Business News Labels & Publishers

Downtown launches new neighbouring rights division

By | Published on Friday 19 June 2020

Downtown Music yesterday announced the launch of a new neighbouring rights division to be known as Flip Flop Groovy Tunes. No, not really. Downtown Neighbouring Rights, obviously. Although now I have a sudden urge to set up a company called Flip Flop Groovy Tunes. Anyone in?

So, neighbouring rights, hey? That, in case you wondered, is the term used to refer to the performing rights element of the sound recording copyright. Why neighbouring rights? Good question! Why can’t the record industry just call its performing rights performing rights? Nobody knows. Not one person. I checked once. I asked everyone. Nobody knew. Neighbouring rights! What a stupid name. Though I have just incorporated a company called Flip Flop Groovy Tunes Limited, so maybe I’m not one to comment on stupid names.

And just to stress, I’m not saying Downtown Neighbouring Rights is a stupid name. Given the record industry’s insistence on calling its performing rights neigbouring rights, it’s an entirely sensible name. I mean, boring. But sensible. And to be fair, I’ve already incorporated Flip Flop Groovy Tunes Limited, so all the fun names are gone.

“With revenue from touring and live performance dramatically reduced, artists and record labels are bringing added scrutiny and focus to important income sources like neighbouring rights”, says Downtown’s EVP of Global Business Development Andrew Sparkler. Hence the creation of Downtown Neighbouring Rights, the slightly dull but nevertheless sensibly named new addition to the Downtown group of music companies.

That new division will be headed up, by the way, by Dean Francis, who has spent the last two years running neighbouring rights operations at, oh, hang on, Downtown Music!

Ah yes, I should probably mention, Downtown already offers neighbouring rights management services. Twice, actually. Up until now it’s been a service offered by Downtown’s music publishing business and the music distribution firm FUGA, which Downtown acquired earlier this year. But now there’ll be a super duper standalone one-stop division for helping artists and labels collect all their neighbouring rights money.

As Sparkler explains: “By centralising the neighbouring rights expertise from across Downtown-owned companies into a single business unit, and with oversight by an executive with deep industry knowledge of the space, we can more efficiently support our clients who want the same kind of professional management and transparency available through other Downtown companies”.

All this neighbouring rights income – which usually includes monies paid by radio, TV and any public space that plays recorded music – is actually collected at first instance by the record industry’s collecting societies. But neighbouring rights agencies – like Downtown Neighbouring Rights and Flip Flop Groovy Tunes Limited – help to manage those rights and royalties, ensuring artists and labels get all the money they are due as quickly as possible.

To do that those agencies need direct connections with each collecting society. Downtown Neighbouring Rights is currently connected to more than 50 around the world. Flip Flop Groovy Tunes Limited isn’t currently affiliated to any. But it still has a much better name.

Francis has hands-on experience on the society side of all this too, having previously spent more than a decade with the UK record industry’s collecting society PPL – or Phonographic Performance Limited. Not Phonographic Neighbouring Rights Limited you’ll note. There’s none of that neighbouring rights nonsense over at PPL HQ. Good old PPL HQ. Hey PPL HQ, fancy rebranding as Flip Flip Groovy Tunes Limited? I just registered the dotcom domain if you’re interested.