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Weekly Music Publishing Update: Friday, May 12, 2017

By Anna Miceli, Songtrust Royalties Coordinator

Wikimedia Commons / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:NYC_Times_Square_wide_angle.jpg

For the first time in more than a decade, the Grammy Awards will be returning to New York City for the airing of the 60th anniversary ceremony. The Grammy celebration had previously rotated its location in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, until 2004, when it resided in LA for the next 14 years.

The award show will be held at Madison Square Garden, the site of many legendary moments in New York City and music history. Madison Square Garden hosted the Grammy’s twice, in 2003 and 1997, and will be home to the 2018 ten day production.

The fight for the Grammys to return to New York City began in 2014, and flourished shortly after Julie Menin was appointed commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment last February. Julie Menin and her department worked hard to bring the celebration of music back to New York, and defray the costs associated with moving productions to the East Coast. Costs were successfully offset by the forming of a host committee, of which includes local unions, Adidas, and Downtown Music Publishing.

The 2018 New York Grammy location is an important part of the city’s new initiative to celebrate its diverse musical culture. The city announced that June will be the first-ever New York Music Month, celebrating with 30 days of concerts, workshops, and programs for music creators and appreciators alike. New York Music Month will be produced in partnership with New York Is Music, co-founded by Downtown Music Publishing and Songtrust CEO, Justin Kalifowitz.

Julie Menin stated, “Music has never been housed in any city agency before, so this is a real seismic change. We think people know the work we’ve done to negotiate to bring the Grammys back; we feel that, with our music industry report and New York Music Month, we’re going to continue to support the music industry.”

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Split Sheets: Collect Your Music Publishing Royalties


Musicians, producers, artists, songwriters, composers, and everyone in between have the opportunity to own publishing rights to their songs and collect royalties. Here is a quick and easy way to make sure that you get your share of the music publishing rights to the music you help create:

First, click here to see a Split Sheet Template.

A split sheet establishes in writing who owns what percentage of the composition, or the publishing rights. (The ownership of the recording is a different matter.) Publishing splits can be negotiated as a cowriter, producer, band member, etc. Click the link above to see what a split sheet looks like. You can even download this template and use it for yourself. Note that if you are the only writer, you automatically own 100% of the copyright.

Deciding on who gets what percentage of a song is completely negotiated between writers.  Sometimes co-writers will splits works evenly regardless of who wrote which part(s) of the song. Other times they’ll assign percentages based on each individual’s contribution to the final product.  Either way, it’s best to decide on splits and get them in writing as soon as you’ve finished a song, as negotiations may get messy the longer you wait.

As a song is released and used around the world you, the owner of your copyright(s), are due publishing royalties. Having a percentage of publishing ownership can be a great source of recurring revenue.

Note that if you include a sample of someone else’s composition in your work, it is expected that you clear those samples with those who own that recording and/or composition. You can offer that person or organization a percentage of the publishing, negotiate a fee, or simply acquire permission to use that sample.

Once you’ve decided on songsplits and you plan on releasing your music, go ahead and register your publishing splits with a publishing administrator like Songtrust to get set up to collect music publishing royalties.

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Weekly Music Publishing Update: Friday, April 28, 2017

By Julia Pernicone, Songtrust Account Associate

Pixabay / https://pixabay.com/en/spotify-streaming-music-1360002/

Spotify has acquired Mediachain Labs, the core team behind the open source Mediachain protocol, to develop a decentralized network for sharing data critical to getting songwriters paid–in other words, a blockchain.  “Blockchain” has been a bit of a buzzword in the music industry lately, specifically within the publishing sector.  It’s certainly been a point of contention and debate amongst various industry players–publishers, songwriters, digital service providers, labels–but the adoption of a secure-but-shared hub where rights holders can enter and update their data and users of music can access that data has become inevitable to propelling the music industry forward.  From Songtrust partner DotBlockchain to ASCAP, SACEM, and PRS teaming up with IBM, it seems that members from all different sectors of the music industry are trying their hand at solving its biggest problem: ensuring transparent, accurate, and open data for music users and creators to properly pay rights holders.  George Howard, Associate Professor of Music Business/Management at Berklee College of Music and Co-Founder of Music Audience Exchange, recently wrote in Forbes of the importance of artists adopting blockchain technology in order to claim (and reclaim) control of their copyrights.

In a blog post announcing the acquisition, Mediachain noted their vision for “the future of media metadata: a shared data layer is key to solving attribution, empowering creators and rights owners, and enabling a more efficient and sustainable model for creativity online,” and described Spotify as a “champion of transparency and open data for artists.”  The partnership with the digital streaming service will leave Mediachain open source and openly licensed.

Mediachain was launched in 2016 with backing from Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square Ventures.  In an interview with George Howard in 2015, Andy Weissman of Union Square Ventures laid out a concise framework for applying blockchain technology to the music industry:

“1. Assume no change in copyright laws in the US.

2. To afford yourself of those protections, you must ‘register’ your copy on the Blockchain. In that way, the ‘rights’ will be publicly listed. As those rights may be transferred, the chain of ownership will as well.

3. One benefit here could be that one could also stamp your own rules on that copy. Programmatically, we would see what you desire as to that piece of media and how it may be used. These of course could change over time, as you desire.

4. This would then be a decentralized registry, but even more as the rules would be machine-readable. This could enable apps and services to be built on top of them.

5. This could achieve the end state of being the ‘Nirvana music API.'”

Billboard describes the relationship between blockchain technology and the music industry as a “ledger that connect data ‘blocks’ containing data about every song and its rights holders.  The ledger is ownerless, with multiple participants able to contribute.”  The music industry news source also noted the music industry’s historical problems with messy and inaccurate metadata, and that Spotify’s new team of blockchain efforts can speed up the process of applying blockchain technology to the music industry, therefore “transform[ing] and streamline[ing] publishing and royalty payments to artists and rights owners.”

 

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Weekly Music Publishing Update: Friday, April 21, 2017

By Julia Pernicone, Songtrust Account Associate

Motown Records / http://www.ebay.com/sch/sis.html?_nkw=1973+Stevie+Wonder+Musician+Headphones+Press+Photo&_itemId=190745169144&_trksid=p2047675.m4099

ASCAP’s 12th annual “I Create Music” Expo took place last week in Los Angeles.  The national conference dedicated to songwriting and composing provides a unique opportunity for songwriters, composers, artists, producers, publishers – and those in the industry that support them – to come together to share their knowledge and expertise. The programming offered to attendees includes celebrity Q&A’s, master classes, songwriting and composing workshops, publisher and business panels, one-on-one sessions, DIY career building workshops, showcases and performances, song feedback panels, state-of-the-art technology demos as well as leading music industry exhibitors.

On the opening day of this year’s conference, Billboard senior writer Melinda Newman moderated the “We Create Music” panel, featuring five of today’s most successful songwriters, Sam Hollander, Dave Pirner, Ashley Gorley, Jeff Cardoni, and James Fauntleroy who offered insight to the aspiring songwriters in attendance.  Hollander, who has written hits for acts such as Fitz and the Tantrums, Train, and Pentatonix gave the following advice: “Dare to suck.  You have to start somewhere and you have to be fearless.”

On another panel, “Getting Credit Where Credit is Due,” songwriters Desmond Child, Aloe Blacc, Alex Shapiro, and founder of independent song data web platform/app Auddly Niclas Molinder discussed the importance of crediting songwriters and producers in the age of streaming.  Blacc said, “If I fall in love with a songwriter, I should be able to type that name into a service and listen to those songs regardless of who the singers are. The story behind the song is just as important.”  Molinder stressed the responsibility of creators to take charge of their data and know their splits.  Not only is this important for creators to receive their well-deserved public credit, but also for them to be able to properly collect their rightfully earned royalties.

On the topic of songwriter royalties, congressional legislator Congressmen Doug Collins (R-GA) and Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) joined the “Music Licensing Reform: Fight For Your Rights” panel to discuss the issue of reforming the U.S. music licensing system.  The two legislators, though from opposing political parties, both agreed that the current system, anchored in 76-year-old consent decrees, is antiquated, inefficient, and stifling free market competition.  The panelists discussed the Department of Justice’s denial to review the consent decrees, and how songwriters need to continue to be involved, meeting with legislators to educate them about the impact reviewing these decrees could have on their ability to make a living as songwriters.

Finally, at the Expo’s closing keynote session, Stevie Wonder was presented with ASCAP’s first Key of Life Award.  For two hours, Wonder reflected on his 50-plus year music career, what inspires his songwriting, and the stories behind some of his classic songs.  On staying committed to music, Wonder said, “You have to put work into that which you love. Then you’ve got to listen objectively. It’s fun to get to a place where you can challenge. When I was doing Songs in the Key of Life, I had this little transmitter that I hooked up and would listen, listen and listen. It’s all about the feeling every time.”  At the end of the keynote conversation, Wonder offered the opportunity for ASCAP to select emerging songwriters to collaborate with him on four songs he’s been developing.

 

 

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International Spotlight: Canada

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_map_of_Greater_Canada.png
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_map_of_Greater_Canada.png

The Canadian music market offers great potential for American artists. As a largely English-speaking nation in such close proximity to the US, similar musical tastes and shared culture allow American artists to have continued success selling records, playing gigs and getting radio spins.

The Canadian Music Market


Population: 35 million
Recorded Music Revenue: $436.9 million ($544.1 million CAD)
Statutory Mechanical Royalty Rate: $0.08 per song ($0.083 CAD)
Notable Songwriters: Justin Bieber, Michael Buble, Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion
Description: The Canadian music market is the seventh largest in the world. Canadian fans have similar behaviors to American fans - they were quicker to adopt digital downloads than other major music markets and have adopted streaming services at a similar rate, but not quite as rapidly as some European markets. Digital downloads of both tracks and albums continue to grow in Canada, unlike the United States where this trend has reversed. The Canada Council of the Arts subsidizes musicians and other artists by providing grants for a range of artistic endeavors including recording and touring.

SOCAN


Launched: 1990
Official Site: Socan.ca
Twitter: @SOCAN
Type of Rights: Performance
2014 Revenue: $299 million
2014 Distributions: $168.6 million
Description: SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada) serves as Canada's PRO. It was formed in 1990 as a result of a merger of its two predecessors: The Composers, Authors and Publishers Association of Canada (CAPAC) and the Performing Rights Organization of Canada (PROCAN). SOCAN fulfills the same role as ASCAP, BMI and SESAC in the US.

CMRRA


Launched: 1975
Official Site: Cmrra.ca
Twitter: @CMRRA
Type of Rights: Mechanical
Description: CMRRA (Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency) is Canada's mechanical licensing society. It also handles licensing and collection for streaming services, synchronization and the private copying levy. It is governed by a Board of Directors elected by the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA). CMRRA essentially fulfills the same role as HFA in the US.

How do I collect royalties from Canada?

Canadian royalty collection can be very difficult for American songwriters without a publisher. If you're relying on your local PRO to collect performance royalties from SOCAN, you might not see royalties for up to three years, if at all. And it's virtually impossible to collect mechanical royalties from CMRRA without an affiliated publisher. The only way to collect all of your publishing royalties in Canada is to have a publisher directly registering your songs with SOCAN and CMRRA.  
Songtrust can collect all of your publishing royalties from Canada.
 

Are you owed mechanical royalties from the Canada?

Ever wondered what you might be owed for sales outside the US? Input your sales data from Canada to find out how much you're owed.






 

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