2017 is coming to an end. Here’s a quick rough rundown of some things you can (and some that you must) accomplish before the end of the year:
1. GET YOUR GROOVE MUSIC MECHANICAL ROYALTIES BEFORE ITS FORFEITED. Microsoft is shutting down Groove Music on December 31, 2017. Legally speaking, they are not required to pay mechanical royalties to songwriters and publishers who have not registered their copyrights with the United States Copyright Office. Therefore, in theory, on January 1st, 2018 Microsoft could expunge any unclaimed mechanical royalties. Royalty Claim shows you how to find your songs and begin the process of unlocking any accrued mechanical royalties.
2. GET DISCOUNTED CONFERENCE PASSES FOR 2018. If you’re thinking about going to music industry conferences in 2018, you should know that many of them offer early-bird discounts now. These savings really add up when you attend multiple conferences in one year. SXSW is currently offering lower rates that end on set dates. The next rate increase will be on Nov 17th. NAB is offering a variety of packages at more than 50% off through Nov 24th (including a FREE pass for the Exhibit floor). There are more offers out there such as Music Biz Expo with discounted rates through March and ASCAP’s “I Create Music” Expo with discounted rates through the end of the year.
3. RELEASE A HOLIDAY COVER SONG LEGALLY AND SUBMIT TO BLOGS FOR END OF YEAR EXPOSURE. It’s not too late to record and release a holiday song this season and leverage the exposure from blogs and background music services. I breakdown how to do this in my piece “5 Tips For Making, Marketing And Monetizing Holiday Music This Season”.
4. GET OR RENEW YOUR GOOGLE PLAY MUSIC MECHANICAL LICENSE. If you distribute music to Google Play Music, you may be earning mechanical royalties that you have not collected. Mechanical royalties are different from your master use royalties (paid to labels, distributors, and aggregators) and performance royalties (paid to performing rights organizations (PROs) such as ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and GMR in the United States). Mechanical royalties are royalties paid for the distribution of the underlying musical work embodied in a sound recording — that is, the “song.” Mechanical royalties are owed to songwriters and publishers and is not paid to labels, distributors, aggregators, or PROs. To enter into a direct agreement with Google for your Google Play Music mechanical royalties, you can do one of two things: (1) Sign a direct deal with Google Play Music, whereby you will be responsible for data ingestion as well as ongoing account management. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org should you like more information about the direct license; or (2) Opt in via the Harry Fox Agency, whereby they will manage your content on your behalf. You can do so by logging into your HFA account at harryfox.com and click the “Authorizaions” link located in the “Licensing” box. If you do not have an HFA Online account, you can fill out a Request for Administrator Account form at https://secure.harryfox.com/public/forms/online-account/form.jsp. You do not need to be a member of HFA to pursue this option. You can easily streamline and expedite the delivery of your song registrations to Harry Fox Agency (and Music Reports Inc., Loudr, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SoundExchange, and many others) using the affordable music rights and metadata management platform TuneRegistry. TuneRegistry was built to empower the independent music company and DIY musicians who self-publish.
5. CLAIM / VERIFY YOUR ARTIST PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA. Go into 2018 with a tight marketing infrastructure by making sure that you control all of your presence across the top DSPs and social platforms. Symphonic Distribution breaksdown how to claim your label/artist page on DSPs and music marketing agency View Manic can help eligible artists verify their profiles on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
***BONUS ITEM – DUE IN EARLY 2018***
6. PREPARE AND SEND FORM 1099s. Did you hire a publicist or digital marketing consultant to work your campaign this year? Did you book a photographer for a photo shoot? Hire a graphic designer to overhaul your website? Got a new music video from a production company or indie video director? If you hired freelancers or independent contractors this year, make sure to prepare and send them a Form 1099. This form is required (few exceptions) to be sent to non-employees when you’ve paid them $600 or more for services remitted. The information for the form is gathered from payments you’ve made and the contractor’s information, which you should also collect on a Form W-9. Contractors must receive the 1099 by January 31st, 2018. Read more about 1099s here and W-9s here. In the past, I’ve used Track1099 to easily generator and file 1099s. Check them out or others on the market.
I’ve been hearing that Spotify is rolling out their BETA for their new Spotify Ad Studio, which they are comparing to Google Adwords and Facebook. Some artist managers I’ve spoken with are already in the beta and using it to run ad campaigns on Spotify.
One manager posted in a group that I’m in:
Everyone go to adstudio.spotify.com and check it out for yourselves. Apparently I already have access. The targeting doesn’t get as fine as Facebook, for example, and there’s a $250 minimum spend which gets about 10,000 airings at $0.025 each. There’s also a $5,000 maximum, I presume per campaign, and above that you’re getting into their Spotify For Brands territory which has a $25,000 campaign minimum spend.
They also specify that they don’t currently support driving traffic to songs or playlists. Their ad objectives are ‘Announce an event,’ ‘Raise brand awareness,’ ‘Drive people to my website,’ and ‘Other.’
If you’re interested in advertising content, they encourage you to email email@example.com
Want to learn more, here’s a Google Doc with FAQs:
Artist Management Firms: If you do not have someone on your team whose sole responsibility is to utilize online music sync agencies, pitch ad agencies, and cozy up with music supervisers, you’re missing out, bigly.
When I owned/operated Renaissance Artist Management (aka RAM Artist), I established an in-house position for the sole purpose of securing music sync opportunities. This was during the early days of micro-sync and the boom of online sync agencies.
We leveraged online agencies (at the time that included Rumblefish before they were acquired by HFA and pivoted). Check out Songtradr, Music Bed, MusicDealers, YouLicense, Pump Audio, and many others like them.
Consider giving some tracks to exclusive libraries who do well pitching your artists’ sound. Red Bull Media House is always looking for good music and they get YUGE placements.
Make sure to read the deats of their contracts.
Here’s a few things to look out for:
- Exclusivity – Try not to give micro sync agencies exclusivity. If you’re giving a company exclusivity, it better be a solid library. (TuneCore PRO users…did you know when you opt-in to their sync licensing program, you’re giving them exclusivity?)
- SoundExchange Royalties – Some pitch houses and libraries have tried to sneak in a cut of your SoundExchange royalties. Don’t let them get it. They are not getting your music placed on digital radio, so they do not participate in your digital radio royalties. I successfully helped an indie artist negotiate that clause out of a library agreement.
- Tagging/ReTitling– Tagging is the practice of adding an identifier to your song title when the song is registered with a PRO. Retitling is creating a new title for the song when registering. The goal of both methods is to disambiguate any performance royalties generated as a result of the libraries sync placement activities. This is necessary when you have multiple non-exclusive libraries getting places of the same song. They want to make sure that when the cue sheet from the TV show gets to the PRO, the royalties earned against that specific placement gets to the right entity. It’s not unheard of for one song to be placed by several non-exclusive sync agencies, each with retitles or tagging and capturing royalties for their specific placement. Do know that the writer gets the writer share for all of the placements. The agencies/libraries participate in the publishers share of their specific title.
- Duration of Term – Exclusive libraries may want up to 3 years exclusivity. Aim for 1 year for the first term.
Learn about royalty forensics, that is the art(science?) of tracking down uses of your music and capturing associated royalties (this is definitely important when it comes to big multi territory placements, TV syndication, and film secondary market distributions). Tunesat and ACRCloud are two audio detection platforms that’ll detect performances of your music in sync media.
You may want to setup your own music licensing store, so that when you meet music sups, you can send them to an easy-to-search library of your own music. Check out Soundgizmo and LicenseQuote for this.
And of course, don’t forget to make sure the music is registered before it starts to generate royalties, with TuneRegistry.