Copyright Registration Fees Increasing 

Copyright Registration Fees Increasing

Every few years, the U.S. Copyright Office does a detailed study on its fees in an attempt to determine whether they need adjusting. In their latest audit, the office decided it was time to raise its rates by about $10 for most electronic filings. 

The fee for official copyright registration is about to go up. Every three to five years, the U.S. Copyright Office does an in-depth study of its fees to determine whether to adjust them, then sends its results to Congress, which then has 120 days to do nothing (meaning approval) or pass a law disapproving the price recommendations. 

The Office is now proposing raising the fee for the Standard Application from $55 to $65, which is $10 less than the 2018 proposal. Similarly, the Single Application (the lower-priced option for single works by individual authors) will go from $35 to $45, which is also $10 less than the 2018 proposal. 

Here’s the proposal as it pertains to music: 

REGISTRATION TYPE                       CURRENT PRICE       PROPOSED PRICE 
Single work (e-filing)                             $35                              $45 
Single work (paper filing)                      $85                              $125 
Group of works (album:e-filing only).    $55                              $65 

Copyright registration isn't mandatory, but it is a wise thing to do! Copyrights are the most valuable asset in the music industry. Plus, you do have to register in order to file a claim with the Copyright Office as proposed by the CASE Act (copyright small claims).

Copyright Basics 

Original and Fixed Works 

Copyright law has existed in the United States since the country's inception in the late 1700s. The US Constitution included provisions that gave Congress the power to enact laws to protect the writings of authors. Copyright law has evolved over the years as technology has given us new mechanisms for disseminating works of authorship, but the basic concept behind it has remained the same—to give authors (for our purposes, songwriters and recording artists) the right to control access to their creative works. As we'll see, this controlled access allows creators to be compensated for the use of their works; in turn, it provides the incentive to create. 

Copyright protects the expression of ideas rather than the ideas themselves. There are two elements that determine whether something falls under copyright: 

• Originality. The work must be original. The creator does not have the burden of researching whether there is anything in existence that could be similar to what they created, but their creation may not copied from something already in existence, either consciously or subconsciously. 

• Fixed. The work must be fixed in a tangible form such that it can be perceived visually or with the aid of a machine or device. Playing music live for someone would lack that fixed element. An easy test of whether the work is fixed is if you can make and share a copy of the work (e.g., a piece of paper, a CD, an MP3 file) with someone else. 

Copyright ownership and protection begin at the moment the original work is fixed. The owner controls the six exclusive rights and, like any piece of property, the works can be sold, given away, inherited, or licensed. 

Two Separate Copyrights 

A sound recording embodies two separate copyrights. 

The Rights in the Song Composition 

Copyright in the song composition protects the combination of aspects like the melody, harmony, and lyrics. One way to conceptualize this is to think about the song composition as what is included on a piece of sheet music. It provides the basic melody and establishes the fundamental character of the work. When identifying the rights owners in a sound recording, ownership of the song composition is represented by the © symbol . 

The © symbol is used broadly to represent any copyrighted material, identifying the copyright owner for a poem, book, photograph, artwork, or photograph. Only when examining the rights of a recorded song, we focus on the © to represent the composition rights and the ℗ to represent the sound recording rights. 

The Rights in the Sound Recording 

Copyrights in the sound recording are created each time the song composition is recorded. Each performance will be original and, when recorded, fixed in a tangible format. When identifying the rights owners in a sound recording, ownership in a particular sound recording is represented by the ℗ symbol. 

Federal copyright in sound recordings is a relatively new right in the US. The 1976 Copyright Act established that sound recordings created after February 15, 1972, would be covered by federal copyright statute but songs recorded before that date would remain under state law or common law in the absence of state copyright law. 

If you are recording a song or composition that is in the public domain, you cannot re-copyright the composition as your own. You may only copyright your original sound recording. 

Current U.S. copyright law provides for six exclusive rights of all copyright holders. 

The Six Exclusive Rights 

Under US copyright law, in the absence of an agreement stating otherwise, the creator or creators of an original work own and control the six exclusive rights provided under the law from the moment the work is fixed in a tangible format. Copyright law covers a broad selection of creative works, so the six rights will be applied in different ways for different forms of creativity. 

For music, the six exclusive rights generally apply as follows: 

1. the Right to Reproduce the Work in Copies or Phonorecords - The right to reproduce a work includes making photocopies, digital copies, and physical copies (e.g., records, cassettes, CDs). It even includes using a part of a pre-existing song or sound recording in a new work if the copied part is substantial and material. 

2. the Right to Control the Making of Derivative Works Based upon the Copyrighted Work - A derivative work is when material from one or more pre-existing works is incorporated into a new work. Some examples of derivative works are samples, interpolations, and remixes. 

3.  the Right to Distribute Copies of the Work to the Public - The right to distribution encompasses any form of public dissemination of copyrighted works, whether in physical or digital form, such as offering them for sale, rent, or lease. This right is limited by the “first sale doctrine;” essentially, once a copy of the work has been sold, the distributor no longer has complete control over what happens to that copy. 

4. Any public performance of a song composition requires the permission of the copyright owner. The difficulty of monitoring this necessitates Performing Rights Organizations (in the US, these are ASCAP, BMI, GMR, and SESAC - Also CCLI for ministry music). Most public performances of music are authorized by copyright owners through their affiliation with performing rights organizations.the Right to Control the Public Performance of the Musical Composition - Copyright law defines a public performance as one that occurs “at a place open to the public or at a place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances are gathered.” This includes live performances and live or pre-recorded broadcast performances. 

5.  the Right to Control the Public Display of the Work - The circumstances under which this right would come into play are limited; for example, it would affect the visual display of sheet music in a store or museum. 

6. the Right to Control the Digital Audio Public Performance of the Sound Recording - The public performance of a sound recording is a relatively new but narrowly defined right. It is limited to digital audio broadcasts, i.e. satellite radio and streaming. The performance rights organization that monitors these plays is SoundExchange. We’ll cover this in more detail in lesson 10. 

Under copyright, an artist's right to use their work includes the right to restrict others from using the work the same way (thus the exclusive nature of the rights). A creator may choose (at their sole discretion) to not distribute their work, and they can prevent others from doing the same if they please. 

You should also  know that each of the exclusive rights is independently divisible, meaning that a copyright owner can sell his right to copy to one person while licensing his right to publicly perform a work to someone else.

Funding For Musicians: U.S. Music Grants 

Funding For Musicians: U.S. Music Grants

It’s easier than ever to make music and share it with the world. But being able to do it full-time is another story. 

There are lots of different ways musicians can make money, but one source of funding for music projects often overlooked is grants. 

Guest post by Dave Cool 

What are music grants? 

Grants are an excellent form of funding for musicians. There are dozens of music grant organizations in the USA that regularly award cash to serious artists, allowing the recipients to focus entirely on furthering their music career in some way. And unlike loans, they don’t need to be paid back. 

Sound too good to be true? These funding opportunities are out there for the taking, but they’re very competitive. You’ll need to research which ones are a good fit for you, find out when the deadlines are, and set aside plenty of time for the application process, which can be intense. 

Some music grant organizations exist to help out fledgling artists, while others support more established artists. Depending on the type of grant, the funding could be used to get a new music project off the ground, record an album, or tour. Some organizations place no restrictions at all on how you can use the money. 

Here are seven of our favorite music grants available in the United States to get your wheels turning. But definitely check out local opportunities in your own city or state, you never know what you might come across. 

1. New Music USA grants 

Region: United States 

New Music USA’s mission is to support and promote all kinds of musical creativity in the United States. They offer funding for music projects, support for small ensembles and DIY venues, and even provide composer-in-residence positions in orchestras. Learn more about New Music USA’s grants. 

2. Foundation for Contemporary Arts 

Region: United States 

The Foundation for Contemporary Arts was created by artists in 1963 to promote the innovative work of their peers. Today, they offer generous grants to nominated artists, as well as emergency grants ranging from $500 to $2,500 that any artist urgently in need of funding can apply for. Learn more about the Foundation for Contemporary Arts’ grant programs. 

3. The Alice M. Ditson Fund 

Region: United States 

Since 1940, the Alice M. Ditson Fund has awarded over 2,000 grants in support of contemporary American classical concert music. They offer funding for recording projects, with the specific goal of providing wider exposure for the music of younger, relatively unknown American composers. Learn more. 

4. New York Foundation for the Arts 

Region: New York 

The New York Foundation for the Arts has a 32-year history of supporting artists at all stages of their careers. Unlike grants that fund specific projects, the unrestricted $7,000 fellowships “are intended to fund an artist’s vision or voice, regardless of the level of his or her artistic development.” You can find up-to-date application information here. 

5. Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation 

Region: Delaware, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, the US Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia 

The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation was established to support multi-state arts programming and has since expanded to include initiatives in other parts of the United States. The grants provide support for artists looking to create, tour, build an audience, and develop their careers. 

You can explore MAAF’s unique artist grant programs here, which include creative fellowships, funding to perform at international festivals, and even a French-American cultural exchange program for jazz artists. 

6. Tennessee Arts Commission 

Region: Tennessee 

With a mission to “cultivate the arts for the benefit of all Tennesseans and their communities,” the Tennessee Arts Commission offers a wide variety of annual grants for individuals, projects, arts education, and more. 

The Individual Artist Fellowship awards $5,000 to professional artists of all stripes, including composers. There are no specific requirements for how you use the money, but you do have to already be making a living off of music to qualify for the fellowship. More details here. 

7. COLA Individual Artist Fellowship 

Region: Los Angeles, CA 

This fellowship is specifically for accomplished artists who either live in Los Angeles or have presented their work in the city for at least three years. The Department of Cultural Affairs grants $10,000 per artist for the creation of innovative new work. Check out the eligibility details and application guidelines here

Even if you don’t get the music grant you wanted the first time around, applying for funding is still a valuable process to go through. As you continue honing your craft and refining your unique artist voice, your applications will become stronger and stronger.

2020 Colorado Music Educators Conference Presentation 

I am looking forward to speaking at the 2020 Colorado Music Educators Conference at the Broadmoor Hotel and Convention Center in January.

My topic: Makin a Living Making Music: Entrepreneurial Opportunities in the New Music and Entertainment Industry.

Click here to view the CMEA Conference Schedule

Today’s music industry is the wild, wild, west! The gatekeepers who once determined the fate of an artist’s success, the projects that would be recorded, the songs to be released, the bands that would take the stage, no longer wield their career crushing power. To succeed in today’s music industry, musicians need to expand their skillset from being musicians alone to being musical entrepreneurs. This session, Making a Living Making Music: Entrepreneurial Opportunities in the New Music and Entertainment Industry, will help you discover and declare your IDENTITY as artists and entrepreneurs, your VISION for the life and vocation you dream of, and your INTENTION and plans to begin to transform your dreams into realities. 

I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak by CMEA Tri-M Music Honor Society Chair, Michelle Ewer. Tri-M Music Honor Society offers students, grades 6 through 12, an opportunity to perform, serve the community as well as places them in leadership positions. It helps to bring a music department together and operate as one. Tri-M looks different in every school. Colorado has one of the most robust Tri-M conventions across the country; Students come together to share and discover new ways to make their chapters stronger. Students walk away feeling excited and eager to try new ideas they have experienced at the convention. Feel free to click on the links below to answer questions that you may have.  

Click here to start a NAfME Tri-M® chapter at your school 

Click here for NAfME Tri-M® chapter resources

Michael Pickering, President and Chief Creative Officer of Lionsong Entertainment, Inc., and former Director and founder of the Music and Entertainment Entrepreneurship program at the Community College of Aurora, is a creative leader, entrepreneur, educator, and musician. He holds a Master of Arts in Music Business Degree and a B.P.S. in Interdisciplinary Music Studies Degree from the Berklee College of Music. He has served on the boards of local arts and entertainment organizations, authored post-secondary music curricula, and spoken at many local and national music industry events. He also provides music and entertainment business and performance consulting services (www.mpickeringmusic.com). Michael and his wife, Amy Pickering, remain active as national headline music and clean comedy performing artists for corporate, theatrical, educational, outreach, cruise, and private clients worldwide — www.michaelandamy.com.

CASE Act Passes US House of Representatives 

CASE Act Passes US House of Representatives

Guest post by Chris Eggertsen 

The bill intending to streamline copyright disputes now heads to the Senate. 

The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act passed 410-6 in the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday evening (Oct. 22). It now goes to the Senate for a vote before it can become law. 

If successful, the CASE Act will create a copyright claims board within the U.S. Copyright Office to rule on small claims infringement cases where damages would be capped at $15,000 per claim and $30,000 total. 

The bill would give independent creators a practical way to enforce their rights without the burden of hiring an attorney to fight the infringement in federal court. Cases would be decided by a three-judge panel of subject matter experts inside the Copyright Office, who will hear only straightforward cases of the alleged infringement. It includes a provision in which the Copyright Office will monitor the process in order to ensure it is not being used as a tool of harassment, according to a recent House press release.

The non-profit Copyright Alliance is applauding the U.S. House of Representatives for its overwhelming passage of the CASE Act on Tuesday evening (Oct. 22), echoing numerous advocates of the landmark copyright bill that will make it easier and less expensive for independent creators to fight copyright infringement. 

"The Recording Academy applauds the House for passing the CASE Act today, another victory for music creators almost exactly a year after the Music Modernization Act was signed into law,” said Daryl Friedman, chief industry, government, & member relations officer for the Recording Academy, in a statement. “We also thank the nearly 2,000 Recording Academy members who lobbied their legislators this month for the CASE Act. We now look to the Senate and the White House to get this bill into law and ensure music makers have access to the copyright protection they deserve." 

Added Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid: "The CASE Act continues to be a legislative priority for hundreds of thousands of photographers, illustrators, graphic artists, songwriters, authors, bloggers, YouTubers and other types of creators and small businesses across the country. These creators are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. Unfortunately, they currently have rights but no means to enforce them because federal court is too expensive and complex to navigate.

“Today’s vote by the House demonstrates not only the tremendous support for the bill but also the fact that members of Congress could not be bamboozled into believing the numerous falsehoods about the CASE Act that were proffered by those who philosophically oppose any copyright legislation that will help the creative community and who will use any means to achieve their illicit goals.” 

The next step for the bill will be a full vote on the floor of the Senate, where it has already been voted out of the Judiciary Committee. 

The CASE Act has not been without its detractors. Among them are the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues that the bill’s passage “runs the risk of creating a chilling effect” with respect to speech online. The ACLU has claimed with average internet users could potentially face thousands of dollars in fines for simply sharing a meme or other piece of copyrighted content.

Music Publishers Are Driving A Full Stack Music Revolution 


Music Publishers Are Driving A Full Stack Music Revolution

As the value of music publishing catalogs have multiplied, so have the ways in which forward-thinking companies like Downtown, Round Hill, Kobalt, ole/Anthem, Primary Wave and Create Group monetized those catalogs, says MiDiA entertainment industry analyst Mark Mulligan. 

_____________________________ 

Guest post by Mark Mulligan of MIDiA from the Music Industry Blog 

Music publishing catalogs are gaining momentum fast as an asset class for institutional investments, with transactions ranging from large catalog mergers and acquisitions (M&A) through to investment vehicles for songwriters’ shares such as the Hipgnosis Fund and Royalty Exchange. Since 2010 the number of publicly announced music catalog transactions – across recordings and publishing – totaled $6.5 billion, with a large volume of additional non-disclosed transactions.This growing influx of capital has implications far beyond publishing, however, as ambitious publishers are using the access to debt and investment to reverse into the recordings business. 

Streaming, the change catalyst 

As with so many music market shifts, streaming is the catalyst for these changes. Streaming represented 27% of publisher revenues in 2018 and is set to near 50% by 2026. However, songwriter-related royalties – incorporating publisher and CMO payments – from streaming are less than a third of what labels get. Small-but-important increments such as the US disputed mechanical royalties rate increase are a) difficult to push through, and b) will not get publishing royalties to parity with label royalties. This means that publishers will underperform compared to labels in the fastest-growing revenue stream. The alternative is a ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ strategy. 

BMG Music Rights and Kobalt set the precedent with label services divisions alongside their publishing businesses, enabling them to play on both sides of the streaming equation. Now a wide range of publishers, both traditional and next-generation, are expanding their non-publishing businesses. – from ole/Anthem buying production music companies Jingle Punks and 5 Alarm Music, through Reservoir Music buying Chrysalis Records to Downtown buying CDBaby parent AVL. All have the common theme of publishers diversifying away from their core businesses to ensure they compete across a wider strand of the music business value chain.

Now Is A Golden Age for New Artists: Be Encouraged (And Realistic) 

Why This Is a Golden Age for New Artists (So Long as They Keep Their Ambitions in Check) 

We’re seeing a clear commercial emboldening of “middle-tier”‘ musicians at the expense of megastars 

Guest Post By TIM INGHAM 

What Is happening to streaming’s superstars? That was the big question asked in this very column two months ago. The answer, delivered by a myriad of game-changing stats: they’re getting squeezed. 

New data now shows that this trend isn’t going away – and is, in fact, calcifying. Industry monitor Nielsen recently released its half-year U.S. music trade report, which revealed the total number of interactive audio streams played in the first six months of 2019. This figure stood at 333.5 billion – up 28% year-on-year.  

Within Nielsen’s report, the body also confirmed the artists who attracted the most on-demand audio streams in the States during this period. The top five for the first half of 2019: 

  • Drake (2.66 billion streams); 
  • Ariana Grande (2.59 billion); 
  • Post Malone (2.35 billion); 
  • Billie Eilish (2.23 billion); 
  • Juice WRLD (1.91 billion) 

Guess what? The cumulative amount of audio streams accumulated by these Top 5 artists (11.74 billion) was actually smaller than that racked up by the equivalent Top 5 acts from Nielsen’s H1 2018 report (11.83 billion). The top five for the first half of 2018: 

  • Drake (3.33 billion streams); 
  • Post Malone (3.15 billion); 
  • XXXTentacion (1.92 billion); 
  • Migos (1.90 billion) 
  • J.Cole (1.53 billion) 

It must now be beyond doubt: There is a very significant shift in the democratization of music industry revenues taking place, with the momentum swinging away from blockbuster megastars and towards a much larger “middle tier” of artists. A juicy takeaway stat: according to Nielsen’s midyear reports, Drake was the biggest audio streaming artist in the United States in both the first half 2019 and the first half 2018. But, from one year to the next, his streaming tally actually fell by approximately 670 million plays.  

This, remember, happened amid a macro streaming marketplace which continues to shoot up by a double-digit percentage every year. 

Stats like these fit neatly with what Spotify – the world’s biggest subscription audio streaming platform – calls, to this day, its “mission”: “[To] unlock the potential of human creativity by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by these creators.” 

We don’t yet know how many acts relevant to that “million creative artists” goal are “making a living off their art” but we do know this: According to MBW research, the three major labels jointly saw their streaming revenue growth shrink in the first half of this year; simultaneously, Spotify’s revenue growth grew faster than ever. 

The most likely conclusion, there: Spotify is increasingly paying more of its royalty money to acts outside the three major record companies. 

This trend – the clear commercial emboldening of a “middle-tier”‘ of artists at the expense of megastars – is, it transpires, also bleeding into the live music arena. 

One recent hard data point shows this fact very clearly. The biggest concert promoter in the world, Live Nation, saw its total concert revenues grow by 16% year-on-year in the first half of this year. The driver of this uptick? Ticket sales for shows by artists operating outside LN’s Top 100-grossing acts. 

This sub-100 club saw their concerts revenue grow by 32% in H1 2019, Live Nation revealed last month – double the size of the percentage increase across its entire business. 

“[We’re] seeing more artists than ever in the history of this business selling between 2,000 and 4,000 seats [per show] right now.” 

The rise of the “middle-tier” artist has definitely been noticed by the world’s other largest concert promoter, AEG Presents – the owner of Coachella, which also works on tours for huge artists such as Elton John, BlackPink and The Rolling Stones. 

Rick Mueller is President of AEG Presents in North America. “I don’t know whether to call it a golden age or a renaissance, but we’re seeing more artists than ever in the history of this business selling between 2,000 and 4,000 seats [per show] right now,” he tells me. “I’ve been in this business for 25 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. Artists are coming out of the club world into theater venues at an incredible rate.” 

Mueller is certainly well-versed on this subject. AEG owns theater venues including Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium – which he says is now hosting roughly 65 shows a year. Meanwhile, the city’s Hollywood Palladium, owned by Live Nation, is hosting closer to 100 shows a year. And over in New York, the recently-opened Brooklyn Steel – co-owned by AEG and Bowery Presents – laid on a whopping 220 shows in its first 12 months of operation. 

“These are astronomical numbers in major markets, but even in the smaller markets you’re seeing a significantly larger quantity of shows taking place,” says Mueller. “Bands just keep coming out of nowhere and filling these rooms.” 

AEG suspects that this trend is closely related to the “middle tier” streaming artist phenomenon, with services like Spotify, combined with social media, putting the ability to build significant audiences back into the hands of performers and their teams. 

“Rewind 20 years ago, for a band to get the scale and following they needed to [sell out] a 2,000 seater venue, securing radio airplay was critical,” says Mueller. “But the advent of social media, streaming and viral media in general has changed everything.” 

This is all excellent news for artists hoping to quit their day jobs. Industry insiders suggest that a typical U.S ticket price for a 3,000-capacity theater venue today sits at around $40, and that, depending on production values and other factors, an act can expect to take home a 65% margin from that pricetag. 

Playing ten sold-out theater shows like this across the States would therefore gross $1.2 million, from which 65% would see $780,000 retained by the artist in question. 

Willard Ahdritz, the founder of artist/songwriter services company Kobalt – and the originator of the “middle tier” epithet – estimates there are currently more performers than at any point in history making a living from their recorded music catalogs. Presumably the same goes for the touring market? 

“I think that’s a fair suggestion,” says Mueller. “Between what an artist can make on the shows themselves, then adding in merchandise sales, there’s a good living to be made at that 4,000-cap level.” 

So what’s the catch? Evidence suggests that, just like in streaming, as the earnings of the “middle tier” of artists explode in live music, so the relative success of global superstars may inevitably start to dwindle. 

According to Pollstar data, the volume of ticket sales to the world’s Top 100 tours fell 6.1% year-on-year in November-May 2018/2019 compared to the same period in 2017/2018. Revenue from those ticket sales also fell, down 3.8%. Meanwhile, there is a notable lack of new artists breaking into the ranks of mega-grossing touring artists: As Rolling Stone noted last week, the average age of an artist behind a Top 10 global tour is now a creaky 53. 

Mueller says that AEG is not blind to the difficulty of elevating artists beyond the ranks of those 2,000-4,000-cap venues and into 10,000-plus cap arenas or huge stadiums. “I won’t call that a problem, but it’s definitely a challenge,” he says. “There is just so much music out there now; how do you get scale and [consumer] focus to grow someone into a true superstar?” 

Mueller refutes the idea, however, that the age of the mainstream breakthrough icon may be grinding to a halt. He points to recent Rolling Stone cover star Billie Eilish, who he says has “shot right past club and theater level into an arena superstar within literally 18 months”. 

And then there’s Ed Sheeran. At 28 years old, Sheeran is now a conspicuously young face amongst the world’s biggest-grossing live artists. Earlier this month, the British singer/songwriter broke U2’s all time record for a world tour’s total gross, generating a startling $736 million on a Divide-themed trek which will eventually see him play a jaw-dropping 255 separate nights. AEG is one of a handful of concert promoters that Sheeran has worked with on this global jaunt. 

“What I find most impressive about Ed is that he built off his first [global] touring cycle to get even bigger second time around,” says Mueller. “That’s one of the most challenging things for artists today: after earning that early success, how do you sustain it and grow it?” 

He adds: “Ed Sheeran continually puts out monster hit records. At the end of the day, that ability to build and build your audience comes down to one question: did you keep on writing songs that resonate with people?” 

As some elements of the music industry rulebook get torn up in front of our eyes, it seems, other passages remain resolutely unchangeable. 

Tim Ingham is the founder and publisher of Music Business Worldwide, which has serviced the global industry with news, analysis and jobs since 2015. He writes a weekly column for “Rolling Stone.”

Seven Misconceptions You Might Have About Music Publishing 

Seven Misconceptions You Might Have About Music Publishing

Take it from me: music publishing is a vast and potentially confusing topic, even for those of us who work in the industry every day. There are reams of laws — many dating back decades or further — and seemingly arbitrary protocols depending on platform, territory and other factors. 

I'm not going to pretend that I can give you an overview of music publishing in one article, but I am going to try and clear up a few of the most persistent misconceptions about the topic in one fell swoop. 

Publishing royalties only matter if you sell thousands of units 

Understanding that your song is split into two halves (master recording and composition) and earns different types of royalties for each half is essential to determining exactly what revenue you're owed. More specifically, publishing royalties are attributed to the composition side of your song and are earned in various ways. Part of those publishing royalties come from mechanical royalties, which are generated from sales of physical copies (aka "units") like vinyl or CDs or digital downloads from streaming, but that’s not the only way you earn publishing royalties. Other ways you earn royalties from your composition include streaming services like Spotify, video platforms like YouTube, song lyric sites, live performances, apps and more. 

Mechanical royalties are only generated from physical sales 

The term “mechanical” dates back to the days when music playback only occurred through mechanical means, like cranking up the Victrola at a (low-volume) 1910-style house party. In the pre-streaming era, every sale of a physical product (like LPs, CDs, or cassettes) earned a mechanical royalty. Today, streaming has become the primary form of music consumption in many markets. Those streams also earn mechanical royalties, making physical sales account for only a small percentage of your mechanical royalty revenue stream. 

To own the copyright of a song, you have to mail it to yourself 

While there are circumstances in which you should consider filing a formal copyright application for a song you write, from the moment your song is considered finished, or “fixed in a tangible form which can be reproduced,” you own the copyright. This might take the form of lyrics and chords written down on paper or a simple demo recording. Once you write it and have some physical representation of it, you own the copyright on that song and therefore own the publishing rights to it as well. 

Collection societies will collect all of your publishing royalties 

If you are only signed up with a collection society, you’re missing out on a big piece of your publishing income. Affiliating yourself with a CMO (collective management organization) or PRO (performance rights organization) such as ASCAP or BMI, if you’re in North America, is an essential step in music publishing, but it’s more like the beginning than the end of the process. For many songwriters, the royalties collected by their collection society represent perhaps a third of their overall publishing royalties. None of the major US PROs collect any mechanical royalties, whether from physical sales or streaming services, which is a significant - and growing - piece of the publishing revenue puzzle. While US PROs may be collecting global performance revenue via reciprocal deals, they may not be covering all the markets where your music is being performed or consumed - and they are almost certainly not collecting your international mechanical royalties. If your home collection society is outside the US, they may be collecting your mechanicals already, but that doesn’t mean they are registering your song with other global performance and mechanical societies to ensure that you’re collecting in every territory. 

Songwriters don’t earn royalties from broadcast radio 

While songwriters are typically paid performance royalties for broadcast (AM/FM) radio play under a “blanket license” that pays less than, say, a direct sale, the royalties earned through radio can be significant. The US is an outlier, however, when it comes to paying royalties on radio broadcasts to the sound recording (master) copyright owner, which is usually the record label or the self-released artist. Joining a small minority of countries in the global music market that includes China, North Korea and Iran, the US does not mandate that master recording owners be paid this second type of performance royalty for broadcast radio. However, satellite and non-interactive streaming radio services like Pandora do pay out to both master owners and publishers. 

A Co-Publishing Deal Is a Quick Way to Break Into Music Publishing 

Not quite. In these deals, a songwriter assigns a portion of his or her publishing rights to another person or company in exchange for money; usually, an advance on any royalties the song(s) will earn in the future. While there’s nothing wrong with this arrangement per se, it demands a keen and clear-eyed focus on the future. Is your co-publisher well-connected and able to score you syncs, performances by popular artists and other placements? Even in the best of circumstances, a co-publishing deal is much like a high-interest loan advanced against future earnings. That’s one reason we advise you seek experienced legal counsel before entering into any publishing deal that involves you giving away any of your rights as a songwriter or publisher. This leads us neatly into our final, and perhaps most important point…. 

Songwriters Give Up Ownership of Their Copyright When Signing a Publishing Deal 

It depends on the deal! If you’re signing into a co-publishing deal, generally you are signing away ownership to current and future songs throughout the term of the agreement. If you want to keep your ownership or aren’t ready for a traditional publishing deal, a publishing administration deal might be a better fit.  When you sign up with a publishing administrator like Songtrust, you do not lose any ownership of your copyrights and are free to exploit your songs however you’d like, in any form you’d like. Plus, by having your songs registered properly worldwide, you set yourself up to collect all future publishing royalties. 

These are just a few of the misconceptions floating around about music publishing, and as creators become more independent, the landscape of music publishing will certainly change and more misconceptions will come to light. If you’ve decided to make songwriting your career, make sure to learn everything you can about the music industry and, most importantly, music publishing, to ensure that you’re making better-informed decisions about your work.

Have questions? Contact me at michael@mpickeringmusic.com It would be my pleasure to help!

CD Baby, Tunecore, DistroKid Add Rapid Apple Music For Artists Verification  

CD Baby, Tunecore, DistroKid Add Rapid Apple Music For Artists Verification 

Top 3 DIY music distributors CD Baby, Tunecore and DistroKid have all added rapid Apple Music For Artists verification, unlocking the platform's expanded analytics for their artists. 

To be eligible, artists must use the same email address and password that they use for their distribution account when signing up for Apple Music For Artists. 

Here's how CD Baby describes what Apple Music For Artists offers: 

When you claim your Apple Music for Artists profile you’ll be able to: 

  • Express your visual brand on the platform 
  • View the real-time results of your music promotion 
  • Ensure that your music catalog is accurately represented 

With Apple Music for Artists you can view: 

  • Plays from on-demand streaming 
  • Average Daily Listeners 
  • Song Purchases on iTunes 
  • Radio plays on Apple Music 
  • Shazams (yes, Shazams!) 
  • Insights and milestones for your music worldwide (for instance, “You passed 10,000 all-time plays in Canada”) 
  • Plays from Playlists 
  • Most Played Songs 
  • Popular Countries (with heat maps) 
  • Demographic and geographic information about your listeners (by song, album, playlist, etc.) 
  • And more

APPLE MUSIC FOR ARTISTS LAUNCHES, RIVALLING SPOTIFY’S ANALYTICS TOOLS 

APPLE MUSIC FOR ARTISTS LAUNCHES, RIVALLING SPOTIFY’S ANALYTICS TOOLS

Artists and their managers have long appreciated the royalties they receive from Apple Music – which, on a per-play basis, are reportedly close to double what they get from Spotify. 

Yet Spotify has always won far more praise when it comes to another valuable asset for musicians: data. 

Spotify launched its Spotify For Artists app in 2017 (an evolution of the ‘Fan Insights’ tool it introduced two years earlier) to provide artists and their teams with information pertaining to their popularity on the service. 

Now, Apple is stepping up to the plate.

Guest post by: BY TIM INGHAM of Music Business Worldwide

Today (August 8), Apple Music For Artists (AMFA) is emerging out of Beta and is being made available for every artist on Apple Music. Like Spotify for Artists, the service is available as both a desktop interface and a standalone mobile app (in AMFA’s case, currently only on iOS). 

MBW understands that in the limited industry meetings Apple has had during AMFA’s Beta, it has been confidently telling artists that its app is “the best available” in the market. 

We’ve taken a look at the platform, both on desktop and via the iOS app. As you’d expect, it allows artists to monitor the volume of their streaming plays on Apple Music and album/song sales on iTunes, all within a data set that updates daily. 

Artists can also drill down into how specific songs and/or albums are performing (and how their fans are growing) in specific markets around the world – down to a city-level in over 100 countries. Apple believes this will help artists to plan tours, tailor setlists for fans in each city, and uncover hitherto unknown pockets of popularity around the world.

Artists can also monitor how many plays of a particular song in a given period have been generated by playlists, as opposed to ‘organic’ plays from fans – and what position their track has been placed within these lists. And they can also see how many of their streams are the result of algorithmic radio (i.e. ‘lean-back’) versus active plays. 

This won’t shock you, but it’s a big differentiator: Apple is putting Shazam data front and center within its AMFA app, allowing artists to examine where their music has been most Shazam’d in particular locations and in particular time periods. (Apple fully acquired Shazam for a reported $400m in September last year.) 

In addition, artists can see a basic count of the average number of daily listeners to their music, broken down by country, city or song, while there is a dedicated section breaking out their video plays on Apple Music. 

Plus, Apple has updated its data to cover music industry standard release weeks to enable artists to better monitor week-to-week success. 

And in a feature which reminded us of the much-vaunted artist app from AWAL, acts are automatically alerted when there are meaningful changes to their data, for example: (i) The first week plays of a new release versus their previous week-one plays; (ii) Milestones like ‘1 Million Plays’; (iii) Sudden spikes in streams anywhere around the world; (iv) When they are added to a major Apple Music playlist. 

Unlike some third-party distribution/services companies, Apple does not provide insights on how an act’s streams translate into royalty payouts.