The Black Box refers to a pool of revenue at a collection society where the songwriter and/or publisher of songs that have generated revenue cannot be located or traced. These royalties are referred to as black box royalties (aka “unallocated royalties” or “unclaimed royalties”).
Royalties can fall into the black box because of bad data or because the songwriter, publisher, or songs were not registered with the collection society/pay source. This is a common problem for songwriters and publishers without global publishing administration. For example, a US-based songwriter who has not claimed their overseas mechanical royalties within a set period (typically 6 – 18 months depending on the territory), could lose those royalties to the black box. Black Box Royalties are commonly distributed to local publishers based on market share. This means that your royalties could be lost forever because they’ve been paid to someone else.
The best way to ensure you’re not losing revenue to the black box is to partner with a global publishing administrator such as TuneCore Publishing.