5 Reasons It Pays To Collaborate

[Editors Note: This article was written by Suzanne Paulinksi, an artist consultant with over 10 years in the music industry and owner of The Rock/Star Advocate.]

 

They often say, “Teamwork makes the dream work,” but what does that actually mean? Sure, we all know the benefits of growing our own team to carry out our own vision, but what are the real benefits to working with others who don’t work for us?

In years past, as I tried to get former businesses off the ground, I had been approached many times to collaborate with other business owners. More often than not I said no, afraid someone else would cloud my overall vision or try to usurp whatever I was currently working on and take it for themselves. I also had bad flashbacks of school projects when group work meant me busting my ass and four or five others benefiting off of my all-nighters.

So I pushed ahead on my own.

After two businesses failed to reach their full potential, I realized it was time to get out of my own way and realize the potential of combining forces. It’s one thing to hire internally and have a team help execute your vision – in fact, it’s crucial – but it’s quiet another to work with someone else who is in your same position (the captain of their own ship), but who brings a different perspective or skill set to the table.

Whether you’re a business owner or a songwriter, when it comes to true collaboration, it’s no longer about making your vision work, it’s about doing what works, period.

You don’t have to abandon your vision, but you do have to be open to improving it.

If you can trust that it’s just as important to have people who work with you as it is to have people to work for you then you can profit (in more ways than one) from these five benefits of collaboration:

1. Opens you up to a new or larger fan base: If you’re an artist who is trying to build their fanbase, positioning yourself to be a featured artist on someone else’s track or reaching out to share a stage with an artist who has already established a tour can get you in front of others who may not be familiar with you, but who are already primed to be potential fans of yours. Don’t stay up on other musicians as a way to “keep an eye on the competition,” but stay informed on who’s making moves as a way to keep an eye out for collaboration.

2. Opens you up to more prominent industry attention: Especially if you’re in the songwriting business, collaborating with another writer who already has the ear of industry decision makers can elevate your chances of getting their ear as well. That’s not to say you should only work with people who have reached a certain recognition – working with someone else who is on your same level can be just as beneficial. Not only are two brains almost always better than one, but creating something from two different perspectives can give your project the unique spin needed to make others listen.

3. Gets you a life long partner in this industry who has your back: Creating art is a very vulnerable process. Creating art with someone else can create an almost immediate bond. In an industry that can be very unforgiving, forming a close relationship with someone who can 100% relate to your specific position in the industry can be invaluable as you grow together.

4. Makes you better creatively and professionally: As I said above about not needing to abandon your vision, but being open to improving it, collaboration causes you to reflect on what you bring to the table and push further. A strong collaboration will force you to dig deep and put it all on the table. Much like an accountability buddy when trying to finish a task, when there’s someone to answer to you’ll try harder. On a professional note, knowing how to work with other personalities and talents is never a skill you should let get rusty.

5. Gives you a great story: When you bio is all about you, it becomes a snoozefest. Everyone loves a good love story in the movies, and everyone loves to hear how a song or project came together from a successful collaboration, especially if it’s an unexpected one. It gives you plenty of content to share and drip out as part of your promotional campaign. It makes cross-promotion a no-brainer, once again getting your work in front of a larger audience.

A little bit of skepticism with who you choose to let into your creative world is healthy, but paranoia or being overly controlling has never served anyone in the long run. Remember that in the end, it’s all about presenting your fans with the best version of yourself and sometimes it takes others to bring that out of us.

Here’s to making the dream work!

7 Great Ways to Accelerate Your Songwriting Skills

[Editors Note: This was written by Zac Green. Zac is a regular contributor to the Zing Instruments Blog.]

 

There’s nothing more intimidating than a blank piece of paper. Starting the process of writing a new song can take just as long as finishing it. So here’s seven tips to help you speed up your songwriting.

1. Work in a group, then alone

Having a few people to bounce ideas around with helps the creative process get started. After you’ve got your song started, the democratic process is more likely to slow you down. If you’re writing songs as part of a band, it can be better to go and complete your parts individually once you’ve gotten the overall idea in place.

2. Drink alcohol, then coffee

Research has shown that drinking alcohol boosts your creativity, but makes it hard to focus. Coffee, and other drinks containing caffeine, has the opposite effect. For your brainstorming session, loosen up with a few drinks. This works especially well if combined with the first tip, but be careful not to get carried away and turn it into a drinking session. Once you’ve sat down to start writing the ideas you have onto paper, fire up the kettle.

3. Give chance a chance

After a long music career, you might find that all of your songs are starting to sound the same. There’s nothing wrong with having a recognisable sound, but you don’t want to get stale. Shake things up by writing different elements of songs onto pieces of paper, such as keys, lyrical themes, and so on. Place them into a hat and draw five at random. Force yourself to use these, no matter how badly they seem to go together. The results can be surprisingly good – and more importantly they help you to think outside of your usual boundaries.

4. Write somewhere different

Creativity doesn’t exist in a void. If you want to be inspired, go for a long walk somewhere far away from your usual haunts. The change of scenery, fresh air and act of walking itself can be great for generating new ideas. If nothing else, it gives you a chance to let yourself relax. Stress is a major impediment to creativity.

5. Learn your music theory

I don’t care how unappealing this seems. You might think that learning theory chokes your freedom or that it’s boring. However, if you don’t know what the rules around music are, it’s impossible to break them in a way which is both purposeful and well-executed. This applies no matter what genre you’re in. For example, my own personal foray into EDM was vastly improved when I started learning about cadence, a concept from choral music.

6. Steal from other songs

Now let me just clarify something before we go any further. I am absolutely not telling you to copy somebody else’s song in it’s entirety and try to pass it off as your own. That’s not songwriting, and you’re unlikely to get away with it for very long.

What you can do, is jot down interesting chord progressions, licks and lyrics. Playing around with these later, such as using inverted versions of the chords, trying it in a different key or modulating can lead to something brand new as the changes you’ve made will lead to a naturally different conclusion.

7. Use good notation software

Writing music by hand can take quite a while, and you can’t always check to see if it sounds right straight away. By using notation software, such as Sibelius, or if you can’t read music, just programming the notes into a digital audio workstation (DAW) can transform your songwriting process completely, as it’s quite easy to quickly change sections of your music without having to rewrite every single note.

Armed with these tricks, your songwriting skills will change practically overnight. It doesn’t matter if you apply all of them at once (although that isn’t entirely practical) or try them out a few at a time. Your own process is going to be a factor in this, so perhaps some of them won’t be entirely applicable. Don’t fret about this, just do the ones that feel ‘right’ to you.

3 Problems Most Lyricists Face

Being the main lyricist for a band is arguably one of the most difficult positions in music that one can hold. You have to be part musician and part poet, and you have to learn a ton of rules and techniques that go above and beyond what the average musician would have to know.

Because being a lyricist and a musician is such a balancing act, there are a host of problems that can occur. In fact, there are way more than can be named in this article. However, time and time again there seems to be three main stumbling blocks that lyricists happen to run into.

If you’ve been having trouble as a lyricist, or just want to avoid running into to some all too common problems, you’ve come to the right place. This article will give you three great tips to help you on your road to being the lyricist you’ve always dreamed you could be.

Side note: Yes, there are exceptions to every rule below. No, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve found a flaw in my logic. They are the exceptions that prove the rule, and most of them are either purposefully breaking a rule as a part of a larger message (“I Am The Walrus”) and/or work because the other elements that make them up are so strong, (a lot of Bob Dylan’s work).

1. Not Simplifying Your Song

Ideally, every song you right should have one main point. Everything else in your song should work to flesh out this point (or in some cases cause the listener to reinterpret it). Think of your song like an essay. You have your thesis, a few points regarding it, and then a few supporting details.

A common problem with a lot of lyricists’ songs is that they don’t follow this. By not outlining and sticking to one clear point their song becomes almost unintelligible. It confuses the listener, and it keeps your song from resonating with your audience.

To use the essay analogy again, imagine if an essay about the history of Coca-Cola had a five-paragraph section in the middle about party clowns. This would (rightly) confuse the reader and distract from the main point of the song.

2. Inconsistent Rhyme or Meter

You don’t necessarily have to rhyme to make a good song. You can also be relatively flexible with things like meter. However, you cannot have wild swings with either element. For example:

                  The red duck is red

                  He hides under my bed

                  Next to my bed is a trunk

                  It opens with a solid thunk

The example above would be okay. The syllable count is similar enough (a deviation of a syllable or two isn’t overly distracting) and everything rhymes. This on the other hand:

   The red duck is red

                  He curls up on a blanket under my bed

                  Next to my bed is a chest

                  It opens loudly with a very solid thunk

Would definitely not be okay. It doesn’t flow well, and quickly abandoning a rhyming scheme is distracting. Again, in certain situations this could work, (for example, it could be used as a technique to increase tension or draw attention to a line), it’s just not something you should do without a larger purpose. This isn’t the most elegant analogy around, but hopefully it illustrates the point.

3. Being Overly “Artsy”

If you analyze the work of your famous poet, you’re most likely going to see that the complexity and beauty from their point comes from the subtlety of their language. They don’t use overly descriptive phrases to sound deep, because by doing so they remove the audience’s agency.

The reason that a lot of poetry and/or lyrics resonate so deeply with people is that the author leaves room for the words to resonate with the audience. They leave their work open to interpretation so that the audience can fill in the gaps with their own experiences or expectations.

There’s a famous story of Ernest Hemingway winning a bet with some friends to see who could write the best novel with only four words. His response was “baby shoes; never worn.” These four words tell a huge story because they’re so open to interpretation. The story you thought of when you read them could be about a couple who miscarried, or it could have been a variety of other situations.

The lesson to learn with this anecdote isn’t that Ernest Hemingway was awesome, (even though he was!), it’s that in order to have a piece of media that resonates with a variety of people you have to leave enough gaps for them to insert themselves into.

Bonus: Use Relevant Themes

This isn’t necessarily a tip to make a better song, which is why it isn’t getting a number of its own. Rather, it’s a way that you can help your songs become more popular.

Something you should strive for if you’re looking to appeal to a wider audience is writing songs with themes that are both relevant to a wide number of people (heartbreak, having a lame job, having a p.o.s. car) and easily identifiable in a song. There are countless examples of this, and pretty much every famous artist has at least one.

To do this, just pick something that’s happened to you in your life that happens to other people. If you have a tense relationship with your folks, write a song about it. If you had a significant other cheat on you, put your experience to music. Just make sure that the basic storyline is easy to follow.

In Conclusion

Writing a good song is hard, and writing a great song is even harder. While this article may not give you all the information that you need to start pumping out hits, it can give you a leg up on your competition.

And most importantly, don’t forget to have fun and write music that artistically fulfills you. We may not all get to be famous, but we can all have a great time playing music.

How To Work That 9-5 and Still Be an Inspired Musician

[Editors NoteThis article was written by Rachel Bresnahan originally featured on the Sonicbids Blog.]

I speak for myself when I say this, but I’m sure plenty of other musicians think the same: we all want a consistent, full-time, make-a-living-off-of-music job. Whether that’s behind the scenes or center stage, being able to sustain a life off of our music would be fantastic.

But because we all need to have a place to live, buy groceries, and pay off student loans, we sometimes have no choice but to opt for a nine-to-five job. It may not be music related, but a day job can make life a little bit easier to handle. However, there are times when it may seem as if you’re focusing less and less on your music and losing touch with that part of your identity.

Even if you aren’t playing or booking gigs every day, that doesn’t mean you’re giving up your musicianship. There are ways to focus on your day job as well as your passion for making music.

1. Set music-related deadlines (and stick to them)

Making time after work to go to the gym, maintain relationships, eat right, and just plain relax requires plenty of effort all on their own. So at the end of the day, we don’t blame you for not wanting to sit down with a metronome or manuscript paper.

Maybe you’re too tired or feeling uninspired, but it’s so incredibly important to keep yourself emerged in a musical mindset with music activities. You don’t have to write a full-length, best-selling album in a night, but you do need to maintain some focus in music.

Try setting some personal or professional deadlines for writing music, practicing, self-marketing, or any other part of your musicianship. If you’re in the process of writing lyrics, plan to have a part of the song done by the end of the week or spend 20 minutes a day drafting emails to send to venues. Creating deadlines and goals, however big or small, will help you keep music in mind even if playing a gig or writing seem too far out of reach for a day’s work.

2. Plan some relaxation time that includes music

A passion for music is great in this way – you can continue to grow as a musician even if you’re not practicing for two hours every day.

Sit down with an album and make the time to actively listen to it – don’t make a snack or check your social media. Just sit. Listen. Think. Doing this will help you listen for elements that may inspire you further to create and add-on to your own music.

3. Ask yourself, “Is this a healthy break, or am I avoiding music?”

I can definitely “out” myself with this one. After taking some time away from music, there are moments when I avoid my craft all together. If you’re like me at all, it’s never a fun practice session when your hands are out of shape. The fumbling, the mistakes, and the frustration can be discouraging and it becomes a vicious cycle. I don’t want to practice because I’m self-conscious of the way I sound, but only practicing will help me get back in shape.

However, taking a well-needed break is also healthy. Hitting the restart button will not only clear your mind, but it will also hopefully make your heart miss making music. What’s the saying? “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” It’s totally okay to take a step back, but make sure you’re doing it with intent.

4. Surround yourself with musicians who inspire you

Spending time with like-minded friends is never a bad idea. Being able to talk to others about music is a wonderful way to keep your head in the game. Take a second to talk about, analyze, and explore music in an intellectual way. These conversations can help you think about music critically; you might even continue to learn new ideas and techniques from others. I find that the people that I surround myself with inspire me the most with my music and keep me constantly thinking of my presence in music.

It’s no easy task to balance a music career while maintaining a life outside of music. But you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re compromising your passion for a steady paycheck. Let us know in the comments below how you’ve managed being a full-time musician with a nine-to-five job.

Think You Have a Song That's Syncable?

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Liam Farrell, Manager of Sync on TuneCore’s Publishing Administration team, and it was originally featured on Music Connection.]

This past May, I attended a panel discussion on the current state of sync. It was a real who’s-who of gatekeepers from the sync world; a PRO exec, some big name publishers and music director from one of the top creative agencies in the world.

The audience was a mix of music supervisors, catalog reps, and a ton of hungry musicians looking for new and creative ways to monetize their music.  During the Q&A, one of the more forward musicians in the audience presented a very direct question to the panel:

“What kind of music should I write to land a lot of syncs?”

For a few seconds, the panel seemed to be at a loss for words.  That is until the Music Director spoke up, “Inspirational, anthemic rock that builds.”

I watched as everyone in the audience jotted these words as if an angel had visited and given them the password to heaven.  Of course, the Music Director went on to add much more substance and nuance to his answer, including the suggestion that when a songwriter sets out to write a syncable tune, its often obvious and takes away authenticity of the original song idea. However, those five first words continued to resonate in the room.

As I pondered this a bit deeper, I started to look back at my own experience as a music supervisor.  Pitching and clearing music for wide variety of mediums, from multi-million dollar national brand campaigns to Kickstarter videos for salt water taffy start-ups.  I realized, “inspirational anthemic rock that builds” was a great answer if you are trying to land one of those big, career launching ad placements.

But there are so many more avenues into sync where the competition is much thinner and the opportunities are much more frequent. Below are a few thoughts and tips to keep in mind when crafting your next masterpiece. Again, I’m “NOT” suggesting writing a song that hits all of the points to follow. I think most music supervisors will agree with me. These are just a few things to think about applying to your song(s) to maximize your chances for landing syncs of all shapes and sizes.

Tip # 1: Instrumental Versions 

I cannot stress this enough: Have instrumental versions of all of your songs ready and available at a moments notice. For 99% of placements of popular songs in ads, the instrumental version is needed in order to make the edit work.  This is largely because the Voice Over needs room to breath and tell the audience about the product.

Lets say you have a song called “I Got A Feelin’ I Love You” and that a yogurt brand wants to use it in a campaign to introduce their new flavor: Banana Cheesecake Delight.  Target demographic: Moms on the Go.

The first 20 seconds of the spot there’s VO (voice over) speaking to the nutritional value of the yogurt and how easy and convenient it is to eat.  The camera focuses in on someone savoring the first bite. The titular line of your song “I Got a Feelin’ I Love You” plays and the title card appears.  That’s what we call in the biz a “vocal up.”

Now, if the instrumental wasn’t available for the editors, then all of the lyrics preceding “I Got a Feelin’ I Love You” would compete with the VO and the spot will sound cumbersome and confusing.

Tip #2:  Button Up – Never Fade

I’ve been in the room when its happened.  All of the creatives listening to music options for their spot.  There’s one song they all react positively to. Toes tapping and heads bopping.  Everyone is loving this song.  The final chorus comes in and its epic, but then, the worst thing happens.  The song ends on a fade out!  BLASPHEMY!  Everyone is severely disappointed and a few people quit their jobs right there on the spot.  Why? Why ever fade out a song? Very rarely will a TV show or film fade out from one scene to another and it NEVER happens in ads.

If for some reason the spot calls for a fade out, this can easily be done in the edit suite.  Editors cannot, however, undo a fadeout and create an ending that isn’t there.  Its uber-important to put a nice intentional button ending (or sting) on every song you want to be pitched for sync. Trust me.

Tip #3: Clean Versions

We all love edgy music from time to time, amirite? Suggestive lyrics and gratuitous f-bombs are tons of fun at the adults only pool party.

But brands? No way. Brands like to play it safe so they can reach the widest pool of potential consumers possible.  Sure, you can get some swears in a film with a PG-13 or higher rating, or even on a late night cable comedy.  But if you really want to maximize your chances for sync, you should have a clean version readily available.  That doesn’t mean add a BLEEP sound over every bad word. That gets annoying real quick.  That means either replace it or drop the word altogether in the mix.

Tip #4: Whoa Oh Oh’s

You may have noticed (if you haven’t, you will now) that a ton of commercial spots use songs that feature some sort of “Oooo” “Whoa” or “Ahh” in lieu of actual lyrics. This makes sense because it allows the spot to avoid any lyrics that may compete with the brand’s message while also maintaining the vocal element that ‘legitimizes’ the song.  It can also add an extra layer of energy.

Tip #5: Not Too Specific Lyrics

Now this is a tricky one. Not to sound like a broken record, but you shouldn’t set out to write a song specifically for sync. Give us truth. Give us authenticity. Just don’t give us the full name, description, and backstory of your long lost love. Keep it 100.

It’s great to write lyrics that are personal and close to the heart.  However, if your lyrics are too specific, it may hurt your chances for sync.

Lets say a soup brand is looking for the perfect song to go along with their new flavor: New England HAM Chowder.  They want to find a song that reflects the warm and comforting nature of soup. You happen to have a song in your catalog “Warmth.”  The lyrics go something like, “Last winter, up in Maine, We sat by the fire hand in hand, the bluest eyes, shake my core, I love you Margaret, you make me warm…” Bro, that’s not gonna work for soup.

Meanwhile Johnny Syncsalot submits his song called “Comfort.”  He lands the placement because his lyrics were emotive, yet vague enough that they could pass for being about soup, “Oooo I’ve been waiting for this, and I can’t get it out of my mind.  Home is where I want to be, and now your comfort is mine.”

A young man is sitting with his cat and guitar at home on a sofa and is writing songs in a notebook

That could be about soup, a dog, bed sheets, a shower, etc.  Lyrics like this can be applied to a number of different things because they are so vague about what the subject is.

Just something to think about next time you put the pen to paper.

Tip #6: Dynamics – Never Loop

A repetitive track gets boring really quickly.  Having a song that’s dynamic and has lots of peaks and valleys will set your music apart from others.

The people who actually lay the music to picture often look for what they call “edit points.”  These are moments within the song where the mood, intensity, or energy takes a turn.

Lets say you have a scene in a film where a young athlete is struggling to finish her race.  Her legs are tired and she’s falling behind the other runners. The song in the background is pulsing, and tense, matching the pace and mood of the scene.  Then, just as she’s about to give up and quit, she sees her coach in the stands.  The coach gives her a look like “C’mon, you can DO THIS. ” At that moment she finds sudden second wind and pushes herself to speed up for one last lap.  The music pivots intensity and is now triumphant and optimistic, yet still the same song.  She makes it over the finish line and gets her gold medal.

If you’re song is simply a loop of a beat or some chords, there still may be some syncs out there for you.  But they are limited to phone apps and weather channel updates.  Nothing wrong with that.  But spice it up a bit if you want a shot at the big leagues.

Tip #7 – The Build Up

Most commercials are :30 or :60 seconds long. So if you can save an editor from cutting up your song to fit these lengths, you’ll have a serious advantage. Thus, its is wise to have your song build steadily over 30 or 60 seconds. Of course, most real songs (not jingles) are going to be much longer than 60 seconds. So once the song is mixed and ready for master, just create a :30 and :60 cut-down version (maybe even a :15 if you are feeling saucy!).  These are always good to have in your back pocket, ready for sync.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to give the listener a little bit of time to bask in the glory of the crescendo you’ve just built up to. So don’t have it peak at :30 or :60.  Rather, hit the musical zenith at :27 (for a :30) or :54 (for a :60).  If you peak at :30, its like riding a roller coaster to the top of the hill, and then getting off before the payoff. Nahmsayin?

This one I would recommend applying at the final stages of the recording process via editing. Its hard to fit a good and thoughtful song idea into a :30 second edit, so go nuts and write/record the full song first. Then take the juiciest of bits and cut them down after the fact.

Tip #8: Save Sessions

Sometimes, creatives will be really into a song, but not quite feeling the sultry sax solo because it competes with VO.  Often they’ll ask the artist if there is a version without the sax.  The savvy musician will have the session backed up on a hard drive and will be able to deliver a sax-free version at a moments notice.  I’ve seen songs get a lot of love in the edit suite, only to be passed over because the artist couldn’t deliver a different mix.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Back up your sessions!

Tip #9: Less is More

Piggybacking off of Tip #8.  There is some real value in minimal music.  This is especially true in background music for TV or documentaries.  Consider for a moment all of the music in scenes like: tip toeing through a dark hallway, a news report on the aftermath of a natural disaster, a washed up actor recounting a dark time in his life, or an educational look at the process of photosynthesis.

The music under all of these types of moments needs to be subtle and not over the top.  There is a lot of value in ethereal soundscapes, solo piano pieces, or even simple ambient drones.  Sometimes its best to keep it simple and subtle.  You may be surprised how much demand there is for this kind of thing.

Tip #10: Be True to Yourself

This one is VERY important.  While ‘inspirational anthemic rock that builds’ may be the most sought after kind of music for sync, there’s also going to be a lot of competition.  If that’s not your thing, don’t sweat it!  We get requests all the time for very specific, non-mainstream music that is authentic.  Perhaps you are an ole timey barber shop quartet, or maybe a mariachi band.  Stick with it!  There are opportunities out there for you.

One great example is the band, Dropkick Murphys. Quite a specific sound, right? Irish-American Punk.  While they likely wont land the theme song on Real Housewives of Ft Lauderdale, they get a ton of love from Irish-themed shows, movies, and brands. I can’t think of one Boston mob film that they aren’t on the soundtrack of.

You have the same chance at that sort of path to success.  Just find what you are good at, and keep pushing.


LIAM FARRELL is Manager of Sync on TuneCore’s Publishing Administration team. After graduating from Syracuse University in 2008, Farrell moved to New York to foster over eight years of experience in the music industry, ranging from artist management to music supervision. Farrell climbed aboard TuneCore’s Brooklyn vessel in May of 2016, bringing with him a knack and enthusiasm for music synchronization.

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.

SOUND BYTES