Music Publishing is the business of exploiting your music through licensing your songs and collecting the royalties. The copyright owner may license others to use any or all of these exclusive rights for a fee. The income generated from granting a license is publishing income, and there are four main types:

  • Performance Income
    Every time your music is played in public, you are owed a fee for the performance of your music. It is impossible for anyone to track every time a song is played in a club or on the radio, so publishers sign up with, or “affiliate with,” one of the performance rights societies: BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated), ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and SESAC. These groups issue performance licenses to radio and television stations, nightclubs, restaurants, and so forth, so that these businesses can play a variety of music. The societies then track and collect the revenues and pay the copyright owners.
  • Mechanical Royalties
    When you issue a license to a record company to manufacture and distribute copies of your songs on vinyl and CDs, the record company will owe you a fixed price per song on each copy sold. This fixed fee is the “mechanical royalty rate,” and it can be either negotiated and set in your recording contract, or based on the current statutory rate as fixed by the Copyright Act. The mechanical royalty rate is set by the Compulsory License Provision found in Section 115 of the U.S. Copyright Act; the current statutory mechanical rate is 9.10 Cents for songs 5 minutes or less, or 1.75 Cents per minute or fraction thereof per unit sold – whichever is greater. The Harry Fox Agency, a subsidiary of The National Music Publishers’ Association, is available to grant mechanical licenses for its almost 28,000 publisher clients. For more information, contact:

    Harry Fox Agency
    711 Third Avenue, Eight Floor, New York, NY 10017
    (212) 834-0100; fax (212) 953-2384
  • Synchronization Income
    A “synch” license is what you grant to film or television productions to allow them to use your song as an accompaniment to film and TV pictures. There is no standard industry fee for synch licenses. The fees are negotiated and depend on the importance of the particular song and how it is used in the production. In a situation where a popular song is used as the basis of a scene, such as the “Old Time Rock and Roll” scene in “Risky Business,” the fee can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. For local television commercials and low-budget films, the fees are whatever you can negotiate.
  • Print Income
    These royalties are generated by any publication of your songs in written sheet music or a “folio”, which is a book of songs. This category is not a big earner for many artists, but “Greatest Hits” print anthologies published for artists like Joni Mitchell and Led Zeppelin are examples of popular printed music. For each book or sheet sold, the copyright owner of those songs receives a percentage of the retail price.

What do music publishers do?

A publisher is responsible for “administering the rights” associated with your copyrights, which involves getting your songs played, issuing the appropriate licenses and collecting the money. In the standard arrangement, a songwriter will sign over her copyrights to the publishing company for administration, and in turn the publishing company agrees to pay 50% of all revenues collected to the writer.

The publisher collects mechanical, synchronization, print and foreign release income for the author. The company keeps the “publisher’s share” and pays you the “writer’s share.” The one exception to this arrangement is in the performance income collected by performing rights societies. The societies issue the writer’s share directly to you, and issue the publisher its share separately.

Subpublishing: I have a popular song in a foreign country, but don’t speak the language and am not familiar with their music business customs and practices.   How can I take advantage of business opportunities related to my work over there and ensure that I am collecting the money I am owed for use of my work?

Being thousands of miles away makes it impossible to adequately conduct business without the help of a subpublisher, a foreign representative who will act on your behalf with regards to your intellectual property.  Your US publisher allows the foreign publisher (subpublisher) to act on its behalf in that respective territory.  Each foreign territory has its own particular rules in licensing music, collecting royalties, and protecting copyrights.  For this reason, it is incredibly important to select a subpublisher that you can work with and trust.  A good foreign representative will be well-versed in the local rules and procedures regarding business affairs surrounding your music, and have a music business network in place within the territory.

What exactly does a subpublisher do?

A subpublisher functions much like your own music publisher in the US. The subpublisher protects your copyrights, registers songs with the local mechanical and performance collection societies, promotes new uses for your work, collects royalties, audits royalty statements from users of your work, negotiates licenses, and sues infringers.

Foreign publishers perform a combination of administrative and promotional tasks. Some do one or the other, while some do a little of both.It is important to match your interests with the strengths of the subpublisher. If you are an artist looking to ensure that royalties are collected for use of your song, then choosing a subpublisher with strength in administrative ability is ideal.  If you are looking for new uses for your song, then selecting a subpublisher with quality contacts in the local entertainment industry would be ideal.

Another thing to keep in mind is the geographical reach of the publishing company. Some publishers have offices worldwide, while some only have offices in specific territories. If you go with a worldwide publisher any problems that arise abroad can usually be resolved through the US office. This makes conducting business and communication more efficient since you are not trying to get a hold of a publishing office in another time zone. The biggest fear in going with a worldwide publishing company is that their artist catalogue is so extensive that your work may not get the personal attention and care that you desire.  Another concern is that offices abroad may run less efficiently than the US office.

Hiring independent publishing companies on a territory by territory basis can be beneficial in that they may be able to give you more individualized attention.  They may also know the lay of the land better in their specific region.  Your US publisher may already have subpublishers abroad, in which case it might be easiest to allow them to handle your affairs.

Protect yourself: the sub-publishing agreement

Your goal in negotiating any contract should be to maximize profits and minimize risk. To do this you want to negotiate favorable contract terms for yourself.  What follows is a list of common contract elements that you will want to be familiar with so that you (or your publishing company on your behalf) may consider them when you negotiate a subpublishing agreement.  

Term – The standard length of a subpublishing agreement is generally three to five years.  Three years is the minimum duration foreign royalty collection societies often accept.  Contract length can be negotiable dependent upon the following various factors (many of which are discussed later in this section).

Advance amount

Retention rights for local cover recordings

Right to collect “pipeline” royalties (money earned prior to the expiration of the term of the subpublishing agreement, but not yet paid by the music user until after the end of the term)

Released-album guarantees

Extensions if advances have not been recouped 

Rules of local performing rights societies

Suspensions due to breaches

Extensions based on the non-achievement of guaranteed earnings plateaus

Compositions Controlled by the Agreement – Agreement may comprise the entire catalogue of a US publisher, all songs written by a particular songwriter/artist, select compositions, or an individual song.

In agreements for the entire catalogue, the following language is common 

“Publisher grants to Subpublisher the following rights in and to all the musical compositions listed on Schedule A as well as any and all musical compositions currently or hereafter owned or controlled by Publisher during the terms of this Agreement.”

This usually entails all future songs acquired during the agreement duration as well.

Royalty Percentages – The foreign representative’s compensation is always based upon the percentage of money generated by the songs controlled by the subpublishing agreement.  Generally, this percentage is anywhere from 10%-25%.  For superstar artists, this percentage can get to as low as 5%.

Local Cover Recordings – Where a subpublisher is hired for the purpose of promotion, most agreements provide that the subpublisher can take a larger percentage of the income that is generated from a local recording (usually a “cover”).  

Be wary of language that provides that, if a local recording is secured, the subpublisher’s percentage on all versions of the song contained on that cover record will be increased. 

This kind of provision is unfair if the original US version is a major hit.  The exception is when the “cover” becomes a major hit in the foreign territory, and the original US version is not generating income in the foreign territory.

Increased Fees for Cover Records – Known as an “increased cover version percentage” clause, this only applies to mechanical income (CD sales, downloads, other audio recordings; things that can be counted on a per unit basis).

The subpublisher sometimes will take an increased fee on radio and television performance income generated by the cover version of the song.  This becomes hard to monitor because performing rights societies do not account separately for different broadcast versions of the same song.

Print – the US publisher generally receives 12.5%-15% of the retail price on printed editions of all compositions, or 50% of the subpublisher’s net income. 

Usually not a major source of income

Advances – This is the amount of money you will receive up front, and depending on the clout that your musical catalogue has, the advance amount can vary widely.  If a song/catalogue is likely to generate income in the subpublisher’s territory, advance amounts upwards of six-figures is not unusual.  

The advance amount should not be the only factor considered in choosing a foreign representative.  Other factors to keep in mind;

Company integrity

Reputation for administration and promotion

Personnel

Royalty rates

Retention rights

Duration of the agreement

Do not underestimate a foreign representative because of poor English ability.  A subpublisher knows their business and more importantly, their market.

How Advances are Paid – Advances are paid in any number of ways.

One-time payment upon signing (e.g., $10,000 upon execution of the agreement)

Specified advances at the start of each one-year period of the agreement (e.g., $10,000 upon execution of agreement, and $10,000 each year of the agreement thereafter)

Advances upon the release of each album, with reductions depending on the number of songs controlled by the artist on each such album (e.g., $10,000 upon the album’s release in the foreign territory provided the writer/artist has written at least x% of the compositions on the album)

Advances upon recouping all or a specified percentage of the previous advance (e.g., $100,000 upon recouping x% of the previous $100,000 advance)

Advances on local chart activity (e.g., if a song reaches the top 10, then $10,000.  If it reaches number one, then another $10,000)

Advances based on a company’s acquisition of other US catalogues (e.g., a mutually agreeable advance in the event that the US publisher acquires a major company for representation)

Advances based on actual earnings in the foreign territory (e.g., if an album earns $50,000 in its first year, an additional advance of $50,000 will be paid to US publisher)

At-Source Royalty Payments – This provision ensures that there will be no extra charges or deductions from royalties passing from one foreign territory to another before being passed on to the US.  Typical language follows;

“All royalties payable shall be based on gross income received at the source and shall not in any way be reduced by any charges including, but not limited to, any sublicensees granted by Subpublisher except only for: (1) those fees and commissions paid by the Subpublisher to the performing rights societies, mechanical license societies, and other collection agents in the territory; and (2) payments made by the Subpublisher for any “value-added” taxes and other taxes, if any, required to be deducted in the territory.”

This language prevents foreign companies from double-deducting fees on monies earned in portions of the territory covered.

E.g., if you have an agreement with Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, the agreement will prevent the German affiliate from deducting fees that may have been already deducted by Austria and Switzerland.  Without the provision, the German company could deduct 20%, then forward the remaining 80% to Austria who would deduct 20%, then forward the remaining onto Switzerland, whom would also take 20%.  

Rights Granted to the Foreign Representative – The writer/publisher usually grants the following rights in and to the musical compositions to the subpublisher.

Mechanical Rights – The right to issue mechanical licenses and collect royalties for the manufacture and distribution of records, CDs, downloads, and other audio recordings.  

Performance Rights – The local foreign representative is given the right to register the songs with the performance right society in the territory and collect the publisher’s share of income earned by performances of the songs on radio, television, live in concert, in restaurants, bars, etc.  

The writer’s share is paid directly to ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC (depending on writers’ US affiliation), and NOT the foreign subpublisher.

Audiovisual Rights

TV and Film – The US publisher normally grants the foreign subpublisher the right to issue synchronization rights to include songs in television shows and films that originate in the subpublisher’s territory.  

Home Video – For US films (and TV shows and video games, usually), the film producer will always demand that the US publisher grant home video rights on a worldwide basis via a one-time non-royalty buy-out basis.  Under this agreement, no money is paid to the foreign subpublisher.  The foreign subpublisher is usually given the right to negotiate home video licenses for audiovisual projects produced in the foreign territory, at least with respect to sales in that particular territory.

Recording Artist Videos – There is usually always a record company provision that grants worldwide right to manufacture and distribute short or long home video versions of the artist’s performances.  

For songs written by outside writers, the record company will have to negotiate a separate agreement with the publisher of each song.  In most cases a worldwide license granted on a per unit royalty or buy-out basis.  

It’s rare that a subpublisher be allowed to negotiate a separate video license for this product for sales in its territory.

Commercials – The right to include a song as part of a foreign commercial to be broadcast in a foreign territory is sometimes given to the subpublisher.  

When granted to the subpublisher, this right is usually conditional upon the subpublisher receiving approval for each particular request from the US publisher.  

Print – The right to manufacture and distribute sheet music is virtually always included in the rights being granted.

Rights Reserved by the US Publisher  – The following rights are commonly reserved by the US publisher;

  • Dramatic/literary rights
  • Commercials, political campaign uses, and endorsements
  • Grand rights (the right to use a song in a musical, live theatrical drama, opera, etc.)
  • Ownership of the copyright

All other rights that are not specifically granted by the terms of the subpublishing agreement

Royalty Payment Dates and Audit Rights – Royalties are normally accounted for twice a year, with semiannual payments and statements sent to the US music publisher 45-90 days after December 31 and June 30 of each year.  Audit rights are similar to those contained in US publishing agreements (30 day notice, audit conducted during normal business hours, limited number of times one can audit)

Retention Rights – Upon the termination of the agreement, many subpublishers will want to retain the following rights for some period of time after termination.

Pipeline Monies – Enables the subpublisher to collect money that has been earned during the term of the agreement, but has yet to be collected at the time of the agreement’s expiration.  

The US publisher generally concedes this, though usually demands a time limit on such rights (6-18 months).  This prevents the pipeline collection period from being open ended.  

Retention Rights if Advances are Unrecouped – if advances paid to the US publisher have not been recouped, the foreign subpublisher may have the right to extend the agreement for a specified period of time so that advances can be fully compensated.  

The US publisher should place a time limit on such retention rights.

The US publisher is often allowed to repay advances for full recoupment to the foreign subpublisher.

Retention Rights on Guaranteed Albums – If advances are paid upon the release of an album, the subpublisher will normally have retention rights to the songs on any such album that is released in the last six months or one year of the agreement.  

This is fair for the subpublisher because royalties generated by such an album will not be received by the subpublisher until four to nine months after release.  The subpublisher needs to be allowed to receive earnings derived from use of the work.

Retention on Local Cover Records – The subpublisher often retains the right, (duration to be negotiated) to administer a composition if a local cover record has been released during the time of the agreement.  The same applies to local film and television uses generated by promotional efforts of the foreign subpublisher.  Various provisions can be written up for this retention right;

  • Retention only if the cover record becomes a hit 
  • Retention only if the cover record earns in excess of x amount of dollars
  • Retention only if the cover record charts in the Top 10

Information that must be supplied to the foreign representative – In order for the subpublisher to properly represent you, certain basics must be provided; 

  • Correct composition titles
  • Songwriter(s) identity
  • Authorship percentages if there are co-writers
  • Performance rights affiliation of the songwriters and music publishers 
  • Publisher’s control percentages if there is more than one copyright owner or administrator
  • Multiple authors = multiple publishers
  • The US publisher should submit the following information to the subpublisher;
  • Date of the recording’s initial release in the US
  • Release information in other territories

What are neighboring rights royalties? Learn about neighboring rights and how to collect royalties generated internationally from your music.

WHAT ARE NEIGHBORING RIGHTS?

Neighboring rights royalties are one of the fastest growing revenue streams in music. Neighboring rights refer to the legal right to perform or broadcast recorded music in public.

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Musicians and sound recording owners receive these royalties when their recording is performed or broadcasted on radio, streaming services, new media, TV, in a public place such as a club or restaurant. The rights do not generate royalties for selling music.

WHO CAN CLAIM NEIGHBORING RIGHTS ROYALTIES?

Royalties generated from neighboring rights go to the owner of the master recording and the performing artists. The master recording rights owner is typically a record label. And, the performing artists include anyone who made an audible contribution to the recording. For example, singers, instrumentalists, and music producers.

Ownership of the master recording is also typically split 50/50 between the master owner and the performers. However, the performers share gets divided between the featured performer and non-featured performer.

Independent musicians can also collect royalties if they are the master rights owner. There are neighboring rights companies such as Collins Connect that provide royalty administration services.

WHO COLLECTS NEIGHBORING RIGHTS ROYALTIES?

Neighboring rights collection societies collect neighboring rights royalties. However, neighboring rights laws differ around the world.

Collect royalties due by registering your master recording with collection societies. Register with your local collection society and the territories where the recording is getting performed or broadcasted in public. It’s also important to register your artist name and music, so collection societies know who to pay.

Currently, the United States does not recognize neighboring rights. For example, U.S. terrestrial radio does not pay royalties on behalf of the master recording. Only recordings created outside of the U.S. are eligible to collect royalties for terrestrial radio. However, services like SoundExchange collect digital performance royalties from platforms like Pandora, Sirius XM, TV music channels, and other streaming services.

AM I EARNING NEIGHBORING RIGHTS ROYALTIES?

The master recording owner and performing artists earn royalties whenever that recording is publicly performed or broadcasted on the media sources below:

  • Pandora (or any internet radio platform)
  • Sirius XM (or any satellite radio platform)
  • Terrestrial radio outside of the USA
  • Cable TV music channels
  • Live in clubs (or any performance venues)
  • Businesses and retailers as background music (restaurants, shops, hotels, etc.)
  • Various new online media as digital music technology changes and develops

Royalties collected in many countries may not reach you. The reason being, neighboring rights laws are different throughout the world. In addition, the processes and distribution are complex, making it difficult to collect them.

If you’re a performing artist on a recording, talk to the record label that released the music getting radio airplay. Ensure the label is collecting these royalties for you! Or, research a trusted neighboring rights administration company.

NEIGHBORING RIGHTS VS. PERFORMANCE RIGHTS

Neighboring rights are similar to performance rights in music publishing. The reason being, both generate royalties through public performances and broadcasts of music. However, there are differences.

Neighboring rights generate royalties from the master sound recording. The master owner and performing artists own the rights to the master recording. Also, collection societies collect these royalties.

Performance rights generate royalties from the musical composition. Publishers and composers/songwriters own the rights to the composition. Also, Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) collect these royalties.

CONCLUSION

Collecting neighboring rights royalties can be difficult. However, they provide valuable income for musicians and record labels. Do some research and don’t dismiss this worthwhile revenue stream.

Follow our 10 simple steps to make sure you’re getting the most earnings & data possible from your digital content

1. Register with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO)

Whenever your music is performed publicly, whether it be live in a venue or on TV and radio, the songwriters are due a public performance royalty. PROs are the agencies that collect these royalties and make sure that they find their way to you and your publisher.

There are three main PROs in the United States: ASCAP, BMI & SESAC. Once you register with one, be sure to submit your compositions to them.

2. Register with SoundExchange

When your music is played via non-interactive services (where you don’t choose the tracks you hear) such as Pandora or SiriusXM, the songwriters are due a digital performance royalty. SoundExchange collects these royalties and routes them to featured artists and sound recording copyright owners.

If you operate as your own label, you can register as both a featured artist and rights owner.

3. Submit your artist bio & images to All Music

iTunes & Spotify turn to All Music for the bios & images that are included on artists’ pages in their stores.

4. Set up Apple Music for Artists Beta

Apple Music for Artists enables you to keep tabs on how your music is performing and find out how your fans discover your music.

To get your account set up, follow the instructions here.

5. Claim your profile on Spotify for Artists

Designed to help artists & their teams get the most out of the platform, Spotify for Artists enables you to manage your profile and access key performance data about your music and fans.

Get started on Spotify for Artists here.

6. Claim Your Profile on Shazam for Artists

Designed to help artists & their teams get the most out of the platform, Shazam for Artists enables you to manage your profile and access data on your tracks as well as post content to your fans.

Get started on Shazam for Artists here.

7. Register your UPC & ISRC with SoundScan

Nielsen Soundscan tracks the sales and streams of music and video throughout the U.S. & Canada, and powers the Billboard Charts.

8. Submit your release information to BDS

Nielsen BDS (short for Broadcast Data Systems) is a service that tracks monitored radio, TV and Internet airplay of songs. This service also feeds into the Billboard Charts alongside SoundScan, so it’s important to make sure both are set up.

9. Submit your release information to Mediabase

Mediabase monitors radio airplay in the U.S. & Canada, and publishers charts based on the most-played songs on terrestrial (AM/FM) & satellite radio.

10. Register your entire song catalogue with Music Reports

Music Reports maintains SONGDEX, a proprietary database filled with rights information for millions of sound recordings & compositions. Registering your songs with Music Reports helps to ensure that you’re collecting performance royalties from the use of your music on platforms such as SiriusXM, SoundCloud & Amazon as well as local television stations.

To register your catalogue, email shareinfo@musicreports.com with an excel spreadsheet containing:

  • Artist
  • Title
  • Album
  • Composers
  • Publishers
  • Percent You Own
  • Territories In Which You Have Ownership

The United States House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously today (32-0) to approve the Music Modernization Act. The act combines key provisions of what were four separate legislative initiatives into a single bill that will update how music rates are set and how songwriters and artists are paid. The bill now awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives.

A key provision of the bill (HR 5477) is for Congress to establish the equivalent of a SoundExchange for songwriters to track credits and distribute royalties when digital services use their work. The switch to a market-based rate standard for artists and writers, closing the pre-1972 loophole that denied digital compensation to legacy artists and the addition of copyright royalties for producers and engineers are other changes widely hailed as improvements by a wide range of industry organizations, from the Recording Academy and the RIAA to ASCAP, BMI, the American Association of Independent Music and the American Federation of Musicians.

The legislation appears to be on a fast track, with the Senate expected to introduce its version next month, paving the way for President Trump’s signature. Although the bill has bi-partisan support, the legislation’s provisions – which have advanced piecemeal in various bills over the past four years – have a free-market thrust popular with Republicans over the years, which means it is unlikely to meet with executive branch opposition.

Aerosmith cofounder Steven Tyler said:  “I am ecstatic and relieved that the House Judiciary passed the Music Modernization Act out of committee today and onto the House floor, then onto the Senate. I am a proud member of Songwriters of North America and we are changing these outdated laws that unfairly hold down songwriters and other music creators from being paid fairly. [Attorney] Dina LaPolt, who brought this issue to my attention years ago, has been my partner in copyright reform and together, we have spent years advocating and fighting for this. Justice will finally be served!”

Supremes cofounder Mary Wilson said: “We are one step closer to a new day when artists like me who recorded music before 1972 are paid for those digital radio streams under federal law. It’s critical we get this bill over the finish line – the greatest generation of music deserves to be paid for our work, regardless of when it was made! I urge all Members of Congress to support this important legislation.”

RIAA CEO Cary Sherman said: “As this historic legislation begins to advance through Congress, we move one step closer to the finish line.  A unanimous vote should send unmistakable signal to lawmakers in both chambers:  this package of reforms enjoys deep, bipartisan support.  And for good reason –  this bill is result of thoughtful, extensive examination of the patchwork of antiquated music licensing laws that poorly serve creators.  This includes the unintended and unfair quirk in the law that denies legacy artists the federal right to be compensated by digital radio services.  We are grateful for the stewardship of Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Nadler, as well as Representatives Issa, Johnson, Collins, Jeffries, Smith, and Deutch, who all have been tireless advocates for this important legislation. We now look to the House floor, and urge all Members of Congress to advance this bill to help make these critical reforms a reality.”

National Music Publishers Association president/CEO David Israelite said: “The House Judiciary Committee’s approval of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) is a critical step towards finally fixing the system to pay songwriters what they deserve. We greatly appreciate the committee’s attention to helping music creators, specifically Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Nadler, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, and a special thanks to Congressman Doug Collins for being the driving force behind the MMA. There is unprecedented consensus and momentum behind this bill, and we look forward to seeing it soon pass the full House.”

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews said: “Today’s reintroduction of the Music Modernization Act signals we are one step closer to reforming our outdated music licensing system and providing songwriters a better future. We thank Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Nadler and Reps. Collins and Jeffries for their leadership and keeping America’s songwriters a priority.”

Recording Academy Chief Industry, Government & Membership Relations Officer Daryl Friedman said: “After years of effort to modernize, the time has come. This bill has strong bipartisan support and we expect there will be Senate movement in May.  As technology changes there will continue to be incremental legislation and tweaks, but this is broad enough, and substantial enough where we think this is our generation’s major change for music. No matter what happens in technology, the MMA will be able to address payments to creators much more effectively than the present system. It’s a very consequential bill and we are thrilled it has hit one week before Grammys on the Hill. Our advocates are ready to hit the House and Senate and lobby on this to make sure we have final passage.”

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As of today, an Apple executive has officially announced that all iTunes MP3 music downloads will be terminated by early 2019, about a year from today. While rumors that iTunes and digital music platforms in general were heading in this direction have been floating around for a while now, Apple Music executive and Beats creator Jim Iovine announced today that paid downloads on the iTunes platform will be phased out in an attempt to shift users toward Apple Music’s online streaming – though you’ll always be able to access the MP3s you’ve previously downloaded and paid for.

The implications for a move from iTunes like this are pretty significant. Firstly, it confirms what we have known for a while now: that online streaming is far outstripping paid offline downloads in a way that is changing the business models of music giants like Apple and even Amazon Prime. iTunes is phasing out pretty much all of its iPod products and the shift to end offline downloads is a telling one: the iTunes user’s downloaded library will be translated onto their Apple Music account so they can listen to it along with online streaming. Go figure.

Secondly, it begs the question: who will replace offline MP3 downloads? Without offline downloads, the existence of iTunes as a platform is essentially pointless, and it creates a vacuum for other companies to fill and monopolize on paid downloads the way iTunes has been doing for years. So who will fill those shoes?

Amazon is a good contender: their Prime-bundled streaming service is essentially free, and paid downloads only come with that. They sell literally everything else, why not MP3 downloads, too? Not that many people use Amazon for music, though – even less than Apple Music.

And you’re probably wondering about Spotify’s role in all of this, because lord knows that anyone who listens to a lot of music has a Spotify account. Actually, something like 68 million people have a Spotify account, which is twice as many as Apple Music users and probably more than twice that of Amazon music listeners.

Spotify actually already has a window that includes all of your offline MP3 downloads – if you’ve never noticed before, it’s called “local files”, right under the Library section of the app. But there’s still no way to actually buy those songs on Spotify itself.

Right now there’s no indication that Spotify is going to start selling offline MP3 downloads, but the future is unpredictable and in an age of contradictory, forward-thinking nostalgia inventions like the Huji app, the resurgence of vinyl and CDs, the creation of devices like this one that call back to the iPod shuffle but are still connected to the internet – it’s totally likely that an internet music streaming service would pick up that offline slack.

But still, there are other paid MP3 download services out there that are a little bit smaller, like this one, that might suddenly become more relevant as space is made for them where iTunes has stepped back.

We have to remember, too, that vinyls and CDs are generally sold with an MP3 download – who will be taking care of that? Chances are that lots of people are thinking the same thing we are, and vying to fill that void iTunes is suddenly creating. But who knows how successful it will be – either this is the beginning of smaller companies becoming more relevant, or of Spotify completely taking over the music industry and implanting a chip in all of our brains that we can switch on with the mere thought of “Spotify, play me ‘&burn’ by Billie Eilish”. So either this is totally 1984 as in the book, or totally 1984 as in the year: fluorescent leggings, high ponytails, and 45s all over again.

The ceremony for the 60th Grammy Awards is still two weeks away, but already music’s biggest TV night has made history.

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For the first time, hip-hop artists dominate the majority of nominees chosen in the academy’s top categories, including record, album and song of the year.

But that sound you’re hearing isn’t champagne corks popping in celebration. It’s exasperated sighs that the Recording Academy only just discovered what the rest of the entertainment industry noticed back in the flip-phone era: Hip-hop, once an outlier, is now the status quo.

From Broadway’s “Hamilton” to Hollywood’s “Straight Outta Compton” to television’s “Atlanta,” hip-hop’s broad influence on American pop culture has defied countless predictions that a nervous white mainstream would never fully embrace a trend born out of the urban, black experience.

Consider hip-hop’s television takeover. Today, rappers are not only backing films about the black experience, but also are creating, producing and starring in top-rated cable and network series and breaking out of music categories at film and television award shows.

“Atlanta” creator and star Donald Glover — who under his stage name, Childish Gambino, is up for five Grammys — made history when he won a directing Emmy in September for his breakthrough FX comedy, a cable ratings success, about the everyday trials and tribulations of an aspiring hip-hop entrepreneur. No other black director had ever won an Emmy in the comedy category, and Glover was the first director since Alan Alda in 1977 to win for a comedy in which he also starred.

“I wanted to show white people you don’t know everything about black culture,” he told the awards ceremony audience, some of whom had already watched him win two top Golden Globes for the show earlier in 2017.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who shattered records and expectations when his hip-hop musical “Hamilton” swept the 2016 Tonys, is now executive producing a forthcoming Showtime series, “The Kingkiller Chronicle,” based on characters from the fantasy books by Patrick Rothfuss.

And hitting Showtime this month was the already critically acclaimed “The Chi” from “Master of None’s” Lena Waithe, the first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing, and hip-hop star Common, the first rapper to win an Emmy, Oscar, Grammy and Golden Globe. (Before Oprah and Meryl Streep, he gave what had been the Golden Globes’ most inspirational speech — “I am” — delivered with the poetic rhythm of a lyrical rhyme when he and John Legend accepted the 2015 original song award for “Glory” in Ava DuVernay’s civil rights drama “Selma.”)

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The cast of Showtime’s “The Chi,” which premiered this month and has already garnered critical acclaim. Mathieu Young / Showtime

“I was surprised by it all,” Common said about the accolades.

It was one of many in a string of “crossover surprises”: Fox’s hip-hop-themed drama “Empire” became a surprise success with white audiences; soccer moms across America were surprised they couldn’t stop humming Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” in favor of something — anything — else; and a biopic about once-feared gangsta rap pioneers N.W.A, “Straight Outta Compton,” became a surprise hit at the box office.

The surprise, however, is that anyone was surprised.

The Age of Hip-Hop

The 2018 Grammy nominations are overdue acknowledgment that hip-hop has shaped music and culture worldwide for decades. In this ongoing series, we track its rise and future.

“Hip-hop is the soundtrack of at least one, probably two generations now,” says Common (aka Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr.), who is an executive producer on the Waithe-run series about everyday life on the South Side of Chicago. “People used to be afraid of it or consider it the music of gangsters or thugs, or whatever. But now, it’s part of everything … and everyone under the age of 40.”

 

From the jaunty 1980s McDonald’s jingles that still haunt Gen Xers today to raunchy rapper Method Man’s current role as a congenial TV game show host for the millennial-skewing “Drop the Mic,” hip-hop is now part of our cultural DNA. Tupac Shakur, Lauryn Hill and Eminem are to a generation what the Beatles and Stones were to boomers — the artists of their youth. And in some cases, the actors of today were the rappers of their parents’ generation.

 

Ice-T, the once-controversial “Cop Killer” rapper whose breakthrough film role was in 1991’s “New Jack City,” has played a sex crimes detective on NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” since 2000. “If you’re 17 now, that means I started when you were 2,” he said in the past. “So you don’t have a reference point for me as a rapper. Your mother does, your father does….”

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Ice–T as Odafin “Fin” Tutuola in the long-running NBC series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” Paul Drinkwater / NBC

Rap, after all, was the genre that gave us TV and film personalities like Queen Latifah, Will Smith, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Redman, Method Man and Tupac — and we’re not even into the 2000s yet. Their popularity would eventually give rise to more and more shows about or starring hip-hop figures. When ABC recently canceled “The Mayor,” about an aspiring rapper who becomes mayor of his hometown, there were no outcries over the dearth of black leads on TV — people were too busy looking forward to “The Chi” and the upcoming March premiere of “Atlanta’s” second season.

 

“When I used to get my Entertainment Weekly and I’d look at the fall TV previews,” said Method Man (aka Clifford Smith), “there was so many years when there weren’t any black shows premiered. I remember one year, there was only like one new fall show premiering that featured people of color: ‘The Cleveland Show’ — and that was animated, and the lead voice was done by a white guy!”

 

Lee Daniels’ “Empire” was the clearest example of hip-hop as a crossover bridge to break color barriers when it premiered on Fox in 2015 and obliterated conventional wisdom that a “black” drama was for black audiences. After all, why would an entire generation raised on Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” consider a show about a hip-hop family dynasty as anything but meant for them?

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Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon, a hip-hop mogul, in Fox’s “Empire.” Chuck Hodes / Fox

Instead of waiting for Hollywood and television studios to let them in, many hip-hop artists formed their own multimedia production companies or began crowdsourcing funds to create their own content.

 

Ice Cube (aka O’Shea Jackson) alone launched an entire genre of black comedies for the post-Run DMC generation in his “Friday” and “Barbershop” film series. The stone-cold gangsta who had referred to himself as the “[N-word] you love to hate” reinvented himself as everyone’s dad in the “Are We There Yet?” films.

 

Taking cues from pioneers like Ice Cube, Pharrell co-executive produced a love letter to 1990s hip-hop, the coming-of-age film “Dope.” Beyond his work with Common, crooner John Legend — who came up in the hip-hop world — co-produced a WGN America series about slavery, “Underground.” Rapper 50 Cent was behind the Starz series “Power.”

Ice Cube and Dr. Dre avoided the curse of the corny rap biopic (e.g., “Notorious”) by co-producing their own story in “Straight Outta Compton.” “NCIS: Los Angeles” star and five-time Grammy host LL Cool J now co-produces his own game show, “Lip Sync Battle.” Clearly his 1990s self was on to something when he rapped about “Rockin’ [his] peers.”

Queen Latifah (aka Dana Owens) and Will Smith also created their own production companies after experiencing success on their respective hit series, “Living Single” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Netflix recently teamed up with Smith for its biggest gamble to date, “Bright,” a streaming version of a Hollywood blockbuster. Though critically panned, the production was streamed an astonishing 11 million times over three days when it was released last month and has been greenlit for a sequel.

 

Demand is high for the cachet, the perspective and, of course, the money that a rap celebrity and elder statesman like Jay-Z brings to a production. “Selma” and “Wrinkle in Time” director Ava DuVernay recently worked with Mr. Bey for his “Family Feud” music video, a short released on his streaming service, Tidal.

 

It’s not just recognizable star power from the music world that’s drawing viewers toward shows and films that take their cues from the rap world. HBO’s “Insecure” and the CW’s “Black Lightning” are heavily steeped in rap references — such cultural shorthand would have been unthinkable 15 years ago beyond BET or MTV.

Reality TV on those Viacom-owned networks has served as a major stepping stone for hip-hop stars transitioning from music to TV — and beyond.

Let’s face it, when “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party” is renewed for a second season (which kicked off last year), a barrier has not only been broken, it’s been entirely erased. “I don’t know who’s going to be more fried by the end of this show,” joked the perfect hostess with the “Gin and Juice” rapper in the first season.

 

VH1’s reality show “Love & Hip-Hop” gave us Cardi B. “The Surreal Life” and “Strange Love” made Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav a household name 20 years after he was last a household name. “Run’s House” and, yes, even “The Vanilla Ice Project,” a home improvement show, were canaries in a coal mine for the acceptance of the brash likes of Nicki Minaj on Middle America’s go-to show, “American Idol.”

 

Rappers who are used to saying it all — unedited, with abandon and on the fly — make for the best and most unpredictable reality stars. As for scripted television and film, the tradition of storytelling at the base of rap as far back as Kurtis Blow and the Sugarhill Gang is what makes hip-hop so attractive to narrative-hungry mediums.

Says Common, “rappers are storytellers, and that is a timeless tradition no matter who is watching or listening.” And clearly, this year, the Grammys finally are.

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Kevin Gates walked out of prison Wednesday morning, as scheduled, and no surprise warrants this time around … TMZ has learned.

Gates served 9 months of a 30-month sentence, and was released from an Illinois state prison on parole. As we first reported, he’ll be on mandatory supervision and can’t possess any firearms.

The rapper was also released from custody last year in Florida — after doing time for kicking a woman at one of his concerts — but was immediately re-arrested for an outstanding warrant in Illinois for a weapons charge.

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WHAT IS A LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY?

A Limited Liability Company (“LLC”) is the most simple kind of business entity. Your label may want to consider registering as a formal business entity (or “incorporating”) in the state where you live to use certain tax advantages and to avoid personal liabilities, should your label ever be sued.

WHY SET UP AN LLC?

1) Protection

One of the primary benefits of forming an LLC is that label owners’ personal assets (home, car, etc.) would not be placed at risk in the event that your label or member of label  finds itself in some kind of legal trouble. In most cases, if an LLC gets sued and loses, the financial responsibility does not lie on your life outside of the label. Having corporate protection prevents you having having to take individual responsibility—which could potentially affect other people in your life who are not your label mates.

LLC-Advantages

2) Structure

Most states consider a group of people who get together for a shared business purpose a “partnership.” As a partnership, the group can be held individually or collectively responsible for any legal liabilities incurred by the partnership as a whole. If your group is not incorporated, the default rule in most states is that a group of people that gets together for a common business purpose is a partnership. Also, most states have sections of their state legal codes that automatically apply to partners in a partnership. Relying on these default rules can be dangerous and may have unanticipated consequences. Establishing an LLC allows the group to customize their rights and responsibilities as the LLC would have an “Operating Agreement” that can differ from the state law default rules that would otherwise apply to the label as an unincorporated partnership.

Most labels do not consider the value of having a band agreement, covering all artists’ activities and members, present and future. For many groups, this is not a problem until a label member leaves the label, or if the label starts generating significant amounts of money and conflicts arise due to misunderstandings or unclear label policies. Many problems can be avoided by drafting an agreement, or, as described below, creating an Label Operating Agreement that covers all label members’ rights, responsibilities and expectations. LLCs have members; there can also be “managing members” who run the LLC business, or the LLC can be member-managed, with all members can be actively involved in the day-to-day management and operations of the LLC.

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3) Convenience

Another good reason to establish an LLC is that groups can run all of their music business revenue through the LLC, taking relevant deductions of expenses and, in certain circumstances, availing themselves of tax benefits, such as limiting or avoiding self-employment taxes on income. One LLC can be a publishing company or record company, and can process revenue from all sources including music publishing, sales of sound recordings, public performance revenue from SoundExchange, public performance revenue via ASCAP, BMI or SESAC, merchandise sales, touring and live performance income, endorsement payments, asset licensing income, etc. Consolidating all of these income streams and carefully tracking group income and expenses can help avoid conflicts and misunderstandings. At the end of the LLC’s tax year, each member is furnished with an IRS Form K-1, detailing the overall income or loss that each individual group member would declare on their personal tax filings.

4) Tax assistance

LLC’s, as with all formal business entities, will have what is called an Employer Identification Number (“EIN”) which functions like a social security number for the LLC. Instead of, say, live performance checks payable to one label member, the check would be payable to the label LLC and the LLC’s EIN would be used on W-9 Forms for income reporting to the label LLC. This way labels can avoid the problem of payments being made to one person, whom, in the eyes of the IRS, would be on the hook for reporting all of that income and personally paying any taxes due on that amount.

Before becoming an LLC, you should discuss your intentions with a tax-preparer, accountant and/or qualified attorney to see if an LLC is right for you, and see if there are some tax considerations that would inform your decision-making about setting up an LLC and/or electing a special tax status for the LLC, such as seeking to have your LLC taxed like an IRS Subchapter S Corporation.

HOW TO SET UP AN LLC

LLCs are registered through the Corporation Division in every state. This process can usually be done online and will involve a filing fee. Filing fees, tax laws and other restrictions may apply, so do obtain all necessary information about this process from an authority in whatever state in which you wish to file. Generally, your group must have a physical mailing address in that state: PO Boxes may not be sufficient for this purposes.

The LLC must also designate a “registered agent” for the purpose of receiving notices from the state and/or formal legal notices from third parties. Note: even if your group is registered in your home state, if you perform services or sell products in other states, notably, California, you may be required to register as a “foreign LLC,” and pay taxes, in their states.

OPERATING AGREEMENTS; POINTS TO CONSIDER.

An LLC Operating Agreement is essentially a formal, written “partnership” agreement between all LLC members. The Operating Agreement will list of all LLC Members and their LLC ownership interests and will cover all of the life events in the life of an LLC: The initial organization of the entity; the names and addresses of all members and the ownership shares and responsibilities of each Member; rules for voting on major issues, such as when a new member joins, or a member leaves; and rules regarding the dissolution or wrapping-up of the LLC and its business operations. Other issues and questions to consider include the following:

● What will each label member’s share of the LLC ownership be? One or more label member may have larger shares of ownership than others. This may be reflected in both the ownership voting rights and in the distribution of net income.

● What is the group’s songwriting policy as far as who will own musical composition copyright and publishing rights to songs that the artist writes, records and performs?

● Who will own and control band intellectual property assets, including copyrights (sound recordings, musical compositions, album and merchandise artwork, etc.), trademarks, service marks, logos, etc.? There should be attached to the Operating Agreement a list of all artist’ sound recordings and song compositions: Who owns them, and in what percentages?

● How will LLC assets be distributed if the LLC is dissolved?

● What are the ownership and voting rights? How and when will LLC member meetings occur and how will decisions get made, in terms of label member voting rights? Will the majority rule or must some, or all, decisions be unanimous?

● What if the label buys a van or other gear? Who will effectively “own” equipment purchases?

● Will there be mandatory contributions to a common label fund for future touring or recording expenses?

● Who will be Managing Members, if applicable. Who will be signers on the LLC Bank account?

● What are the expectations and rules, if any, as to label member conduct, professionalism, etc.

● What rights will departing or replacement label members have? Will they have any ownership or control over collective LLC band assets such as sound recordings (and related income), musical compositions (and related income), merchandise, label intellectual property assets such as copyrights, trademarks, artwork, logos and the like?

In sum, LLCs provide many benefits to labels seeking to avoid personal liability, organize their finances, and operate in a more professional manner. A well-crafted LLC Operating Agreement can act as a partnership agreement, clearly outlining each label member’s rights and responsibilities.

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR FOR HELP SETTING UP YOUR LLC PLEASE CALL OR EMIAIL CANDACE COLLINS 214) 686-8079/collinsconnect@gmail.com

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Signing their monumental merger deal in September 2017 with several business vendors and suppliers and forming Don Chief Inc. These guys are posed to set the music world on fire by introducing a new wave for labels and musicians to sell their music.

Don Chief Press Release

By combing their music along with smoking accessories products such as tobacco wraps, rolling papers, and pre-rolled cones, they have now changed the way physical units will be counted. The key is that the music is actually delivered through the packaging which is actually considered the CD’s physical packaging, therefore technically according to the barcode they have now sold the consumer an album. Imagine every time someone buys rolling papers is now buying an album. This is exactly what this merge has now formed by Dallas area iconic rapper Don Chief, and entrepreneur Ryan Brown.

Don Chief and Ryan

Now that all the investors, suppliers, and vendors are on board with their newly formed company, they stand to become the next Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre of the music industry!

 

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Five years ago having your music posted on the right blogs and aggregators meant the difference between labels calling you or you calling the labels. During that time labels still wielded significant power, streaming was a distant concept, and Facebook allowed you to reach all of your fans without paying a small ransom. That’s all changed.

facebookMy experience as a publisher afforded me the opportunity to observe artists like T-Wayne, Chedda da Connect, TK N Cash, TK Kravitz, and Lil Yachty leverage the blogosphere to create fan bases out of thin air. I had a front row seat to their failures and successes. In fact, buzz generated from the blogosphere led many of the aforementioned artists to sign (rightly or wrongly – I’ll let you decide) with some of the biggest labels, management teams, and publishing companies in the world.

Presently, the blogosphere is on life support. Monthly page views are down across the board, notable blogs have closed up shop, and programmatic advertising revenue (which is how blogs monetize their content) is in steady decline. Managers of unknown artists masquerade as “contributors” at popular music blogs to ensure coverage, game algorithms, and achieve access. As a result, blogs no longer deliver the impact they once had for an artist. Significant headwinds exist, and they’ll only continue to get worse. How then does an artist gain real traction online? It starts with dropping quality content on a consistent basis. People’s attention spans rival that of a goldfish, and even releases by the biggest artists have an average shelf life of only a few weeks. There’s simply too much shareable content online to compete with. That’s why it’s imperative you stay in front of tastemakers, fans, and labels with quality content every two to three weeks. Not only will this approach allow you to build momentum, it will also allow you to build relationships, which are key.

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So you’re dropping content online on a consistent basis. Now what? You’ll want to focus on sending your releases to Soundcloud and Youtube curators. Soundcloud and Youtube curators are the new blogs. These curators can re-post or upload your latest release to their thousands (and sometimes millions) of subscribers and followers if they like your track. A great example of a Youtube curator is Blake Coppelson at Proximity, who’s one of the most notable distributors of dance music on the web. While competition to be covered by a curator is incredibly high (Proximity receives over 1,000 e-mails a day) one upload or re-post can mean the difference between success and failure for an artist. Curators are that important, and their role in breaking records online will only continue to increase.

Now that you’re targeting curators, it’s time to talk about converting those listeners to followers and fans. Hive.co and Toneden.io are two technologies that allow you to incentivize listeners to follow, re-post, and share your latest releases in exchange for a free mp3. Like-gates are no-brainers for an artists, as they allow you to build a following across your social platforms quickly and efficiently. I’ve used like-gates for countless labels and artists we represent, and they work. Hive.co and Toneden.io both offer free trials, and a range of innovative tools, insights, and features.

The above options are great, but being playlisted on a streaming service is perhaps the most important (and most difficult) piece of puzzle for an artist looking to make an impact online. We now live in playlist culture, where consumers of music only want the hits in an easily digestible format. No one listens to albums anymore. The album is dead. Consumers of music don’t have the time or attention span. That’s why playlists on Spotify-like “Rap Caviar” and “electroNOW” dominate the culture and move the needle.

How hard is it to be playlisted? It’s no walk in the park. Not only are you competing with major labels (who are also fighting to be playlisted) but there are only a few key individuals at both Apple and Spotify that make the decisions on what gets playlisted and what doesn’t.

Spotify-US

Furthermore Spotify has an incredible amount of data it has amassed. Thanks to their data scientists, Spotify now knows when a song is going to be a hit before the artist, label, and management does. A prime example of this is Lady Gaga’s latest “Joanne” album. Spotify knew the album was an instant flop given the rate that users were skipping songs on the album. Spotify will continue to make data-driven decisions, which is sobering for those looking to be playlisted.

It’s harder than it’s ever been to cut through the noise online. Being able to self-release music has been a double-edged sword for the artist. However, with the strategies outlined above, you’ll be head and shoulders above your competitors, well on your way to gaining real traction online.

New York, NY, June 13, 2017 – ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, and YouTube have signed a multi-year agreement, effective immediately, for US public performance rights and data collaboration. The mutual goal of this agreement is to work together to ensure that ASCAP members get paid more fairly and accurately for the use of their music on YouTube.

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This multi-year agreement achieves two important ASCAP goals:

  • The deal substantially increases the overall compensation for our members from YouTube.
  • The deal continues to propel ASCAP’s ongoing transformation strategy to lead the industry to more accurate and reliable data. This ensures that more money goes to you – our members – the women and men whose creative works fuel the digital music economy.

The evolution of the agreement between the two entities leverages YouTube’s data exchange and ASCAP’s vast database of musical works to address the industry challenge of identifying songwriter, composer and publisher works on YouTube, and demonstrates ASCAP’s commitment to building industry-leading data capabilities. This innovative collaboration will enable new levels of monetization and transparency for ASCAP and its members.

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews commented: “This agreement achieves two important ASCAP goals – it will yield substantially higher overall compensation for our members from YouTube and will continue to propel ASCAP’s ongoing transformation strategy to lead the industry toward more accurate and reliable data. The ultimate goal is to ensure that more money goes to the songwriters, composers and publishers whose creative works fuel the digital music economy.”

“YouTube is dedicated to ensuring artists, publishers and songwriters are fairly compensated,” said Lyor Cohen, Global Head of Music at YouTube. “As YouTube delivers more revenue to the music industry through a combination of subscription and advertising revenue, it’s great to see ASCAP take a progressive approach towards the long term financial success of its members.”

 

Distribution is the way that recorded music gets in the hands of consumers. Traditionally, distribution companies sign deals with record labels which give them the right to sell that label’s products. The distributor takes a cut of income from each unit sold and then pays the label the remaining balance. Most distributors expect record labels to provide them with finished, ready-to-market, products, but sometimes distributors offer “M&D” deals.
M&D stands for manufacturing and distribution. With this set up, the distributor pays the manufacturing costs of an album up front and keeps all the income from album sales until that initial investment is paid off.

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Music Distribution Basics
In the 20th century, distribution companies were the links between record labels and retail outlets, which included music-only stores, big box retailers such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy, and bookstores. It is helpful to think of music distributors as wholesalers to better understand their role in the music industry.

Record labels signed — and still sign — contracts with music artists. They oversaw music recording, marketing and promotion. Consumers bought their favorite music on vinyl records, cassette tapes and CDs and, in most cases, it was the record labels that paid to have these products manufactured. To get album copies in the hands of fans, record labels signed deals with distribution companies that in turn signed deals with retail stores to sell the albums.

Some distributors bought albums from record labels outright, while others distributed albums on consignment. Retailers did the same thing — some bought albums outright and others agreed to put the products on their shelves on consignment.

Radical Industry Changes
Downloading brought radical changes to the music industry at the turn of 21st century.
Before crackdowns, fans downloaded millions of tracks from a wide range of artists at no charge through companies such as Napster. Although consumers now pay to download music legally from outlets such as iTunes and Amazon, sales of vinyl records, cassette tapes and CDs have plummeted, and the music industry has lost billions of dollars. Subscription services such as Pandora and Spotify have further decreased music industry revenue. With hundreds of music distributor businesses folding, only a few affiliated with the largest record labels remained. Sony, Capitol, Universal Music Group and Warner own the largest music distribution companies.

The Future of Music Distribution
There is still a role for music distributors in the digital age, even in the face of radical industry changes. After all, not every record label and musician wants to take on the task of distributing their work. For this reason, the music distributors that remain still work closely with record labels to bring music to fans; some retail stores continue to sell physical album copies.

They also distribute music to digital download outlets, even though such businesses also offer distribution deals directly to artists.

Opportunities for growth remain for music distributors that specialize in certain types of music such as classical, Latin and jazz. Some distributors have found success by focusing on certain regions and distributing music locally.

Nominations To Kick Off With The Revealing Of General Field Nominees On “CBS This Morning” At 8:30 A.M. ET December 6th; Official Nominations List To Be Available Only At GRAMMY.com

The Recording Academy and Meghan Trainor, Best New Artist GRAMMY winner for 2015, will kick off the announcement of 59th GRAMMY Awards nominations by revealing nominees in the four General Field categories (Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist) live on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 8:30 a.m. ET. Immediately following, at 8:45 a.m. ET, The Recording Academy will announce nominations across all 84 categories via GRAMMY.com.

Follow Recording Academy/GRAMMYs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and use #GRAMMYs to join the nominations conversation as it unfolds Dec. 6.

The 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards will air live on the CBS Television Network on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

                                 THE BIGGEST HITS FROM MUSIC’S BIGGEST NIGHT!

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                                                            PRE-ORDER NOW

A Portion Of The Proceeds From The 2017 GRAMMY Nominees Album Benefit The MusiCares Foundation® And The GRAMMY Museum FoundationTM – Two Charitable Organizations Established By The Recording Academy®.

In the old days, consumers of music were able to flip through liner notes of an album in order to ascertain precisely who was behind their favorite tracks. Now, after a digital hiatus, new technology could once again make this information, plus more, easily accessible once again.


Until about fifteen years ago, it was fairly easy to tell who had produced, recorded, and mastered an album — just flip through the gatefold or booklet and you’d be able to find all the information you needed. Granted, not all that many fans took this step, but plenty of artists found the producer who changed their careers or the recording engineer who defined their sound through this old-school method. Since the rise of digital distribution, this information has been harder to come by — and while in some cases it can be found on artist websites or Wikipedia pages, it’s often nearly impossible to track down.

That’s a shame, because making that information readily available to the public is vitally important for the creatives who shape albums behind the scenes. Sure, those producers and engineers, as well as the studio musicians, are still getting paid for their time, but they’re missing out on the recognition they deserve. Not only that, the lack of a public record makes it harder for them to build careers and connect with other artists – some recording engineers have made the jump to LinkedIn to share the projects they’ve worked on, but it’s by no means standard practice.

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“Much of the music data currently available is incomplete or incorrect”

New technology that allows users to see all this information has the power to change this. Not only can it make this data more widely available to fans and other artists, but it can also help keep track of items that the old liner notes of yore could only imagine. For instance, there are programs that allow data about recording and production to be entered and uploaded to a database directly from the studio, potentially averting conflicts over royalty splits and disagreements over who exactly did that behind the console.

Cleaner production data will also help those producers and studio musicians get paid on time, no small matter in an era when studios are closing their doors and musicians are having a hard time making ends meet. While so much of the music data currently available is incomplete or incorrect, better information about everyone who was involved with a piece of music means that they can all share in the spoils of success, and no one is left out due to a missing piece of data.

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Creating A System That Works

The first part of making all this happen is creating a system that works for everyone and ensures a clean flow of information into the database. Once something is in place that can be widely used, then it’s up to the artists and producers to make sure everything is entered correctly so the right people can be credited. It’s not a foolproof system and never can be — there will always be disagreements over creative vision or hazy late nights that lead to data never making it into the system. But as long as there is something good in place that has buy-in from everyone, from engineers to artists to labels to streaming services, that’s a great start. Future generations might never know how much fun it was to flip through a booklet and decode liner notes, but they’ll at least have complete access to the information about the people who made the music happen.