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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.

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.

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!

‘MASTERS ARE OWNED BY [THE] ARTIST’: CHANCE THE RAPPER MANAGER PAT CORCORAN INKS ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ DEAL WITH WARNER RECORDS FOR 99 NEIGHBORS 

‘MASTERS ARE OWNED BY [THE] ARTIST’: CHANCE THE RAPPER MANAGER PAT CORCORAN INKS ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ DEAL WITH WARNER RECORDS FOR 99 NEIGHBORS

When is a major label deal not a major label deal? 

If your answer to that question is, “When an artist owns their own masters,” then you might have found the past 12 months a confusing place. 

 Guest post by: BY TIM INGHAM of Music Business Worldwide

First, in November last year, we had Taylor Swift inking a global deal with Republic Records / Universal Music Group – an agreement under which she appears likely to license her music rights to UMG on a relatively short-term basis. “It’s incredibly exciting to know that I’ll own all of my masters from now on,” said Swift on Instagram when announcing that agreement. “It’s really important to me to see eye to eye with a label regarding the future of our industry.” 

Those words, of course, became all the more prescient last month, thanks to Swift’s masters-related public fallout with Scott Borchetta and Scooter Braun.

This week, another major music industry player is stating their joy at having struck a major label deal whereby masters are retained. This time, it’s not an artist doing the celebrating, but Pat Corcoran – the super-manager of Chance The Rapper, and therefore a key architect of one of the most talked about label-free artist campaigns of recent years. 

On behalf of his entertainment company Nice Work, Corcoran has just inked a deal with Warner Records, the company formerly known as Warner Bros Records and run by Tom Corson and Aaron Bay-Schuck out of Los Angeles.

“MASTERS ARE OWNED BY ARTIST, CREATIVE IS OWNED BY ARTIST, PROFIT SHARING OVER ROYALTIES, ALL WITH THE INCREDIBLE SUPPORT AND PLATFORM THAT OUR COLLECTIVE TEAMS PROVIDE.” 

PAT CORCORAN ON NICE WORK / WARNER RECORDS DEAL FOR 99 NEIGHBORS

The Nice Work/ Warner Records deal covers the future releases of 99 Neighbors, a Vermont-based music troupe whose ranks include founding hip-hop vocalists, Sam Paulino and Hanknative, plus producer Somba and a range of photographers, designers and musicians. 

In a press release, Corcoran noted that the Warner partnership would “allow me to work closer to the art while the label group could help amplify the distribution, marketing and promotion”. 

Calling the deal “unprecedented” and “artist-first”, Corcoran further noted: “The strategy allows Nice Work to step fully into what we love and what we feel we do best; bringing artists and fans closer together via innovative marketing, unparalleled artist-first service and unrelenting determination to protect and promote creators who move us with their music.” 

Over on Instagram, however, Corcoran was a little more direct in revealing significant details about the deal. 

He wrote: “Masters are owned by artist, creative is owned by artist, profit sharing over royalties, all with the incredible support and platform that our collective teams provide.” 

Doesn’t this sound like the sort of ‘label services’ agreement more typically offered by the likes of Sony’s The Orchard, Universal’s Caroline or Warner’s own ADA, not to mention a string of independent players, instead of a major record company deal? 

Corcoran added: “Proud to be a part of big changes in the music industry. Proud of the amazing art 99 has coming.” 

Interesting times.

Spotify Invests $10M In Facebook's Libra Cryptocurrency  

Spotify Invests $10M In Facebook's Libra Cryptocurrency

Spotify has officially joined Facebook's new Libra global cryptocurrency initiative. Spotify stands out as the only music or media company among 28 A-list players ranging from Visa to Uber to Andreessen Horowitz that each invested $10 million. 

Here's of Techcrunch describes Libra: "Facebook wants to make Libra the evolution of PayPal. It’s hoping Libra will become simpler to set up, more ubiquitous as a payment method, more efficient with fewer fees, more accessible to the unbanked, more flexible thanks to developers, and more long-lasting through decentralization." 

All that delivered locally on a global scale and with bitcoin tracking built in, and you get some idea of what a massive project this is. 

Why Spotify? 

For Spotify, Libra offers a chance to more easily receive payments globally, including from the many outside the banking system.  Someday soon, Libra could facilitate payments to artists and rights holders, as well. 

Alex Norström, our Chief Premium Business Officer, explains: 

“One challenge for Spotify and its users around the world has been the lack of easily accessible payment systems – especially for those in financially underserved markets. This creates an enormous barrier to the bonds we work to foster between creators and their fans. In joining the Libra Association, there is an opportunity to better reach Spotify’s total addressable market, eliminate friction and enable payments in mass scale.”

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?

 

European Union Passes Sweeping Copyright Reforms, Ending Safe Harbor For YouTube 

European Union Passes Sweeping Copyright Reforms, Ending Safe Harbor For YouTube

Guest Post By: Richard Smirke

Record labels, publishers, songwriters and artists have welcomed the passing of controversial copy- right reforms that will transform how user-generat- ed-content (UGC) services like YouTube operate in Europe. 

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted in favor of the EU’s Copyright Directive by a majority of 348 votes for, 274 against and 36 abstentions. The run-up to the vote saw public protests in a number of European cities and an unprecedented multi-million dollar lobbying campaign from the tech sector and Google, which owns YouTube. 

The European Union has laid the foundation for a better and fairer digital environment — one in which creators will be in a stronger position to negotiate fair license fees when their works are used by big online platforms,” said Gadi Orondirector general of CISAC, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, following the vote at the European Parliament’s seat in Strasbourg, France. 

Oron called it a “hugely important achievement” that will “lead the way for countries outside the EU to follow.” 

Before MEPs could vote on the final bill, the European Parliament ruled against a number of last minute amendments from MEPs unhappy with the final text. 
The proposed amendments included the deletion of Article 13 (renamed Article 17 in the consolidated text), which requires UGC platforms like YouTube to agree “fair remuneration” license deals with rights holders and makes them legally liable for hosting unlicensed content, effectively ending safe harbor immunity. 

In practice, that’s likely to involve YouTube using a stricter filtering system, although upload filters are not mentioned anywhere in the text and the directive does not specify what methods or tools platforms must use to block illegal content. Despite the objections of a select number of MEPs, Article 13 remains a key component of the copyright directive that was passed.

“Four years of titanic tussling later, our work to solve the ‘Value Gap’ now begins a new stage after this vote. Namely, to ensure that those who make the music make a fair return,” said John Phelan, director general of international music publishing trade association ICMP. 


Now that the legislation has been officially passed, all 27 EU member countries — a list that includes Germany, France, Sweden, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands — will have two years to transpose the directive into national law. Before that process can begin, member states will need to re-approve the Parliament’s decision on the EU Statute Book, most likely in early April, which is traditionally seen as a rubber-stamping exercise. 


It is not yet clear if the United Kingdom, the world’s fourth biggest music market, will adopt the legislation after it leaves the European Union, although it’s thought that if a Brexit withdrawal deal can be agreed, its laws would apply during any transition period. 

“This world-first legislation confirms that User-Upload Content platforms perform an act of communication to the public and must either seek authorisation from rightsholders or ensure no unauthorised content is available on their platforms,” said Frances Moore, CEO of international labels trade body IFPI, who thanked law makers for “navigating a complex environment” to pass the bill. 

Responding to the vote, Google Europe tweeted, “The #eucopyrightdirective is improved but will still lead to legal uncertainty and will hurt Europe’s creative and digital economies. The details matter, and we look forward to working with policy makers, publishers, creators and rights holders as EU member states move to implement these new rules.”

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."