Thursday, October 8, 2015

German music biz generated $12bn last year - with live leading the way

Written by Tim Ingham — Germany’s music industry – including live, recordings and publishing – generated revenues totalling €11 billion (US $12.3bn) last year.

New figures show that a total of 127,000 salaried employees and self-employed individuals are now active in the German music biz, bigger than the employment numbers of every other media sector.

In 2014, the German music industry’s gross value added (GVA) was roughly €3.9 billion ($4.4bn), higher than that of the film, radio and book and magazine publishing industries.

The UK music industry’s estimated GVA in 2013, for comparison’s sake, was €5.15bn (£3.8bn), despite Germany spending more on recorded music each year.

The German music biz’s GVA was led by live, with “music events” claiming 27% of the sum. “Music recordings” took 22% followed by “music instruments” (19%), “creatives” (15%), “music instruction” (10%), “music publishing” (5%) and “music collecting societies” (2%).

The figures come from a new report titled “The Music Industry in Germany”. The study contained in the report was carried out by the Institute for Communication Studies at Friedrich-Schiller-Universit├Ąt Jena (IfKWJ) under the direction of Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Seufert. The study was co-commissioned by Germany’s most important music industry associations and funded by the Federal State of Hamburg and the Federal Ministry for Economics and Energy.



Olaf Scholz, Mayor of Hamburg: “Whether live, as physical recording or in digital form – music plays an enormous economic role.

“Here in Hamburg, we’ve known this for some time, seeing as our city continues to profit considerably from music, and especially from sub-sectors such as music tourism.

“This report will enable the industry to gain the acknowledgement it deserves in Germany as a key sector in the creative economy.”

Brigitte Zypries, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy: “The report shows very clearly that the music industry is a major economic player in Germany.

“At the same time, the industry also plays a pioneering role in our current era of digital transformation.

“The music industry was one of the first creative sectors to be hit by the digital revolution, and today we can see that it has responded successfully to the challenge – with solid solutions that have allowed it to act far beyond the borders of its own industry.”

Roughly 1,300 companies representing a total turnover of €6 billion took part in the survey, which lasted between mid-March and the end of June 2015.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What Does This Music Industry Report Mean for Apple Inc., Pandora, and Spotify?

Written by Andrew Tonner — Parsing a music industry authority's recent report to see what the current industrywide sea change could hold for these companies.

The Internet fundamentally rewrote the rules of the music industry, and the winners and losers are still shaking out.

However, one of the bigger trends we've seen has been the rise of streaming platforms, such as Apple Music, Pandora Media, Spotify, Rhapsody, and Tidal, to name a few. And as streaming increasingly drives the music business, a recent report from one industry authority demonstrated this trend in its full effect.

Inside RIAA's halftime report
Recently, a midyear report from the Recording Industry Association of America, the music industry's lobbying arm, confirmed that streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora are becoming an increasingly integral portion of the U.S. market. The American music industry generated $3.2 billion in revenues in the first half of 2015, exactly the same as in the first half of 2014. However, looking at distribution of sales among specific segments reveals an industry in flux.

As you might imagine, sales of physical music such as CDs continue to dwindle, with expanding streaming services picking up the slack:

The ongoing resurgence of vinyl was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dreary market for physical music. And although less negative than overall physical sales, digital-single downloads also contracted 9.4%, from $759 million last year to $678 million this year. But full-length album downloads expanded 4.2%, from $543 million to $571 million. However, this report was all about streaming, which constitutes the only meaningful growth trend supporting this long-suffering industry. Here's how the three revenue sub-classifications of the streaming music business each expanded over the past year.

"SoundExchange distribution" refers to any payment for digital radio licenses to artists and rights holders, so streaming radio operators fall entirely within this category. So how should investors and fans of streaming names such as Pandora, Spotify, and Apple Music reconcile these numbers with each individual company?

On the right side of history
For Pandora, the streaming service grew revenue faster (up 25%) than the overall industry (up 19.7%) during the period the report covered. Although not offering much more meaningful insight than this, for Pandora to outperform its industry helps further optimism for continued momentum, especially in combination with the likely positive impact from the favorable initial rights ruling from the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board.

Another key point in parsing the streaming growth figures is that the paid-subscriptions section probably doesn't include Apple's on-demand music product. Apple unveiled Apple Music at its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote address on June 8, offering a free three-month trial for consumers. However, Apple Music has been public since only June 30. If Apple recognized any revenue from first-day signups or had to pay license fees reflecting the first day of the service's usage, payments from Apple reflecting only June 30 would make their way into the paid-subscriptions figure. It makes sense that Apple would have to pay license fees as a song is played, whereas it probably only will recognize actual subscriber revenue when it begins collecting payment for Apple Music on Oct. 1. So in trying to divine the split between Apple Music, Spotify, and other smaller rivals, note that Apple is effectively a non-factor in the paid-subscriptions category. It will be illuminating to see how that changes in RIAA's next report.

Either way, as the RIAA report demonstrates, streaming is the preferred way for increasingly mobile consumers to listen to music. Whether names such as Apple Music, Spotify, and especially Pandora can form sustainably profitable business models isn't yet a given. However, as we've learned, they should have ample opportunity to do so, given their increasingly integral place within the music industry.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bridal Music business brings sweet sounds

Written by Susan Bloom — In the nervous frenzy and excitement surrounding any wedding, Michele Spadaro can help ensure that at least one thing is totally under control – the ceremonial music.

“Brides and families are always overwhelmed, so you just have to support them a thousand percent and be there for them,” said Spadaro, founder of and flutist with Bridal Music, a four-year-old Toms River-based flute and violin duo specializing in wedding music. “We love to step up and do what we do best, which is to create magical environments that make people smile and help create memories they’ll treasure for a lifetime.”

Providing an elegant musical backdrop to welcome arriving guests, accompany the wedding processionals and ceremony, and support the recessional process as guests leave, Spadaro is the first to admit that while her entry into the wedding business wasn’t necessarily planned, it’s an opportunity she cherishes.

“I started playing the flute when I was 10 years old and it’s the constant that’s always been in my life,” said the Clifton native and current Toms River resident, who holds a teaching degree in music education from New Jersey University, has been a flute instructor at Georgian Court University in Lakewood and has played in numerous ensembles along the way.

“In 2010, a flute associate I knew got ill with pneumonia and asked if I could step in for a wedding,” Spadaro said. “I did it and it was so dynamic and electric that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a whole year afterwards,” she recalled, so much so that she was compelled to launch Bridal Music in 2011.

No repetition

“Each wedding is so different and magical and there’s so much energy, excitement, and emotion at each one,” she explained. “I love that it’s never a repetitive job.”

Nor is her duo of instruments a traditional combination. “When people think of wedding music, they envision string trios or quartets, but those can be somber-sounding,” Spadaro said. By contrast, “a flute and violin together are so vibrant, their sound carries well both inside and outdoors, and the instrumentation is getting increasingly popular.”

Arriving well in advance to set up the amplification, “you can feel the electricity, emotion and anticipation of the guests as the venue fills up,” said Spadaro, who calls on one of three professional violinists in her ensemble to accompany her based on the specifics, timing and location of each event. Primarily serving Monmouth and Ocean counties, venues can range from traditional houses of worship to backyards, beaches, gardens and a broad range of wedding banquet facilities, and the music can be just as varied and eclectic.

“We set an elegant and unique mood with everything from subdued, reverent, and classical music in a house of worship to Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban and even the Beatles,” Spadaro said of an all-Fab Four set that has the bride walking down the aisle to “I Will,” the groomsmen and bridesmaids walking in to “With a Little Help From My Friends,” and everyone exiting to “All You Need is Love.”

“There are also many poignant musical excerpts during the ceremony, after the vows, and even in honor of family members who have passed,” she added. “Our music breaks up the spoken words and freshens guests’ ears with musical rejuvenation.”

Perfect element

Keyport resident Tammy Crawley, owner of a virtual assistant business, agreed that Bridal Music added the perfect element to her daughter Rebecca’s August 2014 wedding in Thompson Park in the Lincroft section of Middletown.

“My daughter had originally considered playing music from an iPod during the ceremony, but I wanted something more professional for her,” Crawley said.

“I ultimately found Bridal Music online and we were so impressed with Michele’s samples; the music was so beautiful and we all loved it. And Michele was so responsive, accommodating and helpful in every aspect of the wedding – she really went above and beyond for us,” Crawley said. “Michele was part of creating a dream wedding for Rebecca and we’ve since recommended Bridal Music to others.”

According to Spadaro, wedding music is always evolving based on the latest popular or romantic songs and wedding locales have become increasingly diverse. “We’re seeing more beach, park, and outdoor weddings than ever before,” she said.

And though the industry is competitive, Spadaro said Bridal Music is uniquely positioned. “Other music ensembles can be flat, but bridal parties really feel our excitement,” she said of the 30 to 40 weddings Bridal Music performs at annually. “We always use battery-operated amplification for our outdoor jobs and have an equipment assistant who comes with us to all events, so we’re ready for anything. We’re also reasonably-priced, charging $389 for the package of our duo, assistant and amplification or just $189 for the solo flute, and for an additional charge we’ll also provide music during the cocktail hour.”

Whether it’s an indoor or outdoor wedding for 25 or 250 guests, Spadaro takes pride in being part of these momentous occasions. “Weddings are lifetime events that create tremendous memories for our clients and their guests,” she said. “We want them to be able to reflect back and remember how special the music was and what a finishing touch it provided.” And, she added, “they provide special memories for me too.”

Location: Toms River
Phone: 732-232-8631
Founded: 2011

Click here to read from this article's source.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Now Major Labels Agree to Improved Artist Streaming Deal in France

Written by Tim Ingham — A change is in the air.

Less than a week ago, Universal, Sony and Warner signed a reworked deal with a powerful artist lobbying group in the US to better reward its members from streaming.

Now the majors have agreed to a new government-approved ‘code’ in France which sees them commit to new levels of transparency and “the fair sharing of value from the exploitation of music online”.

The deal announced in Parliament by the country’s Minister for Culture, Fleur Pellerin, on Monday (September 28).

The code will mean more clarity over the sharing of multi-million dollar advances from services such as YouTube, as well as the equity stakes that the majors own in digital platforms.

Universal, Sony and Warner are believed to own around 15%-20% of equity in Spotify between them.

The agreement of the code follows negotiations between labels, digital platforms, artists and unions led by senior civil servant, Marc Schwartz.



A committee, which will include artist representatives and be chaired by the French Minister for Culture, will oversee the implantation of the Code and IAO sincerely hopes that all sides will be guided by its overarching principles of fairness and transparency in their dealings going forward.

The International Artist Organisation (IAO) – the umbrella association for national organisations representing the rights and interests of Featured Artists in the Music Industry – has welcomed the new deal.

IAO President Paul Pacifico said today “the music industry must pull together and work as one to get real value from the legal digital opportunities in front of us.

“This code represents a genuine opportunity for the industry to move forward together and agree not to repeat the sins of the past where artists have not benefitted equitably from the massive growth in the digital market.”

The IAO is a not-for-profit organisation based in Paris that was officially founded in 2015 by its six founder- members: FAC (UK), GAM (France), CoArtis (Spain), Domus (Germany), Gramart (Norway) and FACIR (Belgium).

Click here to read from this article's source.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Now You Know Everything About Licensing Music In Films

Written by Steve Gordon — In this installment, we will discuss two different forms of agreement: composer deals for the creation of music to be used throughout a movie, and an agreement for the recording and licensing of a previously written but unreleased single song for a film. If you are a filmmaker seeking previously recorded and commercially released music, you may be interested in reading Part II of my book, The Future of the Music Business, which includes a comprehensive discussion on how to clear music for movies.

Producers should be aware of at least one fact: licensing popular prerecorded music can be very expensive!

For instance, one of the authors of this article recently received a quote of $50,000 for a Tom Petty song for a feature film, even though the movie was a low budget Dutch language production with extremely limited commercial potential. This quote was just for the song, or underlying musical composition (see the last installment in this series, Now You Know Everything about Music Publishing, for a discussion of the difference between musical works and sound recordings.)

The client would have had to pay another $50,000 to use Petty’s recording. This article is aimed at benefiting musicians who have been offered the opportunity to write new music for a film. But for filmmakers who read this article, know that hiring a composer to create music for your movie can save you a great deal of money.

Composer Agreements

The key terms of a contract between a film producer and a composer are:

(i) whether the composer will be responsible for recording as well as writing the music;
(ii) the fee payable to the composer;
(iii) the time schedule for the delivery of the music;
(iv) the composer’s credit;
(v) how a composer would be compensated if there is a soundtrack album; and importantly
(vi) the permitted use and ownership of the music itself.


In a conventional composer agreement, the composer is responsible for producing or supervising the production of the music as well as composing it. The composer is paid a fee for those services, and the filmmaker sometimes pays for costs associated with rendering those services, including studio time, compensation to engineers, mixers, arrangers and the rental of recording equipment. Alternatively, these costs may be built into the composer’s fee (see the discussion of the Package Deal below).

The composer’s fee is generally paid in installments. Part of the fee may be payable upon the signing of the agreement or the commencement of “spotting” – i.e., when the production team and the composer screen the movie to determine where and what type of music should be used in the movie’s score. Another portion of the fee may be payable upon the commencement of the recording of the score. A third installment of the fee may be payable upon completion of all services, including delivery of the master recording in a format specified in the contract, and the producer’s acceptance (see below) of the master recording.

The Package Deal

With low budget movies, a producer and a composer often enter into a “package deal.” The producer pays the composer a fee designed to compensate the composer as well as cover costs associated with the recording of the score. The composer assumes responsibility for payments to musicians, arrangers, studio time, and instrument rentals, and retains any monies remaining after she pays these costs.

But, if the composer incurs expenses in excess of the package fee deal, the composer assumes the costs of such overages.

There are, however, usually certain excluded costs in the “package deal” which the producer assumes. These costs include the licensing of any music not written by the composer, or if the producer hires another composer to re-write the score, and any re-scoring or re-recording costs required solely for creative reasons. The composer should try to limit the right of the producer to demand changes after delivery and to negotiate a “kill fee” in case the producer is dissatisfied with the score (see Producer’s Acceptance” below and Paragraph 2(b) of the second contract analyzed in this article).

Package deals often work well when a composer is using few instruments and relies on synthesizers and her own equipment and recording facilities.

Work for Hire vs. Exclusive License

A key provision in any composer agreement is the section that addresses the ownership rights in the music. In a typical composer agreement, the producer and the composer agree in a signed writing that the music which the composer creates and records is deemed to be a “work for hire” and that the producer owns all rights including both the underlying music and the recording of that music.

This provision also states that, if for any reason the music created and recorded by the composer is not deemed a “work for hire” under federal copyright law, the parties agree that the composer has transferred all rights in and to the music, as well as the recordings of the music, to the producer.

A work for hire contract gives the producer total control of the music and the recordings. The producer can use or modify the music in any manner, and include the music in the trailers, marketing materials, advertisements and any other form of promotion for the movie.

But, in addition, the producer can act as a music publisher and label by licensing the music and the recordings to any third parties whether or not such third parties have any connection to the movie. For instance, the producer could license the music and/or the recordings to a person or entity that may want to use it in a commercial or ad campaign.

Although the composer has no say in how the music is used and will not share in the income from licensing of the music to third parties, the composer may be entitled to compensation from at least one income stream, i.e., public performance. This is the one income stream in which a writer subject to a work for hire agreement usually gets paid.

As discussed in prior articles in this series, the publisher’s share and the songwriter’s share are generally divided on a 50/50 basis. Although the filmmaker receives the publisher’s share for the music license, the composer retains the songwriter’s share regardless of who owns the rights in and to the music.

Cue Sheets

In the U.S., there is no public performance income from performances of the movie in a theater, and there is no performance income from distribution of DVDs or permanent downloads. However, there are public performance royalties from broadcasting the movie on TV and from Internet VOD (e.g., Netflix). The composer should be very careful, however, that proper cue sheets are prepared and presented to his or her performance rights organization (“PRO”) to ensure that he or she will be credited by the PRO. As discussed in A Simple Guide to Signing the Best Sync Deal Possible in this series, a cue sheet is a log of all the music used in a production (here’s an example).

Cue sheets are the primary means by which performing rights organizations track the use of music in films and TV. Without filing the cue sheet, the composer will not be compensated by the PRO.

Other ‘Work for Hire’ Considerations

Work for hire agreements are standard and usually non-negotiable when a major studio engages composers. But major studios generally pay significant fees. A composer who is approached by an independent producer whose offer is more financially modest may be able to retain the rights in her music or at least share in additional income streams besides the writer’s share of public performance royalties.

Also, if a producer cannot afford to pay a composer his or her customary fee, the composer may agree to a reduced fee provided that the composer is permitted to share in the publishing rights, that is the underlying music as opposed to the recordings. For example, if the composer’s music from the movie is licensed, the composer could negotiate to receive the full 50% (songwriter’s fee) and perhaps one-half of the publisher’s share, or 25%. In this scenario, the producer would retain the remaining one-half of the publisher’s share (i.e, 25%).

Retaining Your Rights

Since producers are generally not music publishers, and may not have an interest in engaging a music publisher to exploit the music rights on their behalf, a producer may offer a reduced fee to a composer and permit the composer to retain the publishing rights. In this scenario, the composer usually grants an exclusive license for use of the music in the movie as well as in any trailers, advertisements or other promotional materials for or related to the movie but retains the copyright in his music and recordings, and the right to use them in other projects.

In this case, the producer may also negotiate to secure the right to create and distribute a soundtrack album in connection with the movie. The composer agreement can go into extensive detail in calculating how a composer will be compensated for the use of his or her music and recorded performances on the soundtrack album, or the parties can agree to negotiate such terms in good faith at a later time if and when the possibility of a soundtrack album is more certain, such as when a distributor agrees to commercially release the movie.

If the producer agrees that the composer will retain rights in her music and recordings, the producer will usually require the composer to agree that she cannot use or cause others to use the music in any other movie, television program or other audio-visual project for a certain period of time, except with the producer’s prior written consent. This period may be several years either from the date of the initial commercial release of the movie or from the signing of the composer agreement.

After the agreed upon period, the composer can place the music in any other movie, television program or audio-visual project, such as a video game.

Other Usage Considerations

The composer’s agreement may also have a provision in which there is a limit to the amount of the movie’s music that may be used in an album. This is to prevent an album containing the composer’s music from becoming potentially competitive with the movie’s soundtrack album, thereby undercutting the marketability and value of the actual soundtrack album. If a composer creates his or her own album and uses any portion of the movie’s music, there will generally also be a requirement to credit the movie as the source of the music.

Producer’s Acceptance

Prior to accepting the final score, the producer usually will retain the right to request certain changes, omissions or additions to the movie’s music. In addition, the producer generally has the right to not use the composer’s score in the final version of the movie provided that the composer has been fully compensated for creating and/or recording the score. This is known as a “play or pay” clause, and it is used in a wide variety of different forms of entertainment business agreements such an agreement for an actor’s services.

Play or pay provisions are usually non-negotiable because (i) they are inherently fair because they pre-suppose that the producer has paid one hundred percent of composer’s fee; and (ii) it is overreaching to demand that the producer use the composer’s score if the producer does not think it works for the movie. However, to increase the likelihood that a composer and producer are on the same page regarding the movie’s music, the two can agree that the composer will provide scoring and recording services for a portion of the score, at which point the producer can decide whether or not to continue to work with the composer on the remainder of the score. If the producer chooses to terminate the relationship, the composer would receive some agreed upon “kill fee,” but the producer will generally retain the right to use the composer’s music and recordings rendered during the trial period.


Composers should negotiate their credit carefully because a good credit can be vital to getting higher fees for future work. A composer may request “single card” credit in the main credit sequence of the movie whether the main credit sequence is at the beginning or the end of the movie, meaning that his name and credit is the only name to appear on screen at a given time. The producer will usually only promise to provide a credit if they actually use the music in the movie.

Single Song Agreements

Acquiring music for movies can take all kinds of forms. The last agreement that we analyze in this piece is for a single song that was previously written but unreleased. The filmmaker wanted the composer, who was also a record producer, to record the song so that he could put the recording in a music video that would be shown with the end credits. Because the producer and composer both knew that the producer wanted to use the composer’s pre-existing song, the composer had a great deal of leverage. As a consequence, the composer was able to negotiate a license rather than a work for hire.

You could easily imagine a situation where the filmmaker wanted the composer to create and record an entirely original song. In that case the contract would look more like a work for hire.

The Contracts

The first contract analyzed below is a standard pro-film producer form of agreement. It makes all the music a composer creates and records a work for hire for the filmmaker. It also gives the filmmaker the right to demand that the composer make an unlimited number of changes and revisions in the music without obligating the film producer to pay any additional compensation to the composer.

Music In Film Contract I: Pro-Film

The second agreement is much more composer-friendly. It is not a work for hire agreement. Instead, the composer merely grants the filmmaker the right to use the music in his movie and retains all other rights, except that the composer agrees not to license the music for another full length film for a period of time.

In addition, the second contract limits the time that the filmmaker can make the composer make changes to two days after the composer delivers the final mix. It also provides for a “kill fee” if the filmmaker decides that the music delivered by the composer is unacceptable.

Music In Film Contract II: Pro-Composer

The last agreement is for the recording of a single song that the composer previously wrote but never recorded. Similar to the second agreement, the composer grants a non-exclusive license to the filmmaker and retains all other rights in the song and the recording. In this case, though, the composer also grants the filmmaker the right to use the recording in a promo video for the movie.

Music In Films Contract III: Licensing a Single, Previously-Written Work

I hope this article makes your movie licensing a far easier process, while giving you far greater options and leverage.

Thanks for reading! Steve.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

You Have Less Than 24 Hours to De-Activate Your Apple Music Account

Written by Paul Resnikoff — Your Apple Music free trial may have already turned into a paid account, depending on when you signed up. If that hasn’t happened yet and you don’t want to subscribe, here’s a succinct guide to changing your settings to avoid automatic billing of your credit card.

iTunes desktop:

iOS iPhone/iPad:

Click here to read from this article's source.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

'All About That Bass' writer decries streaming revenue

Written by Nate Rau — A co-writer behind the international smash hit "All About That Bass" said he was only paid $5,679 in streaming revenue, crystallizing the plight of songwriters as he spoke to key members of Congress during a roundtable discussion Tuesday about music copyright.

The roundtable was hosted at Belmont University on Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee, which is taking a listening tour after nearly two years, 20 hearings and more than 100 witness testimonies in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, the committee chairman, said the goal is to escape Washington and hear from Nashville stakeholders about how they're affected by the current music copyright climate. Goodlatte began by asking the 21-member panel representing record label executives, publishers, songwriters, music industry advocacy groups, attorneys and broadcasters about where there is agreement on what changes are necessary to the copyright system.

Producer and songwriter Kevin Kadish, one of the first speakers, zeroed in on financial challenges songwriters face with music streaming services.

"I've never heard a songwriter complain about radio royalties as much as streaming royalties," Kadish said. "That was the real issue for us, like 1 million streams equals $90. For a song like 'All About That Bass,' that I wrote, which had 178 million streams. I mean $5,679? That's my share. That's as big a song as a songwriter can have in their career and No. 1 in 78 countries. But you're making $5,600. How do you feed your family?"

Five Republicans, including four members of the Judiciary Committee, were on hand for the listening tour. They were Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California; Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas; and Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia. Brentwood Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn was also in attendance.

Collins is the lead sponsor of the Songwriter Equity Act, legislation designed to improve royalty payouts to publishers and songwriters such as Kadish. Collins told The Tennessean afterward that he believes the listening session served to highlight the points of agreement between the splintered factions of Nashville's music industry.

Collins said it was useful to hear from creators on the impact of the fast-growing streaming marketplace. The Recording Industry Association of America reported on Monday that streaming revenues have eclipsed $1 billion. But songwriters and publishers argue they're not getting their fair share of the pie.

"The thing I felt the best about was there is common ground on a number of issues," Collins said. "And the (agreement was that) there is inequity at this point — how you solve that inequity there may be some disagreement. But we're moving to some ideas that would remove the governmental barriers. Almost everyone said, except for the ones who want status quo, that the government part of it is something that could be removed, and there's a better way to fix that."

Music copyright reform is a complicated, tangled issue that pits business partners on opposite sides of some proposals and in agreement on others.

Representatives from the radio broadcast industry made clear their opposition to the creation of a performance royalty for terrestrial radio, which is a proposal on the table with the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act. Questions of whether a single federal judge or private arbitrators should settle royalty rate disputes bogged down the conversation.

One idea that gained traction during the discussion was the creation of a centralized music copyright database, which would be used to improve transparency and to simplify licensing. That suggestion was made earlier this year in a report by the U.S. Copyright Office. Many stakeholders at the roundtable discussion echoed the need for improved transparency on how royalty revenues are distributed.

Collins told The Tennessean he is unsure if a government-run or privately run database would be preferable. He said he's been impressed with Copyright Office Director Maria Pallante and is considering possible reforms to give her office more clout. Right now, the Copyright Office is under the Library of Congress. Collins said he is not ready to go into specifics for what that proposal may look like.

"There's some ideas we're thinking about," Collins said. "There's some others who want to move it completely. I'm not sure we're on board with moving it completely. There's a model I've sort of played with, and we're not ready to get there."

For now Collins has set his sights on pushing the Songwriter Equity Act, which seeks to create a willing buyer, willing seller arrangement for songwriters and publishers. Copyright owners would be able to offer the fair market value of their songs, including synchronization licensing, as evidence when arguing the digital royalty rates at the federal Copyright Royalty Board.

Participants in the roundtable included executives and influencers from most corners of the music industry — though representatives from Nashville's growing music technology and entrepreneurship sector were largely absent. The 21-person roundtable was, with the exception of two women, mostly affluent, middle-age, white men.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Songwriters earn just $90 for every 1 million streams on Spotify

Written by Yoni Heisler — The music industry isn’t in turmoil, but it’s undeniably in the midst of a transformation. These days, services like YouTube, Pandora and Spotify make it easier than ever for fans to discover new music and listen to old favorites. At the same time, many musicians have expressed concern that the economic model of a streaming-based music economy simply isn’t viable.

During a roundtable discussion on copyright issues at Belmont University in Nashville this week, songwriter Kevin Kadish said that he earned just $5,679 for more than 178 million streams of the song “All About That Bass“, a hit song he co-wrote for singer Meghan Trainor.

“That’s as big a song as a songwriter can have in their career and No. 1 in 78 countries,” Kadish explained. “But you’re making $5,600. How do you feed your family?”

According to Kadish, the general rule of thumb as it pertains to streaming profits is that 1 million streams will typically yield about $90.

One of the congressmen in attendance, Representative Doug Collins from Georgia, has been trying to generate support for legislation called the Songwriter Equity Act that would increase the streaming profits for music publishers and songwriters.

The Tennessean reports:
Collins said it was useful to hear from creators on the impact of the fast-growing streaming marketplace. The Recording Industry Association of America reported on Monday that streaming revenues have eclipsed $1 billion. But songwriters and publishers argue they’re not getting their fair share of the pie.

This of course isn’t the first time we’ve heard of singers and songwriters complaining of being shortchanged by streaming sites. Just a few months ago Taylor Swift made waves when she took Apple to task for originally not planning on paying artists during Apple Music’s free three-month trial period. After a string of bad press, Apple finally relented and reversed course.

You might also remember that Pharrell last year said that he only earned $2,700 in royalty payments after his hit song “Happy” was played over 43 million times on Pandora.

As for why songwriters like Kadish are pleading their case before members of Congress, Ars Technica points out that songwriters are paid on a per play basis at a rate that’s decided by the government. In other words, songwriters aren’t in a position to negotiate with streaming services because the rate is already set in stone. The goal of the Songwriter Equity Act would be to tilt things back in favor of songwriters.

Royalty payments remain a thorny issue and it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out. What makes it all so complicated that there are so many entities entitled to a piece of the pie that it’s hard to come up with a system that keeps everyone — from theartist to the distributor to the record label to the songwriter — happy.

Click here to read from this article's source.

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Tribe Called Quest Announce People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm Reissue

Written by Jeremy Gordon — A Tribe Called Quest have announced plans for a 25th year anniversary reissue of their debut LP, 1990's People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm. It's out on November 13 via Sony Legacy, and will be subsequently followed by reissues of their other albums.

The reissue was remastered from the original tapes by Bob Power (D'Angelo, De La Soul). In addition to the original LP, it features remixes from modern rappers, which will be announced in the coming weeks. Below, you can watch a short trailer for the reissue.

"I had this album in my head for years before I did it," Q-Tip said in a press release. "Looking at it overall, to see the thoughts of a 16 year old gain any kind of acknowledgement makes me feel like I have arrived... But to see it in this incarnation ... I'm humbled.

Update 9/22 12:56 p.m. EST: Ali Shaheed Muhammad has offered his thoughts on the new album in a press release. "This album means a lot," he said. "It was the beginning of our careers; the beginning of our imprint; the beginning of seeing life the way we saw it, and being able to put it down in words and music."

Click here to read from this article's source.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

All the 'Happy Birthday' song copyright claims are invalid, federal judge rules

Written by Christine Mai-Duc — None of the companies that have collected royalties on the "Happy Birthday" song for the past 80 years held a valid copyright claim to one of the most popular songs in history, a federal judge in Los Angeles ruled on Tuesday.

In a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, the judge ruled that Warner/Chappell never had the right to charge for the use of the "Happy Birthday To You" song. Warner had been enforcing a copyright since 1988, when it bought Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which claimed the original disputed copyright.

Judge George H. King ruled that a copyright filed by the Summy Co. in 1935 granted only the rights to specific piano arrangements of the music, not the actual song.

"'Happy Birthday' is finally free after 80 years," said Randall Newman, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the suit, which included a group of filmmakers who are producing a documentary about the song. "Finally, the charade is over. It's unbelievable."

A spokesman for Warner/Chappell, the publishing arm of Warner Music, said, "We are looking at the court's lengthy opinion and considering our options."

The plaintiffs' attorneys had characterized the years-long legal fight as a David vs. Goliath battle that pitted independent filmmakers against a large corporation collecting profits on a song whose authors had long since died.

Until now, Warner has asked for royalties from anyone who wanted to sing or play “Happy Birthday to You” -- with the lyrics -- as part of a profit-making enterprise. Royalties were most often collected from stage productions, television shows, movies or greeting cards. But even those who wanted to sing the song publicly as part of a business, say a restaurant owner giving out free birthday cake to patrons, technically had to pay to use the song, prompting creative renditions at chain eateries trying to avoid paying royalties.

The fact that the birthday tune can't be played or sung without permission from Warner has been little more than a surprising piece of trivia for most, but for Warner Music Group, it has meant big business. Two of the filmmaker plaintiffs paid $1,500 and $3,000 for the rights to use the song, their attorneys said. Filmmaker Steve James paid Warner $5,000 to use the song in his 1994 documentary "Hoop Dreams."

"It was quite expensive for us at that time and with our budget. And we only used it for 9 seconds," James wrote in an email passed along by his publicist. James said the scene was "essential" to the film and ultimately decided to pay up.

At a March hearing in the case, records show, a Warner/Chappell representative seated in the audience told the judge that the company collects as much as "six figures" for certain single uses of the song. The song brings in about $2 million a year in royalties for Warner, according to some estimates.

The complex saga of the eight-note ditty has spanned more than 120 years, withstanding two world wars and several eras of copyright law. The song has seen the rise and fall of vinyl records, cassette tapes, CDs and now, the era of digital streaming music.

The story began in 1893, with a Kentucky schoolteacher and her older sister. Patty Smith Hill and Mildred J. Hill wrote the song for Patty’s kindergarten students, titling it “Good Morning To All.” The original lyrics Patty wrote were: “Good morning to you / Good morning to you / Good morning, dear children / Good morning to all."

Patty later said that she had worked with her sister to compose a simple melody to match the words that could be easily sung by young children.

The sisters published the song in a book called “Song Stories for the Kindergarten,” and assigned the copyright to their publisher, Clayton F. Summy Co., in exchange for a cut of the sales.

That was only the beginning of the tangled web of copyright law various attorneys have argued may or may not apply to one of the world’s most famous songs.

Warner and the plaintiffs both agreed that the melody of the familiar song, first written as "Good Morning To All," had entered the public domain decades ago. But Warner claimed it still owned the rights to the "Happy Birthday" lyrics, leaning on the 1935 copyright claim.

At various turns in the case, attorneys argued over whether the Hill sisters had actually written the song, whether they had "abandoned" their rights to what became the "Happy Birthday" tune and even whether Patty Smith Hill had been accurately quoted in a 1935 Time magazine article about the song.

It is not entirely clear, the judge ruled, that the Hill sisters wrote the lyrics for "Happy Birthday To You." But either way, they never asserted a copyright claim for the lyrics, even though they sued for the rights to the original melody.

Ultimately, the judge ruled that no evidence existed that the Summy Co. -- the original company to assert a copyright claim -- ever legally obtained the rights to the "Happy Birthday To You" song from whomever wrote it.

Tuesday's ruling means that the song is now considered a public work and is free for everyone to use without fear of having to pay for it, according to a statement from the plaintiffs' attorneys.

Jennifer Nelson, one of the filmmaker plaintiffs and owner of Good Morning to You productions, called the decision a "great victory for musicians, artists and people around the world who have waited decades for this."

Robert Brauneis, a George Washington University law professor who has extensively researched the copyright history of the song, says the ruling does not explicitly place "Happy Birthday To You" in the public domain.

"It does leave open some questions," Brauneis said Tuesday night. "If [the Hill sisters] didn't convey the rights to Summy Co., then is there someone else that might still own them?"

With Mildred Hill dead for nearly a century now, Brauneis said, "Figuring out who owned [the rights] at this point would be quite an interesting job."

The plaintiff's attorneys have said that they will move to qualify the lawsuit as a class-action in an effort to recoup millions of dollars in licensing fees Warner/Chappell has collected on the tune over the years.

Mark C. Rifkin, one of Nelson's attorneys, said the plaintiffs will pursue Warner for royalties paid since "at least" 1988, and could also ask the company to repay royalties that have been collected all the way back to 1935. It's not clear how much money that could entail.

A third of the profits from licensing the song still go to a designated charity of the Hill family, the Association for Childhood Education International, which promotes global education efforts for children and the professional growth of educators. The association’s 2012 nonprofit tax return, the most recent available, indicates it received $754,108 in royalties.

Warner could still appeal King's decision, but it will have to ask the judge to permit an appeal to go forward. The company has not indicated that it will do so.

Click here to read from this article's source.