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MLC Chooses As “Digital Services Provider” Company That Sent Fraudulent License Notices To Songwriters  

MLC Chooses As “Digital Services Provider” Company That Sent Fraudulent License Notices To Songwriters 

The new Music Licensing Collective board of directors has chosen the third-party licensing company, the Harry Fox Administration (HFA), to be its digital service provider. That’s the same HFA that musician and artist advocate David Lowery alleges sent songwriters fraudulent license notices. 

Guest post by Dr. David C Lowery from The Trichordist 

The picture shows dozens of backdated “NOIs” for compulsory mechanical licenses sent to me by HFA in 2016.  By purporting to be valid NOIs for licenses when they were not, HFA committed mail fraud. 

Music Row is reporting the music licensing collective board of directors has selected HFA as a digital service provider: 

Technology company ConsenSys and mechanical licensing administrator Harry Fox Agency(HFA) received unanimous approval from the MLC Board to become the primary vendors responsible for managing the matching of digital uses to musical works, distributing mechanical royalties, and onboarding songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers and their catalogs to the database. 

The problem is that HFA was the 3rd party licensing contractor hired by Spotify and other streaming services to obtain licenses from songwriters and publishers.  HFA did not properly do their job leaving streaming services exposed to massive copyright infringement lawsuits (from people like me).  They created the problem that led to the creation of the Music Licensing Collective so now they are rewarded with the contract to run the matching of musical works and paying artists?!?!  Didn’t they just fail spectacularly when asked by Spotify to do this job?  Didn’t the Spotify class action and the four other private lawsuits prove HFA incapable of doing the job? 

Even worse, in order to attempt to cover up the mess, they sent me, many fraudulent “Notices of Intent” or NOIs that purported to execute the federal compulsory mechanical license. They were not valid as they were backdated to make it appear they had sent the notices before the songs were streamed.  I regret now that we didn’t pursue a RICO case against these folks when we were pursuing the copyright infringement cases against the streaming services.  (See the screenshots below.) 

Here’s what the DOJ says about mail fraud. 

940. 18 U.S.C. SECTION 1341—ELEMENTS OF MAIL FRAUD 

“There are two elements in mail fraud: (1) having devised or intending to devise a scheme to defraud (or to perform specified fraudulent acts), and (2) use of the mail for the purpose of executing, or attempting to execute, the scheme (or specified fraudulent acts).” Schmuck v. United States, 489 U.S. 705, 721 n. 10 (1989); see also Pereira v. United States, 347 U.S. 1, 8 (1954) (“The elements of the offense of mail fraud under . . . § 1341 are (1) a scheme to defraud, and (2) the mailing of a letter, etc., for the purpose of executing the scheme.”); Laura A. Eilers & Harvey B. Silikovitz, Mail and Wire Fraud, 31 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 703, 704 (1994) (cases cited). 

Oh and one more thing. HFA was the company that was supposed to pay these streaming royalties back out to the songwriters.  They didn’t do that either.  Where is that money? Shouldn’t the Copyright Office look into this? 

This is a travesty. The members of the MLC  and those that purport to represent songwriters (I’m looking at you NSAI, SONA) have some serious explaining to do to songwriters.  This company was one of the main reasons songwriters didn’t get their mechanicals for 7 going on 8 years. What the fuck were you guys thinking?

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.

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.

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!

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.

‘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.

Un-Freaking-Believable! Spotify: We ‘Overpaid’ Songwriters And Their Publishers In 2018, And We Would Like Our Money Back 

Un-Freaking-Believable! Spotify: We ‘Overpaid’ Songwriters And Their Publishers In 2018, And We Would Like Our Money Back

Courtesy of Music Business Worldwide

If you hadn’t noticed, tensions between the music publishing community and Spotify have taken a turn for the sour in recent months. 

This all began in March when Spotify, alongside other music streaming operators like SiriusXM/Pandora, Google and Amazon, lodged an appeal against mandated pay rises for songwriters and publishers in the US.

The headline news about that pay rise, decided by the US Copyright Royalty Board, was that mechanical streaming payouts from the likes of Spotify would rise by 44% or more between 2018 and 2022. 

It turns out, however, that there was some additional and under-reported complexity to the CRB decision concerning Spotify’s student discount offers and its family plan bundles – which allow up to six family members to stream Premium Spotify for a single price of just $14.99 a month. 

“ACCORDING TO THE NEW CRB REGULATIONS, WE OVERPAID MOST PUBLISHERS IN 2018… RATHER THAN COLLECT THE 2018 OVERPAYMENT IMMEDIATELY, WE HAVE OFFERED TO EXTEND THE RECOUPMENT PERIOD THROUGH THE END OF 2019.” 

SPOTIFY SPOKESPERSON

Because of this additional complexity, Spotify has now calculated that, retrospectively, according to the CRB decision, many music publishers actually owe it money for 2018, due to an overpayment based on the prior rates. And guess what? It wants that money back. 

Spotify told the publishers the news this week and, as you can imagine, these companies – already up in arms over Spotify’s CRB appeal – are fuming about it. 

One senior figure in the music publishing industry told MBW: “Spotify is clawing back millions of dollars from publishers in the US based on the new CRB rates that favor the DSPs, while appealing the [wider CRB decision]. This puts some music publishers in a negative position. It’s unbelievable.” 

Spotify isn’t expecting the publishers to hand over the money that it’s owed right away; instead, this negative balance will be treated as an advance by the company, which will be recouped from its 2019 royalty payouts to publishers (and, by association, their songwriters).

“I FIND IT SO HYPOCRITICAL FOR A DIGITAL SERVICE THAT IS APPEALING THE CRB DECISION TO THEN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PARTS OF THAT DECISION THAT BENEFIT IT. I GUESS WE SHOULDN’T BE SURPRISED.” 

DAVID ISRAELITE, NMPA

A spokesperson for Spotify told MBW today (June 21): “According to the new CRB regulations, we overpaid most publishers in 2018. While the appeal of the CRB decision is pending, the rates set by the CRB are current law, and we will abide by them –  not only for 2018, but also for future years in which the amount paid to publishers is set to increase significantly. 

“Rather than collect the 2018 overpayment immediately, we have offered to extend the recoupment period through the end of 2019 in order to minimize the impact of the adjustment on publishing companies.” 

David Israelite, the CEO of the National Music Publishers Association who has consistently and publicly decried Spotify’s CRB appeal, told MBW in response to Spotify’s request for reimbursement from the publishers: “I find it so hypocritical for a digital service that is appealing the CRB decision to then take advantage of the parts of that decision that benefit it. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.” 

The CRB rules that the annual streaming royalty rate in the States between 2018 and 2022 will be determined by the highest outcome across one of three different models: (i) a percentage of a streaming company’s total revenue; (ii) a percentage of what that streaming service pays to record labels each year; and (iii)  a flat fee per subscriber in the US. 

Within the new CRB-approved regulations for streaming payouts, it says: “A Family Plan shall be treated as 1.5 subscribers per month, prorated in the case of a Family Plan Subscription in effect for only part of a calendar month. A Student Plan shall be treated as 0.50 subscribers per month, prorated in the case of a Student Plan End User who subscribed for only part of a calendar month.” 

The NMPA announced last week that the US music publishing industry generated a record $3.33bn in 2018, up 11.8% year-on-year, and up 55% when compared to 2014.

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.”