Pacific Coast Group: Gathering Artists' Royalties from China

With the entertainment industry at a near standstill worldwide, Jeff Cheen and his team at the Pacific Coast Group offer a powerful platform for artists––represented and independent alike—to recoup royalties owing to them from in Asia. As the only Chinese-based company providing this service, Cheen offers a unique opportunity for musicians to recover past and current royalties resulting from the streaming, downloading, songwriting and publishing of their music in China and Southeast Asia. Pacific Coast also distributes and publishes new material, and organizes and promotes concerts and sells merchandise in Chinese-speaking countries.

Who are they?

Partners Jeffrey Cheen and Haitian Sun bring a combined six decades of experience in the entertainment business. As Asian Director of Legal Affairs, Sun has been successful in litigating intellectual property matters in film, television and music recording industries for clients in the United States, Korea and China, and has recovered royalties for more than 300 Chinese artists. His expertise includes media entertainment, intellectual property, dispute resolution, and corporate affairs negotiation. (Prior to his partnership with Pacific Coast, Sun managed legal affairs for the Starlight Media Group.)

As Managing Director of Global Operations, Cheen makes full use of a diverse background in the music industry that has included everything from artist management, record production, A&R and music distribution to live production, business development, and worldwide licensing. Having led Mercury Records, run the A&R division of Capitol Records, and managed Far Out Music and Publishing, Cheen has worked with Deep Purple, Joan Rivers, Tiny Tim, War, Ronnie Laws, and Rick James, to name a few, and for years has been responsible for presenting concerts and TV productions at the LA Forum and Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City.

A frequent traveler, he has lectured widely on the business of music and production in Hong Kong, China, Australia, India, and across the United States. Cheen commutes between Charlotte, NC, and Los Angeles to consult with record and entertainment companies. He serves on the Board of the LA Music Awards, is founder of the Charlotte Music Awards and teaches classes on the business of music at Catawba College in Salisbury, NC. Says Cheen, “After working 50 years in the music business, on both sides of the desk, as a record company executive signing and negotiating artists’ contracts and as a manager representing my artists for those contracts, I now have the opportunity to help artists recover monies due them from a source that was never available to them.”

The Asian Connection

Cheen launched the Pacific Rim Festival in 1993. Momentum grew around the event, and over the years Cheen established relationships with various bankers and businessmen in the Asian community. This led to work in China when Cheen was asked to help organize a tour for a national dance company who had never been to the United States. Recognizing their talent, Cheen jumped at the opportunity and became instrumental in organizing a fifteen-city, two-month tour across the United States. After the success of the tour, the Chinese Ministry of Culture suggested that he move to China and open a recording and concert production company, resulting in a thirteen-year stint of work between Beijing and Hong Kong. Cheen’s was the first Western company to enter a joint venture with the Chinese Ministry of Culture for the production and distribution of pop and rock music in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea, Australia and the Philippines.

Birth of a partnership

During a visit to China last year, Cheen and his wife were visiting friends in China and were thrown a surprise banquet where a group of musicians asked him to meet with their lawyer, Haitian Sun. They were looking for help collecting unpaid royalties, as well as for a system to collect them moving forward. The potential for a powerful partnership was clear from the beginning. In addition to being well versed in the Beijing legal system, Sun had a close colleague who was a tech whiz and had already developed an algorithm to track Chinese internet music service play lists. The technology has since been patented by the Pacific Coast team.

Starting with royalty collection on behalf of jazz legend (and former client) Ronnie Laws, there was a 97 percent success rate over the span of approximately ten months, recouping royalties from twenty-two of Laws’ 23 albums. To date, the Pacific Coast legal team has been successful in recouping over $3 million in owed royalties for over 3,000 compositions, and has recovered settlements for over 300 Chinese musicians and songwriters in the past year alone. The team is now ready to open their services up to international artists needing this service. Even with China as part of the Berne Convention, this is the first time a foreign-owned company has looked to do this. “I am uniquely placed to do this, having worked in the music business both in the US and China and having a partner who is the leading attorney in the music business in China. As I have told my clients for years, ‘If you make money, I make money,’” adds Cheen.

How it works

For a $35.00 registration fee, all necessary courts costs, transportation and other expenses are covered and new compositions are tracked for release and distribution in Asia. The approximate turn-around time for the service is five to six months from registration to the receipt of the first royalty check. As part of the only China-based legal team helping to recover artist royalties, this represents a potentially massive opportunity for anyone who has ever had music published in film or television in the United States as it is almost certainly being used in China. Pacific Coast’s services are available to signed and independent artists, as well as publishing companies and labels based in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.

See thepacificcoastgroup.com for further details