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A Curated List Of My Thoughts On The Music Modernization Act (And Related Topics)

music-modernization-act

I am a very vocal music creators’ rights advocate and copyright purist. Often, I have the opportunity to share my *opinions* on topics within and circling the music industry that impact the ways in which music creators — especially DIY musicians — navigate and thrive in the United States.

Over the last ten months I have been especially vocal about the Music Modernization Act. I’ve been quoted in Billboard, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Digital Media News. I’ve been invited to panel discussions at music industry conferences and keynotes at universities. And I have written several think pieces (and rants) on the bill, which is now law, and related issues.

Still, I am asked what my thoughts are on the MMA.

I’ll summarize my thoughts by saying that I believe the intent of the MMA is good and admirable on its surface — that is, to improve the way rightsholders are accounted to and paid for the use of their music. I believe there is some good stuff in the MMA; particularly, the entirety of Title 2 (The CLASSICS Act) and Title 3 (The AMP Act). However, I feel that there is still work to be done. I also feel that some compromises, at the expense of DIY music creators, were made too easily (this is partially based on private discussions that I’ve had with individuals with privileged knowledge of the negotiations and dealings that took place during the drafting and subsequent amending of the MMA). That being said, I also believe that the soon to be formed Mechanical Licensing Collective has the opportunity to prove to songwriters that this law was truly about them.

Only time will tell.

Here’s a 2018 curated list of my “thoughts” on the Music Modernization Act (and related topics):

  • (Oct 16, 2018) Here Are 10 Ways That The Music Licensing Collective (MLC) Can Set The Bar As A Collective Licensing Organization In The 21st Century – https://bit.ly/2RW9kW2
  • (Sep 14th, 2018 in Pitchfork) Why So Many Hip-Hop Producers Are Putting Business Before Beats – https://bit.ly/2PEsi1x
  • (Aug 19th, 2018) Another Music Modernization Act Opinion Piece – https://bit.ly/2NLp9LC
  • (Aug 15th, 2018 in Rolling Stone) Why More Pop Songwriters Are Stepping Into the Spotlight – https://bit.ly/2ClAuAc
  • (Jul 24th, 2018) Songwriters Are Owed Nearly $2B In Unclaimed Royalties!!! — Maybe More — I’ve Been Saying This For Some Time Now (Against Pushback), But Finally The Press Has Confirmed It – https://bit.ly/2CMR6Sp
  • (May 15th, 2018 in Billboard) Black Box Royalties Myths, Common Misconceptions Debunked at Music Biz 2018 – https://bit.ly/2q4dhLD
  • (May 7th, 2018 in Digital Music News) Is the Music Modernization Act Enabling ‘Legal Theft’ Against Smaller Artists? – https://bit.ly/2IugrCS
  • (Apr 25th, 2018) 5 Ways The Music Modernization Act Could Be Fairer To ALL Music Creators – https://bit.ly/2Jzn1tb
  • (Apr 20th, 2018) I Was Interviewed By The Congressional Budget Office Regarding The Music Modernization Act, And Now I’m Even More Concerned For DIY Musicians – https://bit.ly/2AdwpN0
  • (Jan 17th, 2018) – My Thoughts On The MMA In Light Of The CRB Mechanical License Rate Decision – https://bit.ly/2P6bT98

Where do you stand on the MMA?

Here Are 10 Ways That The Music Licensing Collective (MLC) Can Set The Bar As A Collective Licensing Organization In The 21st Century

music licensing collective dae bogan

If you work in the music industry and own a radio, TV, smartphone, or computer then you’ve probably already heard that the The Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA) has been signed into law. At this point, every major music rights organization has published their praise of the legislation, which will create a blanket streaming mechanical license for Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Google, Tidal, and other on-demand music streaming companies; bring pre-1972 sound recordings under federal copyright protection and open up a flow of royalties from digital services to the artists (or their estates) and copyright owners of those recordings; and codify an allocation of digital radio royalties to music producers.

Title 1 of the MMA, also called Music Modernization Act, sets out  provisions and guidance for the formation of a collective mechanical licensing body to be called the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC). The MLC will administer a safe harbor blanket license for the streaming of musical works, collect licensee fees from licensees, prepare and remit statements of earnings to songwriters and music publishers, and make royalty payments to the same.

The MLC will join the ranks of SoundExchange, ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC in the sense that it will become a powerful representative of the collective rights of thousands of music creators and rights-holders in the United States. However, unlike its counterparts, the MLC will be born in the 21st century. And as a 21st century collective licensing organization, the MLC has the unique opportunity to implement, at inception, 21st century business practices utilizing 21st century best practices and technologies.

Here are 10 ways that the Mechanical Licensing Collective can set the bar as a 21st century collective licensing organization:
 
1.) Provide its members with a data BI (business intelligence) dashboard to better visualize their mechanical royalties data and dive deeper into their statements. The dashboard could enable forecasting based on projected streaming activity (maybe offer scenario planning, which makes it possible to attract loans against future royalties). They could ingest data from a service like BuzzAngle to offer estimated royalty accrual in real-time so that members who are artists can see the net effect of playlist streaming campaigns on their bottom line and choose to invest more into campaigns in virtual real-time.
 
2.) Maintain a public and accessible unclaimed royalties database. Deploy artificial intelligence to evaluate unmatched usage reports as opposed to relying solely on exact name and ISWC matches. And expand the statute of limitations on unclaimed royalties to 10 years
 
3.) Require DSPs who take advantage of the safe harbor streaming mechanical license to recommend (and provide guidance) to aggregators and labels to provide composition ownership information in their metadata when uploading releases to the DSP. This can be done with custom parameters in DDEX ERN or via the new DDEX MWN (Musical Works Ownership) message schema.
 
4.) Work with the U.S. Copyright Office to create an integrated musical works registrations process so that works are simultaneously registered with the MLC and LOC.
 
5.) Expand the statute of limitation period on unclaimed royalties to 10 years and hold funds in an interest-bearing escrow account from which 25% of the interest flows to the general fund of the MLC and 75% of the interest is paid to the payee, along with the balance of unpaid royalties, once the payee has come forward or have been found.
 
6.) Commission an annual audit and publish the findings to members.
 
7.) Use blockchain, where applicable.
 
8.) Remit statements and payments monthly when a member opts to receive direct deposits and electronic statements.
 
9.) Display assessed administration fees on royalty statements.
 
10.) Do not implement high usage weights or bonuses.

How Blockchain And Cryptocurrency Can Speed Up Spotify International Publishing Royalty Payments To US Songwriters

cryptocurrency and music

There’s been a lot of talk about applications of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency payments in the music industry. In fact, there isn’t a single major music industry conference that doesn’t dedicate some programming to related topics. There are several projects and startups currently underway to address licensing, discovery, attribution, remuneration and more with blockchain, smart contracts, and cryptocurrency.

For those of us who aren’t blockchain developers, simply keeping up with the many applications of blockchain in the music industry is the closest we’ll get actually knowing how this all (could) works.

I’ve been thinking about how blockchain and cryptocurrency could speed up the process of paying U.S. songwriters, who wait upwards of 1.5 years to get paid for the use of their songs on Spotify outside the U.S.

The current state of the flow of international publishing income to U.S. Independent Songwriters who own their publishing and use traditional publishing administrators to collect in the U.S. is quite depressing.

As an example, Tommy released a song on Spotify in January 2018. In the United Kingdom, the song earned $100 “publisher share” Spotify UK digital public performance royalties.

Here’s the breakdown:

START: $100 “publisher share” of Spotify UK digital performance royalties in January 2018.

1. PRS collects Tommy’s publishing income in the UK ($100) in January 2018.

2. PRS retains 10% admin fee and remits the balance ($90) to ASCAP in October 2018.

3. ASCAP retains 12% admin fee and remits the balance ($79.20) to the Publishing Administrator in February 2019.

4. Publishing Administrator retains 20% admin fee and pays Tommy ($63.36) in July 2019.

END: Tommy is paid $63.36 for his Spotify UK “publisher share” income (earned $100) after waiting 1.5 years and experiencing a reduction of 37% of his royalties. Imagine $1,000 reduced to $633.60 or $10,000 reduced to $6,336.00.

Had Spotify used blockchain technology to dynamically identify Tommy as the rightsholder in his song and paid him instantly at the close of the month with cryptocurrency, Tommy would have already spent his $100 on studio time!

Dae Bogan To Join Association of Independent Music Publishers’ Panel Event “UNCONVENTIONAL MONEY: Royalty Sources You Might Not Think Of”

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Dae Bogan (Founder & Executive Consultant, Rights Department) joins Landon Austin (Co-Founder and President, Noisely),  Larry Mills (Co-President, Tresóna Multi-Media) and Mitch Rubin (VP Label & Publisher Services, Dubset Media) on a panel to be moderated by Michael Eames (President, PEN Music Group / AIMP President) at the Association of Independent Music Publishers‘ panel event:

UNCONVENTIONAL MONEY: Royalty Sources You Might Not Think Of To license your music is to monetize your music.

Whether it be via marching band, show choir, orchestra rentals, iPhone apps, online games and uses, wedding videos, photograph montages – the possibilities are endless. Join us for an exploration of non-traditional outlets and how the variety of them just might surprise you.

Date: September 27, 2018
Time: 11:30 – 1:45 p.m.

Register: https://www.aimp.org/events/register/922

Reservation Cutoff: September 26, 2018

Place: View Map
Lawry’s The Prime Rib
100 N. La Cienega Blvd. (near Wilshire)
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Entrees:

  • Lawry’s Roasted Prime Ribs Of Beef (Cutoff: September 26, 2018)
  • Crispy Chicken w/Lemon Butter Glaze, Mashed Potatoes & Vegetables (Cutoff: September 26, 2018)
  • Blackened Salmon w/Black Bean Pineapple Salsa, Mashed Potatoes & Vegetables (Cutoff: September 26, 2018)
  • Roasted Vegetables with Quinoa (vegan) (Cutoff: September 26, 2018)

Cost:
AIMP Members – $44.00 per person
AIMP Non-Members – $57.00 per person

Our banking sponsor for this event is:

 

City National Bank

Parking: Self-parking is available on site at no additional charge.

Reservations accepted online at www.aimp.org or by telephone at 818-771-7301 until Wednesday, September 26th at noon.  Advance registration deadline with entree choice also ends on Wednesday, September 26th at noon Premier Members and/or groups of 5 or more who have RSVP’d and paid online may request reserved seating by e-mail or phone, 818-771-7301.  We will do our best to accommodate late reservations made the day before the event, but please be advised that entrée selection and space may be limited. Online reservations can be paid online by credit card.  Payment at the door is by cash, check or credit card (with a $5 surcharge).  Those who walk up without a reservation will be served whatever is available, but most likely prime rib, and may have to wait at entry.  

Full-time students with a current student I.D. – $47.00 per person*

*Qualifying students must reserve by phone and pay in advance by check or at the door. There are no online reservation or payment services for this discounted rate.
NOTE TO BERKLEE ALUMNI: If you are inquiring in response to a special offer via the Berklee Newsletter, please email LAinfo@aimp.org for registration instructions.

Attention Students!  The AIMP has launched its education initiative at Lawry’s.  What this means is that up to 8 students are allowed to attend each panel for $20 per person.  The fee does not include food. This is a great opportunity to learn about music publishing and network. You must RSVP and pay in advance via e-mail or by calling 818-771-7301.

Attention attorneys: this activity has been approved for 1.0 hour of Minimum Continuing Legal Education Credit by the State Bar of California. Attorneys wishing to register for MCLE credit should bring their state bar number with them for the sign in sheet.
[Pick up your certificate at the luncheon – AIMP cannot issue certificates after-the-fact.]

Additional Speaker Information

Landon Austin is the co-founder and President of Noisely which is a licensing search engine for content creators. His career began as a creator where he gained a large online following from finishing top 3 in Dorito’s Crash The Super Bowl competition. His music videos on YouTube have accumulated over 25M vews and resulted in an international touring schedule and over 1.5M monthly listeners on Spotify. In 2017 Landon transitioned to an executive and founder role with Noisely to help bridge the gap between traditional publishing and the necessity for a more streamlined approach to licensing music in smaller applications such as wedding videography, photography, in-app music, YouTube and more. Noisely is currently focused on working with publishers and helping them to launch their own white-label micro-licensing platforms to increase bottom line revenues through access to niche markets.

Dae Bogan is a music rights executive, serial entrepreneur, music creators’ rights advocate, and educator with over a decade of experience in the music industry. Through his boutique music rights & technology consulting firm, Rights Department, Dae assists tech founders license and bring their products and services to market. Dae also works with small to medium-sized music rightsholders to help them navigate and evaluate new media deal terms. He has worked with Beatshare, mydiveo (acquired), PicPlayPost, Acappella, Stryve, WeGo Concerts, and many others.

A serial entrepreneur, Larry Mills has forged his way in the entertainment business over a 25-year career, which has seen him start Record Labels, Marketing Companies, Management Companies, and most recently as Co-President of music licensing company Tresona Music. Tresona is the world’s leader in the issuance of custom arrangement licenses. Tresona exclusively represents the catalogs of Sony/ATV, EMI, Universal Music Publishing, Kobalt, BMG, the catalogs of Hal Leonard, Disney and nearly 7,000 other music publishers for these rights. Tresona’s world class technology makes the licensing process seamless, and currently works with nearly 10,000 performing ensembles worldwide. Larry’s career kicked off with a record company he founded, Steam Records, which was started in the kitchen of his apartment in Atlanta back in 1992. Steam put out early releases by Rusted Root, Lisa Loeb, Shawn Mullins, Kristian Bush (Sugarland) and others. Soon after starting Steam, Larry was brought in to run Autonomous Records, another independent label, which spawned the careers of Sister Hazel and Creed. Autonomous was sold to Roadrunner Records in 1997. After that acquisition, Larry was brought in to run marketing for Pump Audio, the independent music licensing company, which was ultimately sold to Getty Images. After the acquisition, Larry ran the music division of Getty Images for 3.5 years. In 2011, Larry was recruited to be the VP, Strategic Marketing for Sony/ATV Music Publishing. During his tenure, he conceptualized and realized We Are The Hits, which is an on-line music video network, predominantly on YouTube, which allows the aspiring artists of the world to share in the advertising revenue from their cover songs, legally. Currently WATH generates over 3 Billion views a year on YouTube and pays out millions of dollars a year to both songwriters and independent artists. Larry acquired WATH in 2013 from Sony, and at that time partnered with Tresona.

Mitch Rubin is Vice President of Label & Publisher Services at Dubset Media, which offers an innovative music marketplace for artists, labels, publishers, distributors, and DJs. Through cutting edge technology, a rights management database, and easy to use dashboards, Dubset creates new mix & remix distribution and monetization opportunities built on transparency, ownership control, and simplicity. Mitch held senior management positions as a music publisher and for a digital music service, both in the United States and Internationally. He was an integral member of the team that grew BMG Music Publishing into the third largest music publisher in the world prior to its acquisition by Universal Music Publishing in 2006. Among his more notable accomplishments were developing BMG’s production music library business, now the largest in the world and, as Managing Director, turning around and growing the historically unprofitable Australia/New Zealand operation. Immediately prior to Dubset, Mitch was the Global Head of Licensing, Composition Rights, for Nokia, Microsoft, and MixRadio (a division of Line Corp). In that role, he oversaw the licensing of composition rights and managing rights holder relationships in more than 40 countries for such innovative products as Comes With Music and MixRadio. He concluded and managed dozens of agreements, many of which required bespoke licensing solutions due to lack of commercial precedents. Mitch joined the startup Dubset Media in early 2017.

Michael Eames is President of PEN Music Group, Inc. Founded in April 1994, PEN is a full-service independent music publishing company with a worldwide presence who is celebrating its 23rd anniversary in 2017. PEN offers efficiency and personal attention as a boutique company. With PEN’s A-list music contacts in film, TV and advertising, and a success rate that continues to grow (with 100+ placements each year), it is an effective alternative to the large multinational publishing companies. Eames and PEN proudly represent the catalogues of writer/artists as diverse as: JOHN FARRAR (legendary producer of Olivia Newton-John who wrote many of her biggest hits); DON FELDER (formerly of The Eagles who co-wrote the classic copyright “Hotel California”); Oscar®-winner DONNY MARKOWITZ (including the smash hit “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” from DIRTY DANCING); OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN herself; Grammy®-nominated artist/producer WENDY WALDMAN (who co-wrote “Save The Best For Last”); Emmy®- nominated lyricist AMY POWERS; GINA SCHOCK of the Go-Gos; the estates of late composers EARLE HAGEN and ALLYN FERGUSON who between them co-wrote classic TV themes such as The Andy Griffith Show, Barney Miller (and its spinoff Fish), Mod Squad, I Spy , Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and The Dick Van Dyke Show, and many others. PEN is also well known for supporting and developing indie buzz artists such as Kimberly Cole and ShyBoy (both of whom have over 1 million followers on Twitter), as well as many other up-and-coming artists and writers. PEN has also recently begun to represent the videogame scores owned by Zenimax Media which include the Elder Scrolls franchise. PEN’s songs have been recorded by artists including The Black Eyed Peas, Celine Dion, the cast of GLEE, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, Cazzette, kd lang, Santana, Christina Aguilera, Corinne Bailey Rae, Faith Hill, Paulina Rubio, Macy Gray, Kenny Rogers and Luther Vandross, among countless others. In the current climate of change in the music business, PEN has also partnered with various independent labels such as Oglio Records and Cheap Lullaby Records to leverage collective strengths. PEN has similarly been entering into joint ventures with respected music executives who start their own companies, most notably Eddie Gomez (formerly of Bug Music) who launched his Little Brother Music in 2012 and Lynn Grossman whose Secret Road Music Services manages Ingrid Michaelson and is a very successful company licensing music to film/TV/ads.
Register for this event now by clicking here.

Why So Many Hip-Hop Producers Are Putting Business Before Beats

I shared my thoughts on music business for Hip-Hop producers in this piece by Cherie Hu for Pitchfork:

“The way many of these companies are trying to match and verify their data? Hundreds of emails,” says Dae Bogan, founder and CEO of TuneRegistry, a rights management platform for indie artists. “Many labels are still using old software and systems to manage their digital catalog, and their rights department is different from the one responsible for metadata, which is different from the one responsible for collecting royalties. There’s a lot of bureaucracy involved.”

Read the full piece here.

Dae Bogan Included In Bobby Owsinski’s ‘The Music Business Advice Book: 150 Immediately Useful Tips from the Pros’

bobby owsinski dae bogan

Bobby Owsinski is one of the music industry’s greats. His ability to curate music industry knowledge into easy-to-ready texts across his over 20 books has helped thousands of music creators and music industry professionals in their careers. I’ve had the pleasure of being on Bobby’s podcast, Inner Circle, and participating on several music conference panels with Bobby. He is truly an inspiration. In fact, it was partially my participation in the making of his book “Music 4.0: A Survival Guide for Making Music in the Internet Age” that inspired me to write my first, very short, ebook “The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label & Publisher.”

I am honored, once again, to have been included in Bobby’s latest book, “The Music Business Advice Book: 150 Immediately Useful Tips from the Pros,” available on Amazon.

About the book:

The music business can prove to be a difficult career road when you’re first starting out, but it can be traveled a lot easier with some helpful guidance from a pro who’s willing to share a few hard-earned hints. The Music Advice Book is a compilation of the pearls of experience from 130 top music pros from various segments of the industry who have previously shared their most important tips on Bobby Owsinski’s Inner Circle Podcast over the course of almost 5 years.

These 150 tips cover everything from following your passion, learning to network, and working well with your musical team, to owning your own content and even figuring out how much to charge for your services. Also included are even some useful music production words of wisdom, as well as the indispensable “10 Rules Of Networking.”

The insights in The Music Business Advice Book are essential for those new to the music industry but valuable to seasoned pros as well.

Another Music Modernization Act Opinion Piece

Some music industry executives believe that my position on many issues affecting music creators is too bullish. They dismiss my analyses as sensationalism. They believe, or are at least silent on the notion, that demanding the fair and equitable treatment of middle-class songwriters and recording artists should come with exceptions that disproportionately benefit corporations: major publishers and digital service providers.

But I am a copyright purist.

I believe that the authors of copyrighted musical works — songwriters — should have more say in the way in which their creations are valued and monetized in the marketplace. I do not believe in trickle-down economics or its promise that what’s best for the few at the top will benefit the majority at the bottom.

Greed disproves this all of the time.

Greed is asking songwriters to forgo the potential financial upside of bringing forward legitimate claims of past copyright infringement while simultaneously telling the songwriter community that monies that may become due to them could be redirected, by market share, to the few at the top who negotiated the preemptive dismissal of claims in the first place. Greed is telling artists to campaign for a piece of legislation that will reduce the number of entrants into the on-demand streaming market while simultaneously controlling/dominating the editorial opportunities of the DSP incumbents, greatly reducing opportunities that would otherwise be made available to emerging artists by startups that wish to partner with and elevate emerging artists.

I do believe that the Music Modernization Act will pass. I just hope that the decision-makers give some real thought to the millions of up-and-coming music creators who are not represented by the individuals who wrote the legislation that’ll change the way their copyrights will be exploited in the U.S.

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