iHeartRadio Expands Services For Users

Hot on the heels of announcing 100 million registered users, iHeartRadio recently released their newest services, iHeartRadio Plus and iHeartRadio All Access (powered by Napster) and we’re excited to announce that these services are now available for TuneCore Artists to distribute their music to!

iHeartRadio already offers listeners access to over 750 live streams of radio stations across the U.S., as well as the ability to build a playlist or ‘user-generated’ radio station based on an artist of their choosing. Here’s a look at how the new services stand to impact users and artists:

  • With iHeartRadio Plus, users will have access to offline listening, unlimited skips and replays, and customized radio stations for $4.99/month;
  • With iHeartRadio All Access, users get a traditional on-demand streaming platform complete with a catalog millions of songs (via Napster) for $9.99/month.
  • For TuneCore Artists, both of these new services open up the opportunity for discovery and democratic listening among iHeartRadio subscribers!

What does that mean for TuneCore Artists who have already distributed to iHeartRadio and Napster?

Since your music is already on iHeartRadio and Napster (fka Rhapsody), you’re good! You do not need to take any action to make your current active releases available on iHeartRadio Plus or iHeartRadio All Access. Any fans who search for your release(s) on iHeartRadio should be able to find them on both of these services.

For information about getting your music on iHeartRadio, learn more here.

To add your current active releases to iHeartRadio and/or Napster, head over to your Store Manager.

TuneCore Artists know they can always look to us to offer them a plethora of stores and streaming services to send their new releases to. We know that independent music is something that fans seek globally, and we strive to make sure that artists can take advantage of all available outlets in order to build their fan base.

This is a big step for iHeartRadio and their listeners, and we’re excited about what this means for our artists moving forward.

TuneCore Heads to SXSW 2017!

Another year, another journey to one of the largest music conferences in the world.

In the past couple of years, TuneCore has had the honor of getting involved with SXSW in a multitude of ways; from sponsoring day parties with cool brands and blogs, to boasting four days of showcases packed with both well-known and emerging TuneCore talent.

As a digital distributor that has helped so many artists that show up in Austin to play and network each year, we’re always excited to hang out, catch awesome live sets, and connect with and make ourselves available to artists who use TuneCore!

SXSW-Announces-Select-Speakers-and-Expanded-Access-for-All-Badge-Types-for-2017

This year, TuneCore will be camped out in the SXSW Artist Lounge from Wednesday, March 15th through Saturday, March 18th – each day from 11am-6pm. There, we’ll be mixing it up with artists who’ll be showcasing all week, giving away awesome stuff, and meeting with artists interested in open consultation on topics like music distribution, publishing administration, and social media management.

At night, you can find the TuneCore crew up and down 6th Street checking out showcases and sets all over Austin in an effort to support as many of our talented TuneCore Artists as possible! Make sure to say hello if you see us out there!

Additionally, several members of the TuneCore family will be making us proud at some exclusive panels and discussions aimed at helping artists further their careers in the music industry:

  • Chris Mooney, TuneCore’s Sr. Director of Artist Relations, will be sitting on the “Transforming Online Popularity to Offline Success” panel; featuring artist manager Adina Friedman, Back 40 Entertainment’s Geniveive Thompson, and TuneCore Artist Ron Pope. March 16th 12:30pm-1:30pm 
  • Amy Lombardi, TuneCore’s Director of Entertainment Relations, is heading up the “Creating For a Cause: Making Music for Action and Awareness” discussion; featuring Broadway Records’ Van Dean, SIMMS Foundation Heather Alden, and TuneCore Artist Chaka Mpeanaji (Riders Against the Storm). March 15th 3:30pm-4:30pm

Speaking of awesome educational panels that are sure to help shape indie artists’ career strategies, we also asked our talented Music Publishing Administration team to pick out a couple of suggested discussions to sit-in on:

March 15th

New Nashville: The Evolution of Music Publishing

Invested Development: We Do What Labels Don’t

Music Publishing Meet Up

March 16th

Compulsory License Today, Direct License Tomorrow?

Creative and Financial Aspects of Sampling

March 17th

The Song and Sound Recording Performance Right

March 18th

Developments in Music Publishing: Lemons Or Lemonade?


Heading down to SXSW 2017? Give us a shout in the comments! See you down there, artists.

February Industry Wrap-Up

The cold weather is slowly on its way out and SXSW is on the horizon – must be the end of February! That’s why we’re here to wind down the month in music industry happenings. Just because it was a short month doesn’t mean there was no action – read on to catch the latest on Facebook’s upcoming video ventures, collaboration among the YouTube and Google Play Music teams, and Spotify’s ‘sunny’ new parter.

 

Facebook to Introduce Longer-Form ‘Premium’ Music Video Content


As online videos become an even more integral part of marketing and promotion for artists – from major label mainstays to indie up-and-comers – competition to serve hungry fans continues to heat up among all the big name platforms. If you’ve been reading around, you know that Facebook is a key contender in its attempts to offer users exciting ways to consume video content, including it’s rolling out of Facebook Live which paid some big name creators to help promote the service in its early stages.

Recently, Facebook’s VP of Partnerships Dan Rose expressed their desire to begin offering ‘premium videos’, with content shifting into the 5-10 minute length. According to reports, Facebook will offer indie artists and labels the opportunity to test and create episodic content while being paid directly by Facebook in the early stages; Rose says the model will shift to a rev-share after that. With almost two billion users, Facebook remains a major platform for promoting and marketing musical content.

Like anything else surrounding the world of copyright and video content, Facebook is facing concerns from members of the music industry surrounding licensing. When you’re hoping to take a slice of YouTube’s market share, at the very least, a platform should have systems in place that protect copyright holders and ensure that they can be paid properly for the use of their works. Like YouTube’s Content ID system that allows TuneCore to help artists collect their sound recording revenue when their music is used in videos across the platform, sources say that Facebook is in the process of building a parallel copyright ID program. This will be crucial in the potential success of Facebook’s upcoming premium video plans, and it goes to show the importance being placed on protecting copyrighted work – good news for artists of all stripes!

 

Google Merges Play Music & YouTube Music Teams


This past month it was revealed to media outlets that the product teams in charge of directing YouTube Music and Google Play Music will be combined into a single unit. Confirmed by Google, a spokesperson said: “Music is very important to Google and we’re evaluating how to bring together our music offerings to deliver the best possible product for our users, music partners and artists. Nothing will change for users today and we’ll provide plenty of notice before any changes are made.”

What does this mean for artists? Well, we already know that independent music makers can make their music available on YouTube and Google Play via TuneCore, but with the platforms technically being under the same umbrella, this appears to be a play towards creating a better overall user experience for music consumers. As streaming services acquire new subscribers every day, access to independent music grows and artists are able to make themselves available to fans who use all different ‘preferred platforms’ for discovering new tunes.

There’s an array of possible reasons for this internal shift at one of the biggest media companies in the world – perhaps as a move to simplify in-app listening, and more interestingly, a way for Google to negotiate deals with artists and labels. Either way, users of both apps will be able to continue using them as normal for now, and it’s highly possible that artists can look forward to a simpler way to reach YouTube- and Google Play-loyal fans in the near future.

 

Spotify’s Latest Partner is … a Weather Company?


We all know that weather impacts our moods. We all also know that music can play a similar role. But how do listeners build playlists that capture any given climate?

Ever the forward-thinking streaming platform, Spotify announced in February that is partnering with weather reporting website AccuWeather to develop and launch a site called Climatune, offering playlists for various cities based on varying weather conditions. This comes after partnerships with modern apps and companies like Uber, Tinder and Headspace, and shows that Spotify has no intention of slowing down its pace of clever collaboration with those looking to bring music into the fold.

So instead of just throwing on Banarama on those sunny days or curling up to some Morrisey during a morning rainstorm, Climatune offers playlists to music fans based on the hours and hours of research in major cities pointing to habits of listeners based on the skies. For example, did you know that residents of Chicago get excited when it rains, causing a huge lift in happier music? Houston Spotify subscribers, on the other hand, boost their acoustic listening by 121% on rainy days.

While it remains to be seen just how many subscribers will utilize this cool new service, we here at TuneCore see it as just another interesting avenue for music discovery via the popularity of playlists.

A Musician’s Basic Guide to Trademark Law

[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.]

 

Continuing from our prior installment where we discussed copyright law and how it relates to the music industry, we should now briefly explore how trademark law is related to the music business.

As they say on Madison Avenue, “it’s all about the name;” and, trademark law provides protection for a particular name for a specific good or service.

Trademark registration grants the owner of a mark the exclusive right to utilize the brand in commerce to differentiate the goods or services provided by that individual or business from those provided by another. A service mark is a mark used in connection with providing a particular service (i.e. live performance services, talent management services). Trademark protection can apply to a particular word, phrase, slogan, logo, design, smell, sound or a combination of these, which are used in relation to specific goods. The general principle behind trademark law is that the mark acts as an identifier to the public of the source of a good or service. It is actually a consumer protection law based on the origin of goods and services.

There are two distinct trademark systems for acquiring rights in a name. There is a “first-to-file” system, which exists in countries such as China and France. This system provides protection to the first entity to file for a registration for a particular name for the good or service listed in the registration. Conversely, the United States follows a “first-to-use” system. This system provides trademark protection to the first entity to file an application and who actually utilizes the mark in commerce for the listed goods or services.

In order to protect a name, a federal or state trademark application should be filed with the appropriate state department or the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“U.S.P.T.O.”). In America, an application can be filed for a mark that is currently in use (an “actual use” application) or for one that the owner intends to use (an “intent-to-use” application). An intent-to-use application is filed prior to the actual use of the mark in commerce in an effort to “reserve” a particular name for a specific good or service. The applicant must then actually use the mark in commerce within six months after a “Notice Of Allowance” is issued by the U.S.P.T.O. or an extension must be filed to keep extending the deadline to file a “Notice of Use” to obtain the registration.

In the United States, a mark can only be registered if it is distinctive and not generic for the goods or services provided. A distinctive mark is one that is capable of distinguishing the goods or services provided by one from those provided by others. A mark can be described as fanciful, arbitrary, suggestive, descriptive or generic. Fanciful marks are those that have no meaning other than acting as an indicator of the source such as “Exxon” for gasoline. An arbitrary mark is one that has no relation to the goods being provided such as “Apple” for computers. A suggestive mark is one that suggests a quality or a particular characteristic of the goods provided such as “Jaguar” for automobiles. A descriptive mark merely describes the goods or services provided without requiring any additional imagination or thought on the part of the consumer.

Generally, a descriptive mark cannot be registered unless it has acquired secondary meaning. This can be demonstrated by providing evidence that the relevant consumer marketplace has come to associate this particular mark with the goods provided with the mark. Additionally, use of a mark in commerce for over five years can create a presumption of secondary meaning that an owner can use to its advantage. Finally, a generic mark is one that is incapable of acting as a trademark as it is a common word or term that identifies the products and services without specifying a particular source for the goods or services.

Since, an artist or band’s name is one of the most important, if not, the most important feature in a musician’s career, proper ownership and prior clearance of a particular name is essential. Generally, one should apply for protection in their artist or band name as soon as possible. While the cost may be perceived as prohibitive, the potential downfall due to a lack of a search or registration could be much more detrimental and costly. Since everything a musician does is based on the name, including associated social media platforms, websites, and merchandise; it is prudent to conduct a trademark screening search prior to establishing and developing these outlets to identify any potential barriers to your name and to determine the availability or lack thereof. This will ensure you are not infringing on someone else’s registered or protected mark.

Needless to say, this is a situation that should clearly be avoided as having to change a band’s name after they have begun utilizing it due to another’s mark will end up destroying the good will and notoriety that the artist has built under that particular brand.

Additionally, if an individual fails to register a band name and just begins utilizing it in a specific area or state, the individual may be later forced to only advertise and utilize that mark only in that particular area or state rather than being able to utilize the mark throughout the nation as a federal registration would permit. For example, a band who operates as “The Owls” in one area of the country may apply for a federal trademark registration if they are in interstate commerce, to protect their band name throughout the country.

It is therefore prudent for an artist or band to ensure their chosen name is “clear” prior to utilizing it in commerce, as even if one artist is bigger and more established than an already registered one, the prior registration typically trumps the non-registered entity and could prevent the artist from utilizing this name.

There are also many other benefits to registering a trademark or service mark, including a presumption of ownership and validity of the mark after the first five (5) years of registration. Second, a registration can be used offensively to prevent others from using confusingly similar marks for the same or similar goods or services as those provided by the owner (dilution). Third, the (R) symbol acts as constructive notice to third parties of the owner’s trademark or service mark rights in the particular mark. Fourth, a registration can provide the owner with exclusive nationwide rights in the mark as of the date of filing the application. Fifth, a registration certificate can also provide priority for international registration of the same name in other countries, which is extremely important to an artist in today’s global music industry.

Finally, a registration is a valuable commodity, permitting the licensing of the mark by third parties, such a record label or other merchandise manufacturer. It also permits the owner with the ability to stop counterfeit or gray market goods bearing the owner’s trademark from entering the United

States. Again, the trademark registration can be owned by the business entity created by the artist that permits the entity to easily enter into licensing agreements to license the inclusion of the name on recordings as well as on any other merchandise. (For more information, review our prior installments about business entities/taxes & loan-out companies.)

A valid trademark registration also facilitates the owner in filing infringement claims with various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, to retrieve or block potentially infringing accounts. A band with a valid registration could also potentially file an Anti- cybersquatting claim with ICANN to retrieve an infringing domain name.

Since a trademark protects a specific phrase or name for a particular type of goods, a solo artist or band should be aware of the various possible classes that they can obtain registration for a particular name in. A few of the more relevant classes include registration in Class 009: “Audio and video recordings featuring music and artistic performances,” “Musical sound recordings,” “Compact discs featuring music,” “Downloadable music files,” and “Downloadable MP3 files and MP3 recordings. Protection can also be extended to Class 041, which includes: “Audio recording and production,” “recording, production and post-production services in the field of music,” “Production of sound and music video recordings,” “live performances by a musical group.” Protection should also be considered in Class 025, which includes various types of clothing and apparel such as shirts, pants, hats, ties and bandanas (merchandise).

In addition to providing the required information in the trademark application, the Applicant (person who submits an application) must provide a suitable specimen depicting the mark being used in commerce for the particular listed good(s). For example, if a mark is for “live performances” in Class 041, copies of live performance flyers or advertisements containing the artist’s name would be appropriate specimens.

As we’ve discussed, trademark law is utilized for protecting an individual or business’s name and is an essential component to succeed in entertainment. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that all the aspects related to it are proper or the lack thereof, could lead to some devastating results.

You should always consult an experienced attorney in the field to understand the requirements and available options.

TuneCore’s New Refer a Friend Program Helps Artists Earn and Save

Anyone creating music in 2017 knows that collaboration is a beautiful thing. Whether it’s a featured hip hop verse, a bluegrass rhythm section, or two songwriters coming together in the studio, musicians working toward a common artistic goal can have incredible results. Heck, we’ve even talked about apps that allow artists to collaborate with greater ease than ever.

In the spirit of indie artists doing right by their fellow indie artists, TuneCore is proud to roll out an all new “Refer A Friend” program! This opportunity gives you a chance to hook up some of your fellow artists who – unlike you – don’t know how to get their music sold online yet.

As long as you are a TuneCore Artist with an active distribution, each friend who you refer gets 20% off of their first release, and you get to release your next single on us!

All you need to do to get started is head over to our Refer A Friend page and choose how you want to invite friends to take advantage of this opportunity. You can email them directly using our portal, or open it up to your friends and family on social media by choosing to post right to Facebook or Twitter.

However you choose to share, you’ll be given a unique URL for your friends to click. It’ll take them to TuneCore to learn more, and if they choose to sign up and distribute, an automatic 20% off will be added to their release. Once they release their music using your link, you’ll receive an email with a free Single Distribution code! Simple as that.

tunecore-refer-a-friend

TuneCore is already proud to benefit from a solid reputation in the independent music community, and we owe a continuous ‘thanks’ to the artists who have helped us grow via word-of-mouth. Now moving forward, we’re happy to be able to give back to you

Start referring your indie artist friends today.

January Industry Wrap-Up

The first month of 2017 is in the books, and even with a post-holiday haze in the air, the music industry didn’t slow down. Catch up with some of the headlines from January and head into the next month informed!

Music Streaming Subscriptions Surpass Netflix


Is ‘binge-listening’ going to be a thing now? Not quite, but as Music Business Worldwide reports, at the end of 2016, a little over 100 million people were paying subscription fees for music platforms like Spotify, Deezer, and Apple Music. That’s an uptick from 68 million people who were reported subscribers at the end of 2015. The television/movie streaming giant Netflix, on the other hand, reportedly rounded last year off with 87.8 million subscribed.

MIDiA reported that according to its data, around 43 million of these subscribers preferred Spotify, 20.9 million chose Apple Music, 6.9 million subscribe to Deezer, with Napster and TIDAL faring at 4.5 million and 1 million, respectively.

NetflixShould we be surprised at the numbers? There’s no doubt that we’ve seen music fans – both active and passive – warm up to streaming in general, and more artists have felt comfortable making their releases available across platforms. While it’s taken years to get here, there’s no denying the important evolution of streaming and what it has meant for artists’ (independent otherwise) ability to earn more revenue from their music. As MIDiA’s Mark Mulligan put it, “100 million subscribers might not mean the world changes in an instant, but it does reflect a changing world.” It’s safe to say that artists have the opportunity to reach more fans – new and old – than ever before by taking advantage of the many streaming platforms out there.   

Pandora, YouTube and Spotify Beat Radio For First Time


First Netflix, now radio? According to a new MusicWatch survey, it wasn’t just the household-name movie and TV service that music streaming platforms stole the shine from in 2016. Bringing to the table free and ad-supported providers like YouTube and Pandora, AM/FM Radio came in second to streaming music services for music listening. 28% of survey-takers said they prefered to stream while 24% opted for the more traditional route of terrestrial radio. Pandora (who TuneCore recently announced a partnership with) topped the chart of participants’ preferred streaming services with 28%, followed by YouTube shortly behind at 27%, and Spotify ranking third with 17% of the share.

weekly share
Courtesy of MusicWatch Inc.

While it could be that as radio stations become more and more conglomerated, music listeners feel that they have less and less say in what they’re hearing on AM/FM radio, it likely also boils down to the sheer amount of access that streaming music services provide. Curation and overall availability of music is key in streaming’s appeal to feverish music fans, the advent of smart mobile devices simply makes it easier even for those casual fans who don’t mind an ad or two between their daily or weekly intake of Top 40 hits.

YouTube Launches Super Chat Tool To Help Channel Owners Earn More


As Facebook wraps up its $50 million effort to spread the word about its Facebook Live feature via celebrities and other publishers, the live streaming war continues to heat up. This month, YouTube announced the launch of a product known as “Super Chat” that will give channel owners the opportunity to further monetize their live streams. Discontinuing the “Fan Funding Feature”, Super Chat will act as a sort of tip jar for YouTubers to better connect with the live streamer. For musicians, using a live stream to show off a new single, update a tour diary, make a special announcement, or host a Q&A session with fans can also mean earning extra revenue.


As fans pay, their comments (or ‘Super Chats’) will remain pinned to the top of the chat for up to five hours – this ensures that the channel owner sees their messages in a more pronounced manner, and allows the commenter to get their question/comment across with greater exposure. This opens up an opportunity for indie musicians to not only explore new ways of promoting themselves and making a little extra dough, but also discover what kinds of engagement their fans respond to. According to
HypeBot, Super Chat is expected to be available for creators in 20 countries and viewers in 40 by January 31st.

Whether it’s music, gaming, or other entertainment, creators and artists/musicians of all sorts flock to the platform to connect with new and established fan bases. TuneCore has already helped countless independent artists collect their sound recording revenue from ads placed on videos using their music since 2014, and the new Super Chat feature adds an interesting method for connecting with fans in a more direct manner. It certainly helps that fans will be able to feel good about contributing money and being heard.

Rights Society SESAC Purchased by Blackstone Group, LP


SESAC, a performance rights organization (PRO) based in the United States alongside ASCAP and BMI, was offered a rumored $1 billion acquisition deal from the private equity firm Blackstone Group, LP.

Unlike ASCAP and BMI, which only collect and pay out public performance royalties for songwriters, SESAC covers public performance, mechanical, and sync in-house. These offerings were amplified by the purchase of mechanical rights powerhouse the Harry Fox Agency in 2015.

The first step into the music industry for Blackstone Group, the collection society is expected to retain their existing management team while receiving support from the equity firm, with SESAC’s CEO John Josephson remarking, “We anticipate a seamless transition in ownership with no disruption to our business activities as a result of this transaction.”

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 11.10.02 AMWhat this means for the near future of public performance collection societies is tough to comment on, but it certainly shows that SESAC, the youngest of all three, is poised for further growth. What it means for U.S.-based independent artists is that they should try to remain as informed as possible about the continued growth and new offerings from PRO’s that may help them advance their career.  Head over to Billboard to see the breakdown of SESAC’s financials as we wait to hear confirmation on a deal.