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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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Weekly Music Publishing Update: Friday, April 14, 2017

By Anna Miceli, Songtrust Royalties Coordinator

ASCAP_Logo
ASCAP / http://www.ascap.com/

There has been significant buzz around three of the world’s largest member-owned collection societies – ASCAP, SACEM, and PRS. Together they have announced a partnership to prototype a shared system of managing copyright information using blockchain technology.

These American, French, and British societies have also included IBM in their partnership. Elizabeth Matthews, CEO of ASCAP, noted, “ASCAP is always looking for opportunities to exploit new technology platforms to specifically address the needs of our members and the music industry.”

The partnership aims to model a new system for managing the links between music recordings and song compositions via ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) and ISWC Codes (International Standard Music Work Code). Although these two pieces of data were intended to create unique identifiers for music, there are issues of duplication. The blockchain initiative will help increase the accuracy of the data that both codes provide.

So what does this mean for songwriters? The stronger link blockchain aims to create between ISRC and ISWC info will speed up the process of international royalty matching, reduce errors and lower costs, ultimately improving speeds that publishing royalties are paid to songwriters.

The blockchain prototype also allows for greater transparency and accuracy of music usage by third parties, especially across streaming services. Songwriters and artists would potentially be able to view accurate data of what music is being used and played, and when it is delivered across new music formats.

All three societies involved have agreed “the project is proving to be an exciting reference point for future industry blockchain solutions.”

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Weekly Music Publishing Update: Friday, March 24, 2017

By Julia Pernicone, Songtrust Account Associate

thecomeupshow / http://www.flickr.com/people/22257051@N07
thecomeupshow / http://www.flickr.com/people/22257051@N07

By now you’ve probably heard–or at least heard about–the momentous latest release from hip-hop artist, Drake, More Life.  Drake describes the work not as an album or mixtape, but “a body of work bridging the gap between major releases,” a playlist of sorts.  The work features 22 tracks of varying genres, featuring many guest artists and some not featuring Drake at all.  In this way he fills the role of artist and producer as well as curator.

Zach Fuller of Midia Research explored the possible reasoning behind Drake and his team’s decision to release the project in this way.  He references the “3-minute pop-song,” which was created to fit the mold of emerging radio formats.  Drake is making use of the emerging digital formats–streaming, and more specifically, playlisting–to express his artistic vision as well as reach more listeners, creating a new musical product.  He also mentions that we’re currently in an “era of the always-on fan who can access an artist at any time” and a need to consistently provide content.  Marketed under the “Drake” name, the project keeps him in the public consciousness, while also bringing attention to lesser known artists.

One of these artists is Australian neo-soul band, Hiatus Kaiyote, whose song “Building a Ladder,” released in 2015 on their sophomore LP Choose Your Weapon, is sampled on More Life‘s opening track, “Free Smoke.”  Drake is reportedly a long-time fan of the group.  Hiatus Kaiyote’s Naomi “Nai Palm” Saalfield told Billboard, “The fact that somebody like Drake, as prestigious as an artist, experiencing so much of life, all the time, found sanctuary in [our song], there’s beauty in that.”  In a video posted to Drake’s Instagram account with the caption “December,” he’s seen singing along to “Building a Ladder.”  The video has gotten over 2 million views in just 3 days, with many commenters shouting out the song from where the sample originated.

Hiatus Kaiyote, as well as the other artists featured on More Life, will no doubt be seeing a surge in streams on their own music, but also reap the rewards of publishing shares on Drake’s release.  The release is heading to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart next week, and has broken first-day records on both Spotify and Apple Music.  In the first 24 hours of release, More Life was streamed over 150 million times on those two services alone.  The project, not premiered exclusively on any service, is specifically catered to streaming audiences, curating a playlist of differing genres and influences tied together by a common thread, and sets a precedent for future releases from artists across genre boundaries.

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Weekly Music Publishing Update: Friday, March 16, 2017

By Isaac Assor, Songtrust Publishing Operations Coordinator

Spotify / http://www.spotify.com/no/about-us/press/images/
Spotify / http://www.spotify.com/no/about-us/press/images/

Over the past week, sources around the internet have been buzzing about Spotify’s acquisition of UK-based audio detection technology startup Sonalytic. There are many theories circulating about Spotify’s plans to use this new technology to compete with services ranging from Shazam to SoundCloud. However, while not the most exciting possibility from the consumer-facing perspective, Spotify’s announcement that it will incorporate Sonalytic in its efforts to “improve [its] publishing data system” is a significant step forward for songwriters. Arguably one of Sonalytic’s most significant breakthroughs is its ability to identify the musical stems of not just a recording, but its underlying composition. While Shazam relies on recording fingerprints, TechCrunch reports that the technology can accurately identify live performances. Taken a step further, Spotify may be able to use Sonalytic to link a recording to its composers and publishers using the key musical features of the composition.

Falling exactly a year after the $30 million settlement between Spotify and the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) over unpaid royalties due to tracks with unidentified songwriters, the acquisition demonstrates Spotify’s commitment to accurately matching recordings with their composers. At the very least, the move is certainly an interesting development that could improve Spotify’s standing in the NMPA’s ongoing proceeding before the Copyright Royalty Board, which will determine the mechanical royalty rate paid out by digital streaming services for the next five years.

Taken together, Sonalytic’s audio detection innovations and efforts to use blockchain technology to create a global, decentralized metadata library represent converging approaches to solving one of the most frustrating challenges in managing copyright in the streaming music age: incorrect and incomplete metadata.

While these developments are necessary steps forward in the effort to properly document the music world’s ever-growing song catalog, songwriters and publishers must take active steps to make the most of these innovations. After all, databases are only as useful as their entries. Songwriters must keep accurate records of titles, writer shares, dates and terms of publishing deals, and recording information (ISRCs, performing artists, album titles, release years, and record labels). By the same token, publishers must keep track of effective and termination dates, pre- and post-term collection periods, controlled percentages, and controlled territories.

With myriad revenue streams already on the books and new ones constantly emerging, the industry is full of new opportunities for independent musicians. However, the globalization of music usage has also made artist and writer compensation more complicated than ever before. This is where publishers come in. At Songtrust, we are working every day to stay ahead of the changing industry and track down these fragmented royalties. We encourage writers to play an active role in their publishing deals; global song usage can only be effectively tracked when interested parties provide clean, accurate, and up-to-date metadata.

 

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Weekly Music Publishing Update: Friday, February 2, 2017

Davidstankiewicz / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blockchain_Illustration_3.jpg
Davidstankiewicz / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blockchain_Illustration_3.jpg

Songtrust has partnered with DotBlockchain Music for the second phase of its creation of a “decentralized global database of music rights, combining the publishing and the performance information into a unit of music that the industry can use.”  The problem that Dotblockchain aims to solve involves the separation of copyrights creative material from the creators and owners themselves, which results in those owners not getting paid for the use of their work.  Because rights are often held across different companies and organizations that don’t often communicate with each other, the solution is a central location where a songwriter, publisher, record label, and a performer are all clearly identified.

Songtrust joins SOCAN, the Canadian-based performance rights organization, and SOCAN’s rights administration subsidiary MediaNet, indie music distributor CD Baby, and digital rights service FUGA, resulting in a collective starting point of 65 million songs with which to begin building out a practical model.

Read more about DotBlockchain Music and its partnership with Songtrust here.

 

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