Accounting for Injustice: AFTRA, Work & Singers’ Royalties

21 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2019

See all articles by Matt Stahl

Matt Stahl

University of Western Ontario - Faculty of Information and Media Studies

Olufunmilayo Arewa

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: July 1, 2019

Abstract

This article examines contractual royalties in the U.S. recording industry. Developing Arewa’s (2019) research on entertainment industry contract accounting and Stahl’s (2015) research on record industry royalty reform, we aim to shed light on contractual accounting practices in the record industry and the structural asymmetries of power that characterize them. Central to our analysis is the crucial but until now unstudied role played by the Health and Retirement Funds (“AFTRA H&R Funds” or “H&R Funds”) of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (“AFTRA”) in the economic lives of U.S. recording singers. The activities of this benefits system include monitoring and auditing of singers’ compensation and royalty accounts. Archival and other sorts of evidence documenting these activities provide a new and unique window into otherwise obscure accounting and business practices. Music industry royalty accounting practices, such as those revealed in the archival evidence brought to light in this article, highlight potential problems with contractual accounting. Royalty contractual accounting numbers may not be correct or calculated in a transparent or fair way, which results in a situation that leaves significant room for exploitation of a wide range of artists. This article identifies and makes use of neglected sources and types of evidence and suggests avenues of potential future reform.

Keywords: entertainment industry, music industry, recording industry, singers, royalties, accounting, unions, AFTRA, work

JEL Classification: K29

Suggested Citation

Stahl, Matt and Arewa, Olufunmilayo, Accounting for Injustice: AFTRA, Work & Singers’ Royalties (July 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3474977 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3474977

Matt Stahl (Contact Author)

University of Western Ontario - Faculty of Information and Media Studies ( email )

North Campus Building, Room 240
London, Ontario N6A 5B7
Canada

Olufunmilayo Arewa

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
30
Abstract Views
252
PlumX Metrics