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.
“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.
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.
BMI today announced the highest revenues in its 76-year history, achieving $1.060 billion for its fiscal year ended June 30. The Company also distributed and administered a record-breaking $931 million to its songwriters, composers and publishers, a 6% increase over last year. These results represent the most public performance revenue and royalty distributions by any music rights organization in the world.
BMI operates on a non-profit-making basis and returns approximately 88% of all revenue to the musical creators and copyright owners it represents.
“We are beyond pleased with this milestone,” said Mike O’Neill, President and CEO, BMI. “The ability to provide our songwriters, composers and publishers with our largest royalty distributions to date proves that the current marketplace is working efficiently, a fact the DOJ has undermined with its recent interpretation of our consent decree. We’re eager to build on this success and continue to ensure that all of our music creators are fairly paid for their work and that licensees maintain full access to BMI’s repertoire of nearly 12 million songs. As of now, the DOJ’s interpretation will disrupt these efforts, stifle creative freedom for songwriters, limit choices for music users and bog down the marketplace. We are determined not to let that happen.”
BMI’s total domestic revenue performance of $784 million was bolstered by record-breaking results in its digital and general licensing categories. Digital revenue, which exceeded $100 million for the first time last year, hit a new high of $152 million, up 50%. Numerous new agreements were signed throughout the year, notably a multi-year license with Pandora, as well as deals with Spotify, Apple Music, Microsoft, Sony’s PlayStation Video and Slacker, among others.
General Licensing, which includes fees from businesses like restaurants, bars, hotels and fitness facilities, along with other income, hit a new milestone of $140 million. The category added 15,000 new businesses to the hundreds of thousands already in BMI’s diverse portfolio.
Revenue from all media licensing, including radio, television and cable and satellite entertainment, grew to $492 million, with cable and satellite entertainment accounting for the largest portion of BMI’s domestic revenue for the third consecutive year. International revenues came in at a strong $276 million, despite significant economic challenges overseas resulting in lower foreign exchange rates. While down 5% year to year in U.S. dollars, BMI’s international revenues would have exceeded last year’s performance by $14 million had it not been for the strengthening dollar.
BMI processed more than one trillion audio performances this year, over 950 billion of which were digital, a 45% increase from last year.
The singer, full name “Prince Rogers Nelson” had a medical emergency on April 15th that forced his private jet to make an emergency landing in Illinois. The hospital released him an hour later. He appeared at a concert the next day to assure his fans he was okay. He told the fans he was battling the flu. At the show, Prince prophetically told the crowd, “Wait a few days before you waste any prayers.”
The Carver County Sheriff Office states they are now investigating the circumstances of Prince’s death. At this time, there are no signs of foul play.
Prior to his most recent appearance however, Prince had cancelled two shows due to health concerns. Prince became an international superstar in 1982 after his breakthrough album “1999.”
He went on to churn out a ton of hits — and racking up 7 Grammys in the process. He also performed at the Super Bowl in 2007 … in one of the greatest live performances of all time. He also sold more than 100 million records during his career … and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for Purple Rain in 1985.
Prince was married two times — the first time to his backup dancer Mayte Garcia. They split in 2000. He then married Manuela Testolini … but they split in 2006. He was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, and performed a legendary version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” to close the ceremony.
Prince Returned to his former label Warner Bros Music after an 18 year battle over money he was owed from past projects including Purple Rain.
Prince has returned to Warner Bros. Records after 18 years with a deal that will see him regain ownership of his catalog. His classic Warner albums like “Dirty Mind,” “Controversy” and “1999” will continue to be licensed through Warner Bros as part of a new global agreement.
As part of the deal, Prince’s classic “Purple Rain” album will be re-released in a remastered deluxe version in time for the 30th anniversary of the album and movie. Other planned re-issue projects will follow and Prince will issue a new album too, although it is unclear if that title is a part of the deal.
“A brand-new studio album is on the way and both Warner Bros Records and Eye (sic) are quite pleased with the results of the negotiations and look forward to a fruitful working relationship,” Prince said in a statement
This legendary artist/singer will be greatly missed.
BMI will present Taylor Swift with an award bearing her name in recognition of her incomparable creative and artistic talent and influence on music lovers throughout the world. The first-ever Taylor Swift Award will be given at the 64th annual BMI Pop Awards on Tuesday, May 10, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills. The event will be hosted by BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill and BMI Vice President of Writer/Publisher Relations Barbara Cane.
This is only the second time in BMI’s 76-year history that the company has presented an award in someone’s name. The first was to Michael Jackson in 1990.
“Taylor Swift has transformed pop culture through her songs, artistry and indomitable spirit,” said Cane. “She has had a profound impact, not only musically, but also through her personal conviction and commitment to create a standard that values and respects music for everyone. We felt it appropriate to award Taylor with an honor that is as unique and special as she is.”
In addition, BMI will honor songwriting visionaries Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil with the BMI Icon Award for their indelible contributions to the craft of songwriting. As one of the world’s most esteemed and celebrated songwriting teams, Mann and Weil’s iconic partnership has spanned decades with nearly every genre of popular music included in their massively successful repertoire. Their music has transcended time, leaving a lasting impression on fans around the world and influencing aspiring songwriters to follow in their footsteps.
O’Neill added, “This evening is a true celebration of music and a tribute to the artistry of songwriting that spans generations as defined by three of the most prolific and influential music creators in the industry: Taylor Swift, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.”
The private event will also recognize the songwriters and publishers of the past year’s most-performed pop songs in the United States from BMI’s repertoire of more than 10.5 million musical works. The BMI Pop Song, Songwriter, and Publisher of the Year will be named during the ceremony.
Taylor Swift is a ten-time GRAMMY winner and the youngest recipient in history to receive the music industry’s highest honor, the GRAMMY Award for Album of the Year, and the only female to win it twice. The first artist since the Beatles (and the only female artist in history) to log six or more weeks at No. 1 with three consecutive studio albums and the only artist in history to have an album hit the one million first-week sales figure three times: 2010’s Speak Now, 2012’s RED and 2014’s 1989. She’s been named Billboard Magazine’s Woman of the Year (the only artist to receive this nod twice, and their youngest-ever honoree), and one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. She is the recipient of 37 BMI Awards, including the prestigious President’s Award in 2009, Songwriter of the Year in 2014 and multiple Song of the Year honors for both Pop and Country.
It would be impossible to imagine the last four decades of pop music without the melodies of Barry Mann and the lyrics of Cynthia Weil. Together, this husband and wife team have written songs like “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” (with Phil Spector), “On Broadway” (with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller), “Walking In the Rain,” “Kicks,” “Soul and Inspiration,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” “I Just Can’t Help Believing,” “Here You Come Again,” “Never Gonna Let You Go,” “Just Once,” the GRAMMY-nominated “Don’t Know Much” (with Tom Snow), and the double GRAMMY-winning “Somewhere Out There,” to name just a few. Together they have amassed an incredible 112 pop, country and R&B awards from BMI and have been the recipients of the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Songwriters, The Clooney Foundation’s Award for Legendary Song Composition and the prestigious Johnny Mercer Award by the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
I had the good fortune to participate in a SXSW panel about the mechanics of YouTube revenues. If I say so myself, it was a wonderful panel with some deep expertise (“Stop Complaining and Start Monetizing“). There was a real interest in the audience about the mechanics of the rights involved and the revenues paid.
If you have that same interest and you weren’t able to go to SXSW, here’s a basic chart of revenue splits that may help you:
YTP, YTPC= “YouTube Partner“, “YouTube Partner Channel”
SR= Sound Recording
WW= “Wild West” meaning no particular rule.
Notice that the basic categories are song, sound recording and video which track the main three copyright categories of musical work, sound recording and audiovisual work.
The percentages refer to shares of “Net Ad Revenue” often defined as:
“Net Ad Revenues” means all gross revenues recognized by YouTube attributable to any sponsorship of or advertising displayed on, incorporated in, streamed from and/or otherwise presented in or in conjunction with any User Video displayed on a Covered Service including, without limitation, banner advertisements, synchronized banner advertisements, co-ads, in-stream advertising, pre-roll advertising, post-roll advertising, video player branding, and companion ads, less ten percent (10%) of such gross revenues for operating costs, including bandwidth and third-party (affiliated or unaffiliated) advertising fees. Net Ad Revenues excludes any e-commerce referral fees received by YouTube from “buy buttons” or “buy links” on the Covered Services that facilitate recorded music “upsells” when a Publisher separately receives payment from a third party in connection with such an upsell (e.g., royalties for a CD or sheet music sale); provided, however, for the avoidance of doubt, that such exclusion does not extend to (a) advertising of the type described in the first sentence of this Section for recorded music products, the revenues from which shall be included in Net Ad Revenues; and (b) all other types of e-commerce referral fees and revenues, which shall be included in Net Ad Revenues.
One key component of your YouTube earnings is the “CPM” paid by advertisers to Google. Even if you have the right to audit YouTube (which few do), it is highly unlikely that you will ever be able to determine what the CPM is that Google uses to pay you on YouTube. Multichannel networks (“MCNs”) like Machinima have reportedly tied creators to CPMs that were well below market, particularly considering that the highest CPMs on YouTube are often associated with exactly the kind of talent most frequently signed to an MCN.
“Official” or “Premium” Videos
When a label uploads an “official” music video on YouTube or Vevo, the video has higher production values than UGC and is usually supported by a sustained marketing effort outside of YouTube that drives traffic to the site. If the premium video appears on Vevo, then 100% of the royalty is paid to the label, which in turn has licenses from the publishers for the song. If the video is on YouTube proper, then the label’s share is reduced by the publisher royalty, often around 15% of net ad revenue.
Claiming and YouTube’s Content Management System (“CMS”)
Because of a combination of YouTube’s monopoly position in the market, Google’s controversial reliance on the notice and takedown provisions of the Copyright Act and its sheer litigation muscle, YouTube will let anyone upload anything also known as “user generated content” or “UGC”. If you have access to YouTube’s “Content Management System” or “CMS” you have the chance to block UGC through YouTube’s “Content ID” fingerprinting tool.
Compared to the massive volume of videos uploaded to YouTube, a very, very small percentage of copyright owners have direct access to Content ID. According to YouTube:
YouTube only grants Content ID to copyright owners who meet specific criteria. To be approved, they must own exclusive rights to a substantial body of original material that is frequently uploaded by the YouTube user community.
Participating in Content ID allows you to help YouTube create a vast and valuable library of reference versions of your works. (YouTube does not compensate you for participating in Content ID.) Rightsholders usually participate in Content ID for two reasons which are not mutually exclusive: Blocking or “monetizing”. Monetizing means that you give YouTube permission to sell advertising against your works. Naturally, YouTube hopes you will choose to monetize because over 90% of Google’s revenue comes from selling advertising online.
YouTube creates a reference version of your work in the form of a “fingerprint” (a psychoacoustic technique that has long been in use by the U.S. Navy among others to distinguish sound patterns–see Jonesy in The Hunt for Red October). A fingerprint is a mathematical rendering of the waveform of an audio file that essentially reduces a sound recording to a kind of hash that makes comparing fingerprints quicker and more accurate.
YouTube maps the reference fingerprint to other identifiers such as the International Standard Recording Code for sound recordings, song title, artist name and copyright owners for all of the above including song splits in many cases. When a work is in the Content ID system, YouTube will compare an uploaded video to the Content ID database reference fingerprint and most of the time will follow the rules established by the copyright owner to block or monetize (often called “match policies“). If the match is done before the UGC video is uploaded, then it won’t go live, and if the match is done after it is live, then the users will see one of YouTube’s controversial messages saying the file is blocked due to a claim by copyright owner X.
What this boils down to is that if you don’t have a label or publisher, you will need to go to a claiming service like Adshare, The Collective or Onramp in order to get access to CMS and Content ID in order to monetize your works outside of a YouTube Partner Channel (which is done through an Adsense account associated with your YouTube Partner account). If you have a label, publisher or claiming service, then all of these entities should have access to CMS and Content ID and will be able to claim your songs, sound recordings or videos and monetize them if you wish.
Deciding if Monetization is Right For You
If you’re familiar with term recording artist agreements or publishing agreements (or what is normally called a “record deal” or “publishing deal”), you’ll probably remember negotiating “marketing restrictions” involving the use of your recording or song in advertising. Those clauses usually restrict the use of your works in political ads, certain kinds of products (firearms, tobacco for example), or more artist-specific restrictions. There are also restrictions on the kinds of movies or television programs (even videogames) in which your works can be used.
If you allow your work to be used in UGC and you elect to monetize, you can just forget all that on YouTube. “UGC” includes just about anything you can imagine short of explicit pornography, but would include, for example, sex tourist home movies, jihadi recruiting videos (although “songs” are unlikely to appear there), hate speech and the like. All of those are on YouTube and frequently are not behind any kind of age restriction wall.
The ads that get served as preroll for these videos are themselves often unsavory. For example, Google serves ads for “dating” sites that are in categories frequently identified as thinly disguised human trafficking operations. There are ways to block these particular uses if you have access to CMS but due to YouTube’s “catch me if you can” business practices, you may have to spend the time to track down each use which otherwise can stay on YouTube for months or years.
Winning the Lottery
We often hear about “YouTube stars” with elite channels (1 million plus subscribers) who are very well compensated. The source of this high level of compensation is rarely limited to advertising revenue. Most of the time, their ad revenue is salted with a high number of payments for what are essentially sponsorships, endorsements or product placements, often called “brand integrations“.
In the music and movie businesses, the term “star” is usually reserved for a relatively small group of performers who have demonstrated ability over time to reach a large audience, often a global audience. YouTube “stars” may have large YouTube communities and may be able to introduce products to fans on YouTube, but whether that will hold up on YouTube over time or translate to other platforms remains to be seen in most cases.
It is also important to realize that advertising is a highly regulated business, particularly when it comes to false or deceptive advertising that is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. Machinima has just entered a 20 year consent decree with the FTC to settle claims that it misled consumers by passing off paid endorsers as independent reviewers. Given that Machinima and other MCNs are supposed to protect their talent from such missteps suggests that YouTube stars may well have more to watch out for on YouTube than do recording artists or songwriters on record labels or music publishers.
Online Advertising in Decline
1Whether it is ubiquitous ad blocking software, “do not track” settings on browsers, or distrust of advertisers, online advertising is in decline. Like a ship that is sinking very slowly, it is sometimes difficult to tell if you’re really lower in the water, or if that was just a wave. And remember, over 90% of Google’s revenues come from online advertising, moonshots notwithstanding.
If the online advertising ship really does sink, all the driverless cars, military robots and Google Glass will not save Google or YouTube. That’s something to keep in mind when you agree to participate in the YouTube monetization game.
About $21,329,000,000 in revenue during Q4 and 558,000,000 copyright takedown requests in 2015. Those enormous numbers are Google’s record profit and record disregard for creators’ rights.
In February, Alphabet — Google’s newly formed shell company — reported that it earned $21.33 billion in revenue during the final quarter of 2015, making it the most valuable company in the world. Advertising accounted for virtually all of this revenue haul, up 17% over last year’s results.
Its free YouTube video streaming service, with more than one billion users, is the most popular platform for music consumption in the world.[ii] Though Google does not disclose sales numbers for YouTube specifically, it ascribes its substantial growth in part to advertising dollars on YouTube:
“Our very strong revenue growth in Q4 reflects the vibrancy of our business, driven by mobile search as well as YouTube and programmatic advertising, all areas in which we’ve been investing for many years.”
The New York Times estimates the service makes between $4 and $8 billion annually.[iv] And this cash cow is powered largely by music. The top 10 most watched videos on YouTube are all music related.
Yet even as Google/Alphabet continues to build its empire on a foundation of music, it pays the musicians and record companies whose music undergirds its massive success and growth next to nothing. According to RIAA numbers just released this week, YouTube, in combination with other on-demand ad-supported services like Vevo and Spotify’s free platform, only contributed 5.5% of all music revenues in 2015.
As one music industry source recently said: “YouTube boasting about its payments to the music industry is like Bernie Madoff boasting about paying dividends to his investors.”
So how does that work? Basically, Google has figured out how to rip off artists through legal loopholes that were established for the company nearly twenty years ago, when it was only a fledgling search engine provider. First, it uses its massive size and control of the “indispensable” YouTube gateway to force music creators into accepting the lowest, below-market royalty rates in the business. Second, its search engines often prioritize unlicensed copies of songs, for which the creators of those original songs receive nothing. Meanwhile, Google receives massive amount of cash from the advertisers who feature their ads on top of said pirated results.
What’s that you say? “There ought to be a law to prevent all of this.” Well, there is — but Google and its lawyers have figured out how to exploit the outdated and obsolete “Digital Millennium Copyright Act” that was intended to stop abuse of creative works.
The DMCA dates back to the year of Google’s founding, when the Internet was a very different place. Uploading an unlicensed copy of a song took a long while, and downloading a song took minutes. The Internet moved at the speed of CompuServe and dial-up AOL. Also, there were limited places where unlicensed content could even go (remember GeoCities?), and few of those sites were accessible to non-expert users.
It was thought at the time that musicians and copyright owners could survey the limited landscape of the infant World Wide Web and identify each unlicensed copy of a song. Musicians and copyright owners could then send a notice to the website-hosting company, identifying the unlicensed work and asking the company to take it down. Provided that the company was not actively involved in the unlicensed activity and promptly took down the unlicensed copy, the company would be held legally harmless.
Key to this legal regime was that Internet Service Providers were considered “passive,” internet-hosting companies, and not profiteering, ad-dollars guzzling mega-corporations.
Today, Google is far from “passive” in the massive enterprise of illegally pirated music: YouTube clearly distributes and capitalizes from others’ creative work. The company makes bank off the advertising it actively targets at specific users and layers atop illegal copies of music. Yet it still claims the “hear no evil, see no evil” amnesty of the DMCA, which Congress intended only for “passive” intermediaries.
Thanks to Google hiding behind its legal exemption, the “fire” of pirated music online has only continued to rage. The old, faulty DMCA model — in which creators were responsible for surveying the entire Internet and finding illegal copies of their works –- has completely, but not surprisingly, broken down. Creators now send, at extraordinary expense, more than 65 million notices of infringement to Google a month, and a record 558 million notices in 2015 alone. It’s an unconscionable “Value Grab.” Google turns a blind eye to piracy and reaps the rewards from ads surrounding unlicensed content. Meanwhile, it extracts below market value for the music it is willing to license. The crumbs creators receive from these shoddy licensing deals must then be spent on monitoring the web and sending millions of futile “takedown notices” for websites that pop back up in a manner of seconds even when they get shut down.
This “Value Grab” can only be fixed with meaningful legal reform. Laws from the age of “Ask Jeeves” must be updated for the Google/YouTube goliath…
I received an email this morning from a reader. He asked, “If SoundExchange was designated by the Library of Congress as the sole PRO to administer public performance licenses and also collect public performances fees for Sound Recording Company Owners, then why do artists still utilize the services provided by the other 3 US PROs (ASCAP / BMI) – is [SoundExchange] not sufficient by itself?”
A lot of indie artists are confused about the difference between ASCAP, BMI and SoundExchange. I’ll attempt to break down the most important differences between these groups and elaborate towards the end about other considerations and other royalty collection entities. Feel free to comment with any questions (or corrections).
Traditional performance royalties vs. digital performance royalties ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) are US public performance organizations (PROs) who collect publishing royalties (performance royalties) for the PUBLIC PERFORMANCE of musical works as stipulated by the U.S. Copyright Act. This includes fees paid by radio stations, businesses, restaurants, concert venues, bars, nightclubs, sports arenas, bowling alleys, malls and shopping centers, amusement parks, colleges & universities, etc. for performing music in the public (within the confines of their establishment). These monies are paid to ASCAP, BMI for a blanket public performance license that grants the licensee (the business) permission to allow music to be performed in their environment (this includes music over speakers and music performed live by an artist). The license fees paid to ASCAP and BMI are passed on to the copyright owners in the musical works (song) — PUBLISHERS (50%) and SONGWRITERS (50%) — as performance royalties for musical works.
[Editor’s note: ASCAP considers the publisher’s share and songwriter’s share to each be 50% of total performance royalties. BMI talks about these same splits as 100% for the publisher and 100% for the songwriter. It gets a little confusing, but they’re essentially talking about the same money split up in exactly the same way. It’s just that ASCAP uses percentages that are based on total performance royalties (thus 50/50), while BMI splits those halves FIRST, and then distributes 100% of each half to the appropriate entities.]
[Editor’s note: SoundExchange only collects these digital performance royalties for NON-interactive streaming (the kind where a DJ, algorithm, or other outside force is determining exactly what you hear).]
This includes fees paid by music service providers (MSPs) to stream music over satellite (SiriusXM), internet (Pandora, Rhapsody), cable (Music Choice, Verve) and other digital means as stipulated by law.
[Editor’s note: Spotify, iTunes Radio, and Rdio have struck deals with labels and distributors to pay digital performance royalties directly to rights holders — thus bypassing SoundExchange. But again, digital performance royalties are only owed for non-interactive streams which occur within those services’ radio-like features, NOT in their on-demand capacities.
These fees are paid to SoundExchange for a digital statutory license, under sections 112 and 114 of the Copyright Act, to stream sound recordings. The license fees paid to SoundExchange are passed on to copyright owners in the sound recording (master) — RECORD LABEL (50%), FEATURED ARTIST (45%), and NON-FEATURED ARTISTS (i.e. background vocalist, session musicians, etc.) (5%) — as digital statutory royalties for sound recordings.
Things to know…
* With some exceptions (mostly political) ARTISTS do not receive performance royalties in musical works (ASCAP/BMI) unless they wrote the song. So, Rihanna does not earn performance royalties in musical works when she performs “Stay” or when you listen to it on the radio or in a coffee house.
* With some exceptions (mostly political) SONGWRITERS do not receive digital statutory royalties in sound recordings (SoundExchange) unless they also recorded the song with their vocals. So, Diane Warren does not earn digital statutory royalties in sound recordings when you hear any of the songs she wrote for Whitney Houston, Enrique Iglesias, Faith Hill (and the list goes on) on Pandora or iTunes Radio. [Update: However, Diane Warren does earn public performance royalties in the musical works (ASCAP/BMI/SESAC) for these transmissions (Thanks Professor Surmani of the Masters of Artists in Music Industry Administration program at CSUN for catching this misleading omission!).]
* Pandora, Rdio, iTunes Radio, Spotitfy, etc. must pay both ASCAP, BMI public performance fees for musical works AND digital performance fees for sound recordings.
[Editor’s note: Though, as stated earlier, Spotify, Rdio, and iTunes Radio bypass SoundExchange to pay digital performance royalties directly to labels and distributors on behalf of rights holders.]
Terrestrial radio stations, such as KISS FM, only have to pay ASCAP, BMI, SESAC public performance fees for musical works, but not SoundExchange digital performance fees for sound recordings because of special stipulations in the US Copyright Act for broadcast radio. This is part of the reason why Pandora wants to reduce the royalties it pays.
[Editor’s note: However, many terrestrial radio stations also have digital broadcasts or offer alternative playlists on a counterpart digital station. Those stations DO have to pay digital performance royalties to SoundExchange for those non-interactive streams.]
There are lots of other sound recording royalties (besides the digital royalties collected by SoundExchange) that are collected on behalf of featured recording artists, non-featured artists (ie. background or session vocalists), instrumental musicians, etc. They include:
* sound recording revenue (also known as DART royalties, which stands for Digital Audio Recorders and Tapes) generated from the U.S. Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 (AHRA). Manufactures and importers of audio home recording devices (such as tape recorders) and audio home recording media (such as black CDs) pay a royalty to the Copyright Office;
* sound recording revenue generated from reciprocal Private Copy agreements with numerous foreign collectives in countries that also have legislation providing these royalties such as: Japan, the Netherlands, Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Germany, Latvia, and Estonia, just to name a few;
* sound recording revenue from record rentals remuneration from Japan, where sound recordings are rented in much the same manner DVDs are rented here in the U.S.;
* sound recording revenue generated digital public performance from the Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995 (DPRA) and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) paid to SoundExchange (as discussed above);
* sound recording revenue generated from a treaty with AIE, Sociedad de Gestión – the Spanish Rights Collective. The Audiovisual Division of the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund (established in 2010) distributes payments collected from any television show or motion picture that is broadcast on Spanish television and contains the performance of an AFM or SAG-AFTRA vocalist;
* sound recording revenue collected by the Symphonic Royalties division of the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, which are royalties for performers on Symphonic sound recordings, including musicians and singers of an orchestra.
* sound recording revenue from master use licenses between record companies and film/TV production companies (TV shows, movies, and web series), advertisers (commercials and products), video games; and
* sound recording revenue from compulsory mechanical licenses for sample use in other songs, copies and re-distribution, and ringtones.
There are lots of other musical works royalties (besides the public performance royalties collected by ASCAP/BMI/SESAC) that are collected on behalf of songwriters, music producers and publishers:
* publishing revenue from synchronization rights of music to film/TV, video games, or commercial. (Collected by publisher);
* publishing revenue from lyric print rights used in music apps, books and magazines, apparel, websites (like the lyric websites), or sheet music (such as MusicNotes.com. (Collected by publisher);
* publishing revenue from compulsory mechanical licenses for record labels or indie artists to record and distribute music works (such as going a song placed with a major artist or an indie artist doing a cover of a song previously performed by a major artist) whether posted on YouTube or sold on a CD. (Collected by Harry Fox Agency);
* publishing revenue from DART royalties from Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 distributed to the Music Publishers Subfund and Writers Subfund (collected by Copyright Office);
* publishing revenue from public performance via ASCAP, BMI (Note: A songwriter can only be registered to one of these guys);
* publishing revenue from foreign monies via sub-publishing agreements and other licensing arrangements in foreign territories. (Collected by PROs, publishers and other collecting entities depending on the nature of the royalties and legislation);
* publishing revenue from hundreds of other licensing sources (collected by PROs, publishers and other collecting entities depending on the nature of the royalties and territory)
Twitter wants to help the music industry unearth the next Katy Perry, whose career trajectory is matched by the rocketing number of her Twitter followers.
To that end, the Silicon Valley micro-blogging service is pairing up with Lyor Cohen’s latest venture, 300 Entertainment. In the announcement, made at this year’s Midem music conference in France, the two companies talked about developing “tools” to help music industry scouts sniff out new artists and detect trends early.
What those tools look like and how they would work weren’t entirely made clear. So we turned to Bob “Moz” Moczydlowsky, the recently appointed Head of Music at Twitter and former Senior Vice President of Product and Marketing at Topspin Media, to explain the nuts and bolts to us. The following is an edited version of the conversation.
Billboard: Why is Twitter doing this? Bob Moczydlowsky: What we’re going to create, is something that everybody in the music business can benefit from… The 300 deal is the first place where we’re showing what that practically looks like.
Lyor Cohen On New Twitter Partnership: ‘We’re in the Business of Discovering Artists’ (Q&A)
What does that look like? We’re developing a data set specific to music. I know that sounds like a very nerdy thing. But Twitter is like a fire hose of data. There’s a ton of new information and conversations about music that we have never let of out of the building before. Some of that data have to do with timing or geography. This can valuable data for things like targeted marketing and A&R. It has the potential to help the industry figure out how to best invest in artists or how to direct their marketing campaigns.
Why partner with 300 Entertainment if Twitter already has the data? Well, we don’t do A&R. We needed someone who does that and who can help us organize that data into something useful. 300 Entertainment has Travis Rosenblatt, who is a quintessential data-driven A&R guy. He spends all day looking at trending data and profiles of tastemakers and correlates that to other behaviors related to music. Twitter data can be essential to A&R. We need someone who wants to sign artists who can help us package the data and tell us if it’s valuable enough.
Can you give us an example of the types of questions you’ll look to answer? The idea would be, is there a guy in Chicago who, when he tweets about artists it makes a meaningful impact on the growth or size or exposure of that artist. Is there a tastemaker or a venue or a fan, a consumer in a specific location who’s Tweets about artists are more meaningful than others? Who genuinely are predicting the future success of these artists. I’m not saying that’s in the product, I’m saying those are the types of questions that will get asked.
What’s the timeline for when we can see the next phase of this project? In six months we will have the data set that anybody can license directly, that’s the raw data. In about a year, you should be able to go to a provider and say, “Hey I want access to that data and I also want it in an interface that you provide” and you know, we’ll have a third party by then who will have that data integrated.
Lyor said that 300’s partnership with Twitter is “exclusive” for a year. Can you explain what that means? They’ll see the data six months before the raw data is available to everybody. At that time, anybody can license the raw data directly from us. We are investing the same things for music as we do for TV content. There will be more to come on that.
NOW WHAT 300 ENT. HAD TO SAY…
Billboard caught up with Lyor Cohen, the former Warner Music head and founder of new music venture 300, at Midem hours after he had made a major announcement during his Keynote Q&A concerning a new partnership with the massive social media platform Twitter. Here, Cohen discusses the new venture, his specific role and the symbiotic nature of the partnership.
Billboard: Please explain what the new partnership with Twitter is about.Lyor Cohen: We’re in the business of discovering artists. We recommend to the entire artist community to engage with Twitter and not just tweeting, but also photos and videos. And we are going to work with Twitter, with their immense data, to help create tools that help artists get discovered and that’s what we’re doing. Twitter values the creative community in such an unbelievable way and has not gotten the credit for the amount of artists they have helped discover. The partnership is to create tools for the creative community that allows more artists to be discovered and more successful.
And why did Twitter come to you? Everybody in the digital space, digital distribution and social media, knows that at Warner I was the advocate for being the chief experimental officer. We wanted to experiment; I believe in experimenting. I believe our industry has been schizophrenic one second thinking all these new models were foe and then the next they’re friend. I only look at them as friend, because over time I’m convinced that the value of artist creation will hold up and will be well represented.
In your role with at Twitter, will you be directly work with Twitter or will this be through your new music venture 300? This will be with 300.
Are there any upcoming artists currently signed to 300 who will be a part of this venture?
No, not yet.
Twitter has tried to put out a music platform (Twitter Music) that did not work and they withdrew. Is there a plan for a new music platform you know of or are hatching something? You should ask them.
What are the parameters of the partnership?
It’s an exclusive partnership for a year. We have access to the data and building tools for artists in the creative community for them to be discovered and amplified.
Have they given you a title? No.
So many people use Twitter as a measurement tool — artists and TV and other industries. People look to Twitter as a metric. Yes, they do and they have not received the credit that they deserve.
So if you’re monitoring the data and you see that Joe Blow is trending, what happens? I’m gonna sign him.
WASHINGTON, D.C. –- January 28, 2016 — Today, the Copyright Alliance issued a statement on the recently-released Department of Commerce White Paper on Remixes, First Sale and Statuary Damages.
The Copyright Alliance appreciates the comprehensive and thoughtful discussion of the complex copyright policy issues considered in the White Paper.
According to Copyright Alliance CEO, Keith Kupferschmid, “in crafting copyright policy, we recognize that all interested parties must work together – including creative sectors, technology sectors, user groups and the public – as partners toward the same goal; and our collective goal is a thriving internet ecosystem that incentivizes creators to produce and disseminate new works to the public.” Kupferschmid continued by saying “this partnership should also encourage dynamic innovation and growth for technology companies as they collaborate with creators in making the works available through innovative new legal platforms while benefiting users who are certain to reap the rewards of new creative works offered on new platforms.
“We think that many of the conclusions reached and recommendations made in the White Paper published earlier today help advance these goals. The authors of the White Paper did a thorough job soliciting and considering the many different viewpoints voiced by the interested parties, and the final result reflects a broad consensus. In particular, we highlight the White Paper’s discussions of remixes and the first sale defense and endorse its conclusions that the existing provisions in the Copyright Act, in conjunction with new business models, are effectively meeting the changing demands of consumers and that no change in the law is necessary at this time.”
Kupferschmid concluded by saying that “we look forward to working with leaders at the Patent and Trademark Office and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, as well as the other stakeholders, on next steps the Task Force may take.”
The complete White Paper is available for review here.
In today’s music business, a musician needs to understand and receive all the various streams of revenue that they are entitled to for their musical works. However, many of today’s artists are uninformed as to what royalties they are entitled to; and, even more musicians are not properly registered nor have their works indexed. This prevents the artist from receiving all the income earned for their creative works. One of these most important streams of income that many musicians fail to recognize or handle properly are the revenues collected by SoundExchange.
Sound Exchange is a performance rights organization authorized to collect royalties for the digital performance of sound recordings under Section 114 of the U.S. Copyright Act. The right to these funds was originally established with the passage of the Digital Performance in Sound Recording Act of 1995 and later expanded by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Originally, SoundExchange was created by the Recording Industry Association of America (R.I.A.A.) to handle these new revenues; however, Sound Exchange eventually became its own stand-alone entity representing the interests of over one hundred thousand artists and copyright owners. As of August 5, 2015, Sound Exchange has reportedly paid over $3 billion directly to its artist and label members (http://www.soundexchange.com/pr/soundexchange-breaks-the-3-billion-mark/).
Unlike the other performance rights organizations in the United States that collect royalties for the public performance of musical compositions (i.e., ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC); Sound Exchange is the only entity authorized to collect royalties for the digital performance of a sound recording. Sound Exchange derives its authority, pricing and guidelines from the Copyright Royalty Board, which is appointed by the U.S. Library of Congress. SoundExchange is run by a board of directors that includes nine artist representatives and nine label representatives. This structure gives artists an equal say in the running of the organization.
SoundExchange is authorized to collect digital performance royalties on behalf of the owners of the sound recording copyright (i.e., the actual recording of a performance of the musical composition, which is referred to as the “master recording”). Typically, the sound recording copyright is transferred to the record label as a part of the recording contract with the musician. However, there has been an increase in sound recording ownership by the artists themselves as record labels are extending far fewer recording contracts than they had done in the past. This fact is further evidenced by the large number of musicians who are involved in “Do-It-Yourself” music promotion and distribution without any traditional record label assistance.
Additionally, it is essential to understand the difference in the types of revenues collected by SoundExchange and those collected by “small” Performing Rights Organizations, such as ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC in the United States. Performing Rights Organizations collect “small” public performance royalties for the owners of copyrighted musical composition (the underlying musical composition). These public performance royalties are paid to the music publishers, songwriters and composers of the song. For example, when Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along The Watchtower” is played over an analog radio station, the songwriter, Bob Dylan (in addition to the song’s publisher) receive royalties from the appropriate Performing Rights Organization as the original composer of the song. In contrast, Sony Music, as the sound recording owner, and Jimi Hendrix, as the featured artist, would receive royalties from SoundExchange for the song’s recordings’ transmission over a non-interactive digital platform, for example, when the song is played on Pandora. Accordingly, companies and artists can collect royalties from both sources (i.e., one royalty for the musical composition copyright and another for the sound recording copyright) as these organizations work with each other to pay musical creators the royalties they have earned from these distinct streams of income.
Under Section 114 of the American Copyright Act, SoundExchange is only authorized to issue statutory licenses for non-interactive digital platforms. These include satellite radio stations (e.g., SiriusXM Radio), internet radio stations (e.g., iHeartRadio.com), non-interactive digital music streaming services (e.g., Pandora) as well as digital cable and satellite TV services (e.g., Music Choice, Muzak, DirecTV, Dish Network). A comprehensive list of all the current licensees is available from SoundExchange at http://www.soundexchange.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2015-Q3-Licensee-Count-10-19-2015.pdf. For example, Pandora is a non-interactive service as it plays similar artists and songs based on a user’s selections and preferences; whereas, Spotify is an interactive service that enables a user to determine the exact song they wish to hear at that moment.
Each non-interactive licensee pays a statutory rate that is determined by a variety of factors, including the number of stations or channels, the number of listeners or subscribers, and/or the amount of advertising and other revenues earned by the licensee. In contrast, on-demand or interactive music streaming services, such as Spotify, are not subject to SoundExchange statutory licensing. These interactive services must enter into separate licensing agreements with the song’s copyright owners to utilize the works.
To pay its members, SoundExchange receives monthly reports from each of its licensees listing exactly what each licensee has performed that month. This data is compiled and utilized to distribute the licensing fees collected by SoundExchange to the appropriate
parties on a pay-per-play basis. Of the total amounts collected, 50% percent of these funds are distributed to the owner of the song’s sound recording (typically, a record label), 45% of these funds go to the featured performer on the track (typically, the musician) and the remaining 5% of these funds are distributed to the non-featured performers on the track through the American Federation of Musicians (A.F.M.) and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (A.F.T.R.A.). Additionally, SoundExchange takes a 4.6% administrative fee “off the top” of the total funds collected to handle these matters on behalf of its members.
Additionally, these royalties are very important to an artist as the funds are distributed directly to the recording artist without the artist’s respective share being first distributed to the artist’s record label. Typically, if the record label were to receive these funds first, they could potentially apply the funds against any unrecouped balance amount owed to the label; however, SoundExchange prevents this by distributing the funds directly to the artist. This distribution system is extremely advantageous to an artist, especially those signed to a major record label, as the artist can continue to receive SoundExchange payments without being fully recouped with their record label, which is not the case with most other royalties accrued in the music industry.
Also, SoundExchange currently holds at least $200 million in royalties owed to non-member artists. Most of these artists are unaware of the existence of this relatively new digital performance right and of the organization, SoundExchange, which administers the licensing. With the rise in popularity of Internet radio stations and music streaming services coupled with the decline in CD and download sales, it is essential that record labels and recording artists properly register with SoundExchange to ensure proper collection and distribution of all the royalties owed to them. SoundExchange’s distribution numbers have steadily risen in recent years and should continue to increase as more users switch from downloading media to streaming-based digital music services.
In conclusion, in order to receive the full value of an artist’s work, they should sign-up with SoundExchange and ensure that their musical repertoire is properly indexed to receive all the amounts they are entitled to. Additionally, SoundExchange does not administer royalties on behalf of downloaded material, as that is typically handled by the sound recording copyright owner (the record label).
Collins Connect handles all matters pertaining to music and the law, contact our office for help in registering your copyrights as well as indexing your works with ASCAP, BMI and SoundExchange visit www.collinsconnect.org.
After escaping death, drugs and poverty to become one of R&B’s most promising new stars, August Alsina faces a new hurdle — degenerative eye disease. “I’ma keep squinting until God takes my vision completely”
On paper, you would expect August Alsina to be happy, if not straight-up ecstatic. In 2014, the rising R&B star reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with debut album Testimony, toured with Usher and won best new artist at the BET Awards. One of his platinum-certified singles, the 2013 breakout hit “I Luv This Shit,” topped Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Mainstream Airplay chart for two weeks. Another, 2014’s “No Love,” which featured Nicki Minaj, has more than 100 million YouTube views. His sophomore LP, This Thing Called Life, comes out Dec. 11, led by the single “Why I Do It,” a duet with Lil Wayne in which Alsina boasts in a swaggering high tenor reminiscent of Chris Brown, “I’m eating so good, and I’m still not done/No I ain’t stoppin’ ’til I got it all.”
But today, sitting in a Tex-Mex restaurant in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, Alsina, 23, wears grimness like body armor. It’s in his eyes, currently concealed behind dark sunglasses; in the gravelly words that he deadpans in his Louisiana accent; in the funereal ensemble — black bandana, black jeans, black jacket, black Jordans, crucifix necklace — he wears on a November afternoon. “I feel older than I really am,” Alsina says flatly. “It’s because of the cards I was dealt.”
In May, Alsina revealed that he is going blind. He describes how a doctor told him that he had a degenerative eye disease, and that it was steadily worsening. Initially he refused to believe it. “I was like, ‘This n–a tripping.’ I went to see a few other doctors, but that was it — I had to accept it,” he says. “It was a very humbling experience. You take that for granted, waking up and being able to see.” He points toward a woman in a booth 15 feet away. “I can see her,” he says, “but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what she looked like.”
On top of that, in 2014 he was hospitalized for seizures that he blames on exhaustion. “I’m a sickly man,” he says. “I know that all of that has got to be for a reason. All this crazy shit didn’t happen to me just to happen.”
There is a desperation to how Alsina sings — not out of yearning for the affections of a woman, but from a hard life. He makes conventional R&B in a sonic sense, but lyrically, he’s like a New Orleans narcocorrido. “I came up in the 504 where the block stay hot/And the hot boys all tote Glocks,” he sings on “Shoot or Die,” his remix of Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie.” “How I came up is deeply rooted into my music,” says Alsina. “Because I come from shit. I come from nothing.”
Alsina was raised in Kenner, a New Orleans suburb, and his childhood was not a happy one. Both his biological father and stepfather were addicted to crack, and the household his mother attempted to glue together was shredded by instability. One day there would be lights, a TV on the wall and furniture in the living room. The next day, they would be gone. The family moved to Houston in an attempt to escape the claw of drugs, but it didn’t help. “Of all my childhood memories, I don’t have any good ones,” says Alsina. “I block shit out. The shit just make you coldhearted, to be honest.”
When Alsina was a scrawny teen in an oversized baseball cap, he began uploading videos to YouTube in which he covered songs by Lyfe Jennings and Musiq Soulchild. His vocal talent was obvious, but reality interfered; the laptop was pawned off, and later on, at age 16, he was kicked out of the house by his mother. He returned to New Orleans and sold drugs for pocket change. “It’s like, ‘Man, this shit f—ed up my life, so I’ma f— up someone else’s life,’ ” he says. “That’s how you think when you’re ignorant to the situation.” On a summer night in 2010, Alsina’s 24-year-old brother, Melvin LaBranch III, was found riddled with bullets on a street in eastern New Orleans; he died early the next morning. Alsina pulls back his right sleeve to display a tattoo showing his brother’s birthday, the date he was killed, police tape, a gun, a bullet turning into a musical note and an eyeball. (“For the people who saw it and never said nothing,” he explains.) He says the murder served as a wake-up call that convinced him to dedicate his life to music. “If that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be here today,” he says. “I’d probably be dead. If it wasn’t somebody killing me, it’d probably be me killing myself.”
Building off the buzz from his YouTube videos, Alsina connected with Noontime Management and relocated to Atlanta in 2011. The following year, he signed with Def Jam Recordings through The-Dream’s Radio Killa Records imprint.
Alsina’s personal woes continued despite his subsequent career successes. He had surgery in an attempt to correct his vision, but his sight is still deteriorating. “I went back to the doctor recently and it got worse,” he says. “I’ma keep squinting until God takes my vision completely.”
His family remains a source of turmoil, too. In late October, Alsina tweeted a screen capture of a text message from a cousin who suggested Alsina played a role in his brother’s murder. Earlier in November, his mother, with whom he is not on speaking terms, took to social media to criticize Alsina for airing the family’s dirty laundry. “The people that you think are supposed to be there for you and be happy for you — instead they want to tear you down,” he says. “They would rather kill you than see you live the life God has given you. I don’t trust a soul now. I used to think that I would fall in love one day — the chances are slim to none now.”
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Alsina’s art is autobiographical, and derives much of its potency from pain. Perhaps this is a form of public therapy, and This Thing Called Life represents another opportunity to exorcise the specters that follow him. “It sounds like a sob story, but it should actually be inspirational,” he says of his life. “We all battling different things. Me? I’m just able to channel that through my music.”
The ASCAP Country Music Awards were held last night in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. Kicking off CMA Awards week in Music City, the event brought out top country hitmakers and other luminaries including former President Jimmy Carter and pop star Justin Timberlake, on hand to honor friend and ASCAP Voice of Music Awardwinner Trisha Yearwood. The country music icon and lifestyle maven was honored in song by performances from Lady Antebellum (“Walkaway Joe”), Reba McEntire (“The Song Remembers When”), and husband Garth Brooks’ daughter, Allie Brooks (“She’s in Love with the Boy”).
Top songwriters Dierks Bentley, Eric Paslay, Maddie & Tae and more picked up their awards for writing some of the biggest country songs of the past year. We heard performances from Songwriter of the Year Ashley Gorley, whose live renditions of two of his six top-performing songs of 2014 featured country music superstar Luke Bryan (“Play It Again” and “I See You”). 2014’s top breakout artist Sam Hunt collected two “of the year” trophies: he was named Songwriter-Artist of the Year and earned the Song of the Year prize alongside co-writer Josh Osborne for their hit, “Leave the Night On,” which they also performed. Warner/Chappell took home Publisher of the Year honors with 17 award-winning songs.