This post was originally written for and published on Tradiio’s blog.
Did you know that music creators in the United States earn fewer royalty streams than their international counterparts?
In the United States, there is no national performance right in sound recordings. The US Copyright Act sets out several rights for compositions (songs), such as the right to reproduce and distribute compositions in phonorecords, but thanks to a combination of outdated rules and tough opposition from lobbying organizations that represent broadcasters, the law does not include a performance right for sound recordings.
This means that whenever a recording is performed on AM/FM radio in the US, broadcasters are not required to pay artists or record companies any royalties from the advertisements revenue that they earn on the back of those performances. Considering that there are over 15,000 radio stations across the US performing hundreds of thousands of plays of music each week, US music creators and labels are potentially missing out on millions of dollars in royalties.
Virtually all other developed nations outside of the US have a performance right in sound recordings, which is known as neighbouring rights. When a US artist’s recording is performed on BBC in the UK, it earns neighbouring rights royalties for the US artist.
The fact that recordings earn royalties outside of the US is good news, right? Not so much.
Because the US does not have a national performance right in sound recordings (no neighbouring right), no recording earns these royalties. This includes recordings by artists from countries that do recognize neighbouring rights. So yeah, insert your favorite European band who gets high rotation on US radio.
As a result, the countries who do recognize neighbouring rights do not send the neighbouring rights royalties generated from the performance of recordings by US artists in their territory back to any of the US music rights organizations. They keep it or distribute it to the artists and labels in their territory.
Generally speaking, most indie artists who earn neighbouring rights royalties outside of the US will never see this royalty stream unless the US government makes a change to copyright law. Although there are some small companies who try to capture neighbouring rights royalties on behalf of US music creators, they tend to focus on a select roster of more established artists, leaving up-and-coming indie artists with no support.
So what now?
Well, now that you know US artists earn less royalty streams from their music than their international counterparts, it is really important to maximize the royalty streams that they do earn.
Many independent artists miss out on royalties that their music does earn because they do not properly register their songs, recordings, and releases with the various music rights organizations and licensing agencies who collect and distribute royalties. This is understandable, as it can be a pain to keep up with the many different registration processes across a number of organizations (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Music Reports, Harry Fox Agency, SoundExchange, the Alliance for Artists and Record Companies, and more). It can be burdensome, time consuming, and often confusing to properly register a complete album. However, missing just one registration or filing registrations late can result in lost royalties, or even disputes over ownership.
This is where TuneRegistry steps in to help.
TuneRegistry is an all-in-one music rights and metadata management platform for the independent music community. Easily organize and store your song details, recording metadata, credits and ownership splits, and release information in your TuneRegistry account. It’s your robust music catalog manager that’s accessible online, so you don’t have to worry about tracking down emails, storing through documents in various desktop and cloud folders, losing collaborator contact information, or any of the other messy issues that most indie artists face.
TuneRegistry is your one-stop source for keeping your music catalog in check.
The advantage of TuneRegistry over other catalog management systems is that we’ve integrated the registrations process directly to ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, Music Reports, SoundExchange, and many more. Save time, reduce errors, and unlock royalties with our integrated registrations module. We make it super easy to get your music registrations to the organizations and data services who need it.
Here we go again. Music Business Worldwide reports that “The RIAA — on behalf of UMG, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Bros. Records, Atlantic and Capitol Records — has today filed a lawsuit against Aurous and its founder Andrew Sampson for what it calls ‘willful and egregious copyright infringement’.”
The music app, being called the “the new Grooveshark” (Grooveshark shut down earlier this year after similar lawsuits was filed against the company), just launched in public Alpha this week.
Aurous’ founder, Andrew Sampson, maintains that the website is a search engine that enables Internet users to search BitTorrent networks to find and stream content. However, the RIAA argues that the website directly targets recorded music from overseas pirate sites, effectively enabling consumers to infringe on the copyrights of record labels.
Whether Sampson intended on his platform to illegally access and stream recorded music or if he truly believed he built a legitimate consumer app detached from piracy, like many other uninformed tech developers out there, he has been caught in what could be a very expensive and crushing legal battle informed by copyright law.
I spend a great deal of time consulting with entrepreneurs who have cool ideas to develop new music apps, services, and platforms. However, the challenge that many of them face is having a limited understanding of the music publishing and recording landscape, from the perspective of a music tech startup. With the help of a music industry professional, founders gain insight on where products and services may infringe on the intellectual property rights of others. I’ve helped numerous startup entrepreneurs create products, formulate business models, and deliver value, all while respecting and complying with the intellectual property rights of third-party rights owners.
Read more about this story at Music Business Worldwide.
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