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CreativeFuture Releases ‘The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label & Publisher’ Written By Dae Bogan

CreativeFuture Dae Bogan DIY Musician Starter Guide

Over the last 10 years, I’ve had the honor of working with and supporting many DIY musicians in the development, launch and growth of their music careers. As an artist manager, indie label owner, music publisher, music retail executive and music tech entrepreneur I’ve directly contributed to the creation, promotion, release, administration and monetization of hundreds of releases.

It is from these experiences working with DIY musicians (and indies) and through my advanced education having earned a master’s degree in music business that I operate today as an entrepreneur, educator and advocate for DIY musicians.

I try to assist DIY musicians make sense of the music business through articles and insight, workshops, courses, webinars and now a short ebook.

I am excited to present The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide to Being Your Own Label and Publisher

The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide to Being Your Own Label and Publisher was written to (1) help DIY musicians become better advocates for themselves by demystifying some of the confusing concepts behind how the digital music industry operates, (2) to address and offer solutions to many of the challenges that DIY musicians face in their careers, and (3) to educate DIY musicians on the processes with which they must become familiar to increase the possibility of being properly compensated for the
use of their music across the digital music ecosystem.

In this guide, you will learn about the basics of music copyrights and the business implications of the difference between compositions and sound recordings. You will learn what it means to be your own label and publisher and the four different hats you wear in the world of music royalties. You will also gain practical knowledge and steps
for asserting your rights and capturing the royalties that your music earns across the digital music industry.

Get it FREE here.

How To Legally Record And Sell A Cover Song In 3 Steps

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This post was originally written for and published on Dozmia’s blog.

If the popularity of user generated content (UGC) platforms, such as YouTube and SoundCloud, has taught us anything about the music industry in the Digital Age, it is that aspiring artists from anywhere can amass huge online audiences and earn global reach by putting out cover songs that spark a reaction.

Success stories like those of Justin Bieber, Tori Kelly, 5 Seconds of Summer, Charlie Puth, Shawn Mendes, and Ed Sheeran are no longer rare phenomena. Talented unsigned artists like Jade Novah and Austin Mahone have earned tens of millions of views and plays across their UGC accounts. Previously undiscovered talent have gone on to land brand sponsorships, live performances with major recording artists, appearances on TV, casting in commercials, and more– all without the backing of a major record label.

However, while recording and uploading cover songs to UGC platforms can be a great first step to building a fanbase, monetizing those songs on traditional digital music services can be a legal nightmare if not done correctly. Furthermore, knowing when, where, and how to capture all of the royalty streams that your cover recording earns will put you in a better position to reap all of the rewards from releasing a cover recording that takes off.

Here are three steps that you should take if you plan to legally record and release a cover song:

Step 1: Secure the proper licenses to reproduce and distribute the original composition.

The U.S. Copyright Act grants copyright owners six exclusive rights including the right to reproduce and the right to distribute their compositions in phonorecords. When you record a cover of an existing song, you are effectively using someone else’s copyrighted work and they must be compensated for the use when you distribute the recording in physical and/or digital media.

The law includes a provision that enables anyone to reproduce and distribute a composition by following the specific requirements set out in the compulsory license. These requirements basically state that you must notify the copyright owner of your intent to use their song and you must account to (provide reports and statements on usage) and pay statutory mechanical royalties to the copyright owner for each use.

The term “mechanical” refers to when songs were mechanically reproduced in phonorecords. The statutory mechanical royalty rates are set by the Copyright Royalty Board.

Currently, the statutory mechanical royalty rate for physical formats (CDs, cassettes, LPs) and permanent digital downloads (e.g. iTunes) is 9.1¢ for songs 5 Minutes or less or 1.75¢ per minute or fraction thereof for songs over 5 Minutes.

Harry Fox Agency (HFA), Loudr, and Easy Song Licensing are just three of the resources for securing a mechanical license.

HFA is a membership-based mechanical licensing agency owned by SESAC. HFA represents and issues mechanical licenses in the U.S. on behalf of their U.S. music publisher members. HFA’s website claims that they currently represent over 48,000 music publishers. This makes it easier for you to go to them for most of the top popular songs released in the U.S. HFA’s service for obtaining a mechanical license is called SongFile.

Through SongFile, you pay upfront for the number of physical or digital phonorecords that you project to sell. For example, if you will sell 1,000 CDs, then you’ll pay 9.1¢ x 1,000 = $91 per cover song, which will then be paid to the publisher(s) to compensate the songwriter(s). You can also secure a license for interactive streams. However, in the United States, some interactive streaming services already pays the mechanical interactive streaming rate, so you do not have to when releasing to these platforms in the United States. Spotify, for example, pays HFA for the mechanical license for songs used on their platform in the United States, so you do not have to worry about securing a mechanical license if you’re only releasing to Spotify.

The rates for interactive streams (e.g. Spotify) and limited downloads (e.g. offline mode) are determined by a formula that takes into account the service type, license type, whether or not it’s ad-supported, amounts paid to labels, and other factors. Spotify’s rate comes out to about $0.0007 per stream. Again, they pay this to HFA so you don’t have to!

Loudr and Easy Song Licensing are independent services that charge a small service fee (about $15 per song) to secure a mechanical license for any song that you’d like to cover. This is awesome because if you’re covering some obscure song from an indie band in Wyoming or an international songwriter from France, you wouldn’t be able to license the song through HFA’s SongFile, which only represents and licenses U.S. publishers.

When you’re getting a license through Loudr or Easy Song Licensing, do not select interactive streams. Like I mentioned above, Spotify is already paying this to HFA and other services are paying Music Reports, Inc. (MRI), which is a rights administrator that represents a number of digital music platforms. Outside of the U.S., digital services pay local collection societies, who then pay the publishers.

So, definitely secure a license if you’re releasing a cover song on a physical format. Definitely secure a license if you’re releasing a cover song as a digital download. If you’re releasing only to major interactive streaming platforms, then you may not have to secure a license because most of these companies pay HFA or MRI already.

Step 2: Get a unique code to distinguish your recording.

If you’re planning to do a cover of a popular song, chances are that many other artists have or will cover the same song. With multiple releases of the same song to the global music ecosystem, it is important to distinguish your recorded version of the original song from all others. This is done with a unique identifier called the International Standard Recording Code or ISRC for short.

The ISRC code is a unique 12-character alphanumeric code assigned to each version/mix of a recording (ie. QMZTA1700001). For example, if you have a live version and a studio version of your cover song, each will need its own ISRC. If you get a dance remix of your cover or do a stripped down acoustic version of your studio-produced cover, again each of these versions will require a unique ISRC.

When you distribute music digitally, almost all digital platforms require an ISRC for each recording. Your ISRC can and should also be embedded in the metadata of your recording file so that when your recordings are released as a digital download or on physical formats, the ISRC is attached to the recording.

Be very careful to only purchase ISRC codes from official ISRC Managers. ISRC Managers appointed by the US ISRC Agency, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), are the only companies approved to assign ISRCs on behalf of the owner of a recording. These companies have guaranteed that they will abide by the Procedures for Assignment of ISRCs by ISRC Managers.

Other companies claiming to assign ISRCs on behalf of their clients are not authorized to do so and the ISRC’s they generate are invalid and risk collisions with codes issued by authorized registrants and ISRC Managers. This happens when fake ISRCs are issued or legitimate ISRCs are re-used. This results in erroneous metadata being disseminated across the digital music ecosystem, which can result in missing or misallocated royalties and disputes.

TuneRegistry is an all-in-one music rights and metadata management platform that’s also an approved ISRC Manager offering free and discounted ISRC codes included in its subscription plans. You can quickly and easily obtain ISRCs for each of your versions/mixes inside your account and immediately use the ISRC with any digital distributor to get your cover song distributed. You can view a complete list of approved ISRC Managers at http://www.usisrc.org/managers/index.html.

Step 3: Unlocking your royalties and getting paid.

The goal of virtually all aspiring artists is to have their music heard as wide and as far as possible. When songs are hits, earning national and even international reach can happen literally overnight. And even when there is slow momentum as buzz picks up across blogs and social sites, the right mention, the right placement on a playlist can break a song within a matter of weeks.

Whether or not your cover song blows up to international success, you may still earn and be due royalties for the exploitation of your cover song recording. Although you will not earn publishing royalties related to the underlying composition (remember, the original songwriter is the copyright owner and compulsory license enables you to record and distribute a cover), such as performance royalties that are paid out by ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, you will own the master sound recording and will be able to collect master royalties.

Here are some of the income streams associated with the master sound recording and how you obtain the royalties:

  • Sales Income – This is pretty straightforward. You earn income when your recording is sold in physical format or permanent digital downloads. Sales are generally passed on to you through your distributor.
  • Interactive Streaming Royalties – When your recording is streamed on interactive platforms (e.g. Spotify), the service pays a streaming master use royalty to the distributor, who then pays you for the streams. The royalty rate is based on a formula that takes into account the type of use, the number of total streams, your share of streams, and territory.
  • Non-Interactive Streaming Royalties – Webcasters and digital services that broadcast recordings over the Internet (e.g. Pandora, iHeart Radio), cable (e.g. Music Choice), and satellite (e.g. SiriusXM) in radio-style programming where the end users/listeners have limited to no control over the selection of music pay a royalty for the digital performance of sound recordings to SoundExchange. SoundExchange then pays out 45% of the royalties to the featured performers on the recording, 50% to the copyright owner of the master recording, and 5% to a fund for background vocalists and session musicians maintained by AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. It is important that you register your track title, the performers, copyright owner (which will be you if you’re independent and not signed to a label), and ISRC to SoundExchange. This helps them to identify you and match incoming usage reports and royalties from digital services to you as the income participant. After joining SoundExchange, you can easily keep on top of registering all of your tracks directly through your TuneRegistry account. This way, you’ll never forget to make sure that you’re raising your hand to capture your non-interactive streaming royalties.
  • Master Use for Sync Fees – If your cover song gets licensed to a TV show, a movie, a commercial, or any other audiovisual media, you would need to obtain a synchronization license from the publisher of the composition. While you own the recording of your cover song, the copyright owner owns the composition and still give permission for the composition to be used in audiovisual media (this is a separate license from the compulsory mechanical license). The producer of the content will need to pay the synch fee for the composition and pay a master use fee for the master use license of the sound recording. These negotiations take place directly between the producer of the content (or their representatives) and the owners of the copyrights (you for the master sound recording and the songwriter or publisher for the composition that you’ve covered).

Now that you’re an expert on legally recording and selling cover songs, share the knowledge with your musician friends! No artist should be afraid to record and release cover songs — unless you’re releasing to YouTube, because that’s a different beast! The good news is, many publishers have opted-in to an agreement between YouTube and the National Music Publisher’s Association to earn a revenue share from advertisements placed on videos that feature recordings that embody their compositions. However, getting a license for YouTube could be down through We Are The Hits.

5 Royalty Streams Every Indie Artist Should Know

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This post was originally written for and published on Repost Network’s blog.

With the rise of music distributors and digital music aggregators, it has never been easier for an indie artist to release and monetize their music across the global digital music ecosystem. The Digital Music Era has significantly lowered the barriers to entry to the top outlets for music search and discovery; and startup entrepreneurs continue to develop and launch new platforms to innovate search, discovery, sharing, and access.

Today, music fans can easily access music from their favorite artists or discover new artists to fall in love with, pitting major established artists against their up-and-coming indie artist counterparts. And the music industry is changing for the better as a result (the Recording Academy now recognizes music released on free services for GRAMMY Award consideration and Billboard has accepted YouTube and SoundCloud streams for the purpose of charting).

Innovation in technology has made it possible for any indie artist with decent enough production tools and access to the Internet to record and release new music at any time. And with thousands of artists pumping out new music, it is no wonder that the industry has grown to over one million new tracks entering the global music market every month.

Each of these tracks begin earning royalties from its first play on any of the 400+ digital music services and 3,000+ webcasters operating around the world. And all of these royalties, billions of dollars of royalties, flow through a complex network of pipelines into various buckets of royalty collection with the ultimate goal of trickling down to the appropriate music creators and rightsholders. While this sounds straight-forward for a number of reasons this is far from a smooth process; and millions of dollars in royalties are in fact not making its way to the music creators and rightsholders to which they are due.

Part of the reason starts with you, the music creator. It is especially important for independent artists to understand the various income streams that your releases generate and the ways in which you must be setup to collect your royalties.

Here is an awesome infographic created by Future Music Coalition that visually breaks down how creators are compensated. Below it, I highlight five royalty streams that every indie artist should be setup to collect.

FMCmoneyflow

If you plan to release music digitally, you should be aware of and setup to collect all of the royalty streams that your music earns. Your music earns royalties for the use of two different copyrights. The first is the copyright for the composition (song). The second is the copyright for the sound recording (master). These two copyrights earn royalty streams that are collected and paid out by different sources to different income participants, as explained below.

Royalty Stream 1: Performance Royalties for Compositions

With few exceptions, virtually all uses of your composition earns performance royalties. Performance royalties are earned when your composition is played on digital radio-like services (e.g. Pandora), when your composition is accessed and played through on-demand streaming services (e.g. Spotify), and when your composition is performed in venues, bars, and restaurants. All of these companies have performance licenses from one or more performing rights organization (PRO). In the United States, ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and Global Music Rights are the PROs who issue blanket licenses for the performance rights in compositions to digital music services. In return, these services pay royalties to these PROs. The PROs then pay 50% to the songwriter(s) of the composition and 50% to the publisher(s), in accordance with the publishing splits reported to the PRO by the copyright owners. In order to collect performance royalties, you must join a PRO and register your composition (your songs) and the associated ownership splits (for example, 4 Writers might have equal ownership (25% each) or varied ownership (Writer 1 – 25%, Writer 2 – 50%, Writers 3 – 12.5%, Writer 4 – 12.5%)) to the PRO in a timely manner. One of the reasons music creators and rightholders do not receive the performance royalties that their compositions earn is because they have not joined a PRO or have not registered their songs with their PRO.

Royalty Stream 2: Mechanical Royalties for Compositions

Mechanical royalties are earned when your composition is reproduced and distributed in phonorecords (a medium in which a sound recording is stored). This includes compositions embodied in sound recordings stored in physical formats (CDs, vinyl, cassette), MP3 permanent downloads (e.g. iTunes), and interactive streams (e.g. Spotify). In the digital music sector, streaming services secure mechanical licenses either directly from copyright owners or by utilizing the compulsory license as provided by copyright laws. Regardless of how they secure their mechanical license, the major services pay mechanical royalties to Harry Fox Agency (HFA) and Music Reports Inc. (MRI), who then pay the publishers of the composition. One of the reasons music creators and rightsholders do not receive the mechanical royalties that their compositions earn is because they have not registered their songs with HFA or MRI, who help digital music services secure the mechanical licenses. For unsigned indie artists, this can be much more difficult if you do not have a publisher because HFA only represents eligible publishers who’ve affiliated with them. MRI is a rights administrator and will issue notices to copyright owners if their digital music service clients intend to utilize the copyright owner’s composition in a manner that requires a mechanical license. Spotify pays HFA mechanical royalties for the compositions used in their platform. Amazon Music pays MRI mechanical royalties for the compositions used in their platform. (Note that in the United States, iTunes passes the mechanical royalty to the distributor, who then pays the label. If you’re an unsigned artist, then you receive the income since you are your own label. Outside of the United States, iTunes and on-demand services such as Spotify pay mechanical royalties to a mechanical licensing society in the territory represented by the society. In order to capture these foreign mechanical royalties, a publisher or administrator must affiliate with and register the compositions with the foreign mechanical collection society.)

Royalty Stream 3: Permanent Download Royalties for Masters

A permanent download is generally a sales transaction through a digital retail store (e.g. iTunes). This income is passed along to the distributor, who then pays the label (less any applicable commissions). If you’re unsigned artist, then you receive the income since you are your own label.

Royalty Stream 4: Interactive/On-demand Streaming Royalties for Masters

Just like a permanent download, interactive/on-demand streams (e.g. Spotify) of sound recordings generates master use royalties that is passed along to the distributor, who then pays the label (less any applicable commissions). If you’re unsigned artist, then you receive the royalties since you are your own label.

Royalty Stream 5: Non-Interactive Streaming Royalties for Masters

Unlike a permanent download or interactive/on-demand streams of sound recordings, non-interactive streams are not paid to your distributor. Webcasters and digital services that broadcast recordings over the Internet (e.g. Pandora, iHeart Radio), cable (e.g. Music Choice), and satellite (e.g. SiriusXM) in radio-style programming where the end users/listeners have limited to no control over the selection of music (non-interactive) pay a royalty for the digital performance of sound recordings to SoundExchange. SoundExchange then pays out 45% of the royalties to the featured performers on the recording, 50% to the copyright owner of the master recording, and 5% to a fund for background vocalists and session musicians maintained by AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. One of the reasons music creators and rightholders do not receive the non-interactive royalties that their masters earn is because they have not joined SoundExchange or have not registered their tracks with their SoundExchange.

When you release music digitally, you should be aware of the various royalty streams that your music earns, where those royalties are collected, and how to claim your earnings. Your distributor is one source of income for two of the royalty streams mentioned. To unlock the rest of your royalties, you’d need a capable publisher and a record company or you’d need to stay on top of the administration yourself.

A great way to keep track of all of these royalties is a service we recommend called TuneRegistry.

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.

Why United States Music Creators Earn Fewer Royalty Streams

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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.

I’m Meeting With Congressman Adam Schiff To Discuss The Rights of Music Creators #GIMD

Congressman Adam Schiff

Congressman Adam Schiff represents California’s 28th District

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.

[FREE] Join Southern California Music Industry Professionals

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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.

The Uniquely US Challenge That Indie Artists Face When Asked To License Music To Indie Filmmakers, For Free

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Over the last few years I’ve been approached by several indie filmmaker friends seeking my help on getting music licensed for their indie film projects. While some have had budgets, most have asked for recommendations on getting music for free. Now, as an advocate for indie music creators and rights owners, I tend to disregard “no compensation” opportunities as taking advantage of artists and/or devaluing the work of music creators (although the folks behind the opportunities are wicked good people).

Several times I’ve had to respectfully tell my indie filmmaker friends that I could not share their “music placement” opportunity, but instead I could direct them to resources to license music for cheap.

I’ve since realized that what I have not done was explain why, specifically in the United States, giving filmmakers music for free is frowned upon. So, in this post I aim to do that.

But first, I will say that I understand and agree that many opportunities for music placed in film — as well as TV shows and commercials — can be a huge break for up-and-coming artists. Productions that are widely released and viewed can result in significant exposure for the music, which can translate into increased radio airplay, digital downloads, and audio and video streams, which dramatically increases the artist’s income potential and exposure. There’s a long history of songs from movie and TV soundtracks going Gold & Platinum and topping the charts.

That being said, small indie film projects are typically not the productions that create these kind of success stories. In fact, I’d argue that over 90% of independently produced projects do little by way of “exposure” for artists (if you’re an independent artist reading this who’ve had your music placed in film, please comment and share your experience).

The reality is many indie film  projects do not have the distribution or exposure to generate the volume of public consumption to translate into significant benefit for the artists who contributed music to the film. This is because only a small percentage (maybe less than 1%) of the people who’ve watched the movie would actually make any effort to track down a song placed in the movie.

Now, let’s talk about how artists get paid for music licensed to films. I am focusing solely on commercially released songs being licensed to a film. I am not going into the details of original songs composed for a film, film scores, or any “commissioned” work for a film. I am strictly talking about a filmmaker asking an artist to use an already recorded and released track.

Ok, so typically, a production company should obtain what’s called a synchronization license from the artist (or label) to use the track in the film.

The term “synchronization” refers to the act of synchronizing a sound recording to a motion visual embedded in a video. A production company should pay two (2) fees for licensing music to film: master use fee and synchronization fee.

The master use fee is a fee paid to the artist (or his/her label if they are signed to a record label) for the use of the sound recording, also known as a “master.” The synchronization fee is a fee paid to the songwriter (or his/her publisher if they are signed to a publishing company) for the use of the song, also referred to as the composition.

The artist/label owns the sound recording/master. The songwriter/publisher owns the song/composition (for example the song “Diamonds” by Rihanna was actually co-written and is co-owned by Sia and her publisher; but the sound recording of “Diamonds” that you hear on the radio is owned by Rihanna’s record label. Both the writer/publisher and the artist/label must get paid for the use of “Diamonds” in a movie; those are two separate copyrights).

Alright that was a crash course on publishing.

In order for a filmmaker to license a piece of commercially released music to your film, you need a synchronization license from the independent artist (I’m going back to talking about independent artists, although I used Rihanna (a “major” artist) in my example above). An independent artist may not have a publisher nor a label, so he/she is the sole owner and should still get paid the synch fee (for the song/composition) AND the master use fee (for the sound recording/master).

Now, so far I’ve talked about what’s known as the up front fees. These are the fees you, filmmaker, would pay to an independent artist to put their music in your movie. But like I said in the beginning, many filmmakers have asked me to help them get music for free. 😦

I wouldn’t mind this too much if we weren’t talking about small projects that will be released (and generate most of its viewership) in the United States.

Why?

Outside of the United States, artists earn public performance income from the movie theaters. That’s right, movie theaters must pay public performance fees to public performance organizations for exhibiting movies. These backend royalties can add up if the movie becomes popular and has many showings across many territories.

However, in the United States movie theaters are exempt from having to pay public performance fees. This means, independent artists (specifically, singer-songwriters) do not earn income from movie theaters when they exhibit movies containing their music.

So, when you do not earn up front fees from synch and master use fees, because the filmmaker “doesn’t have a budget for music” AND you do not earn backend royalties from U.S. movie theaters, because they are exempt from paying what theaters in other countries pay, it is frowned upon to give music for free to U.S. filmmakers making low budget movies. Because these low budget projects may not have the distribution and marketing backing of it’s major and big-independent counterparts, the potential for the movie to generate “non-compensation benefits” for the artist (e.g. radio airplay, downloads, streams, awards, etc.) is significantly low.

Basically, if your indie film is being released in a few United States independent theaters and then on DVD and you want music for free, it will be a challenge. There is no substantial benefit for the artist.

All that being said, there are several examples of small budget projects generating grassroots marketing buzz and cult popularity that does impact the distribution and exposure of the movie, which in turn could generate benefits for artists who’ve given gratis (free) licenses to filmmakers. But this is not the norm. Furthermore, there are scenarios where you can license must free in the interim, but commit to payments based on hitting milestones such as getting distribution, hitting box office sales milestones, hitting DVD rental or sales goals, etc. This is a good way for a filmmaker who doesn’t have a big music budget to potentially negotiate with artists to defer compensation based on the performance of the project.

Thoughts? Questions? Stories to share? Post in the comments.

Music Industry Announcements

A few music industry announcements:
1. I am giving a talk and mini-workshop on Saturday, August 13th at 11am at the Indie Entertainment Summit titled “Music Metadata Matters: How Metadata Impacts Your Income & Opportunities” followed by speaking on a panel on YouTube video monetization for DIY indie artists and bands. Get deats and tickets at http://www.IESfest.com.
2. I am organizing and hosting the Southern California Music Industry Professionals’ August Music Industry Mixer on Thursday, August 18th form 6pm to 9pm at The Federal Bar. We have a special guest speaker, Tiamo Vettori De Vettori, Founder/CEO of Musicpreneur Academy and a Music Success Coach (www.TiamoMusic.com), will give a talk “Secret High Paying Gigs: 5 Lucrative Markets for Musicians in the NEW Music Industry.” This event is FREE. Join SCMIP at http://www.meetup.com/SCMIPonline and RSVP for the mixer at http://www.SCMIP-August.eventbrite.com.
3. I have a panel submitted for SXSW 2017 on music rights and metadata in the ever evolving digital music space featuring panelists from Music Reports, BuzzAngle, TuneRegistry, and Crunch Digital. Vote for the panel and leave comments at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/62361.
4. I am now the full-time CEO of TuneRegistry, an easy-to-use music catalog and metadata management platform with built-in music administration tools for the independent music community. TuneRegistry helps music creators and rights-holders organize their music catalog and streamline administrative tasks such as registering with rights organizations. Our goal is to have 1,000 music creators and rights-holders using TuneRegistry by the end of 2016. Please tell your music industry friends and send them to http://www.tuneregistry.com for details.
To stay up-to-date about my projects, work, involvements, and my upcoming appearences subscribe to my blog at http://www.daeboganmusic.com, follow me on Twitter @daeboganmusic, and like my Facebook page Dae Bogan Music.

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