Paul McCartney performing. / AAP

Like royalty

The whole situation with royalties is confusing and far from clear

Peter Edgerton
PETER EDGERTON

Every few months, a small royalty payment will arrive in my bank account from the Spanish organisation SGAE (the General Society for Authors and Editors). Only yesterday, I was the grateful recipient of the grand total of ten euros and twenty seven cents. It's all very intriguing and I'm always faced with the same question - what could these transactions possibly correspond to?

Well, I suppose an old song I made up and registered years ago could have been streamed twenty-nine million times on Spotify, or whatever it is that it takes on that particular platform to muster a ten euro bonanza. Alternatively, a chain-smoking graveyard shift DJ in some half-forgotten town near Burgos might have played one of my tunes and then taken the time to register his magnanimous deed with SGAE before heading off to the kebab shop on his way home. The possibilities are endless for a fertile imagination.

I did try to investigate once. Having received a whopping five-hundred-and-something euros on one particularly memorable occasion (about fifty times the usual amount) from a British organisation similar to SGAE.

I wrote them an email asking for details about where these untold riches might have come from. The reply I received a few days later was nothing short of baffling. It was a scanned computer print out, listing a seemingly random selection of cities in the United States, each with a time written next to it. For example, 'Phoenix - 4m 7secs, Baton Rouge - 11m 28secs.' No mention of any song titles, mind you, just cities and times.

I thought perhaps they'd confused me with a greyhound bus enthusiast. Subsequently, I endeavoured to dig a little deeper into the matter but, alas, to no avail. I was given the shortest of shifts.

The whole royalty thing is infinitely confusing. There are videos of me warbling away on YouTube that have those annoying adverts for mobile phones tagged on to the start of them. As far as I know, I don't get any payment from these companies. Or maybe, that's what the ten euros twenty seven cents corresponds to. Who knows?

If I'm in the dark, imagine how Paul McCartney must feel.

"Paul, another cheque's just arrived. This one's for seven million pounds."

"Goody gumdrops. What's it correspond to?"

"Dunno. It just says 'Eugene, Oregon - 8m 16 secs."