‘Middle class’ artists need niche, not scale
Streaming continues to grow strongly, as evidenced by the28% growth reported by the RIAA for H1 2021 in the US. Everything looks great for the build-up to the impeding Universal Music Group (UMG) IPO. But all is not well in the creator community, as many artists and songwriters continue to be unhappy with streaming income (seen most pertinently in theUK parliamentary DCMS inquiry). However, the origin of so much of their ills, even if they do not yet realise it, is the mechanics of streaming itself rather than any party (labels, publishers or streaming services) not passing on enough money. Could these entities transfer more to their creators? Yes, of course. But there is no increase that could transform the outlook for most of these creators without potentially breaking the entire streaming economy. The crucial, emerging dynamic is that most mid-tier creators are never going to…
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#TBT Reflecting On Being Named A Billboard 2019 Digital Power Player And Looking To The Future Of Music Rights
Exactly one year ago, I was named a Billboard 2019 Digital Power Player in recognition of my work at the intersection of music rights and technology.
As the founder and CEO of two music rights software companies—TuneRegistry and RoyaltyClaim—I empowered independent music creators and rights-holders from over 40 countries with tools to protect and administer their copyrights in the United States and to uncover unclaimed royalties and music licenses around the world.
I started my career in the music industry as an independent artist and self-published songwriter, then evolved into an advocate of music creators as first an artist manager and eventually the owner/operator of an independent record label and independent music publishing company. Later, I pivoted from being hands-on the music to conceptualizing and developing technological solutions to address some of the challenges I faced while wearing the many hats that I had worn.
Today, I am writing yet another chapter in my career book as the Head of Third-Party Partnerships at The Mechanical Licensing Collective and as a Lecturer of Musicology (music industry entrepreneurship) at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. At these organizations I play a new role in supporting music creators from the earliest start of their careers through the legacy of their musical works.
As I reflect on my passion and look to the future I am excited to imagine how I can contribute in some meaningful way to the careers and livelihoods of thousands of music creators; especially independent artists and self-published songwriters.
Why I Support Abolishing The Term “Urban” Music
I think it is important to build and staff platforms that specifically address music creators from marginalized communities, which is why I want to ensure support for Black music creators, Latin music creators, LGBT music creators, and disabled music creators at The MLC.
Being intentional in recognizing and supplementing historically disadvantaged groups means to do the work to understand how these creators are often under/mis-represented, left behind, overshadowed, and disconnected (especially when it comes to the music business education and career resources gap that ultimately contributes to marginalized music creators being disproportionately overrepresented in unclaimed royalties pools).
Some firms have begun to announce Black music divisions. I am here for that.
Let’s not forget that since 1909, when music first earned federal copyright protection, the default for everything in society was White. We do not need to callout a “White music division” when the way in which all industries operate is to center whiteness. The de facto MO when we hear “mainstream” is that the audience is the White masses.
These types of platforms give firms a dedicated channel through which partnerships can be forged in marginalized communities where we can reach marginalized creators to effectively communicate opportunities to advance their careers. It also creates a two-way pipeline for receiving input that can be applied to improve the firm’s communications and operations to better serve these communities with nuance.
I fully support Black music divisions at music companies; and yes this term is important and intentional, just like Black Music Month, which is this month of June.
The term “urban music” no longer reflects the demographic of the creators who create within the genres that are typically encompassed in the term “urban” (R&B and Hip Hop). Music creators of all racial and ethnic makeup create “urban music”. The intent of the term was to specifically focus on Black artists. But there are Black artists who create pop, country, rock, and EDM. These artists are underrepresented within those genres and are often dismissed to “shouldn’t you be making urban music?”
The urban music category was intended to represent music made by Black artists from the inner-city. It was to create a platform and ensure resources were allocated to Black artists, but that isn’t accomplished when #1 everybody makes Hip Hop (eg G Eazy, Macklemore) and R&B (eg JoJo, Justin Beiber), #2 Black artists are not being prioritized in non-urban genres (e.g. edm, country, rock, pop), and #3 Black artists aren’t limited to the inner-city.
If the goal is to empower Black artists, we need to do so across all genres. Abolishing the genre-limited term “urban music,” which represents only two genres begins to open the platform to Black artists who create any genre of music.
And yes, it is important to specifically call out Black artists as their careers matter. It is the same reason why we have Black Lives Matter. The “I don’t see color” BS disregards the decades of institutionalized racism that suppressed Black artists and set a tone for them getting shitty record deals and smaller marketing budgets.
Black music platforms are not about genres, it’s about music created by Black artists regardless of genre. It’s about ensuring that resources and budgets are allocated equitably to Black artists.
Abolish “urban music” and stand up “Black music” divisions. Fund Black artists across all genres!
Urban Music = Hip Hop and R&B
Black Music = Music created by Black artists regardless of genre. The focus is on the creator and not the genre.
Dae’s Short Essays on Racial Injustice
I’d like to share with my readers a few short essays, statements and visuals that I’ve published to social media over the weekend surrounding the George Floyd protests, the riots and racial injustices in general (www.twitter.com/daeboganmusic).
You’ll find them below.
I’ve also been out in peaceful protests and have seen first hand how unaffiliated bad actors, including those who may be members of white supremacy groups, incited vandalism and looting. Unfortunately, the media focused 75% of its coverage on the bad and 25% on the peaceful protests. Here is a collection of photos and videos of those bad actors at work.
Selection of short essays and statements:
Burn it all Down: Riots as the Uncontrollable Reaction to the Dismissal Of Peace
For those who ask “how is a riot supposed to help?”
Answer: It’s not meant to.
Let me make this very clear: Riots are not meant to help. Riots are meant to destroy. Riots are the imminent reaction to destruction caused by institutions of power when peace isn’t enough to prevent the abuse and oppression endured under those institutions of power. Stop asking how a riot is supposed to help and start asking how do we avoid the violence onto citizens so that a violent reaction isn’t incited.
Asking how a riot is supposed to help is asking for reason — you’re trying to make sense of something that is not meant to make sense. A riot is a reaction. It is uncontrollable. It is damaging. It is violent. It is the release of pinned up anger and frustration. It’s point is to release a force, not to effect change.
Peaceful protests are supposed to effect change. But they haven’t, so here is the chaotic outcome for which the only purpose it has is to destroy. Yes, there is collateral damage. And yes livelihoods will be affected. It’s a ball of energy that affects everything when it explodes.
The goal should be to prevent that explosion; not to try and make sense of its aftermath.
When peaceful protests do not effect change; when peaceful protests are not answered with justice for victims riots are the consequence.
The peaceful protests in response to the police murder of Michael Brown did not stop the police murder of Tamir Rice. The peaceful protests for Tamir Rice did not prevent the police murder of Freddie Gray. The peaceful protests for Freddie Gray did not stop the police murder of Philando Castile. The peaceful protests for Philando Castile did not prevent the police murder of Eric Garner…and so on.
The Purpose of Rage
“It’s all just senseless violence.” 😫
Senseless violence is senseless violence but rage is not senseless violence.
Rage is something different.
Rage is manifested. Rage is the forced suppression of anger that bubbles up over time only to explode into uncontrollable chaos.
Rage has purpose and that purpose is to destroy and violence is its weapon.
You don’t get to sit idly by for a decade and watch unarmed Black men be beaten and murdered by institutions of power, do absolutely nothing substantial about it, then ask that the reaction to that trauma is controlled and directed.
Catalysts of change are often never convenient for neither the constituents of change nor its opposition. Every revolution to which you benefit today was born at the cost of property and lives — but they all began with thoughtful asks and peace that were ignored and dismissed.
I specifically wrote the following statement to address my White Gay friends who’ve remained silent on racial injustice or dismissed the protests as they would “interfere” with their LGBT Pride Month (begins today, June 1st) festivities:
To the White Gays whining about protests disrupting your forthcoming Pride parties: Here’s a reality check.
“Pride” isn’t a month.
Pride represents the set of human rights that LGBT men and women, sparked by Black and Brown queer and trans folks, fought for — including rioting — so that one day you could openly live your life and dance around shirtless at pool parties without being stripped of your right to a peaceful existence. They fought and burned shit down so that one day you would no longer be unfairly harrassed and discriminated against by law enforcement and other institutions of government. Imagine going back 51 years and yelling at the people who were fighting for your rights to be treated as a human beings to “just be peaceful and don’t break anything.”
You don’t get to celebrate Pride by denouncing the type of actions that those men and women took to upend the oppression that would otherwise constrict your existence.
If you don’t understand why Black and Brown queer and trans people are today protesting injustices, you don’t deserve a Pride party.
The following are a few quick social media posts:
When the peace we offered wasn’t enough.
When they say “you lost my support when you started looting Target.”
Racial injustice and the policing of Black bodies did not begin last week.
And on a lighter note, has anyone called Kendall Jenner yet? 😂
Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/daeboganmusic
What is the value of exposure when exposure is all there is?
There is an existential debate going on at the moment, around whether streaming is paying artists enough. It may feel like a rerun of old debates but it is catalysed by COVID-19 decimating artist income. These are some of the key narratives: here, here and here.
In this piece I lay out the underlying economics of the argument. I also focus wholly on artist income as songwriter income is another topic entirely.
COVID-19 has reset the debate
The latest streaming royalty debate is not an isolated event. It is happening because COVID-19 has decimated live income, leaving many artists worrying about how to make ends meet. Last week, just before this whole debate kicked into gear I wrote:
“Live’s lockdown lag may have the knock-on effect of making artists take a more critical view of their streaming income. When live dominated their income mix, streaming’s context was…
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4 Ways To Offset Lost Income From Cancelled Tours & Gigs Right Now
In the wake of the world’s response to COVID-19, thousands of tours, club shows, concerts and festivals have been cancelled or postponed. This has directly impacted the livelihoods of music creators and the professionals who make it possible to bring these experiences to life. In these uncertain times, there is one thing for certain: there is financial assistance.
Here are 4 ways to offset lost income now:
1. RECEIVE DONATIONS – Post your lost gig on http://www.ilostmygig.com where good samaritans may donate to help you offset lost income (all roles matter; from artist/band to sound engineer to stage manager to caterer).
2. SELL MERCH – Sale unsold merch on http://www.missedtour.org
4. GET A GRANT – Apply for one of many grants and scholarships as MusiCares and Live Nation Music Forward Foundation, among others.
3. GET AN ADVANCE – Get an advance on future streaming royalties via Stem Scale at http://www.stem.is/scale or an advance on future performance and/or mechanical royalties at http://www.lyricfinancial.com
Take action now before these resources are overwhelmed and exhausted.
A lot more opportunities are being curated at IG @daeboganmsuic
I Went 5 Years Purposely Avoiding Romantic Relationships: This Is What Happened To My Career
In 2015, a few months after ending my last romantic relationship and just as I was turning 30, I decided to try a social experiment on myself. I decided to see what I could achieve in my professional life by sacrificing something big in my personal life. I decided to make myself completely emotionally unavailable for a romantic relationship. I wanted to see what happens, for me, when I direct 100% of my cognitive energy to my professional life and zero to pursuing and developing a romantic relationship.
Here is what happened during my 5 years relationship hiatus:
I earned a masters degree in Music Industry Administration; I developed and sold 3 music tech startups; I paid off student loans for 3 degrees; I spoke at over 100 music industry conferences, podcasts, and web series; I wrote extensively on music business and music rights and have been syndicated, cited, or interviewed dozens of times in some of the top music industry magazines, blogs, and books; I developed and taught music industry curriculum and have guest lectured at universities; I conducted research that was used by the US government in its economic analysis on the most important piece of music industry legislation in decades (MMA) and was invited to speak at the Library of Congress for a US Copyright Office symposium; I was named a Billboard’s “Digital Power Players 2019” and appeared in its 125th anniversary issue with Paul McCartney on the cover; I helped hundreds of music creators, entrepreneurs, and rights-holders with their careers, businesses, and catalogs through mentorship, consulting, and creating free resources at daeboganmusic.com. And I’ve developed relationships with amazing music industry professionals in every sector of the industry from around the world.
In 5 years, I transformed my career and have accomplished professional milestones that I never could have imagined. That was an incredibly overwhelming, stressful, challenging, and exhilarating ride.
Today I turn 35. 🥳 I’ve amassed an incredible amount of knowledge and contacts in the music industry and will be spending the coming weeks deciding what I will do next (something moderate).
Also, I’m back on the market. 😎
Dae Bogan To Join Other Music Industry Experts At US Copyright Office Symposium On Unclaimed Royalties Study in Washington, D.C.
I am honored to announce that on December 6th, three weeks from today, I will be representing the US independent music creators community at a symposium in Washington, D.C. at the The Library of Congress.
A few weeks ago, I was invited by the newly appointed Copyright Royalty Judge, Steve Ruwe, to speak at the Copyright Office’s symposium on unclaimed royalties at The Library of Congress. As a CRJ, Mr. Ruwe is among just three judges who are responsible for setting the royalty rates that all songwriters in the world are paid for the use of their songs in the United States.
Last year, my 2016/2017 research titled “The State of Unclaimed Royalties and Music Licenses in the United States,” — research that led me to founding the world’s first search engine of unclaimed music royalties and licenses and a gateway to initiate claims, RoyaltyClaim (acquired by HAAWK Inc.) — was referenced, and I was personally consulted, by the United States Congressional Budget Office during its analysis of the economic impact of the then-current bill, Music Modernization Act. That bill became law in October 2018 and is now known as the Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act 2018 (MMA or Music Modernization Act for short).
I have been fighting to ensure that independent and unsigned self-published songwriters are recognized, empowered, and represented in the US music industry for over a decade now. My first break-through was conceptualizing and co-founding TuneRegistry, which enables self-published songwriters to administer their catalog and unlock performance and mechanical royalties while keeping 100% of their copyrights and 100% of their royalties. TuneRegistry has helped thousands of self-published lyricists, composers, producers, and singer-songwriters protect their copyrights and unlock hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in unpaid and current royalties as well as enter into direct licensing deals with digital music services and social media platforms.
I look forward to discussing how the Copyright Office will develop outreach and messaging strategies to reach and engage self-published music creators and I hope to ensure that these creators continue to have a voice in the room, if not a SEAT AT THE TABLE.
US Copyright Office Announcement: https://www.copyright.gov/newsnet/2019/784.html
Music Industry Rant: ‘Rights’ Is Not A Buzzword
I think it is quite disingenuous and frankly misleading to slap on the term “rights” to every music tech platform that collects some minimum amount of metadata regarding musical works.
Music rights administration (including publishing and neighboring rights) is not a frivolous add-on to be used as a way to beef up one’s otherwise undifferentiated service offerings in an effort to attract customers in an ever more saturated music monetization and catalog management marketplace.
Music rights administration requires a comprehensive understanding of music publishing, copyright administration, licensing and multi-territorial relationships with CMOs, intermediaries, and administrators that goes well beyond delivering releases to DSPs or creating playlists to pitch to music supervisors. Understanding the nuances between royalty accounting and royalty forensics (not just parsing income statements), and having a grasp on the complicated music licensing and rights management ecosystem — not just direct deals — are bare minimum requirements for being a “rights” company.
Music rights administration requires knowledge, experience, and skill set that only comes from spending years doing nothing but this kind of work (it doesn’t hurt to have a masters degree specifically in music industry administration either); handling complicated issues around works registrations, disputes, and conflicts; combing over raw CWR and certain types of DDEX files; being in the room with the powers that be at CMOs and adjacent entities; and understanding how works are licensed and how income participants are accounted to in different territories under potentially overlapping representation mandates framed by international treaties (Berne, Rome, etc.) and bilateral agreements and supported by local copyright laws and termination terms.
In a word, slapping “rights” into the company tagline/description of a music tech platform that was founded to do anything but rights administration and for whom the founders have little to zero background and experience specifically in music rights administration is the new adding “decentralized” to data company descriptions.
Music industry people, be careful regarding the services that you sign up for. Your copyrights are the most important assets that you have. Putting the management, representation, or administration of these assets, for any period of time, in the wrong hands can and will lead to a world of trouble for you now and potentially for years to come.
Music industry colleagues, don’t let non music rights people abuse the term “music rights”. It isn’t a trendy phrase to add to your tagline to be current with everything that’s going on in the industry (e.g. MMA, MLC, CRB rulings, Article 13, etc.)
Statement By Dae Bogan On The Cancellation Of His ‘Music Industry Entrepreneurship’ UCLA Summer Class
Dear UCLA and non-UC Students who enrolled in my Summer 2019 Music Industry Entrepreneurship class:
Regrettably, my class, which was scheduled to begin this Thursday through UCLA Summer Sessions and UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, has been cancelled. If you enrolled in the course, the school has already unenrolled you and you can find another course in the Music Industry program.
I decided to cancel the class due to low enrollment, which has impacted a number of classes this summer. Unlike my winter class, which is generally over enrolled with a wait list, summer has proven to be particularly difficult (Maybe students do not want to take class in the summer?).
My curriculum requires a significant amount of group work (60% of the grade) to be distributed across student group members as groups progress through the class as mock co-founders of a fictitious music industry startup business. Consequently, the class requires a minimum threshold of enrolled students to make the course dynamic enough to highlight the entrepreneurial principles, fundamental business strategies and music industry best practices that I teach.
While I hate that the class had to be cancelled with such short notice, I felt that to maintain the integrity of my curriculum and to ensure that student who get to take my class benefit from the way in which it was designed cancelling was the only option.
Student reviews of Dae Bogan’s Music Industry Entrepreneurship class:
Hi Dae, Just wanted to thank you for an awesome class. This was one of the few classes at UCLA where I felt I was taught skills, not just about the subject matter but in how to go about achieving my career goals, that were applicable to my endeavors and will be used for the rest of my life. I got more out of it than I had with any other course here and I would highly recommend your class to to anyone interested in a music industry career.
– Student testimonial, Winter Quarter 2019
Without a doubt one of the most useful classes I have taken in my undergraduate career at UCLA. Professor Bogan has so much real world knowledge and knows how to convey that knowledge in a classroom setting immensely well. All the course material was invaluable to my progression and aspirations of being in the music industry. Every lecture was extremely well-prepared, with amazing guest speakers and information that I will be using for the rest of my life. Professor Bogan did a phenomenal job and I will be recommending this class to all my friends interested in music or starting their own company. Can’t say enough good things about this class.
– Student testimonial, Winter Quarter 2018
If you are still interested in exploring entrepreneurship in the music industry, you may consider taking my online program Music Industry Entrepreneurship Masterclass which is a 4 hour sample of my full course. You can sign up for the masterclass at www.marcatoacademy.com.