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10 Careers In Music And How Much Money You Can Make 

10 Careers In Music And How Much Money You Can Make

When it comes to working in the music business, most people’s minds go to those performing on stage, but behind the curtain are a number of fulfilling, and often lucrative, jobs. Here we look at the top ten jobs in the music industry. 

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Guest post from Berklee Online 

When you think of a career in music, you might start with the performers who are center stage. But when you pull back the curtain, you’ll find people with an array of music business jobs and careers that help make performances possible. You have the people who coordinate and promote the music, the folks in the recording studios and on the soundboard who make the musical act sound topnotch, the writers who compose and arrange the music, and much more. 

There’s more to a career in music than just performance — it can involve one or many disciplines. The more versatile you are, the more opportunities you will have to work in the music business. 

Breaking into the music business is harder than other industries. Competition is high, but if you hone your craft, network with the right people, and put in the hard work, here are some music business careers to consider and what compensation you can expect out of them.* 

* Salary information is from the 2016 Edition of Music Careers Dollars and Cents by the Career Development Center at Berklee College of Music 

1. Music Producer 

 Want to be a jack of all trades? A producer understands both the creative and commercial side of the business and develops relationships with both musicians and the record label. A producer should create an environment that enables artists to create and express themselves. A producer also assists an artist’s recording project with many of the details, including choosing which material to record, interfacing with the recording engineer, adapting arrangements, balancing the recording budget, and influencing mixes. 

What to Learn: If you’re looking to become a music producer, consider learning about foundational audio and music concepts, start studying various types of software, and dive into what makes a good sound. To be a truly great producer, you’ll need to acquire knowledge in engineering and mixing. Look at the credits of your favorite albums: who produced them? Who engineered them? Find out what other albums these people produced, and get even further acquainted with their style. Read interviews with these people about their techniques. There isn’t one path to success here, but you can forge your own way as you develop the necessary skill set.  

What’s the Money Like? 

$25,000 – $1,000,000+  

 

2. Recording Engineer 

 An audio engineer is responsible for capturing sound and manipulating it in the studio. You’ll deal with both analog and digital audio, compressors, microphones, and signal flow—and typically combine both traditional and tech-savvy recording techniques to record music. You could also be responsible for organizing recording sessions and repairing any technical problems when they arise. And sometime you may catch the brunt of the producer or musicians if something goes wrong in recording that magic take! 

What to Learn: Become well-versed in multiple recording technologies and develop file management skills. Some jobs in sound engineering may require additional training in mixing and editing. You’ll also need to know how to solve problems, run recording sessions and take initiative. 

What’s the Money Like? 

$25,000 – $150,000+ 

 

 

 

3. Musician for Hire/Session Musician 

 As a session musician, you back and perform on another musician’s album or perform with various acts onstage. This means you have the freedom to dabble in multiple styles, genres, and sounds. You’ll interact, meet, and form relationships with a heap of other musicians. You may be asked to contribute to a recording session or join a band on tour. If you’re extremely proficient at your instrument, the path to becoming a successful session musician can be rewarding and even lead to a solo career. Before their solo careers, Stevie Ray Vaughan was a session musician for David Bowie, Sheryl Crow was a back-up singer for Michael Jackson, and Jimmy Page played in countless recording sessions. And some recording studios even have their own house bands. (See Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Muscle Shoals, and Twenty Feet From Stardom. Really! See these movies!) 

What to Learn: A successful session musician is a connoisseur of their instrument and has a solid reputation for their craft. You should be able to step into any musical arrangement to offer your skills and also be proficient and experienced at improvisation. Another necessity is to learn how to build a reliable network and solid relationships. You’ll want to have great communication skills and general industry knowledge. 

What’s the Money Like? 

Extremely wide range, $100 – $2,500 per day or up to $100,000+ 

The American Federation of Musicians (AFofM) specifies the minimum rate 

 

4. Artist Manager 

 An artist manager exists to create opportunities, connect, and propel the musical act forward. You have to wholeheartedly believe in your artist and help them build a strong and sustainable career through planning, organization, directing, and negotiating. You may not get all of the credit and adoration that the artist gets, but you’ll have to do as much—if not more—work! See that photo above? You probably recognize at least 80 percent of the people, and know their names. But how about the man in the center? That’s Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles during their rise to fame. Without the influence of Brian Epstein, it’s likely you’d never know the names John, Paul, George, and Ringo, much less know any of the music they made. 

What to Learn: Management and leadership skills are key here. Not only will you be streamlining and organizing multiple moving parts between musicians, publishers, and booking agents but you’ll also be making sales calls, negotiating contracts, and giving constructive criticism. 

What’s the Money Like? 

10 -50 percent of artist’s earnings 

$30,000 – $200,000 for a developing artist 

$2,000,000 – $10,000,000 for a mega successful artist 

 

5. Tour Manager 

As a tour manager, you’ll be involved in every aspect of a band’s career on the road. You’re the behind-the-scenes mastermind who has hands in every piece of transportation, accommodation, scheduling, and finances of a tour. You’ll make things run smoothly for everyone involved. You’ll need to have self-motivation and be okay with shouldering the band’s responsibilities—especially the financial ones. 

What to Learn: You’ll need to know the industry like the back of your hand. There are music business management programs you can study but you should also self-study tour logistics, accounting principles, and daily scheduling management. Get experience in different components of the live music industry and learn to anticipate and cater to needs while sticking to the schedule. To get a more thorough sense of what this job entails, read our profile on Berklee Online alum and Wilco tour manager Ashley ‘PK’ Mogayzel. 

What’s the Money Like? 

$2,500 – $10,000 per week for theater/arena-level touringBreaking into the music business is harder than other industries. Competition is high, but if you hone your craft, network with the right people, and put in hard work, here are some careers to consider and what compensation you can expect.… Click To Tweet 

 

6. Music Teacher 

Teaching can take on a variety of forms. You could teach in a school, a small music shop, or teach independently. You could teach theory or a specific instrument. You’ll also have freedom to choose which age range you’d like to teach—each one comes with its own advantages and obstacles. If you like encouraging people, sharing knowledge, and practicing patients, a career teaching music could be right for you. 

What to Learn: Your required education and background depends on which teaching path you’re most interested in. For example, teaching in a school will likely require more certifications than going down a self-employed route. You’ll certainly need to be proficient in the subject you’re teaching and feel confident giving lessons. 

What’s the Money Like? 

$30-$120 per hour for studio teacher/private instructor 

NOTE: Lesson fee should reflect amount of teaching experience and the going rate in a region. Be aware that it may take some time to build up a profitable clientele. Travel to a private student’s home may require an additional fee. 

$30,000-$71,181 for a public school music teacher (K-12) 

NOTE: Requires state certification. Schools are supported largely by property taxes so schools in wealthier communities are typically able to pay more. 

$43,140 -$67,360+ for an assistant professor (full-time on a tenure track) 

NOTE: Salary depends on the size of the institution, budget, and reputation of the teacher. At least a master’s degree is required, more often a PhD. 

 

7. Booking Agent 

 Your job here is to get the band onstage. Booking agents facilitate a lot of the logistics around live performances, including securing concert venues, negotiating deals, arranging technical equipment, and hospitality. You’ll work closely with management (of the artists and the venues) and event promoters and determine what an artist’s touring schedule will look like. 

What to Learn: A degree in music management, marketing, or accounting would help you prepare you for a career as a booking agent.  You’ll want to learn about contract negotiation, copyright law, sales, marketing, and event planning. Begin working in event promotion and administrative roles to understand the foundational elements of booking shows.  

What’s the Money Like? 

$20,000 – $3,000,000 

Commissions range, typically 10-20 percent of the act’s gross income per show. 

$50,000 for a developing artist 

$500,000 – $3,000,000 for a star 

$50,000 – $250,000/Booking Specialty Agent 

 

8. Publicist 

 A music publicist works closely with media outlets, marketers, and venues. Publicists ensure that their musicians’ concerts, releases, and announcements are covered by the media in a way that feeds positively into their public perception while increasing awareness of the artist. The good news is that you’ll see your hard work pay off in a very tangible way—whether that’s a sold-out show or a spot on the radio. It can be tough to break through to journalists in a media landscape that is increasingly cutting staff and eliminating outlets that cover music. This role is more than just PR—it’s about selling a story, building a network, managing a reputation, and staying ahead of the game. 

What to Learn: This is a communications and marketing-based role, so start there. Learn the basics of public relations strategy and develop your people skills. To become a publicist, you’ll have to network, be tenacious in your outreach efforts, and ask the right questions. Arm yourself with on-the-ground experience as well as writing, crisis communications, and publicity campaign development.  

What’s the Money Like? 

$500-$10,000 per month 

 

9. Composer 

 Composers aren’t just tied down to the classical music genre; they can write for film, TV, and video games. They can also write and arrange recorded or live music across genres. Regardless of which avenue you wish to pursue, you must have a masterful understanding of music theory, you must be able to really play one or many instruments, and have the technical capabilities to capture your compositions effectively, whether it be through music notation or recording. 

What to Learn: Formal education and experience are keys to success here. Composers are proficient in one or many instruments and have a deep understanding of music theory and arrangement. Being a great composer means understanding the technicalities and mechanics of music on multiple levels. Start learning composition software and begin practicing. There are event elements of sound engineering that can come in handy, like notation software and recording programs. 

What’s the Money Like? 

Composers are usually paid on a per-project basis. 

Television 

$1,500-$7,500+ for a 30-minute episode 

$2,000-$15,000+ for a 60-minute episode 

$2,000-$55,000+ for a TV movie 

Film Score Composer 

$0-$10,000+ for a student film 

$2,500-$500,000+ for an indie feature  

$35,000-$2mil+ for a studio feature  

Video Game Composer 

$30,000-$75,000+ for Creative Fee deal – interactive game (30 min. of music) 

$30,000-$60,000+ for Package Fee deal – interactive game (30 min. of music) – covers composing and all expenses 

$300-$600 per minute of finished music for casual games (creative fee only) 

 

10. Music Arranger 

A music arranger is responsible for taking a piece of written music and reorganizing it to achieve a new sound or goal. You might have a client ask you to take a pop piece and add a Latin rhythm, shorten or lengthen a piece, or change the key. Arranging is a specialized skill and those who pursue it can work as a freelancer or for a band or music organization. 

What to Learn: Music arrangement can be a single career or an added skill set as a writer and composer. An arranger, like a composer, also requires a deep understanding of music theory, different instrument groups and how they work with one another. Before learning about arranging, learn the fundamentals of music theory, composition, and the technical aspects involved. 

What’s the Money Like? 

$20,000-$43,000+

How Many Spotify Streams Are Necessary To Live Above The Poverty Line?  

How Many Spotify Streams Are Necessary To Live Above The Poverty Line? 

The royalties earned off of Spotify streams are notoriously low but do provide some income to artists. So just how many plays does it take for a musician to live above the poverty line? 

Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix 

Spotify streaming royalties often upset artists, but how many plays does a musician need to live above the poverty line? We did the math. 

The streaming wars are raging on. Spotify has more than one hundred million monthly subscribers worldwide, which places the platform far ahead of its peers, but Apple Music and Amazon Music are gaining millions of new users with each passing month. Whether or not the global economy can sustain the numerous streaming platforms won’t be decided for some time, but whether or not artists can survive the streaming economy is a hot topic that needs to be addressed. 

Any industry expert will tell you that musicians today have it easy. There are more avenues for exposure than ever, recording music is (or can be) cheap, and an increasing number of artists are finding success outside the traditional label system. It is theoretically possible for anyone with access to a laptop and the ability to convey a melody to become a digital sensation who has fans all over the world without the aid of big label money (though, to be fair, big label money still makes a sizable difference). 

Streaming payouts are a relatively new revenue stream for musicians. No one is suggesting artists survive on streaming royalties alone. Still, with physical media sales bottoming out and competition for tour revenue increasing, the money made from streaming can have a significant impact on an artist’s ability to develop, not to mention sustain themselves. 

Still, every other week someone goes viral online and builds an entire career of the profits made from streaming royalties. The majority of these overnight sensations are young and without families to support, but they still have the cost of living expenses that need to be met. That got us to thinking: How many streams does it take to survive on streaming revenue alone? 

According to the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), the poverty line for single-person households is $11,770. If we ignore how that figure would be hard for anyone to live on in a major city (and most mid-size cities), then we can round up to $12,000 and use streaming revenue calculators to figure out how many Spotify streams someone would need to sustain themselves. 

At an average payout of $0.006 per song stream, a musician living in the United States needs 3,000,000 plays annually to have a gross income of $12,000. 

Of course, if the artist has a label deal the record company would get paid before the artist. Depending on the amount owed to the label, the artist may need millions of addition plays to see the same amount of income themselves. 

But what about people with families? The ASPE puts the poverty line for a family of four (2 adults, 2 children) at $24,250. Using the same average royalty rate, a musician would need 6,062,500 Spotify streams to earn that amount of gross income. 

These numbers get much bigger when the musician is part of a larger group. If a band has four members and all four have families where they were the sole source of income, the group would need to generate 24,250,000 Spotify streams to gross enough so each member’s family would be at or above the poverty line. 

Again, no one is saying an artist should survive on streaming royalties alone. Some will be able to make it work, especially if they have a large following and low overhead, but most will need to create as many revenue streams as possible to survive. The key to a long career in music today is through the development of a community around an artist and their work that promotes purchasing merch, physical media, and concert tickets. That has always been true, and likely won’t change anytime soon.

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. 

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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.