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Max Martin, UMG, Avid, DDEX, Session Announce the ‘World’s First End-to-End Music Credits Ecosystem’ 

Max Martin, UMG, Avid, DDEX, Session Announce the ‘World’s First End-to-End Music Credits Ecosystem’

Let’s give these artists some credit. 

Guest Post by: Paul Resnikoff

Photo: Session CEO Niclas Molinder (l) with ABBA member and Session co-founder Bjorn Ulvaeus (r) at SXSW.

Last week, a consortium of industry and artist associations banded together to underscore the importance of a “more robust and effective system of digital attribution and credits.” 

In a joint statement, the Artist Rights Alliance, SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America ) and A2IM (American Association of Independent Music) urged the industry to double-down on proper artist crediting and metadata. 

“Attribution recognizes artistic achievement, helps creators connect, collaborate, and appreciate each other’s work, opens up new pathways for fans to trace artistic influences, and find new music, and aids accuracy in the digital royalty economy,” the joint statement urged. 

Now, there’s a concrete effort to more seriously address credits, missing metadata, and black box royalty problems. 

At SXSW, a separate consortium has proclaimed the ‘world’s first end-to-end music credits ecosystem’. 

The bold initiative, called Creator Credits, is being led by a heavyweight alliance that includes Max Martin’s MXM Music, Avid Technology, Universal Music Group and DDEX.  Session, led by co-founder (and ABBA member) Bjorn Ulvaeus and CEO Niclas Molinder (pictured above), is corralling the circle of power-players. 

In an announcement at the Hilton Hotel in Austin, TX, Molinder underscored the importance of starting the process of credits immediately.  That would explain the presence of Avid, which owns Pro Tools. 

“I’m convinced that the best way to involve the creators in the data collection is as early as possible in the creation process,” Ulvaeus said during the unveiling.  “Session’s technology performs a short handshake with music society systems to authenticate creators and associate their vital industry identifiers with their account. 

“When a creator walks into a Pro Tools powered studio, their presence will be automatically detected and their identifiers, along with their typical contributions, can be easily added to a song.” 

That approach is a far cry from the typical afterthought afforded to music metadata and royalty credits. 

Instead, Session (formerly named Auddly) is taking a very aggressive approach by starting the credits process during the creation phase itself.  “The proof-of-concept sees Avid embedding Session’s technology into Pro Tools to automatically detect the presence of creators in the studio and allowing the addition of creator credits, contributions and crucial industry identifiers (IPI, IPN and ISNI) to a recording before it leaves the studio,” the company explains. 

“Creator credits can easily be added to a song throughout the production process by automatically associating industry authenticated songwriters, musicians, producers and editors and their contributions.” 

In other words: the credits for a song can be added before the song is finished. 

“With Pro Tools software at the core of many of today’s music production environments around the world, the Avid team shares in the vision that all contributors to a piece of music or any audio work should be clearly identified, recognized and rewarded appropriately throughout the production and distribution process,” said Francois Quereuil, Director of Audio Product Management, AVID. 

“We are particularly excited to enter a technology collaboration with Session and work with key players in the music industry to provide a durable solution to the challenges associated with capturing and recognizing creators’ credits in an increasingly complex digital world.” 

But here’s the really exciting part: these credits aren’t just getting added to a local file. 

Instead, they’re being automatically pushed downstream to managers, labels, music publishers, PROs, distributors and streaming platforms.   That aggressive push is mandatory for proper downstream payments, especially given the spotty distribution of metadata across the fractured music industry ecosystem. 

The presence of Universal Music Group will also add some serious momentum to this initiative.  But Barak Moffitt, EVP of Content Strategy and Operations at UMG, says the two companies have been working together on metadata and credits for a few years.  “In addition to our own efforts, we have been working closely with Bjorn and Niclas for a couple years on the development of this platform as part of our commitment to a robust and effective crediting system for the benefit of the entire music ecosystem,” Moffitt relayed. 

DDEX, the supply chain data standards organization, has also been toiling away on music metadata standards for years — if not more than a decade.   Accordingly, the creator credits metadata will travel downstream to various music industry players in the ‘DDEX RIN’ standard format.  That will include critical industry identifiers for songwriters (IPI) and performing artists (IPN), as well as the emerging ISNI identifier. 

This creator identification information, along with their contributions to the recording and song, are assembled with the ISRC (recording identifier) and ISWC (composition identifier) codes.  That will enable downstream music platforms to improve their matching, payouts and even value-added features. 

The initiative comes at a moment of serious frustration for the music industry. 

With the ink dried on the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the industry is now arguing over an estimated $1.2 billion in unattributed ‘black box’ mechanical royalties being held by the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music Unlimited.  And that’s just one piece of a gigantic black box whose size is estimated to be in the multi-billions.

Spotify and Amazon 'sue songwriters' with appeal against 44% royalty rate rise in the United States  

Spotify and Amazon 'sue songwriters' with appeal against 44% royalty rate rise in the United States 

A recent Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) ruling brought great news for songwriters in the US – with royalty rates for streaming and other mechanical uses set to rise 44% in the market. 

Spotify and Amazon have now officially come out in opposition to that ruling, in what the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) has called a "shameful" move which equates to "suing songwriters". 

On January 27, 2018 MBW reported on the CRB’s landmark ruling, which stated that royalty rates paid to songwriters in the US from on-demand subscription streaming would rise by 44% over the next five years. That decision was ratified last month (February 5), when the CRB published the final rates and terms for songwriters. 

Streaming companies were given 30 days to lodge official opposition to the ruling if they wished. The likes of Apple Music declined to do so – but it's a different case for Spotifyand Amazon, which have now both filed a notice of appeal against the 44% royalty rise. 

In a statement today (March 7), the NMPA said that a "huge victory for songwriters is now in jeopardy" due to the streaming services’ filing. 

NMPA President & CEO David Israelite commented: “When the Music Modernization Act became law, there was hope it signaled a new day of improved relations between digital music services and songwriters. That hope was snuffed out today when Spotify and Amazon decided to sue songwriters in a shameful attempt to cut their payments by nearly one-third. 

He added: "The CRB’s final determination gave songwriters only their second meaningful rate increase in 110 years.

Instead of accepting the CRB’s decision which still values songs less than their fair market value, Spotify and Amazon have declared war on the songwriting community by appealing that decision." 

SOUNDCLOUD IS NOW A DISTRIBUTOR: PLATFORM LAUNCHES TOOL FOR USERS TO UPLOAD MUSIC TO SPOTIFY, APPLE MUSIC ETC. 

Guest Post By Tim Ingham/ Music Business World February 19, 2019

The upgrade to the platform’s SoundCloud Premier monetization toolset allows users to “seamlessly” distribute their music to the likes of Amazon Music, Apple Music, Instagram, Spotify, Tencent, YouTube Music and more – all from within their SoundCloud account. 

Subscribers to either of SoundCloud’s upload offerings (SoundCloud Pro and Pro Unlimited) can gain access to SoundCloud Premier at no extra cost.

Premier’s core selling point is that it allows artists to monetize their music on SoundCloud, earning a revenue share which the company says “meets or beats every [other] streaming service”. 

In terms of the new distribution tool, SoundCloud says it’s not taking any cut from the earnings artists obtain on other platforms, while it promises “streamlined payments from everywhere – directly from SoundCloud”. 

“Only SoundCloud empowers creators with a unified platform to instantly upload and share, connect with fans in real-time and get paid for their work everywhere –both on SoundCloud and across other leading music services,” said Kerry Trainor, Chief Executive Officer, SoundCloud. 

“Creators can now spend less time and money jumping between different tools, and more time making music, connecting with fans and growing their careers first on SoundCloud.”

The move comes a few months after Spotify announced that it was also effectively becoming a multi-platform distributor. Daniel Ek’s company acquired a minority stake in third-party firm Distrokid in October last year, before launching a beta tool which made it possible for users to upload tracks to other services via the Spotify For Artists dashboard. 

Prior to rolling out its open beta distribution tool, SoundCloud worked with a number of artists including Leaf, mobilegirl, Jevon and Thutmose in a closed beta environment to test and get feedback on the new feature. 

“I believe SoundCloud’s new distribution tool is the way of the future for independent artists and music in general,” said rising rap artist, Leaf. “It makes distribution an easy one-step process, giving you a very simple way to monetize your plays and the freedom to reach new heights with your fan base.” 

Hip-hop producer and musician, Jevon, said, “SoundCloud’s distribution tool is a great way for unsigned artists to get their music out there for the world to hear. Everyone knows how easy it is to upload a song to SoundCloud, and now it’s just as simple to upload and distribute everywhere.” 

Over the course of the next few months, says SoundCloud, creators will see new functionality added to the monetization toolset – which is available for SoundCloud Pro or Pro Unlimited subscribers who own all applicable rights to their original music, and who are over 18 years old. 

To use the toolset, these artists must also have no copyright strikes against their music on SoundCloud at the time of enrollment. 

At last count, SoundCloud’s music catalog included over 200 million tracks from 20 million creators heard in 190 countries

SPOTIFY’S GLOBAL MONTHLY ACTIVE USERS TOP 200M, UP BY 20M IN THE PAST SIX MONTHS 

Spotify now has more than 200m monthly active users (MAUs) around the world. 

The news was broken by the service’s communications chief Dustee Jenkins, at CES in Las Vegas. 

Speaking in an interview yesterday (January 10), Jenkins revealed that the service broke through the 200m barrier last week.

That’s up by 20m on the 180m MAUs Spotify announced at the end of Q2 2018, and 9m on the 191m MAUs it announced in Q3. 

We’ll have to wait for Spotify’s Q4 earnings announcement (coming next month) to learn the company’s official year-end MAU tally for 2018.

In its Q1 2018 results announcement, Spotify projected that monthly active users would end 2019 somewhere between 198-208 million. By the time of its Q3 results, that top-end number had reduced slightly to 199-206 million. 

Judging by Jenkins’ comments, it looks like Spotify finished the year at the lower end of that margin. 

Speaking in an interview with Cheddar.com, Jenkins said: “It’s important to note [that] Spotify is the world’s largest global music streaming service, we’re about two times bigger than anyone else – in fact we just hit a major milestone a week ago, 200 million monthly active users. That’s a lot of people on the platform.” 

“WE JUST HIT A MAJOR MILESTONE A WEEK AGO, 200 MILLION MONTHLY ACTIVE USERS. THAT’S A LOT OF PEOPLE ON THE PLATFORM.” - DUSTEE JENKINS, SPOTIFY 

She added: “We’ve said all along, we want to focus on growth. We believe in being a profitable company, but first and foremost we have to grow and get to regions of the world that still don’t have Spotify. 

“There are still parts of the United States where Spotify is not widely used… the company has done a great job of prioritizing growth and making the service better, because there’s a lot of competition and we’re only as good as the user thinks we are so we have to continue to enhance our service.”