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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.

GOLDMAN SACHS UPS INDUSTRY FORECAST – SAYS 1.15BN PEOPLE WILL PAY FOR MUSIC STREAMING BY 2030 

GOLDMAN SACHS UPS INDUSTRY FORECAST – SAYS 1.15BN PEOPLE WILL PAY FOR MUSIC STREAMING BY 2030

SEE Goldman Sachs' Music In The Air Report Here

Guest Post By BY TIM INGHAM

The last time Goldman Sachs issued a report on the recorded music industry, it caused a wave of fiscal confidence in and around the global business. 

The investment bank’s ‘Music In The Air’ dossier, from August 2017, forecast a booming future for record labels, and set in motion a series of escalating valuations for Universal Music Group which have since hit $50bn (in the case of JP Morgan). 

In that report, Goldman forecast that trade revenues from paid streaming would reach $28bn by the year 2030, with the overall recorded music industry pulling in a whopping $41bn in the same 12 months.

To put Goldman’s optimism in context: according to IFPI data, in 2018, the recorded music industry generated $19.1bn globally – of which 37% (circa $7bn) was derived from paid streaming services. 

Today (June 5), Goldman has issued an update to ‘Music In The Air’ – obtained by MBW – in which it raises its forecasts for the years ahead. 

Goldman now predicts that, by 2030, the global recorded music industry will be pulling in $45bn annually (up on a restated prior forecast of $44bn). 

It also believes that paid streaming will generate $27.5bn for labels and artists in that year (up on a restated prior forecast of $27.1bn), and that the overall annual global trade streaming revenues (including ad-funded) will reach $37.2bn.

Perhaps the most exciting prediction within Goldman’s figures, however, is its forecast for the number of paying music streaming subscribers around the world. 

The financial firm now believes that, in 2023, this stat will rise to 690m (up on a previous forecast of 528m) – more than double the number of users of paid music streaming accounts (255m) confirmed by the IFPI for 2018. 

Goldman further predicts that, in 2030, there will be 1.15bn paying streaming subscribers globally (up on a previous forecast of 901m). 

Within this 1.15bn number, Goldman believes that over two thirds of subscribers (68%) will come from ’emerging markets’, rather than ‘established markets’. 

Partly as a result of that growth in emerging markets, Goldman predicts that global annual ARPU (Average Revenue Per paying User) from music streaming services will continue to fall significantly, down from $32.70 in 2018 to $27.30 in 2023 and $24.60in 2030. 

It notes a current valuation for Universal Music Group of €25.1bn – €35.2bn (approx $28bn – $40bn). 

Goldman’s ‘Music In The Air’ update also predicts that, in 2030, Spotify will remain the global market leader in audio subscription streaming, with 32% market share of global streaming subscribers, down from the 38% it registered in 2018. 

The timing of Goldman’s new report is certainly good news for Universal Music Group owner Vivendi – which is looking to sell up to 50% of UMG this year. 

A recent report from Bloomberg suggested that UMG had held talks with Tencent over a potential deal, but that some in the investment community were growing impatient. 

It quoted one source as saying that “some private equity investors balk at the high price [of UMG] and slow pace of the deal”. 

Potential buyers for Universal Music Group mooted to date have included Tencent, Alibaba, KKR, Apple, Verizon, Amazon and Liberty Media.

It's An Indie World After All  

It's An Indie World After All 

If there was still any doubt in your mind that you didn't need to be signed to a major label in order to succeed in the music industry, wonder no longer, as new data reveals just how much of market share indies have gained in recent years. 

Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0 

If you thought that you needed to sign with a major record label or publisher in order to have success, that’s no longer true and there’s a lot of data to prove it. No metric is more valuable in seeing this picture as market share. Indies have made great strides in this area in recent years and continue to do so. Let’s take a look: 

Record Label

Physical Product

Digital Product

Physical/Digital 

Universal

23.4%

32.4%

29.8% 

Sony

19.2%

20.2%

19.9 %

Warner

13.4%

17.7%

16.5%

Independents

44.0%

29.7%

33.8% 

The big takeaway here is how well the indies stack up against the majors. When it comes to physical product, the indies are way ahead, and when it comes to total product they are as well. 

Something similar happens with publishing. 

Record Label

2017

2018

Change

Sony

27.3%

26.0%

-1.3% 

Universal Publishing

19.5%

20.2%

0.7 %

Warner Chappell

12.0%

12.3%

0.3 %

Independents

41.2%

41.4%

0.2 %

Once again, the indies are way ahead of the major publishers and its’ not even close. 

This goes to show that everything in the music industry has been turned on its head. A decade ago and for nearly 100 years, the major labels and publishers dominated the industry. Today indies have a major share of the industry, and while no single company is as strong as a major (yet), they are as a group. 

Artists and songwriters are leery of major corporations in general, and that’s who run the major labels and publishers. They know that the majors have shareholder interests in mind more than theirs. It’s also now a safer bet to sign with a indie, since success is no longer a long shot by going down that path. 

The data was compiled by the Music & Copyright Blog.

21st Century Marketing 101: Reach is overrated  

21st Century Marketing 101: Reach is overrated

I received a timely email from Seth Godin this morning and want to share it with you. (No, Seth and I are not BFFs. I chose to be on his daily mailing list because, when it comes to marketing and a number of other topics, he "gets it!"

So I'm sharing Seth's brief words of wisdom. Enjoy!

Reach is overrated

From Seth Godin

It might be the biggest misconception in all of advertising. 

The Super Bowl has reach. 

Google has reach. 

Radio has reach. 

So? 

Why do you care if you can, for more money, reach more people? 

Why wouldn’t it make more sense to reach the right people instead? 

To pick an absurd example, you can use a giant radio telescope to beam messages to the billions or trillions of aliens that live in other solar systems. Worth it? 

I read an overview that pointed out that one of the cons of Amazon advertising was that they didn’t have the reach of Google. 

This is wrong in so many ways. 

Reach doesn’t matter, because your job isn’t to interrupt people on other planets, with other interests. Your job is to interact with people who care. 

Running an ad on the most popular podcast isn’t smart if the most popular podcast reaches people who don’t care about you. 

Perhaps it makes sense to pay extra to reach precisely the right people. It never makes sense to pay extra to reach more people.

8 Important Web Resources Designed For Musicians  

8 Important Web Resources Designed For Musicians 

As social media promotion becomes increasingly difficult for artists to to do for free, band websites have now become one the most important marketing resources you have. That said, maintaining and customizing a website can be touch trickier than social media platforms - luckily there are a number of great resources out there designed specifically to help artists do just that. 

________________________________ 

Guest post by Patrick McGuire of Soundfly's Flypaper 

With social media promotion becoming trickier and harder to do for free, band websites are more important now than ever. From selling merch with no middleman to promoting a new release and upping your SEO game, personalized music websitesare crucial in helping get the job done right. But how exactly do you “personalize” a website? Social media platforms are great for promotion because they’re so easy to use, but websites are much tricker to customize and update. 

To help you navigate the vast world of music-related website resources out there, we picked out eight of our favorite web tools that are made specifically for musicians, so you know you’re in good hands with each of them. 

1. Bandzoogle 

If you’re like me and want to quickly maintain and update a solid website for your band so you can get back to making music ASAP, check out Bandzoogle. They’re a website-building platform built by and for musicians. For a low subscription fee, they offer tools to help musicians build great websites in minutes. They also give artists access to commission-free merch, ticket, and download sales through their online store feature. 

In fact, we like this service so much that we partnered with them to make a free online course called How to Create a Killer Musician Website. Check it out! 

2. Spotify Artist Insights 

Streaming platforms have long been a source of controversy because of how little they pay artists, but some offer other advantages. Spotify’s Artist Insights feature is a powerful analytics tool designed to help musicians understand who’s listening to their music the most over the platform. It tracks listener information like gender, age, location, and through what source someone discovered your music. 

How does this relate to your own website? By discovering detailed information about your listeners, you can tailor the content on your website to better reach the parts of your audience that are most engaged and likely to buy your merch, see your live shows, and check out your new releases. 

3. Bandsintown 

Bandsintown offers a set of high-powered tools aimed at helping musicians promote shows, engage fans, and upload videos. Their events widget is designed to sync up show listing information across the web, so adding it to your site will help your fans stay up to date with accurate information about your performances. Show announcements can be automated and sent out through their platform, which is also a big plus. But Bandsintown’s biggest advantage comes with their comprehensive show listing page, which shows fans which artists are playing shows near them, in case you wanted to pitch your band for a support spot! 

4. GigMailz 

GigMailz is similar to Mailchimp, but is geared towards musicians and other entertainers. For a low monthly subscription, users get services like a 45-minute design consultation, unlimited lists, and analytics. By adding the GigMailz widget to your website, you can bring new fans into the fold with show and music release updates, sales on merch, and other band happenings, with a few clicks. 

5. Songkick 

If you’re looking for an easy way to post show information in one place and have it show up all over the internet, look no further than Songkick’s Tourbox API feature. It functions through a widget that you can add to your website and across your social media accounts, as well as a mass automated updater that reaches Spotify, Shazam, Bandcamp, Pandora, Hype Machine, and loads of other sites. Fans with the Songkick app installed on their phones will receive notifications when you announce shows near their location. 

6. Bandtraq 

Bandtraq, another company formed by musicians, creates digital tools to help artists and fans alike. The musician-oriented tools they offer include a handy customizable widget that lets artists present social media feeds, videos, music, and more, all in one place. The unique Bandlink feature helps bands design smart landing pages to promote and present new releases through a single short link, which is ideal for rolling out new music over a website in a quick and easy way. 

7. SoundCloud 

You’re probably well aware of SoundCloud by now, but its widget feature is worth mentioning. Because SoundCloud is completely free and typically reliable, it’s the perfect place to host music over your site. Yes, you’ll lose some royalty money by not linking up to your Spotify or Apple Music account, but going with SoundCloud is the best option because it doesn’t force those visiting your site to sign up with yet another service. Plus, it’s essentially social media for track releases. 

8. Metablocks Widgets 

For musicians looking to integrate sophisticated retail capabilities with their sites, Metablocks is a good option. Through their widgets, you can sell music, accept email addresses, and even integrate Spotify’s Pre-Save campaigns. They’re able to link with hundreds of music retailers, and offer analytics in real-time about who’s clicking, when, and why. 

Bonus: Google Analytics 

And for a bonus, because it’s not strictly designed for musicians, Google Analytics is worth checking out if you’re obsessed with learning more about the fans who visit your website. This platform is designed to help businesses (if you sell music, then you’re a business) better understand and serve their customers, and that makes it perfect for you.

Your Network IS your Net-Worth 

Music industry veteran, Bob Lefsetz shared about the essential nature of building and nurturing a fan community in his blog this week. i can't agree more with his insight. Building, engaging, and nurturing community is central to my messages to my clients and my students. Enjoy Bob's post below.

You've got to build it from scratch. 

And you have to know each and every member and how to reach them. 

Remember the MTV era? Instant heroes who soon became zeros. The faster you make it, the faster you lose it. 

In other words, if you're depending on the label, the corporation, to bring you to the top, you're in trouble. 

I know this is antithetical to everything you've been taught, but the mentality of the music business exists in the twentieth century, while we're living in the twenty first. Grass roots. Credibility. Honesty. All these things are going to grow your career in today's era, and it's gonna happen slowly. You might never break through to the big time, but your fans will support you. Fans will house you, promote you and give you all their money. All they want in return is respect and access. It's the best deal in history. One e-mail, one tweet can motivate them into taking action. 

No candidate is better known than Joe Biden. But he's living in the last century, he had no mailing list, except for the one from when he ran for Vice President, and they say those mailing lists are only good for two years. 

Biden said he raised $6.3 million in his first day of fundraising, more than Bernie's first day, which netted the Vermont Senator $5.9 million. 

But the devil is in the details. Biden raised the money from 97,000 donors. Bernie raised his cash from 225,000. It's about fans, not grosses. Which is why you'll see big bands limiting ticket prices, selling tickets to fan clubs, doing everything to maintain their base which will sustain them through the thin times. 

Furthermore, Biden got $700,000 from fat cats, at a fundraiser. And in today's era, all the little people hate the big people. 

It's happening in music too, it's just that the big people don't want you to know it. The imprimatur of the label, the push at radio, these are things the true fans have no sympathy for. The labels and radio are in the hits business, the fans are in the career business, and there's so much more money in that. 

The press is behind Biden. As are the corporate donors, lobbyists and the Party. You'd think he's a winner until you look at the actual voters. This is how the Republican fat cats lost control of their party, when Trump swooped in and appealed to the little people who felt ignored. 

A big publicity campaign won't tell you who you're reaching, won't give you hardly any information at all. And today it's all about the data. Spotify will tell you where you're hot and where you're not. But even more important is the rank and file, the fans. They want to hear from you, but with so many media messages your effort gets lost and stops before it reaches them. No one catches everything, it's impossible. Even the biggest of publicity campaigns don't reach everyone. 

It's all about targets. Efficiency. 

And there's a nerd in your fanbase who will coordinate all this. Someone savvy, who'll do it for the love. 

You've got to be organized, you're managing yourself. If you're handing off responsibility to someone else, you're missing the point. Fans want you, and they can tell when it's fake. 

Of course it's a lot of hard work, but the dividends are paid in the future. 

Bernie could only raise this much money because he ran in 2016, he had an infrastructure. 

The era of the vapid instant superstar is done. It only resonates with the media and the brain dead. True fans want to feel like they belong, they want to channel their energy, they want to know they're important. 

So we've got two music businesses today. Actually three. 

One is the oldsters who made it before the internet coasting on their hits, never to have another one. 

Number two is the Spotify wonders. Propped up by the machine. Hyped. Sure, some of them will sustain, but most of them will not. Come on, you know that fans want to own the act themselves before everybody else does, they want to say they were there first, they don't want to be a number, they want to be known. They want to say they saw you in a club. That they bought a t-shirt from you at the merch table. And when you break through, they'll still support you. 

Number three is the vast majority. Those who the machine doesn't want. Those who do not rap or sing pop to an 808 beat. Their time is coming. Stop bitching about recording revenue, everybody can hear your music essentially for free, that's a good thing! You used to have to depend on radio and sales for traction, now your music is just a click away and there are so many ways to monetize, be encouraged, not discouraged. 

The media can't cope with numerous genres. It's all about winners. But in the internet era there are tons of winners. And the more different you are from the hitmakers, the greater the chances that you'll succeed. 

But it's a slower process than before. 

And you have to do most of the work yourself. 

But your fanbase will support you through thick and thin. And no one is as rabid as a fan in spreading the word, they'll drag friends to a gig, which is why you've got to be great every night even if there are only ten people in the audience, because one person today has more power than any newspaper if they believe. 

The world has become inverted. We're going from the macro to the micro. And the truth is there's plenty of money in the micro. And if you hang in there long enough, you can go macro. The machine is throwing things against the wall. You're making music containing your heart and soul, humanity emanates from the grooves, it's not for the good times, but for all time. 

The old game is dying. 

You're in charge of the new game. But you must use the new game paradigm. And that starts with ones and twos, fans. Know who they are and activate them, it's the only way to win in the music game today. 

If you want to sell perfume and have a clothing line that's a different path. 

But if you're a musician, your time has come. 

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Songwriters Urge Users To #CancelSpotify 

#cancelspotify A growing group of songwriters are taking to social media to urge users to #cancelspotify in protest of the streamer's decision to challenge a US Copyright Royalty Board decision to raise streaming payments to songwriters 44% over the next 5 years. 

Yesterday dozens of top songwriters called out Spotify in an an open letter that urged the streamer to reverse course: "Now, we can see the real reason for your songwriter outreach. You have used us and tried to divide us but we stand together." 

While #cancelspotify is far from trending on Twitter, the campaign does appear to be gathering some momentum.

What do you think?