Spreading The Word – Rights and Royalties For Podcasts And Spoken Word

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Our appetite for digital media is growing fast.

U.S. consumers 18 and older spend almost 12 hours each day engaging with media. According to a Nielsen report from February 2020, as options like streaming and podcasts mature, U.S. consumers are opting to add them to their daily routines instead of simply replacing the traditional fare.

Podcasts and other types of spoken word content are an especially rapidly growing category of streaming and downloadable audio. According to Spotify user statistics, 72% of all weekly Spotify users are millennials, with Podcasts making up 10% off all content that millennials listen to.

When the coronavirus pandemic began a year ago, it all but ended drive time, the prime time for podcast listening. Yet audience numbers soon recovered as podcasts – especially comedy – provided welcome distraction from the lockdown. “Every day now looks like the weekend,” Spotify said in a letter to shareholders.

Spreading The Word – Rights and Royalties For Podcasts And Spoken Word

As part of the RightsTech Track for this year’s virtual Digital Entertainment World, Spreading The Word: Rights, Royalties And Collections For Podcasts And Spoken Word Audiolooked at why comedians and other spoken word creators may be missing out on revenues in this growing marketplace and why even in 2021, managing rights and collecting royalties for spoken word audio remain unrealized opportunities. CCC moderated the panel discussion.

Panelists included –

  • Michele Cobb, Partner, Forte Business Consulting, Executive Director of the Audio Publishers Association. Cobb began her audiobook career at L.A. Theatre Works where she now serves as Audio Sales Director and worked for the British Broadcasting Corporation audiobooks division for over a decade. Over the past several years , she has expanded into the world of podcasts – Cobb is Executive Producer of the Stories of Impact podcast and Executive Director of The Podcast Academy.
  • Lawrence Griff, partner, Grant Thornton’s Media and Entertainment Practice where he leads the music subsector for the Firm. Grant Thornton provides consulting, tax and audit services including royalty audits, audits of public and private companies and IT system implementation. Griff’s clients have included global music companies, satellite radio company, rights organizations and private music publishers. Previously, he was a partner in Ernst & Young’s media and entertainment group and has taught a media and entertainment business at NYU Stern School of Business.
  • Jim King, CEOSpoken Giants. Founded in early 2019, Spoken Giants is the world’s first and largest rights administration company for spoken word “genres” such as comedy, podcasting, and audio renderings of multiple formats. Spoken Giant provides services as a performance rights and mechanical rights company and provides publisher services for its many affiliated members – comedians, podcasters, and other spoken word rights holders. King’s co-founders are Damion Greiman and Ryan Bitzer, who previously founded 800 Pound Gorilla Records, which distributes comedy albums worldwide and has close to 200 comics on its roster. Previously, King was the SVP of Business Operations and Information Technology for Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI).
  • Jeff Price, CEO, Word Collections. Launched in July 2020, Word Collections works for comedians and other spoken word performers to license and collect “Literary Work” royalties earned when digital or terrestrial radio broadcast recordings of their works as well as other uses. Word Collections currently represents iconic comedy routines from George Carlin, Margaret Cho, Milton Berle and many others. In June 2013, Jeff launched Audiam. a digital rights Reproduction collection agency for publishers and songwriters for all interactive streaming entities including YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify, Rhapsody, Amazon. In July 2016, Audiam was acquired by the Canadian performing rights organization SOCAN.
  • Peter Rafelson, co-founder, ElectraCast, which develops content along multiple verticals and mediums, spinning off hit podcasts into film and television adaptations. Rafelson began his career writing and producing hits for such artists as Madonna, Elton John and Britney Spears, and has spent the last 25 years consulting and providing strategic business development services to a large variety of international Media and Technologies companies.
Christopher Kenneally

Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's podcast, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.

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