Happy Wednesday, people. Like every week, we’ve got a great round-up of TuneCore Artist music videos to distract you from the midweek slump you’re likely experiencing right this very second. Tune in and zone out:
By Dwight Brown
A New Year brings more opportunities for songwriters to get ahead.
So what’s up? Co-writers are leaving the strongest mark on top ten hits. Spotify wants to do the right thing when it comes to songwriter royalties. The digital age is heaping complications on jazz musicians, but makes composing a snap. Deaf consumers want the lyrics to songs’ in movies subtitled on the screen. Why not?
January is a great time to watch and appreciate the evolution of songwriting.
Most of the top-ten selling tracks across the US, UK and Australia in 2015 contained compositions that, according to Music Business World, had one thing in common; more than one writer. Just two of 16 tracks across the three top ten charts were completely penned by the artist who performed them. 87.5% involved a third-party songwriter who was not a featured artist.
Whether the co-pilot was a hired hit-maker or intimate collaborator, it makes no difference. Essentially opportunities + teamwork + creativity = a hit. The biggest song in all three territories was Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars’ toe tapping, hip-swaying “Uptown Funk.” How many writers does it take to bring in the noise and the funk? 11!
Billboard.com says, “The track [Uptown Funk”], which is tied for the second-longest reign on the Billboard Hot 100, initially was credited to six songwriters: Ronson, Mars, Jeffrey Bhasker, Philip Lawrence, Devon Gallaspy and Trinidad Jones. Then after the publisher for the five writers of The Gap Band’s 1979 hit “Oops Upside Your Head” lodged a claim, that quintet helped to divvy up the nearly $2M in songwriting royalties.
So, which two artists wrote their entire top-ten songs in 2015? Adele? No. Justin Bieber? No, no, no. Drumroll… 1. Fetty Wap wrote “Trap Queen.” 2. Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” remained on the U.K. charts in 2015.
There may be light at the end of the tunnel for songwriters and publishers who want Spotify to be more accountable when it comes to royalty payments. Billboard.com points out that James Duffett-Smith, Spotify’s global head of publisher relations, detailed a plan on the service’s website that stated they “will invest in the resources and technical expertise to build a comprehensive publishing administration system to solve this problem.”
Purportedly, Spotify will work in conjunction with the National Music Publishers’ Association and other publisher organizations around the globe to build a music publishing database that, when completed, will properly manage licenses and publishing royalties distributions going forward. Spotify notes one set of challenges in paying fairly, “When it comes to publishing and songwriting royalties, especially in the United States, that’s easier said than done because the data necessary to confirm the appropriate rightsholder is often missing, wrong, or incomplete.” Even though Spotify revealed that it paid more than $3 billion in royalties to date, including $300 million in the first quarter of this year alone, some publishers are wary. What’s not debatable is that streaming royalties are an important revenue source for artists who write songs. Fingers crossed.
To read the entire Duffett-Smith blog, click here.
The digital age has brought jazz artists negatives and positives, notes Ted Gioia, an American jazz critic and music historian who wrote The History of Jazz. On ASCAP.com, Gioia notes that on the one hand, monetizing songwriting in the digital age is an ever-evolving challenge that requires vigilance, a strong publisher and a smart publishing administration service. His article recommends treating music as a product, not content, because people pay for product.
On the other hand the laborious task of writing charts has been streamlined. Software packages like Finale mean scores can be prepared in a fraction of the time it used to take Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie or Gil Evans to write a chart. According to an old New York Times post, Grammy-winning jazz pianist/composer Herbie Hancock has made that transition from paper to computer. Gioia reflects, “A composer can hear everything before the musicians ever see the chart. And the scores simply look so good, in their glistening Adobe pdf format. I’m almost ashamed to show musicians my old handwritten pieces.”
If you’re not hearing impaired, this point of contention may have never crossed your mind. But if you’re part of the 10% of the population who has a hearing disability, you’ve probably been annoyed or ticked off that when music plays in the background of a film, and there is a vocal track with words, even if the movie is subtitled/captioned, it most often does not include the lyrics. Imagine watching Straight Outta Compton, reading the dialogue and not knowing what the rap songs in the background were saying. That’s the point: sometimes lyrics to songs are integral to getting the full intent of a movie.
Members of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf
and Hard of Hearing filed a particular lawsuit, in California in October, 2015, that raises the argument that studios are falsely advertising their products and violating the civil rights of deaf consumers. “While the dialogue of some movies or shows are indeed fully subtitled, the practice of not subtitling song/music lyrics is frustratingly widespread,” states the complaint. “Movies or shows that do not include the subtitled song/music lyrics withhold the full enjoyment of the movie or show from deaf or hard of hearing consumers. If parts of the movie or show are not captioned or subtitled, then deaf and hard of hearing consumers should be told as such before making a decision to rent or purchase the DVD, theater ticket, or streaming.”
Lyrics are important. Songwriters get that.
There’s room for growth and change in the world of songwriting in 2016. Let’s make it happen.
- Justin Hayward Of The Moody Blues Talks About His Classic Song “Nights In White Satin.”
- ASCAP EXPO Adds Master Sessions with Pat Benatar, Desmond Child and Warryn & Erica Campbell
- N.Y. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Lends Her Support to Songwriter Equity Act of 2015
- BMI Congratulates its 2016 Oscar Nominees
- Steven Tyler Joins Board of NMPA S.O.N.G.S. Foundation
You’re invited, TuneCore Artists:
When we launched our first-ever Indie Artist Forum back in September of 2015, we knew we wanted to provide an experience that would leave a lasting impression on those creators that attended. If you were to ask any of them now, we’re willing to bet we succeeded!
Now we’re bringing the action to the musical hotbed of Nashville, TN on Saturday, February 20th, 2016 at ACME Feed & Seed. Like our inaugural event, this Indie Artist Forum will include educational roundtable discussions, keynote speakers that live and breathe the music industry everyday, showcases that’ll include your talented TuneCore peers, and much more. TuneCore wants to show you that we’re committed to bringing our artist community together for straightforward, tactical discussions about the daily reality of being an artist in today’s music industry landscape.
Connecting with fellow indie artists goes beyond booking shows and interacting within your local scene. It’s about more than having a floor or couch to crash on when you’re out of town on tour. It’s about sharing ideas, struggles, opportunities, motivation and inspiration. Because nobody picks up an instrument, microphone or pen thinking, “This is gonna be a breeze!”
At no costs to artists.
Since TuneCore is determined to present an opportunity to artists of all career levels and genres that gives them something truly valuable to walk away with, we’re presenting the Indie Artist Forum free of charge. We request that you only RSVP for the Indie Artist Forum if you’re definitely going to be in the Nashville area on February 20th. That way, we can do our best to give everyone a fair chance to attend, while reaching a diverse group of TuneCore Artists.
“How can I RSVP?”
Visit this site to RSVP to the TuneCore Indie Artist Forum. Those that RSVP will be admitted to the Forum on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once you’re RSVP is confirmed, you’ll begin to receive pertinent announcements and information about the event via email.
Check out Scenes from September’s Forum:
We’re extremely proud to be able to help our TuneCore Artists get their music out to the world in the form of synchronization licensing. From TV shows and movies to video games and advertisements, sync placements are one of the most sought-after successes among independent artists.
In an effort to celebrate and showcase these licenses, we’re continuing to share highlights from each quarter here on the TuneCore Blog! If you’ve been interested in TuneCore’s Music Publishing Administration, peruse through these placements to see just some of what our publishing team has been up to:
Fuller House (Promos)
Song Title: “Watch Me (Whip / Nae Nae)”
Writer: Timothy Mingo
By Dwight Brown
The holiday season is a perfect time to look back at the gains and challenges of 2015 and anticipate what direction songwriters should take in 2016.
Even in the midst of this rapidly changing digital age, the songwriting industry is booming, the U.S. Copyright Office could get an update, co-songwriters are getting advice on protecting their rights, music publishing can find new frontiers and you can sing “Happy Birthday” anytime, anywhere—for FREE.
This December, the world of songwriting and publishing continues to turn…
Songwriters have been singing the blues about diminishing returns, but Music Business Worldwide, based on the findings of a leading industry economist Will Page (Spotify’s Director of Economics), thinks they should be rejoicing. To quote MBW, “Across 2014, the worldwide music copyright industry – that’s recorded music income plus publishing and songwriting (‘musical works’) – generated a grand total of $25.28 billion.” Breaking it down further, “… the income from publishing and songwriting (‘musical works’) was $11,338bn!
Page was on a mission to give the publishing community facts that had not been extrapolated before, “I wanted to plug the knowledge gap, as industry analysts and professionals often don’t appreciate the sheer value of musical works that songwriters and publishers create,” says Page. His three keen observations:
- The songwriting/publishing sector is large and more importantly it’s growing!
- Collecting societies have been reporting ‘record collections,’ in contrast to the recording industry, which has seen its top line halve in size.
- Publishers are seeing direct revenues make up an increasing share of their business as they expand their licensing activities in areas like sync.
The global music market, for songwriters, is generating billions more dollars every year than most people thought.
The U.S. Copyright Office could move out of the analog era into the digital era if three members of Congress can get their CODE Act (Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act) passed. MusicWeek points out that co-sponsor Congressman Tom Marino knows the deal, “…we have allowed our Copyright Office to fall behind the fast-moving pace of America’s creators… This bill will ensure the Office has great autonomy to more quickly adapt to changes in technology.” Congresswoman Judy Chu concurs, “The copyright industries are responsible for millions of jobs and billions of dollars in our economy, yet the office responsible is running on analog in a digital world.”
Key points in the bill:
– Remove Copyright Office from Library of Congress and make it independent.
– The President would appoint the Director of the Copyright Office.
– Administrative functions under Library of Congress become CO responsibilities.
Key powers and duties of the new Copyright Office:
– Advise Congress on national and international issues relating to copyrights.
– Provide advice and assistance to the Executive and Judiciary branches.
– Participate in meetings of international intergovernmental organizations.
– Conduct “ongoing technology studies to ensure the office remains current with technology.”
To read the entire text of the CODE Act, click here.
When songwriters co-create new music and work together they take credit for their work. Typically they sign a “split sheet,” a document that specifies each person’s contributions and ownership percentage on a given track. According to an article at Hypebot, “Artists should make an effort to take further legal precautions in order to avoid issues down the road.” Having nothing more than a “split sheet” could cause some serious complications for co-composers if they don’t consider all possible outcomes.
These issues could be come a challenge if you only have a “split sheet:”
* The right to request a proper accounting from the other parties
* The right to recover certain documented expenses
* Proper attribution or credit on the finished work
* Indemnifications for potential unauthorized sampling
Clearly, the traditional “split sheet” may not be enough to serve all the best interests of co-songwriters.
Is the future looking up or down for songwriters seeking royalties from music streaming? A Music Business Worldwide article that summarized a MBW podcast delved into that subject when it featured a candid interview with Justin Kalifowitz, CEO of Downtown Music Publishing. Kalifowitz represents songwriting copyrights for artists from John Lennon to One Direction and is surprisingly “very bullish” about the future of music publishing.
Regulations: “Quite simply, whenever the government’s not involved, publishers tend to get a much higher percentage of the overall pie.”
Metadata matching issues: “Less than 80% of [due money] is making its way to songwriters and publishers because of [meta] data issues.”
Forcing more value out of “Freemium” services: “As an industry if we continue to [allow that to happen], I think we’re going to be shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Here’s the silver lining: “When you think about the fact that less than one sixth of the world’s population currently lives in places where music publishing as an industry is mature, that’s a very exciting proposition.”
If there’s room for growth, there’s room for hope in 2016.
- Happy Birthday copyright bites the dust. Happy Days are here again!
- Nearly 13,000 BMI Affiliates Signed Letter to U.S. DOJ.
- BMI Latin Writers Shine at Una Noche Bohemia Showcase in NYC.
- House Rep Linda Sanchez Signs on as Cosponsor of Songwriter Equity Act.
Team up with TuneCore Music Publishing Administration!
EAGLES OF DEATH METAL THANK THEIR MUSICAL BROTHERS & SISTERS JOINING THE PLAY IT FORWARD EODM CAMPAIGN
FLORENCE + THE MACHINE (FEATURING THE MACCABEES), KINGS OF LEON, ED HARCOURT, IMAGINE DRAGONS, MY MORNING JACKET, SAVAGES, JIMMY EAT WORLD & MORE RELEASE FIRST WAVE OF COVER VERSIONS OF EODM’S “I LOVE YOU ALL THE TIME” AVAILABLE TODAY ON ITUNES, PRIME MUSIC, AND SPOTIFY.
In the aftermath of the horrific and senseless terrorist attacks on Paris on November 13, 2015—in which so many innocent lives were taken at that evening’s Eagles Of Death Metal show at Le Bataclan—it was none other than Duran Duran who reached out with an immediate and sincere act of musical solidarity: In response to a fan-led campaign to push Eagles Of Death Metal’s cover of Duran Duran’s classic “Save A Prayer” to #1 in the UK, Simon LeBon tweeted that the new romantic icons would donate their share of royalties from the track to charity.
In the weeks that followed, Eagles Of Death Metal asked its musical family to extend the victims of the Paris attacks the same kindness and compassion that everyone from the members of U2 to the French authorities had shown the band—to join the Play It Forward EODM Campaign. EODM asked artists the world over to cover “I Love You All The Time” from its current album Zipper Down. For every cover sold, the band pledged to donate 100% of its publishing income to The Sweet Stuff Foundation, the non-profit organization founded in 2013 by EODM co-founder Joshua Homme to provide assistance to musicians and their families in times of need, as well as musical education and gear for the next generation. Participating artists were also asked to donate the money generated from sales of the song to the charity.
This week, Eagles Of Death Metal is overwhelmed with gratitude by the generosity and empathy made manifest in the first wave of “I Love You All The Time” covers being released by the following artists, all of whom are donating any royalties due them for these performances. The full list of the first series of confirmed Play It Forward EODM Campaign participants is in alphabetical order:
FLORENCE + THE MACHINE (FEATURING THE MACCABEES)
JIMMY EAT WORLD
KINGS OF LEON
MY MORNING JACKET
THE NEW PACIFIC
DEAN WEEN GROUP
Extending their appreciation beyond their fellow musicians, Eagles Of Death Metal thanks Amazon, Apple, Spotify and TuneCore Distribution for joining the Play It Forward initiative in donating their proceeds from these covers to Friends of Fondation de France in participating markets.
Homme commented on the Play It Forward EODM Campaign and this first showing of camaraderie: “I made a plea to artists and business people alike to come together to use our solidarity as proof that we are stronger together, and that we can make a difference. We are proud to be a little part of such a big group of talent and good will. We can’t thank these artists enough for their donations of talent, love, time, and compassion. Now, the Play It Forward Campaign is in the hands of the fans to help us make a difference, and to help those affected by this tragedy. Please listen, purchase, play, and enjoy – and know that every time you do, you’re doing the sweet stuff that makes that difference.”
The covers are available today on iTunes, Prime Music and Spotify. Additional versions are forthcoming and will be announced as they are confirmed. Those wishing to donate should go to http://playitforwardeodm.com/ for information on how to do so.
EODM offers up further gratitude to Pearl Jam and drummer Matt Cameron, who are contributing two covers — Pearl Jam’s live version of “I Want You So Hard” (Recorded at Estadio Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro) and Matt Cameron’s “I Love You All The Time”—to the Play It Forward cause. A digital bundle of both songs—and a vinyl version pre-order—go live at 9am PT on Friday, December 18 at www.pearljam.com, with all proceeds going to The Sweet Stuff Foundation. Pearl Jam’s Matt Cameron explains: “After reading Josh Homme’s email encouraging fellow musicians to cover EODM’s ‘I Love You All the Time,’ I was very inspired to act quickly, so I recorded a version on a night off from tour in Mexico City in my hotel room, 11-27-2015, 8pm-12am. I am honored to be a part of this movement of unity and support. We’ll never stop.”
With cooperation from Fondation de France and FENVAC, Play It Forward EODM Campaign donations to Sweet Stuff will aid the surviving family members of those killed in the November 13 Paris attacks—as well as the family of slain EODM crew member Nick Alexander. For more information on The Sweet Stuff Foundation, go to www.thesweetstufffoundation.org.
Finally, it was confirmed earlier this week that Eagles Of Death Metal will return to Europe for the first time since its triumphant appearance during U2’s encore December 7th in Paris. The first run of rescheduled dates—now christened The Nos Amis Tour—will include a February 16th show at the Olympia in Paris. “The people of Paris have always been incredible to us, and our feeling of love towards this beautiful city and its people has been reinforced a million times over this past month,” commented EODM co-founder and frontman Jesse Hughes. “Hearing the stories of the survivors, the injured and those who have lost loved ones has been overwhelming. Not returning to finish our set was never an option. We look forward to coming back in February and continuing our mission to bring rock ‘n’ roll to the world.”