect during the battle and until we finally prevail. Sometimes I have to convince an attorney (that you might choose from who I work with, or I will work with your's in the same capacity) and we both work it together on a contingency. As I work hand in hand with you and the attorney in that way - it's kinda like having a therapist who understands pain and loss, a personal detective who unburies information that others really cant find (affordably) and also a pitbull in the collection area (who reads royalty statements down to the bottom line) and who will go right for the jugular- for your bread... I've wondered lately, why --at this point in my life-- when I am feeling most secure as a music publisher--( WHY do I want to be exposed to so much of other peoples pain?) Why even go there? Why do I get so hung up on solving these things for people - I think it's because I just really care a lot about the principle involved in this, the justice sought and won. The challenge is so incredible sometimes. I've asked myself this question, over and over. And you know what? I find that I am serving a need and making it affordable to many that might have just given up... The answer I hear clearly in my heart  --is THIS - IT'S THE ARTIST (their performances), IT'S THE WRITER (their songs),that person's heir. I hear their call... I hear it IN their music, see it on their massively reissued CD's, see it on the faces of their heirs - as they ask, 'can you please help?...

Man, for the sake of that music, that person's legacy ,their dreams, I do it. I've see how my life is enriched by having this real purpose in knowing what I am capable of doing. Doing good is rewarding. Justice helps to bring dignity ... To be given a gift to be able to help - to give some of that dignity back - yeah- I find that's my biggest reward. My motto always,- create, protect, then go forth and collect.


For reprint permissions :Email contact <asklynne@halsguide.com>


Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

SIGN THE GUESTBOOK READ THE GUESTBOOK
MESSAGE BOARD | INSPIRATION-POINT | OPEN MICS AND SHOWCASES | LAWMAN | PUBLISHING | ASK-LI'L-HANK | ROADWARRIORS | BOOKS | LINKS | WEBRINGS | UPDATE | AWARDS