🚨Attention Music Creators & Indie Music Publishers🚨
Understand the New United States’ Mechanical Royalty 💸 Rates
📱Streaming: 15.1% of DSP revenue
💿Physical: 12 cents per media (e.g. CD, Vinyl)
🎧Downloads: 12 cents per download
Previously, streaming was 10.5% of DSP revenue and physical media and downloads were 9.1 cents.
Looking ahead to 2023, songwriters will see a 32%-44% increase in mechanical royalty income.
It is more important than ever before to make sure that your songs are registered at The Mechanical Licensing Collective.
Check out this explainer video that I helped to create on how song metadata influences your money:
(Side Note: Before you sign a recording contract, understand how a “controlled composition clause” may reduce your income as a songwriter and how your obligation to pay collaborators the full statutory royalty rates, while you’re being paid less than the full statutory rate, will impact your overall net income as an artist.)
On the Impact of False Copyright Infringement Claims on Independent Artists and Other Digital Creators
Over the past 10 years, among other pursuits and adventures, I’ve advised independent artists and artist managers on copyright issues surrounding the exploitation of their music in the Internet Age. I’ve also advised entrepreneurs on the intellectual property compliance implications of their music app and digital media startups.
One interesting unintended consequence that has emerged out of the creation of copyright policing systems by Internet and digital music services is the abuse of these systems by bad actors whose only goal is to curb the success of a particular piece of content (music or video) or the creator of such content.
Services such as Youtube and Spotify have implemented takedown processes to comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 and limit their liability while maintaining a safe harbor from damages that may arise out of copyright infringement lawsuits. However, bad actors can use these same tools that are meant to help rightsholders protect their rights to instead attack creators in what appears to be economic warfare against artists: false infringement claims and errorneous takedowns.
Takedowns can derail creators during viral momentums, which can be detrimental; especially for independent artists. I’ve advised several clients who’ve been the victim of such an abuse of the system.
Today, Billboard published an article, written by reporter Elias Leight who investigated the use of false infringement claims as a tactic to curb the success of rivals. I was interviewed for the article and provided some of the contextual and technological backdrop for the investigation:
Like other prominent platforms, Spotify responds to infringement claims seriously by removing allegedly infringing songs, and you can report a song without breaking a sweat. Platforms honor an infringement claim whether the intentions behind it are legitimate or not.
“Anywhere there’s content and there’s some system with a trust mechanism to flag violations, there’s an opportunity for abuse and mis-use,” says Dae Bogan, head of third-party partnerships at the Mechanical Licensing Collective. “Bad actors are gonna do what they’re gonna do.”
Did you know that there is over 424 million in unmatched royalties that The MLC is looking to pay out? Join Randall Foster & Dae Bogan as they dive deep into the world of publishing.
[Video] Recording of Panel ‘How Credits Improve Contributor Identification and Payment’ from DDEX Virtual Creator Credit Summit 2020
Here is the recording of the panel on which I spoke at the DDEX Virtual Creator Credit Summit 2020.
How Credits Improve Contributor Identification and Payment
During The Coronavirus Pandemic, Dae Bogan Has Helped DIY Musicians Unlock Tens of Thousands Of Dollars In Unclaimed Music Royalties – Here’s How
For over twelve years I have helped thousands of DIY musicians administer and monetize their copyrights to be properly accounted to and paid for the use of their musical works and sound recordings in the United States and abroad. To date, I’ve helped self-published songwriters and self-released artists collect millions of dollars in royalties that would have otherwise gone unclaimed and eventually forfeited and/or redistributed due to a confusing web of regulations and company policies surrounding the fragmented music licensing ecosystem.
I’ve also helped background vocalists, session musicians, and music producers understand how their contributions, while often detached from copyright ownership, generates entitlements that yield royalties that often go unclaimed for many years. I am passionate about the issue of remuneration for music creators and have published research, built technology platforms, and have spoken at the Library of Congress on the topic.
A few years ago I wrote the free ebook “The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label And Publisher” for the non-profit creator advocacy group CreativeFuture as a checklist for DIY musicians who own their publishing and/or masters. The ebook has helped many DIY musicians to get setup with US music rights organizations to collect their royalties. I’ve also written dozens of articles on specific issues surrounding royalty collection that have been published on my blog DaeBoganMusic.com and other websites.
All of this to say that for over a decade I have been championing, educating, advocating for, and empowering DIY musicians and yet I still feel that so many of them are underserved and missing out on their own earnings.
Right now tens of thousands of artists, songwriters, composers, lyricists, session musicians, background vocalists, and music producers have been hit hard by the closure of live music venues and slow down of music production during the coronavirus pandemic. Many have struggled to get financial assistance due to the gig economy nature of much of the work in the music industry. But the sad part is many DIY musicians may have money due to them from their music and contributions over the last 5 to 7 years!
Since the pandemic began, I’ve helped several DIY musicians uncover royalties that have been sitting in unclaimed royalties databases or so-called “black boxes” (Tip: Search “black box” in my search field above to find articles I’ve written on the topic) to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars (Note: I did this work prior to joining The MLC in May 2020 and I am not currently accepting clients due to the fact that I am 100% committed to my work at The MLC, but please continue reading to learn how to do this yourself).
Searching for unclaimed royalties is part of the royalty forensics process. Understanding what entitlements a musician has based on their contribution(s) to any given work, what royalties are due based on type of use and territory, and where the royalties flow to be accounted to and paid out can be a challenge. I did this work for my clients, but I also have a workshop on the topic (Tweet me @daeboganmusic to request FREE access to the workshop).
For example, my cousin, independent singer-songwriter Durand Bernarr had around $8k in unclaimed royalties for his contribution as a background vocalist on the song “Girl” by The Internet sitting unclaimed at just one organization in the United States. Although these royalties were due to him in 2018, the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund did not know who Durand Bernarr was or how to reach him. I helped Durand uncover these royalties during the coronavirus pandemic and the payment couldn’t have come at a more needed time.
Unclaimed royalties is a common problem for new and up-and-coming music creators (but it also affects emerging and established music creators) and it stems from poor metadata and production credits creation and distribution (this is why I founded TuneRegistry and RoyaltyClaim (I no longer own these companies)). It also stems from DIY musicians not being properly setup and registered everywhere (I cover this in my free ebook).
I now work at The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC) as its Head of Third-Party Partnerships where I am building relationships between The MLC and a variety of organizations and companies to help self-administered songwriters and music publishers interface with us to unlock and collect digital audio mechanical royalties from the use to their songs in the United States by digital service providers such as Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Google, Pandora, Deezer, Tidal, SoundCloud and more.
Now is the time for DIY musicians to take the time to hunt down unclaimed royalties that may go back as far as 7 years. Check out my free ebook as a starting point!
Pro Tip: If you find unclaimed royalties in one place, there may be more and other places. Check with the organization where you find your royalties if those royalties are for the US only or the world. If for the US only, you may have counterpart unclaimed royalties for the same set of rights and types of usage in other countries!
Earlier this week a number of artist managers in a Facebook group posted photos of letters that their clients received from Music Reports Inc. on behalf of Amazon. They asked what the notices meant and if they were legit.
I am sharing my post, which was shared to a number of other music industry groups:
In the last couple of days, several of you have posted about receiving a notice from Music Reports Inc. and questioned whether or not you should act on the letter.
Let me clarify what you’re receiving, why you’re receiving them, and what you should do about it.
The short answer: Unless your client is signed to a major music publisher or major indie (e.g. Kobalt) OPT IN TO ALL DIRECT LICENSES!
Who is sending these notices?
Music licensing clearing houses such as Music Reports Inc. and the Harry Fox Agency (via it’s service Rumblefish) are hired by digital music services (including the big ones like Amazon, Apple, and Spotify; as well as hundreds of small startups like what musically was but is now TikTok) to help the digital service to secure proper licenses (compulsory or direct) to use music in their service, to calculate royalties, and to make payments and remit statements to the proper copyright owners.
What are you receiving?
What you are receiving are opportunities to opt-in to a predetermined (generally nonnegotiable) direct license, alongside every other non-major / non-major-indie publisher in the world, to license your copyrights to a digital platform within the United States (sometimes the deal is worldwide, which can be problematic, but I don’t want complicate this post). There are also Section 115 NOIs, which goes out for every track released on a DSP for the US mechanical license for the underlying composition (this process is being disrupted by the Mechanical License Collective beginning Jan 1, 2021).
Why are you receiving the notice?
You’re receiving the notice because the agent has your information as the copyright owner (or authorized agent of the copyright owner) for copyrights (generally compositions) that have been matched to sound recordings that the digital service either already has or has access to. THIS IS A GOOD THING. This means that the digital service, via their agent’s (MRI, HFA, etc) database of song ownership information, knows who to pay once the copyright begins to earn royalties (or in the case of a one-time payment, they know who to pay from the pro rata advance pool). The flip side is if they do not have your ownership info, the copyright would not be properly licensed and the creators would not be paid — the royalties earned against their copyright would go into the so-called “black box” or the content will be blocked from the service altogether (e.g. notice that your music isn’t on or monetized on Facebook, Instagram, and Oculus?). Also, if the agent does not have your info for certain uses covered by Section 115 of the US Copyright Act, the notice is currently being remitted to the US Copyright Office.
How do you respond?
Review the license and decide if you want to opt-in or not. For most copyright owners, opting in is really your only shot at being licensed by the service. Up-and-coming artists are not going to be able to do a separate direct license with the service as the service has zero incentive to administer a separate agreement with you. They will do a deal with the major publishers and major-indie publishers and a unicorn artist here or there.
How to make sure that your contact information is readily available to these agents to ensure that they can contact you with licensing opportunities and have your payee info for royalties?
You can hire a pub admin (they’ll earn a 15% to 25% commission on all royalties collected) or you can do it yourself and keep 100% of your royalties in North America via TuneRegistry. See this article as an example of DIY.
(This was originally post on my Facebook page, so my apologies if the hyperlinks directs you to Facebook pages of the mentioned companies).
On Digital Radio Royalties
DIY Musicians – If/when you get a recording placed on non-interactive Internet, satellite, or cable radio (e.g. Pandora, SiriusXM, Music Choice) it earns multiple royalty streams. It is important to understand how to collect them all. I will get granular below to break this down.
Let’s use for example the recording “6 Inch (feat. The Weeknd)” by Beyonce. When this recording is played on Pandora (or iHeartRadio, 8Tracks, TuneIn or any of the other 2,500+ properly licensed webcasters serving the United States), here are the royalty streams:
1. Master Royalties for Featured Performers – Royalties paid to SoundExchange for the featured performers, which are the “named” artists on the track. For “6 Inch,” the featured performers are Beyoncé (main artist) and The Weeknd (guest artist). They each must have an account at SoundExchange to collect these royalties. Here is the unclaimed royalties list for featured performers: https://www.soundexchange.com/…/does-sou…/search-for-artist/
2. Master Royalties for Master Copyright Owner (Label) – Royalties paid to SoundExchange for the copyright owner, which is the label. For “6 Inch,” the label is Columbia Records. The label must have an account at SoundExchange to collect these royalties. (A Few Notes: (1) Major labels have direct deals with most music services, so it is likely that Columbia is paid directly by Pandora. (2) Unsigned artists can collect this income if you properly create your free account with SoundExchange as the copyright owner. This means, you cannot only sign up as the Artist. You are the label!). Here is the unclaimed royalties list for copyright owners: https://www.soundexchange.com/…/do…/search-for-rights-owner/
3. Master Royalties for Non-featured Performers – Royalties paid to AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund (“the Fund”) for the background vocalists and session musicians who performed on the recording. For “6 Inch,” the non-featured performers include Ahmad Balshe (background vocalist) and Derek Dixie (session musician) among others. (Note: 5% of the royalties paid to SoundExchange is passed to the Fund. The Fund conducts research to identify the non-featured performers. They use published credits, such as those published on AllMusic.com (Ex: https://www.allmusic.com/album/lemonade-mw0002940342/credits), Discogs, and other resources to identify the vocalists and musicians on a recording. Keep in mind that if the producer of the track contributed background vocals or live instrumentation, it is important to credit him/her separately as such in addition to his/her producer credit, so that they can access this income stream. At TuneRegistry, we deliver credits to TiVo, which makes metadata available to AllMusic, among other services. If the Fund does not have the non-featured performer on their list, you can check and submit. See “6 Inch” only shows two (2) non-featured performers, but there may be more who just do not know: https://www.afmsagaftrafund.org/covered-rec-artist_SR_Maste…). Here is the unclaimed royalties list for non-featured performers: https://www.afmsagaftrafund.org/unclaimed-royalties.php and here is the list of recordings that the Fund has credits for here: https://www.afmsagaftrafund.org/covered-rec-title_sr_master…
4. Publishing Royalties for Composers/Writers – Royalties paid to performing rights organizations (PROs) such as American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP), Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), and SESAC in the United States for the composers and writers, which is Jordan Asher, Burt Bacharach, Ahmad Balshe, Hal David, Ben Diehl, Beyoncé Knowles, Noah Lennox, Terius Nash, David Portner, Danny Schofield, Abel Tesfaye, and Brian Weitz. Because “6 Inch” uses samples, there are more composers/writers credited on the recording. You can view the full publishing credits for “6 Inch” at ASCAP here: https://www.ascap.com/repertory#ace/search/workID/890413300 (Note: US PROs, like most PROs/CMOs around the world, do not have a public list of unclaimed royalties. It is important to register your song before the release or as soon as possible after release to limit the possibility of having your royalties fall into the “black box,” which is an industry term of unclaimed or unmatched royalties. Also note that if you collaborate with someone who has not affiliated with a PRO, that can slow down the registration process.)
5. Publishing Royalties for Composition Copyright Owner (Publisher) – Royalties paid to PROs for the copyright owner in the compositions. This is the publisher or a self-published songwriter’s own publishing entity. For “6 Inch,” the publishers are 2082 Music Publishing, BMG, Domino Publishing, KMR Music Royalties, New Hidden Valley Music Co, Oakland 13 Music, Sal And Co LP, Songs of FujiMusic, Universal Music Corportation, WB Music Corporation. Because “6 Inch” uses samples, there are more publishers credited on the recording. You can view the full publishing credits for “6 Inch” at ASCAP here: https://www.ascap.com/repertory#ace/search/workID/890413300 (Note: In the US, if you are a self-published writer, you do not need to have a publishing account at BMI in order to unlock your publishing income. You will need a writer AND publisher account at ASCAP. So, if you do not have a publisher account at ASCAP and you are self-published, you literally leave 50% of your income on the table because ASCAP will not pay out the so-called “publisher’s share” to writers (unless they’ve changed this policy).)
In conclusion, if you get a recording on a digital radio platform and it takes off, make sure you have your business in order. We help with all of the above at TuneRegistry. This is what I am doing every day — helping thousands of independent music creators properly register their music so that they are 1.) identified, 2.) accounted to, and 3.) PAID.
Check out my free ebook “The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label & Publisher” available for download at www.daeboganmusic.com (subscribe to my blog) and catch me speaking Oct 12th at A3C Conference in Atlanta or Oct 30th at Music Tectonics Conference in Los Angeles.
CC: Dae Bogan Music
#MusicBusinessMonday: About Direct License ‘Black Box’ Royalties And Music Publishing Administrators
(Author’s Note 07/08/2019 10:33 AM PST: An industry associate of mine who is an independent music publishing industry leader and activist/advocate, as well as the owner of a small music publishing administration company, reached out to me to express his concern that my blog post paints all music publishing administrators in a bad light. He explained that entering into direct licenses is common practice for all publishers — including full-fledged publishers that own or co-own copyrights, as opposed to just handling administration like pub admins do — and not just pub admins. I know that. He felt that pub admins are being unfairly singled out in my blog post. As I explained to him, that is not my intent. I have many blog posts of opinions, analyses, criticisms, praises and reviews of many sectors and companies of the music industry. It is my role as a music creators’ rights advocate and watchdog, if you will, to raise awareness about these issues and practices, and educate music creators on their rights and business. This particular blog piece is not about small pub admin shops, like the one he operates, that has an overage of a few thousand dollars at the end of the year from direct deals, but rather the nature and effect of some of the large “catchall” pub admin services aggregating hundreds of thousands to millions of copyrights and the potential voluminous black boxes that direct licenses can accrue for their bottomline. These are some of the issues that we are asked about at TuneRegistry when speaking with songwriters who have or are considering switching to self-administration or to supplement the efforts of their existing large pub admin. Calling out provisions, or lack thereof, in contracts that songwiters may not be aware of, and which ultimately impacts their income, regardless of if it’s a small shop or goliath, is fair industry criticism. But, for clarity, this piece is in direct response to recent inquiries we’ve received at TuneRegistry regarding some of the popular catchall pub admin services on the market and not small pub admin businesses)
In this particular case, I get that he may take offense when the criticism may extend to parties that are not acting malicious — and I’m not saying that the big players are acting malicious anyway, but rather this issue is a fact of the deal that songwriters sign and should be aware of — and want to be presented in a fair light. So, to that end, I’ll update the post and my socials.
A music publishing administrator’s (“pub admins”) job is to register your musical works with CMOs/PROs/MROs in the territories for which you’ve hired them to represent your administration rights and to collect your royalties, prepare and remit income statements and payments to you. However, some pub admins go a step or two further and issue or enter into direct licensing agreements with companies on behalf of the compositions that it represents, such as direct performance licenses for startup social music apps or a blanket license for background music services.
The right to enter into direct licenses may be included in your contract with the pub admin. In this case, you will have explicitly granted the pub admin the right to license your songs, without asking permission per license, to third parties. In some direct deals, companies give advances or negotiate minimum guarantees to be paid to publishers. These advances and minimum guarantees are deducted from the actual earned royalties that are calculated from the usage of songs by the licensed service. However, in the event that there is an overage (meaning, the total volume of usage does not equal or exceed the advance or minimum guarantee) the difference between the overage and the actual earned royalties is the unallocated “black box” royalties.
It is important that these monies flow to the songwriters that the pub admin represent (less an appropriate commission) as the license fees were paid against the licensed catalog of songs, regardless of actual usage.
Surprisingly, although pub admins that ask songwriters to grant them the explicit right to direct license the songwriter’s songs, many pub admins do not have or do not communicate their policy for distributing unallocated “black box” royalties that stem from these direct licenses. And some cases, they just keep the black box royalties as miscellaneous income.
What’s in your contract? Talk you your pub admin about direct license black box royalties.
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