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.
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(songs), such as the right to reproduce and distribute compositions in phonorecords, but thanks to a combination of outdated rules and tough opposition from lobbying organizations that represent broadcasters, the law does not include a performance right for sound recordings.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.
Thanks to LA Songwriters Collective for having me as the keynote speaker tonight.
On Wednesday, as part of the “GRAMMYs in My District” initiative, I will join a select group of fellow The Recording Academy / The GRAMMYs members to meet with Congressman Adam Schiff to discuss the rights of music creators. And across the United States, other members will be meeting with their district’s Congress persons as well.
I hope to be able to address the issues that I care about, which affects music creators across the US. I want to urge my Congressman Schiff to support the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, which would create an income stream for artists when their music is played on AM/FM radio (much like the rest of the world) and support the AMP Act, which would allocate royalties to music producers and engineers when the music they’ve worked on is performed on SiriusXM, Music Choice, Pandora, and over 2,500 webcasters and digital music services.
In light of the recent firing of the Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, which happened oddly at a time when Google and Amazon is using the loopholes of the U.S. Copyright Act to avoid paying thousands of songwriters for the use of millions of songs across their music properties, I want to address if and how Congress plans to close these loopholes that enable wealthy multinational corporations to stiff the little guys. And I would like Congress to help us move towards a system of equitable representation of songwriters and fair market royalty rates for compulsory licenses.
We will be posting updates during and after these meetings across social media. Follow the hashtag #GIMD for posts. Learn more about The Recording Academy’s Advocacy & Public Policy at www.grammy.org/recording-academy/advocacy.
Music Industry Professionals: As some of you know, I am the organizer of Southern California Music Industry Professionals, a professional networking group with over 1,600 members (our member base is mostly online at www.meetup.com/scmiponline, but I recently created a Facebook group).
I am happy to announce that I am organizing our 3rd meetup this year and you’re invited!
Our next SCMIP mixer will be held on Thursday, October 27th, from 5pm to 8pm at the Rosenthal – The Malibu Estate Wines off of PCH in Malibu.
Come mix and mingle with professionals across all sectors of the music industry from recorded music and publishing to live music, touring, and music supervision.
I will have a guest speaker (TBA) to discuss music publishing.
OPEN MIC CALL: I am pleased to announce that we will have limited slots for open mic performances. If you are interested, please contact me to audition your music. This is a wine bar in Malibu, so the music selection will be appropriate for the environment. The venue has a backline, so you may not need to bring much equipment (if anything).
I hope you can make it. Please SHARE with other music industry professionals and make sure they join www.meetup.com/SCMIPonline.