Spoken Giants CEO Jim King Presses For Spoken Word Royalties; Company Signs Don Rickles Estate, Mike Birbiglia

EXCLUSIVE: Spoken Giants, a royalty administration company for creators of spoken word copyrights, said Friday that the Don Rickles estate and comedian Mike Birbiglia are the latest to sign with the Nashville firm. CEO Jim King also applauded a large payout by digital services to music creators this week, but wondered when authors of spoken word content would also receive “appropriate compensation.”

King, a former executive at music rights group BMI, with comedy label 800 Pound Gorilla Records co-founders Ryan Bitzer and Damion Greiman, launched Spoken Giants in October for comedians, podcasters, speechwriters and other wordsmiths — whom King says have been missing out on million in royalties. Early clients include Lewis Black, Dan Cummins, Gerry Dee, Pete Holmes, Kyle Kinane, Kathleen Madigan, the Ralphie May estate, Leanne Morgan and Theo Von.

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The Mechanical Licensing Collective two days ago announced that an historic $424 million in unmatched royalties have been collected from Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Google and other digital streaming services to be distributed to music creators. As of January, the collective is responsible for administering a new blanket compulsory license for the use of musical works by digital music services. It’s part of the Music Modernization Act of 2018.

“As a multiple rights organization, we’re in line with what the MLC does for songwriters … and those representing them and we look forward to the future when Spoken Giants and MLC are working hand-in-hand to serve our respective members. For now, the question remains, when and how will authors of spoken word content receive appropriate compensation? Comedy, podcasts, speeches, and audiobooks are being consumed online at consistently high rates but those creators have historically been without an advocate, until now.”

“Our rapidly growing membership base demonstrates the need and we’re working overtime to complete agreements with some of the world’s funniest individuals, past and present,” King said. He said streaming platforms have in the past cited a lack of collective representation as an obstacle in properly compensating spoken word creators.

Spoken Giants represents underlying composition copyrights and its revenue is based on a percentage of monies collected. For members, this income stream is supplemental to revenue earned from SoundExchange for sound recordings. Members retain all rights to their work and gain access to data, analytics, market knowledge, copyrights administration and repertoire management across all affiliates, along with carefully optimized royalty administration processing.

Spoken Giants uses Muserk for tracking, royalty collection and reporting.

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