A multimedia music composer, a software engineer and a lawyer and former Hollywood Reporter journalist have joined forces to realize a software that tracks airings of films and television episodes to uncover unpaid residuals, royalties and profit participations.
On Monday, the entertainment tech start-up WIO — co-founded by composer Shawn Pierce (The Bridge, Haven) and software engineer Adam Shafron — announced the launch of WIOpro, a service that aims to monitor airings of film and television titles in 55 countries. Offered on a web platform, WIOpro allows users to search for and add titles to a “portfolio” in order to track usage and generate airing and graphical analyses reports. Pierce serves as president of WIO, Shafron as chief technology officer and entertainment and technology attorney Jonathan Handel as WIO chief strategy and legal officer. (From 2010 to 2020, Handel wrote for THR on labor issues and was a contributing editor.)
The service began because “I simply wanted to know when and where my shows were airing so I could doublecheck my performance royalties,” Pierce said in a statement. (WIOpro stands for “When’s It On? Professional”). “And I found about $50,000 in missing royalties I would never have received.”
WIOpro is aimed at directors, writers, actors, composers, musicians, creatives’ representatives, auditors, unions, music publishers and performing rights groups eager to track the use of film and television titles. The software’s databases “encompass about 500,000 programs airing in 55 countries on over 45,000 networks,” Shafron says in a statement. (WIOpro has some streaming data currently but is working on licensing more.) Pricing depends on how many titles a user is tracking and varies from $9 a year for someone looking to track one episode, non-episodic program or movie, to $1,299 a year to track up to 10,000 such titles. Enterprise subscriptions are also available for representatives and groups.
In a Hollywood Reporter story in 2018, Handel reported that entertainment residuals account for about $2.1 billion a year across five major Hollywood unions, and that another 15 percent could be going unpaid. In 2021, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) reported that composer, songwriter and publisher royalties amounted to $1.213 billion the previous year; Handel suggests there is “significant non-payment” of composer royalties because of cue sheets not being submitted and other data issues. WIO estimates that profit participations account for $1 to $7 billion a year, and do not have an estimate for how much might go unpaid but Handel says it’s “bound to be significant.”
Handel adds in a statement, “WIO is driven by transparency and equity, and WIOpro helps put food on the table for filmmakers, because it empowers creatives and their representatives like never before. The first time I used it, I found missing residuals for a client — an entire series of 180 episodes that wasn’t paying.”