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#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.

Introduction to Music Royalties Forensics (North America – USA & CAN)

Introduction to Music Royalties Forensics (North America)

Price: $90
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Order: Click here to purchase.

 

Course Overview

Every day, millions of music streams, downloads, digital transmissions, public performances, and broadcasts generate tens of thousands of dollars in unclaimed royalties. To date, the estimated pool of unclaimed royalties exceeds $2 billion.

These royalties are often due to independent music creators, heirs and beneficiaries, and legacy artists. After a period of time, these unclaimed royalties accrue in escrow accounts around the world only to be disbursed by market share to the major labels and publishers leaving the indies, to which much of the money belongs, underrepresented and unaccounted to. Music royalties forensics is the process of searching for, identifying, and claiming these royalties. This course is an introduction to the art and science of finding and unlocking unclaimed royalties.

Your instructor, Dae Bogan, is a music rights and royalties tech entrepreneur (original founder of music rights administration platform, TuneRegistry, and the world’s first search engine of unclaimed royalties and music licenses, RoyaltyClaim), music creators’ rights advocate, and lecturer of music industry entrepreneurship at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. He has written about black box royalties extensively on his blog DaeBoganMusic.com. He has helped hundreds of music creators and rights-holders find and unlock hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid music royalties from around the world. And his research on the state of unclaimed music royalties was used by US Congressional Budget Office in its analysis of the Music Modernization Act of 2018.

 

Learning Objectives

  1. What are your rights, entitlements, and income participations as a music creator and/or rights-holder?
  2. What are the most common royalty streams generated from a variety of music usage types and where do those royalties flow?
  3. How are music royalties allocated and distributed by music rights organizations?
  4. What are niche funds and sub-funds that often generate unmatched so-called “black box” royalties and how do you check for your records?
  5. How to track music usage to leverage usage and detection reports to reconcile or audit royalty statements?
  6. What are some tools and resources to help you search for, identify, and claim unclaimed royalties and music licenses?
  7. What are the requirements to properly setup to be accounted to and paid royalties from previously unaffiliated sources going forward?
  8. What are some tips for managing your music rights affiliations?
  9. What are some tips for preparing your music rights and royalties for beneficiaries?

Live Online Workshop: Introduction to Music Royalties Forensics (May 18th and May 19th)

Workshop Flier

About Me: I am a music rights and royalties tech entrepreneur (original founder of music rights administration platform, TuneRegistry, and the world’s first search engine of unclaimed royalties and music licenses, RoyaltyClaim), music creators’ rights advocate, and lecturer of music industry entrepreneurship at UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. I have helped hundreds of music creators and rightsholders find and unlock hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid music royalties from around the world. And my research on the state of unclaimed music royalties was used by US Congressional Budget Office in its analysis of the Music Modernization Act of 2018.

 

9 Questions – 90 Minutes – $90

The 9 questions this workshop will answer:

  1. What are your rights, entitlements, and income participations as a music creator and/or rights-holder?
  2. What are the most common royalty streams generated from a variety of music usage types and where do those royalties flow?
  3. How are music royalties allocated and distributed by music rights organizations?
  4. What are niche funds and sub-funds that often generate unmatched so-called “black box” royalties and how do you check for your records?
  5. How to track music usage to leverage usage and detection reports to reconcile or audit royalty statements?
  6. What are some tools and resources to help you search for, identify, and claim unclaimed royalties and music licenses?
  7. What are the requirements to properly setup to be accounted to and paid royalties from previously unaffiliated sources going forward?
  8. What are some tips for managing your music rights affiliations?
  9. What are some tips for preparing your music rights and royalties for beneficiaries?

REGISTER

Register for Sat. May 18th @ 9am PST

Register for Sun. May 19th @ 9am PST

Register for Mon. May 20th @ 9am PST

If you can’t make either dates, register anyway to receive the full replay video.

10 Income Streams For A Music Producer

A breakdown of income you could earn by producing one hit (or at least, viral) record.

Production Icome

1. Production fee for your creative input in producing the track.
2. Recording Engineer fee for performing recording engineer duties in the studio.
3. Mixing Engineer fee for mixing the track.
4. Mastering Engineer fee for mastering the track.

(1-4 could be embodied all in one fee, or you could line item it in your contract and/or invoice.)

Master Income

5. Income share in the master sales, downloads, streams, often referred to as “points on the record.”
6. If you add background vocals and/or live instrumentation to the production, while you may not earn a session musician fee, you are still entitled to receive all or a portion of the non-featured performer share of statutory master royalties for US non-interactive streams, or so-called “digital radio royalties.” To get this, make sure that you are credited not only as a Producer but also as a background vocalist or musician for whatever instrument you played. These royalties in the US are paid out by the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. These funds do not reduce the featured artist’s neighboring rights (US = digital radio) income. It is completely separate from the featured performer share of income and non-negotiable by that featured performer. If you don’t claim it, you still earn it but you leave it on the table!
7. Thanks to the passing of the Music Modernization Act, which became law on October 11th, 2018, and the inclusion of the Allocation for Music Producers Act (AMP Act), studio professionals such as producers and engineers have a legal and permanent right to directly collect non-interactive, digital royalties agreed through a letter of direction with the featured artist from SoundExchange. Join the Creative Affiliates Program at SoundExchange and submit your letters of direction.
8. A producer’s share of international neighboring rights royalties in several territories where recordings that you produce are performed on broadcast radio and TV.

Publishing Income

9. If you composed the melody or co-authored the lyrics, you should be considered a Writer on the musical work and be entitled to receive writer-share of publishing income (performance royalties, mechanical royalties, synchronization royalties).
10. If you composed the melody or co-authored the lyrics, as a Writer on the musical work, you are entitled to receive or assign the publisher-share of publishing income (performance royalties, mechanical royalties, synchronization royalties).

In conclusion, if you’re a music producer, make sure that you understand all of the income streams associated with the work that you put in on a recording AND your legal entitlements under copyright law and music publishing industry customs. Also, join the Recording Academy / GRAMMYs Producers & Engineers Wing.

Want to learn more? Download my FREE ebook “The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label And Publisher.”

2021 Prediction: The United States Music Publishing Market Continues To Grow And Fragment, Creating More Silos For Unpaid “Black Box” Royalties — DIY Musicians Hit The Hardest

As the U.S. music publishing industry grows (in terms of revenue, volume of copyrights, and number of income participants), the rights administration and licensing sector becomes ever-more fragmented; giving way to cracks in its foundation through which royalties fall into the so-called “black box” — the industry name for the unmatched and unpaid royalties earned against unidentified works or unidentified or unreachable income participants that accrue in escrow only to be later forfeited and disbursed to entities to which the funds do not belong; primarily major music conglomerates and those acquiring catalogs of copyrights to expand their market share position.

Black Box Royalties Myths, Common Misconceptions Debunked at Music Biz 2018

united states music publishing market music licensing rights administration royalty ecosystem

A picture of a white board illustrating the growth and fragmentation of the US Music Publishing Market, specifically the music licensing and royalty ecosystem, drawn during Dae Bogan’s lecture in his class, “Music Industry Entrepreneurship and Innovation” at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, Winter Quarter 2019

In 1909, when the first federal copyright law that protected music creators and rights-holders was enacted, there were no massive music rights organizations as we’ve come to know them today. Although unions had existed — the American Federation of Musicians was founded 13 years earlier in 1896, but focused more on work conditions than collective bargaining, as it does today — ASCAP was formed in 1914 to license the performing rights of composers, authors, and publishers.

Fast forward to 2021 when the newly formed Mechanical Licensing Collective will issue its first blanket digital streaming mechanical license to the likes of Spotify, Google, and Apple. There will be over a dozen music rights and royalty collection organizations issuing thousands of licenses, administering millions of pieces of copyrights, and processing billions of micro-penny transactions.

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

The music licensing and royalty ecosystem in 1909: Individual music composers, aristocrats who financed or commissioned works, and sheet music publishers.

The music licensing and royalty ecosystem in 2021: Traditional non-profit and private music rights organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Global Music Rights, PRO Music Rights, SoundExchange, Mechanical Licensing Collective), royalty funds (AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, Alliance for Artists and Record Labels, Film Musician’s Secondary Market Fund, Sound Recording Special Payments Fund), unions engaged in collective bargaining (SAG-AFTRA, American Federation of Musicians), licensing clearing houses and agents (e.g. Music Reports, Harry Fox Agency).

If I wrote a popular commercial song that is exploited to the fullest extent — released on a commercial recording; performed live in concert; licensed for use in film or television; placed in a commercial; earns viral success on user generated content platforms and social music apps; covered many times; embodied in a music video; lyrics printed and sold on merchandise; used for a live broadcast sporting event; added to Spotify and Apple playlists where it takes off; picked up on terrestrial, Internet, satellite, and cable radio; etc. — I would need to ensure that my work is registered at all of the places where the royalties earned from the uses I’ve described are paid; the music licensing and royalty ecosystem. If I do not, then my royalties will leak into the black box.

The black box is estimated at over $2 billion — and growing — of which much of it is due to independent music creators, small music rights-holders, and the estates of deceased authors and performers who do not have the access, power, know-how or market share to navigate the web of black boxes; for which there are many.

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

When entities charged with maintaining these black boxes distribute the funds in market share distributions, the major labels and publishers win and the independent and DIY creators lose. It is unfair and unethical. But what are we going to do about it?

Some artists, knowing that they do not know exactly how this all works, have found creative business ways to “make up” for potential lost royalties. But for the rest — the majority — of DIY musicians, they’re generally left out of the discussion and left to fend for themselves, even when they think they’re doing everything right.

What Can The Socioeconomic Context Of The Culture From Which Hip-Hop Is Derived Tell Us About How The Biggest Genre In The World Gets The Shitty End Of The Royalty Stick?

As the industry charges forward with new energy fueled by the growth of music streaming, we have to consider how the continued fragmentation of the music licensing ecosystem affects the most vulnerable — DIY musicians. Major labels have direct deals with DSPs and digital services that pay them advances and account to and pay them royalties. DIY musicians rely on music rights organizations, who are often disproportionately influenced by the majors, to handle these things for them.

Do So-called Music Advocacy Groups Avoid Deeper Discussions On Black Box Royalties To Appease Their Major Members?

I founded TuneRegistry to help DIY musicians be their own advocate, to demystify the music licensing and royalty ecosystem by aggregating the fragmented world of rights administration into one economical platform. To this end, our team has helped hundreds of small to medium-sized music rights-holders and DIY musicians unlock thousands of dollars in new found royalties and to register their works to ensure that they are identified and accounted to in the future. Not all music rights organization have joined our network, but we will continue to advocate and fight for the rights and entitlements of DIY music creators as long as we can.

WHY FAKE BEYONCÉ MUSIC ON SPOTIFY AND APPLE MUSIC HIGHLIGHTS STREAMING’S WIDER LICENSING TROUBLES

I shared my thoughts on the Beyonce fake album controversy in this piece by Amy X. Wang for Music Business Worldwide.

The various checks that are supposed to be in place are not working or being followed,” says Dae Bogan, a music licensing expert who founded TuneRegistry, a management platform that deals with song metadata.

It’s concerning not only that fake albums are passing, but that they’re presumably affecting the overall value of other streams that day. Because there’s no per-stream rate in royalties — royalties are based on cumulative performance of total music releases — people could assume Beyoncé has released a new project, flock to her account and dramatically affect the royalties for other people’s streams.

Read the full story here: https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/why-fake-beyonce-music-on-spotify-and-apple-music-highlights-streamings-wider-licensing-troubles/

Dae Bogan To Provide Mentorship To Music Makers And Tech Founders At The Rattle Los Angeles

RattleCCPitch2018 from The Rattle on Vimeo.

 

I’m excited to announce that I will be providing mentorship to music makers and tech founders at The Rattle when it launches in Spring 2019 in Chinatown, Los Angeles

WHAT IS THE RATTLE?

The Rattle is a members-only studio space and music incubator shared by a collective of independent artists, producers, tech makers, film makers, startups and people hacking careers in music.

 
WHAT DO MEMBERS RECEIVE?

As well as shared music studios, venue, writing rooms, film locations and a coworking space, Rattle members can enjoy top tier mentorship, production support and advice, tech incubation, workshops, events and concerts.

 
PRELAUNCH SIGNUP

The Rattle LA prelaunch signup page & form is LIVE, there is no financial commitment at this time – but as we have just opened the virtual doors to our LA community – I encourage anyone/everyone interested in joining the Rattle to sign up right away.

 
The first 50 superhumans to put their names down, lock in their spot at the founding member rate of $350 per month vs $500. (Includes full membership and 45htrs of monthly studio time)
 
 

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.
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