You Must Do These 5 Things Before Licensing Your Music

[Editors Note: This was written by Suzanne Paulinski and originally appeared on the Sonicbids Blog.]

 

You often read blogs about music licensing that touch upon the importance of what to include in your email pitch, how to find who to contact about a project, and even how to position your music for greater success in the world of licensing.

What often goes unsaid, however, are the small, yet important, details (known as micro-tasks) that make the difference between a migraine-inducing process and a money-generating one.

When submitting music for licensing, be prepared and treat each submission as if it’s already been chosen. Below are five things you can do to organize your files and data to not only lock down potential deals but also make the process of submitting your songs a breeze rather than a tornado.

1. Embed all tracks with complete metadata

Upon mastering your tracks, make sure each file is complete with the correct metadata, which includes the track’s credits, as anyone licensing your song(s) will need this for his or her records. It’s also helpful to have this metadata available in a text file should you need to include it in an email or on a required form.

Metadata is important for licensing so that licensees can get in touch with you, ensure they have everyone’s permission to use the song, and draw up the proper agreements. It includes:

  • the album title
  • the title of the track
  • the genre
  • the authors/composers
  • the year it was recorded
  • the sample rate
  • the duration of the track
  • relevant contact info (including your full name and email)

2. Copyright your music before you submit

Avoid submitting anything with an uncleared sample to ensure you don’t screw up a potential deal. It’s also important to realize no one will agree to license your original music if it is not properly copyrighted. Deals can often happen very quickly, and you don’t want to hold things up by waiting for the copyright office to review and file your application.

3. Create a master spreadsheet for all song metadata

With deals moving as quickly as they sometimes can, it’s important to have your entire catalog’s metadata available at your fingertips. It’s best to keep a spreadsheet with every song’s title, genre, copyright info including all author(s) contact information, and the copyright registration number(s) in one place should you need to reference any piece of information during the licensing process.

4. Visualize where you could hear your music

It’s helpful, especially if you have a significant number of songs in your arsenal, to have certain information available at a glance when preparing to submit to certain opportunities. Using that same master spreadsheet, include a column for “sounds like” to elaborate on the genre and notable instrumentation, as that will usually be what people will include in their requests (i.e., “sounds like Bruno Mars with significant horns”).

Additionally, having a column for “perfect for” with notes on the type of media for which you would consider the song an ideal match (i.e., horror film, car commercial, etc.) will allow you to quickly scan which songs might be right for a project.

5. Keep a master contact list of people to whom you’ve submitted

Much like the master list of song metadata, having a growing list of music supervisors or licensing agents you’ve reached out to is just as useful.

Creating columns for their contact info, the date you first reached out, the status on your follow ups, what songs you’ve sent, any feedback they’ve provided, as well as a fact or two about them and what they’re currently working on will help you track your progress, set reminders for future follow ups, and strengthen your relationships by being able to reference where you left off when you next reach out to them.

Always remember at the end of the day this is a business. Having this information organized and readily available will not only make the process of pitching your songs easier but also show anybody who chooses to work with you that you’re a true professional and ready to deliver whatever it is they may need, which is the best way to ensure future work and a sustainable career in the industry.

TuneCore Closes Out Strong Year of International Growth With Launch of TuneCore Italy

Streaming Is On The Rise Across All International Markets

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – December 13, 2016 – TuneCore, the leading digital music distribution and publishing administration service provider, caps off a strong year of sustained and international growth with the announcement today of TuneCore Italy – the service provider’s fourth launch in the European market and sixth international expansion. Since the company’s inception in 2006, TuneCore artists worldwide have earned more than $783 million collectively from over 43.8 billion downloads and streams. As the only major global distribution service with a dedicated Italian offering, Tunecore.it features local content in the native language that caters to the Italian independent artist community.

As part of its continued commitment to support independent artists around the world, in 2016 TuneCore launched three international sites including TuneCore Germany (April 2016), TuneCore France (October 2016) and now, TuneCore Italy (December 2016).

TuneCore’s global expansion efforts have led to an overall increase in its year-to-date international customer base. Further, TuneCore’s local offerings in international markets have seen significant increases in customer growth, specifically in the France and Germany markets. TuneCore also identified Hip Hop and R&B/Soul as two of the fastest growing genres in each of its key international markets (U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, Germany and France). Additionally, TuneCore has seen the growing popularity of streaming reflected across its international markets, with a 340 percent year-over-year increase in streaming in Canada, as well as year-over-year increases in Australia (92 percent), Germany (71 percent) and the UK (67 percent). Streaming also continues to grow in the U.S., with a 65 percent year-over-year increase.

“As we head into 2017, global expansion is pivotal in furthering our mission to bring more music to more people worldwide, while continuing to establish TuneCore as a leader in the international digital music distribution market,” says Scott Ackerman, CEO at TuneCore. “Our global expansion into Italy – a market that previously lacked a dedicated local offering from a global distributor – is a natural fit as we continue to support our artists by giving them the local resources and tools they need to be successful.”

In addition to keeping 100 percent of their revenues, and retaining complete creative control and ownership of their music, Italian customers will have access to TuneCore’s robust portfolio of artist services, as well as local Italian partners such as Music Raiser and MusicOFF, and world-class customer service. TuneCore Italy artists can also opt to include their music in storefronts controlled by TuneCore’s extensive network of more than 150 digital partners across the globe, including iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and Amazon Music. In addition, TuneCore Italy customers will be able to take advantage of the company’s strategic partnership with Believe Digital. With an already existing office in Italy with more than 30 employees, Believe Digital will offer TuneCore Italy customers access to a variety of advanced artist services, such as international campaign management, trade and online digital marketing, video management and distribution, physical distribution and more.

With its expansion into Italy, TuneCore now offers local musicians in seven countries outside of the U.S. – UK, Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, and Italy – the opportunity to collect revenue from streaming services, digital download stores, songwriter royalties, and sync licensing opportunities, all in their local currency.

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About TuneCore

TuneCore brings more music to more people, while helping musicians and songwriters increase money-earning opportunities and take charge of their own careers. The company has one of the highest artist revenue-generating music catalogs in the world, earning TuneCore Artists $783 million from over 43.8 billion downloads and streams since inception. TuneCore Music Distribution services help artists, labels and managers sell their music through iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play and other major download and streaming sites while retaining 100 percent of their sales revenue and rights for a low annual flat fee.

TuneCore Music Publishing Administration assists songwriters by administering their compositions through licensing, registration, world-wide royalty collections, and placement opportunities in film, TV, commercials, video games and more. The TuneCore Artist Services portal offers a suite of tools and services that enable artists to promote their craft, connect with fans, and get their music heard. TuneCore, part of Believe Digital Services, operates as an independent company and is headquartered in Brooklyn, NY with offices in Burbank, CA, Nashville, TN and Austin, TX, and global expansions in the UK, Australia, Japan, Canada, Germany and France. For additional information about TuneCore, please visit www.tunecore.com or https://youtu.be/TSjGACrJyiY.

Breaking Down Copyrights In Music

[Editors Note: This is a guest blog written by Justin M. Jacobson, Esq. Justin is an entertainment and media attorney for The Jacobson Firm, P.C. in New York City. He also runs Label 55 and teaches music business at the Institute of Audio Research.]

 

We have previously explored the reasons to register a copyright and the procedures to effectuate it. In this article, we will explore copyright law as it specifically relates to the music industry to ensure the proper exploitation and monetization of an artist’s finished song.

For a work to be copyrightable, it must be original and fixed in a tangible form, such as a sound recording fixed on a CD, MP3 or other digital sound recording file format such as a WAV file. Some examples of copyrightable material that are common in a musician’s career are the actual song recordings, the lyrics and underlying musical composition, music videos or other audio-visual works, photographs, logos or other visual materials and any biography, website or other unique textual information the artist creates.

In particular, copyrights as they apply to music are unique in that every track has two copyrights. One of these is a copyright in the song, i.e. the musical composition, which consists of the lyrics and underlying music (beat, instrumental). The other is a copyright in the sound recording or “master recording” itself. The “C” in the circle (©) is the appropriate notice for the lyrics and underlying musical composition, which are protected by the “Performing Art” Copyright. The appropriate notice is a “P” in a circle (℗) for the actual sound recording, which is protected by the “Sound Recording” Copyright. This indication originates from the International Phonogram Convention and refers to a “Phonogram”, which is used when referring to any sort of audio master.

The same party or several parties may own rights in each of these distinct copyrights for the same music. For example, “All Along The Watchtower” was originally written and composed by Bob Dylan. It has been subsequently performed and “covered” by several artists, including Jimi Hendrix. In this situation, the copyright in the underlying musical composition (the lyrics and musical arrangement) is owned by Bob Dylan (or his Publishing Company); while, the copyright in a particular sound recording is owned by Jimi Hendrix (or his Record Label).

This situation most commonly arises where a singer is merely involved in and has rights in the sound recording copyright of a song by being the actual featured vocalists on a track; while, the other parties who wrote the track own rights to the underlying musical composition.

Each copyright confers each owner with several exclusive rights. These include the exclusive rights to reproduce the work, including the mechanical reproduction of a musical composition in CDs, downloads and vinyl as well as to authorize third-parties to do the same. It also includes the exclusive right to distribute the work (Spotify, Pandora, YouTube), to prepare derivative works based on the original work (sequels, spin-offs), to publicly perform the work (concerts) and to publicly display the work.

Therefore, a copyright generally provides the owner with the exclusive right to publicly distribute copies of their work by sale, rental, or lease and to publicly perform or display the work, such as selling copies of a CD or publicly performing a musical composition at a restaurant or nightclub.

In the music business, the songwriter and composer typically assign their copyright in the underlying musical composition to a publishing company in exchange for receiving songwriting royalties. The income is generally split in half, even though the publisher collects all of the money (except for small performing rights). Fifty percent (50%) of the income goes to the publisher, and the other fifty percent (50%) of the income is split between the composer, the lyricist, the arranger, the translator, etc. The fifty percent (50%) that goes to the “publisher” is typically referred to as the one hundred percent (100%) “Publisher’s share” and the fifty percent (50%) belonging to the songwriters, arrangers, lyricists, etc. is typically referred to as the one hundred percent (100%) “Songwriter’s share.” For a more in-depth look at publishing monies, check my prior article on this topic.

Additionally, the copyright in the sound recording is generally assigned to a record label in exchange for receiving royalties for the sale and licensing of the sound recording. The sound recording copyright may be owned by the label and may be considered a “work for hire.” Included in this assignment may be a mechanical license, which authorizes the label to mechanically reproduce the underlying musical composition on phonograms or other sound carriers such as downloads.

In order to make records, downloads, tapes, and CDs, the record label requires a mechanical license from the music publisher. Until the first initial public release of the musical composition, the songwriter and publisher have complete control over issuing licenses. However, after this first release, anyone else can create their version of the song (a “cover” track) by paying statutory fees and obtaining a compulsory mechanical license.

A “compulsory license” is one that cannot be refused by the songwriter (or publisher), i.e., it does not require the songwriter’s permission for you to record his song. In the United States, The Harry Fox Agency is the foremost mechanical rights agency. It was created by the National Music Publishers Association to administer and issue these compulsory licenses and to collect the mechanical royalty license fees and distribute them to the appropriate parties. Additionally, when there are more than one owner of a particular copyright, unless there is an agreement to the contrary, each co-owner can license the full copyright to a third-party subject to an accounting to their co-author and paying over their share of the royalties.

As is evident, the music business and the rights associated with the works distributed are part of a complex system that has been developed over time and shifts with the changing landscapes and with the advent of new technologies. Therefore, it is essential for a creator to protect their rights in their completed work so they can properly license and monetize it.

This article is not intended as legal advice, as an attorney and/or an accountant specializing in the field should be consulted.

July Songwriter News

By Stefanie Flamm

The music industry may seem like it’s settling into its predictable lull, but songwriters and publishers worldwide are fighting harder than ever for a fair marketplace:

  • The US Department of Justice rules in favor of licensing regulations that many songwriters and publishers see as “a clusterf—k of epic proportions.
  • YouTube announces $2 billion in gross earnings for rights owners using their Content ID system.
  • After a $750m buyout from the Michael Jackson Estate, Sony now owns the rights to 50% of Sony/ATV and its catalogue of over 2 million songs.

The Department of Justice passed new legislation that could mean smaller royalty payouts for songwriters across the United States.


When it comes to the world of publishing, the biggest news of the month, by far, has been the US Department of Justice’s recent ruling in favor “100 percent licensing,” meaning that for songs with multiple songwriters, a licensee only requires a license from one of the contributors (instead of each of them). The music industry as a whole is shocked and upset by this verdict, especially in the wake of petitions fighting for a total overhaul of the already-outdated legislation currently in place. Songwriters and publishers alike fear that this could mean lower royalty payout, more complicated work for PROs, and an increase in royalty disputes across the industry.

“Instead of making the necessary modifications, we have been saddled with a disruptive proposal that ignores songwriters’ concerns for our future livelihoods in a streaming world, serves absolutely no public interest and creates confusion and instability for all of us who depend on the efficiencies of collective licensing,” said ASCAP’s President Paul Williams released a statement on July 11th.

The DoJ’s decision was carefully thought-out based on the trajectory of the music industry in the digital age, stemming specifically from the idea that 100 percent licensing would make it easier for parties like Pandora to license music. However, even the US Copyright Office has put in a negative word about the verdict and urges the DoJ to rethink 100 percent licensing.

In a 33-page reaction to the new regulations, the US Copyright Office “believes that an interpretation of the consent decrees that would require these PROs to engage in 100-percent licensing presents a host of legal and policy concerns. Such an approach would seemingly vitiate important principles of copyright law, interfere with creative collaborations among songwriters, negate private contracts, and impermissibly expand the reach of the consent decrees.”

While music licensees see the DoJ decision as a smart move in the fact of the current prevalence of music streaming, they’re going to receive a lot of pushback from songwriters and publishers alike. It doesn’t look like BMI, ACSAP, or the US Copyright Office are looking to back down any time soon, so hopefully for the sake of publishers everywhere, the DoJ can go back to the drawing board and retool a system that benefits both the songwriters and the digital streaming services that are licensing music.

YouTube proudly announces $2 billion in gross earnings for rights owners through their Content ID technology, but the music industry needs more convincing.


YouTube announced in a July 14th blog post that they have collected over $2 billion in streaming revenue for rights owners using their rights management system Content ID, double what YouTube reported back in 2014.

For those unfamiliar with Content ID, the system uses audio files submitted to them by a partner (like TuneCore YouTube Sound Recording Revenue Service), and then detects those audio files on third-party videos uploaded to YouTube to monetize on behalf of the rights owner. In layman’s terms, if someone uses your song on a cat video that goes viral, you get paid for any money that the video makes as the rights owner of the music. It has been a lucrative service for many artists in the industry, with YouTube being one of the most popular methods with which to stream music.

“We take protecting creativity online seriously, and we’re doing more to help battle copyright-infringing activity than ever before,” Senior Policy Counsel for Google, Katie Oyama, said in the statement.

However, many songwriters and publishers on the other side of that $2 billion have a different perspective on YouTube’s news. Both labels and publishers alike have argued that Content ID fails to recognize as much as 40% of their music on third-party videos in YouTube. Additionally, while YouTube claims that 98% of the time rights owners prefer to monetize videos rather than take them down, representatives of the music industry believe that Content ID encourages YouTube piracy.

“Their pitch goes something like this: ‘Hey, advertising is good for you. Why not use Content ID to cash in on all the piracy by getting a share of revenue we can generate from ad placement?’ Well, they don’t call it piracy – but make no mistake, in the end, their whole scheme still depends on a culture of piracy,” said Maria Schneider in an op-ed for Music Technology Policy.

It’s hard to discern who’s really in the right with the Content ID debate, since rights owners are making a marginal streaming payout from each video play and, like any automated system, there will be hiccups based on similar sounding recordings, use of samples, etc. What’s clear is that YouTube is trying to make lemonade out of lemons for musicians who would otherwise be making nothing from these pirated videos. While it’s not an ideal situation for rights owners, one can hope it’s at least a step in the right direction as we learn to deal with the repercussions of the digital age in the music industry.

Despite protestations from competition, groups in the EU give Sony the greenlight for their $750m purchase of the Michael Jackson Estate’s 50% stake in Sony/ATV.


Since Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, his partial ownership of Sony/ATV and its massive catalogue of songs have been up in the air. Sony made moves to resolve this back in March of this year, agreeing to purchase Jackson’s 50% stake in the company for $750 million, giving Sony full ownership of the Sony/ATV catalogue. However, earlier this month, Sony competitors Warner and IMPALA unsuccessfully challenged the acquisition in Europe, slowing down the purchase but ultimately not grinding it to a halt.

Universal and IMPALA both came to the EU’s antitrust organizations in regards to the purchase, claiming that Sony’s acquisition of the over two million songs would create a market-distorting level of power in favor of Sony. The massive catalogue, which includes works from Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and the Beatles, alongside Sony’s administration of the EMI music publishing catalogue, gives the company a 28% global market share.

Upon the approval of the acquisition, the European Commission released a statement saying, “the transaction would have no negative impact on competition in any of the markets for recorded music and music publishing in the European Economic Area.” Representatives from IMPALA have called the verdict “clearly wrong,” but it looks like Sony still gets to walk away the winner of this fight.

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Anatomy Of A Songwriter Signing; Jessi Alexander

[Editors Note: This interview with TuneCore Artist Jessi Alexander originally appeared on NEKST. David Ross, author of this piece and the founder of Music Row Magazine, uses NEKST as a platform to cover ‘music and the technology it powers’.]

Music Row streets are filled with new and experienced songwriters hoping to climb that next career rung by finding the perfect home to nurture and support their creative efforts. But in an industry where success gets more elusive every day, only a fortunate few will find what they seek. Therefore the importance of these decisions—for both writer and publisher—cannot be underestimated.

This Music GM/Partner Rusty Gaston recently signed Jessi Alexander and both parties graciously agreed to discuss the dynamics of the new partnership and why they are so excited about a shared future.

According to Gaston, “This Music is a joint venture with Warner Chappell. The company was formed in 2006, with myself and songwriters Connie Harrington and Tim Nichols. We signed Ben Hayslip on our first day, who at that point had only charted one single. Since then he’s become a two-time ASCAP “Songwriter of the Year”. Today we’ve grown to five employees and 13 writers. As good as we put it on paper, knock on wood it has gone better. As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary we’ve won five “Song of the Year” awards, and had 40 ASCAP/BMI award winning songs. It’s been a super blessing.”

But despite This Music’s great track record, operating a boutique publishing company leaves little room for mistakes. So what goes into an important decision such as adding a songwriter to the team? “I always ask myself would I mortgage my house for this?” says Gaston. “If I can’t say ‘Yes,’ I don’t do the deal. I also don’t do pieces of business. Maybe a writer has a record deal or a cut bringing a certain amount of income and signing them could be a good business decision. But for me it’s about how much I believe in this person. I make my decision based upon people first and music second.”

Rusty Gaston

Rusty Gaston

Enter Jessi Alexander. “Jessi has been deeply involved with our company as a co-writer for years,” says Gaston. “For example, she co-wrote ‘I Drive Your Truck’ with Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary; and ‘Mine Would Be You’ with Deric Ruttan and Connie. So when Jessi approached us to say, ‘I’m thinking about looking around,’ we knew immediately we’d love to work with her. Jessi has tremendous respect for those 16th Ave. craftsmen like Bobby Braddock or Bob McDill who worked every day, chiseling people’s emotions onto a blank piece of paper. And she fits so well with our philosophy of a great work ethic and positive attitude.”

It’s easy to understand why Gaston would be excited to sign Alexander. Above he explained the “people first” side of the equation. But the new addition also ‘brings it’ musically. For example, her Grammy nominated co-write, “I Drive Your Truck,” won triple-crown Song of the Year honors from the CMA, ACM and NSAI. Her inspirational ballad “The Climb,” (inked with Jon Mabe) topped the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart for 15 weeks, garnered a Grammy nomination and won Best Song From A Movie from MTV.

I sat down with Jessi Alexander, (named after Jessi Colter) to get her side of the signing process and learn about her background. I wanted to know what career concerns mattered most, and what brought her to the conclusion that This Music was where she belonged. Unexpectedly, she also weighed in about gender on Music Row, offered some interesting advice for new writers and revealed some very personal feelings about why “The Climb” became a personal breakthrough moment.

NEKST: Did you interact with music growing up?

Jessi Alexander: I remember my grandfather sitting at a piano and playing a game with me. I’d say, “Hey Granddaddy play ‘Love Me Tender’,” and he’d tap it out with one hand. But my dad was probably most instrumental. He was a hippie child of the ’60s and during college collected all the great records—from Led Zeppelin to Jimi Hendrix. He also discovered Will The Circle be Unbroken which led him to Ralph Stanley, Willie Nelsonand even Joan Baez. His music library offered Bluegrass infusing with rock n roll, gospel, delta blues and more. I was an only child with few friends, so while everyone else was out playing, my pastime became absorbing this music. Now that I have a 7-year old it gives me more perspective on how weird I was. My daughter might know what bluegrass is, but by her age I was encyclopedic in my approach to music. And everyday I still draw from those experiences.

Sounds more like you were “gifted,” not weird.

Well, I love how your weaknesses can become strengths. Being from a broken home in the country (Jackson, TN) without siblings, much TV or toys, music was an easy choice. At age nine my Dad asked me what instrument I wanted to learn. I chose electric bass. If he had gotten me that bass then maybe I wouldn’t have learned guitar, but he couldn’t afford a bass and an amp, so he got me a pawn shop acoustic guitar thinking I wouldn’t know the difference. Of course I did, but that started me playing guitar.

Did you imagine yourself being an artist or a songwriter during those early years?

jessiI grew up around blue collar type factory workers. My first jobs were working at a dry cleaner, at Subway and the car auction. Even after moving to Nashville around 1999 I approached the music industry in a blue collar way thinking ‘work hard then you’ll get that raise or promotion.’ Pretty quickly I saw it wasn’t like that and it seemed frustrating to realize how elusive it can be as to why certain people have success and others don’t. A promotion can be a song hold or an award. But I also understand how fortunate I am just to get to do this.

Continue reading David’s interview with Jessi Alexander here!

June Songwriter News

By Stefanie Flamm

Summer is officially here, but the music publishing industry is not taking a vacation:

  • Racially-charged jazz standard “Strange Fruit” is used in The Birth of a Nation trailer, demonstrating that certain compositions are great to have in a sync catalogue, even if they’re rarely used.
  • Music executives urge for music industry unity at the NMPA’s annual meeting in NYC.
  • Sync placements are shown to be a twofold benefit to artists like Drake, Skrillex, and The Mamas & The Papas.
  • Major labels, digital distributors, and streaming stores came together as part of Berklee College of Music’s Open Music Initiative to provide more efficient royalty solutions for streaming.

Read more to see how songwriters and publishers alike are working hard for higher royalties and greater industry unity.

“Strange Fruit” proves to be an important song for sync placement in spite of its rare use in TV and film.


Be it the original Billie Holiday version, Nina Simone’s haunting cover, or Kanye West’s sampling of the song in his album Yeezus, the lyrics to “Strange Fruit” are an eerie reminder of America’s dark and not-so-distant past. A soulful recollection of both pre-Civil War and Jim Crow-era America, Abel Meeropol’s 1937 poem provides lyrics to one of the most haunting songs in American history and Time Magazine’s song of the 20th Century.

Because of the gravity of the song’s content, rights owner Music Sales Corp. is particular about to whom they license “Strange Fruit.” The licensing of this song is tactful, with permissions only given to a small percentage of applicants.

“The importance of the song is certainly not lost on us,” says Executive VP of Music Sales Corp. Miles Feinberg. “It contributed to the civil rights movement, so we’ve been very ­protective of it.”

It is for this exact reason that Music Sales Corp. decided to greenlight the use of Nina Simone’s version for the trailer of the upcoming film The Birth of a Nation. Simone’s evocative tone gracefully pairs with the footage in the trailer, leaving a feeling that is both ominous and galvanizing.

It’s the rarity of the song’s occurrence in pop culture that makes it so resonant, and while the song isn’t of much monetary value to Music Sales Corp., the principle of owning the song is worth its weight in gold. “[Strange Fruit] is not a big money earner,” says Feinberg. “But it is an ­incredible one to have in your catalog.”

Sometimes the greatest songs are the ones you rarely hear.

Publishers push for music industry unity at the NMPA’s 99th annual meeting in NYC.


The packed event room at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, NY was buzzing on June 8th as music industry professionals gathered for the 99th annual meeting of the National Music Publishers Association. The main focus of the meeting? Music industry unity.

“The music industry has never been more powerful and popular and we as an industry have never done a sh***er job of rallying together as one industry,” legendary music industry executive Irving Azoff said in his keynote address. “We should work together to solve the root of the problem.”

It’s not news that US music publishing legislation is grossly out-of-date; the regulations that were enacted in 1941 have seen very few changes since their inception. Irving speculated that the lack of effective legislation in Washington is a direct result of a disjointed industry. Without a sense of unity, the US Department of Justice has been steamrolling the industry in favor of the consumer.

The DOJ recently reviewed the consent decrees that are at the backbone of BMI and ASCAP’s licensing agreements. With this recent review, the DOJ is considering “100 percent licensing,” which means that any rights owner can license the entire song, regardless of what percentage of the song they own. The music industry seems to unanimously agree that this is a bad idea, as it could potentially mean an imbalance in royalty payments, as well as restricting songwriters to only collaborate with artists in their PRO.

NMPA president David Israelite also had some words to say on what he called the “One Music” strategy, stressing that the industry standing together to fight for better legislation is stronger than individual groups fighting on each side.

Songwriters across the United States believe that now’s the time for songwriters to come together for a common good.

Sync placements kill two birds with one stone for artists like Drake, Skrillex, and more.


We’ve all seen the video – Taylor Swift puts on “Jumpman” by Drake & Future, starts running on her treadmill while rapping along to the song, and falls flat on her face. The Apple Music commercial has gained upwards of 17.5 million views since the video was posted to YouTube on April 1st. But what’s more impressive is the success of the song as a result of the sync placement.

Downloads for “Jumpman” increased 193% in the week that the video went live, from 15,000 sales the week of March 31st to 44,000 a week later. This is another win for Drake, whose sync licensing for “Hotline Bling” in a T-Mobile Superbowl commercial brought in royalties from 130 countries where the game was broadcast.

BMI and ASCAP reported over $590 million in sync revenue from 2015 alone. These sync licenses bring extra attention and sales revenue to both new artists, like when Feist’s “1 2 3 4” was featured in an iPod Nano commercial in 2007, to older artists like The Mamas & The Papas whose 1965 hit “California Dreamin’” is making a resurgence via an H&M commercial for Coachella.

Sync is one of the biggest tools for success in music today, and it’s paying off big for songwriters.

Berklee’s Open Music Initiative brings streaming services together with labels for more efficient royalty matching.


Goliaths of the industry, from major labels to streaming stores, came together this month to help streamline digital music distribution and copyright. These groups are working with The Berklee College of Music’s Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) as part of the Open Music Initiative (OMI) to create better royalty matching solutions for publishers and streaming services alike.

Berklee is joining with teams from the MIT Media Lab and the University of London to create advancements in matching technology, which will help with the speed and accuracy of royalty reporting. While strides have been made in the past, BerkleeICE believes that the support from institutions, industry executives, and distribution services like TuneCore will give OMI the push it needs to succeed.

“The internet led to an explosion of innovation precisely because of its open architecture. We now have the tools to build an open architecture for music rights, using a decentralized platform,” said Neha Narula, director of research, Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. “We’re excited to work with BerkleeICE and the Open Music Initiative to create a foundation for innovation, not only in rights management but in music itself.”

OMI is hitting the ground running this summer, with their inaugural gathering held in NYC on June 22nd, and a three-week innovation lab to be held in Boston from July 11th-29th.

An open-sourced platform around creative rights could be just the thing the industry needs to create a unified force against outdated legislation.

Make sure you’re receiving all of the songwriter royalties that you’re entitled to by joining our Music Publishing Administration.

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