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Weekly Music Publishing Update: Friday, April 28, 2017

By Julia Pernicone, Songtrust Account Associate

Pixabay /

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 /

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

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.


Launched: 1990
Official Site:
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.


Launched: 1975
Official Site:
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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Weekly Music Publishing Update: Friday, April 14, 2017

By Anna Miceli, Songtrust Royalties Coordinator
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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What is Songtrust?

There are a lot of music-tech companies out there. It can be a struggle to sort through them all. We at Songtrust want to help you make the right decision about your business. Below, we have outlined each type of partnership that Songtrust fulfills. If you fit one of these categories, please reach out here. Context: If your business or a client you represent writes music or owns music publishing rights, then your business is due music publishing royalties. It used to be complicated to collect these royalties. Songtrust has made it simple by offering flexible and accessible global publishing administration. Service: Songtrust is a 1-stop platform for collecting global music publishing royalties. If you use Songtrust, you won’t need to go anywhere else to collect your music publishing royalties. We register your catalog(s) with 42+ societies and have the capability to collect as directly as possible (avoiding sub-publishing fees) from over 200 countries/territories. This covers 95% of the music publishing market. Clients/Partners:

Individual Songwriters

Individual Songwriters use songtrust to register and collect on their songs. They upload their titles and percentages and receive quarterly payments from Songtrust once their songs are registered. Songtrust collects on behalf of over 100,000 individual songwriters. This number is growing at a fast pace. All clients maintain full ownership of their catalog.


Producers often negotiate publishing splits when their music is released. Whether they own 1%, or 50%, Songtrust can register producers’ split percentages and collect what they are due. Need help getting your publishing split? Check out our split sheet template.  


Artists who write music are also songwriters! That means that artists own the publishing and should be collecting music publishing royalties. Songtrust works with a wide variety of artists to make their music publishing easy and accessible.


Bands use Songtrust to register their songs with the correct split percentages. They also use Songtrust’s live setlist submission tool when they are on tour. It is often overlooked that live performances can accrue live performance royalties, but only if you register your setlists. Agreeing on songsplits? Check out our split sheet template.  


Labels who also represent publishing rights (360 deals or otherwise) use Songtrust to power their publishing collection. Labels can play a bigger role in finding creative uses for their music without worrying about the administrative aspects of publishing.


Managers use Songtrust to collect royalties in a flexible deal while they search for future (and bigger) opportunities for their writers/artists. Shopping around for traditional deals can take upwards of 2-5 years.


Lawyers work with Songtrust to refer clients in need of publishing administration. They see a variety of contexts in which their clients need a service like Songtrust. Some lawyers own and operate their clients’ Songtrust account as part of their agreement with their clients.

Publishing Companies

Music Publishers use Songtrust to power their catalog administration. They save time and money by outsourcing all of the boring administrative work, and focus on the fun stuff like creative services and catalog development. Here is a blog post outlining why Songtrust is an easy and cost-effective solution to publishing administration.

Media Companies

Media and Production companies work with their writers to set publishing administration with Songtrust. Songtrust can administer and collect for productions that air all over the world.

Rights Owners

Whether you wrote music, purchased a catalog, inherited an estate with publishing rights, or operate a new-age music-tech business that has the opportunity to own publishing rights, Songtrust can administer and collect on your business’ behalf.


Songtrust integrates with music distributors, enabling them to offer ‘opt-in’ publishing administration to their clients. Offering publishing administration at this step in the creators’ process has proven to be essential for many people who are releasing music. It is a huge ‘value-add’ for companies who offer suites of services to their clients. We have seen success in offering opt-in worldwide publishing administration to those who are about to release music--global distribution should almost always be complemented by global publishing administration. Conclusion: Songtrust is a simple and cost-effective solution to any person or business handling publishing rights. Every deal should be mutually beneficial to all interested parties. If you are unsure that your business approach fits with the Songtrust model, let’s talk. If you are ready to get started, sign up here and send us a message in the chatbox on your account!   We hope to hear from you soon.   -The Songtrust Team  

Frequently Asked Follow-Up Questions:

  Does Songtrust do YouTube collection? Yes. Here is a link to our YouTube 1-sheet. Does Songtrust collect mechanical and performance royalties? Yes. Songtrust covers all types of publishing royalty collection. Can Songtrust collect retroactive royalties? We have seen success in collecting retroactive royalties. (no promises, though) Do I have to do anything with ASCAP/BMI anymore? Songtrust registers your catalog with ASCAP/BMI and 40+ other societies. You will only need to use the Songtrust platform to handle all of your needs. Does Songtrust overlap with SoundExchange? No, that is related to the master/recording side. Go register with SoundExchange. Does Songtrust do anything besides collection, like promotion, creative services, distribution, etc? No, Songtrust specializes in music publishing royalty collection. However, we do offer processing of inbound sync requests. Do I have to upload my whole catalog? No, Songtrust operates on a song-by-song basis.

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