Tag Archives: royalties

July Songwriter News

By Stefanie Flamm

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

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

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


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is shocked and upset by this verdict, especially in the wake of petitions fighting for a total overhaul of the already-outdated legislation currently in place.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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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February Songwriter News

By Dwight Brown

The music industry is moving along and songwriters and artists are making it happen.  

Finally the “Happy Birthday” song controversy is over. A top songwriter, unhappy with a royalty streaming check, gets active. Spotify fights back against a class-action lawsuit. A who’s who of songwriter activists gather at the California Copyright Conference to get the word out.

There’s a lot going on for songwriters and music publishing. It’s a lot to digest.

‘Happy Birthday’ boldly takes steps into Public Domain Land

Indie filmmaker Jennifer Nelson has beaten Goliath. She filed a class action suit against Warner/Chappell for charging her a $1,500 license fee for using “Happy Birthday” in a documentary she was making about the song. According to Hollywood Reporter, “music publisher Warner will pay $14 million to end a lawsuit challenging its hold on the English language’s most popular song.” U.S. District Judge George H. King determined Warner and its predecessor didn’t hold any valid copyright to the song and never acquired the rights to the “Happy Birthday” lyrics.

Warner avoids fines for collecting licensing money for many decades. Around $4.62m of the $14m goes to the plaintiffs’ attorneys. The rest goes to those who licensed “Happy Birthday” and meet the definition of the proposed class. King stopped short of declaring the song was in the public domain. However, Warner will not stand in the way of a judge doing so. “How old are you now?  How old are you now?”

Indie songwriter shocked into action over tiny royalty check

Indie-rock singer-songwriter Michelle Lewis was elated when her song “Wings” had nearly three million streams on Spotify. Not so happy when she got her royalty check. Lewis: “It was for seventeen dollars and seventy-two cents.”

Lewis and writing partner Kay Hanely sought advice from L.A. music lawyer Dina LaPolt, who specializes in songwriter issues. Their voyage of discovery and songwriter rights are chronicled in a very detailed New Yorker article, “Will Streaming Music Kill Songwriting?”

The article points out historical milestones:

  1. The Copyright Act of 1909
  2. The 1920s/’30s when broadcast radio’ s performance royalties were significant.
  3. 1941 when the Justice Department’s Consent Decree allowed Performing-Rights Organizations (collecting societies) to process the licensing fees for songwriters,
  4. The now outdated Copyright Act of 1976.

LaPolt makes some key points:

  1. Unless music-licensing system is overhauled, the songwriting profession will die.
  2. Members of the profession need a bargaining leverage (e.g. a union).
  3. Songwriters have to become activists.

LaPolt, Lewis, and hundreds of songwriters joined Songwriters of North America (SONA).  

Spotify dukes it out with a class-action lawsuit

Spotify responded to a lawsuit filed in December by Camper Van Beethoven and Camper front man David Lowery, who seeks $150 million in damages from the streaming service over alleged willful copyright infringement. Lowery’s suit arrived on Spotify’s doorstep just days after the company announced plans for a new publishing database designed to alleviate royalty payment issues.

In the Billboard article, Spotify raises questions and states the difficulties they face:

Q: What do you do when multiple songs have the same name?

S: Just having the title “Hello” is not enough to determine if it is by Adele, Lionel Richie, Evanescence or Ice Cube.

Q: How do you define the members of the proposed class?

S: Not administratively feasible for a catalog of 30 million-plus songs.

While Spotify spars with the lawsuit, Billboard sources say another class action suit is in the planning stages. Stay tuned.

Grassroots Advocacy Panel speaks out at California Copyright Conference

According to Chris Castle at Music Tech Policy, the activists at the #irespectmusic Grassroots Advocacy Panel at the California Copyright Conference had one thing in common: “All of their stories are inspiring examples of individual action. Blake Morgan took on Pandora and Big Radio and founded the #irespectmusic campaign. Karoline Kramer Gould joined Blake in supporting the Fair Play, Fair Pay Act and became an inspiration to all of us. Adam Dorn started SONA out of spontaneous meetings with songwriters who were confounded by the state of the industry. And David Lowery [involved in Spotify class action suit] started writing the Trichordist blog as a cathartic blog that has inspired thousands and is widely read.”

The activists came together to tell their personal stories. Inspiration turned to advocacy as they actively recruited. Follow them on Twitter through the #irespectmusic‬‬‬‬ and @theblakemorgan, @radioclevekkg @davidclowery @moceanworker and @musictechpolicy. Each is involved in a campaign for the fair treatment of all creators.

Artists and songwriters prove you can’t stop progress. A filmmaker topples a corporate giant’s royalty reign. Advocates fight for fair pay. All are making a difference in 2016. It’s a good time to have TuneCore Music Publishing Administration in your corner.

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Team up with TuneCore Publishing Administration!

November Songwriter News

By Dwight Brown

It’s that time of year when you sit back and remember the reasons why you should be thankful.

For songwriters the top of the list is often the ability to write good songs, share them with appreciative fans and collect songwriting royalties from around the world.

This November, as you count your blessings, the world of songwriting and publishing continues to turn…

Ghostwriters haunt rap music

When Meek Mill accused TuneCore alumnus Drake of not writing his own lyrics, the “Hotline Bling” rapper shut him down. Their Twitter tussle led to Forbes.com investigating the hush-hush side of the hip-hop world where some of the biggest and wealthiest rappers in the game get a hand with their rhymes. Dr. Dre and Sean “Puffy Daddy” Combs have worked with talented invisible scribes. In fact, in the Combs classic rap “Bad Boy For Life,” Combs brags, “Don’t worry if I write rhymes, I write checks (Ha).” The D.O.C. and Eminem have left their words on others’ tracks—without a trace. And ghostwriters know full well which artists don’t want, need or use their services: Kendrick Lamar and Jay Z (another TuneCore veteran) are among those that are said to have shunned ghost writers entirely.

Forbes reports that ghostwriters are typically paid between $10,000 and $20,000 upfront for their anonymous contributions. Co-writers, on the other hand, average $50,000 and they have a very enviable fringe benefit: royalty payments that can last for years.

Ghostwriter Tracy Horton recognizes the importance of royalties. “For the first few major projects, I was so happy to be on them that I accepted it as paying my dues—I wasn’t looking for anything,” recalls Horton. After he officially wrote five songs for Supernova, the 2001 solo album of TLC’s Lisa ‘Left-Eye’ Lopez, he saw the light. “Now I know the value of publishing.”

Ghostwriting = one paycheck.
Writing with a credit = a larger check and a royalty stream.

The National Music Publishers Association speaks out

David Israelite, Pres/CEO of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and a tireless fighter for publishers and songwriters, has his work cut out for him. In a candid interview on allaccess.com he tackles the elephant in the room: monetization in the digital age. He breaks it down to the basics, stating that “10 years ago, everybody was afraid of theft and piracy. Now our focus has almost entirely shifted to ‘How do we monetize legal sites that are creating a tremendous amount of value?’ “

A quick roundup of the NMPA positions on three key issues outlined in the article:

  • “Fair Pay for Fair Play” Act – They support this initiative.
  • Labels and publishers teaming to maximize profits – They’re for it.
  • Freemium VS Premium streaming services – They prefer Premium,  but feel it should be up to the artist.

I feel we are making progress,” said Israelite, “There is a lot of value in music; we just want to be paid fairly. Let the free market decide, as in every other intellectual property sold on the Internet.”

Can co-writers get paid fairly without Fractional Licensing?

As initially reported by Billboard, a number of sources report that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has sent a letter to ASCAP and BMI telling them that on “split works” — songs written by multiple writers — any writer or rights holder can issue a license for 100% of the song. In other words, the long-established industry practice of each writer or publisher approving their particular share of a song in order to grant a license — also known as “fractional licensing” — may no longer be allowed.

This means that for songs written by more than one writer, if one writer has registered with BMI and the co-writer has registered with ASCAP, BMI would have the right to license on behalf of itself AND the ASCAP writer  

Executives from publishing companies have concerns: Licensees (e.g. streaming services) may pay lower royalty rates when paying one PRO versus several. Songwriters may collect less money if one PRO collects for everybody. Competition among PROs may be stifled. One PRO could take all the marbles. PROs are not set up to pay all rights holders, only their own songwriter members

Why should songwriters care?

93 of the top 100 songs last year had co-writers.

68 of those songs were registered with more than one PRO.  

The DoJ solicited feedback from interested parties and should make a decision in the near future. Here’s one artist’s Op-ed.

Unpaid Royalties. Whose money is it anyway?

Don’t mess with the royalties owed to musician and music industry critic David Lowery (founder of alternative rock band Camper Van Beethoven and co-founder of rock band Cracker). He’ll call you out.  And, as reported by Hypebot, that’s precisely what he did when he wrote a letter to the Attorney General of New York, The Honorable Eric T. Schneiderman, focusing on how “Spotify routinely fails to pay songwriter royalties for songwriters who Spotify has failed to locate – but whose songs they use anyway,. 

Lowery continues, “I personally have estimated that Spotify is using over 150 songs I wrote or co-wrote … [I] am demanding an explanation from Spotify.” There is a precedent for getting unclaimed royalties to the rightful artists: in 2004, State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announced a deal with the nation’s top recording companies that returned nearly $50 million in unclaimed royalties to thousands of performers. As part of the agreement, those recording companies, among other concessions, listed the names of artists and writers who were owed royalty payments on company websites. Not a bad idea.

Related article at The Trichordist: Spotify Has Apparently Failed to License, Account and Pay on More than 150 Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven Songs.

Happy Birthday (To You). Now pay the royalty!

Did you ever wonder why people sing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” instead of “Happy Birthday (To You)” in films and on television shows? It’s because you had to pay a sync fee for “Happy Birthday (To You)” to the publisher, while “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow” is in the public domain where no license is necessary. This may no longer be the case thanks to documentary filmmaker Jennifer Nelson. She was making a film about the song “Happy Birthday” and Warner/Chappell insisted that she pay a $1,500 license fee to use the composition. Nelson did not agree; instead she filed a putative class action case against the publisher in 2013.  In October 2015, a federal judge ruled Warner/Chappell’s copyright claim was invalid, giving summary judgment to the plaintiffs.  However, that was only round one.

In a major twist, a US charity, Association for Childhood Education International, filed a motion to intervene in the case. ACEI’s lawyers claim that the organization had been receiving one-third of all revenues generated from “Happy Birthday (To You)” for over 20 years, a royalty stream it inherited from the song’s original co-writers, sisters Patty and Jessica Hill, who wrote the ditty in 1922. Patty Hill was both a founding member and ‘active participant’ in ACEI. The motion hasn’t been ruled on yet. But if you want to sing Happy Birthday on network TV, it could still cost you!

If you’re interested in claiming your royalties, TuneCore’s Music Publishing Administration is here to help.

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Get Paid With Apple Music!

As many independent artists likely know, Apple announced the launch of its upcoming streaming service, Apple Music, at this years WWDC Conference. We’ve made sure to offer our Artists and prospective Artists the chance to read up about Apple Music on our robust Knowledge Base in the meantime, but there were still lingering questions from all corners of the music world about Apple Music’s 3-month trial period.

We’re pleased to share with you, TuneCore Artists, that as of yesterday, Monday, June 22nd, Apple has announced that they will pay royalties to all artists during the initial 3-month trial of Apple Music! This is great news if you’ve already opted in to Apple’s new streaming service, and great news if you haven’t yet! (You’ll still have the opportunity to submit your releases to Apple Music when it has launched).

If you haven’t already, you can go ahead and claim your Apple Music Artist Profile now! This will help you get ready for the June 30 launch of Apple Music and its new Connect feature that lets you add an artist profile and share remixes, videos, demos, sound bytes and more with your fans.

In case you missed it, initially Apple announced that streaming royalties for the first three months of Apple Music (June 30-Oct 1) would not be paid, as no listeners would be paying for the service yet whatsoever. This generated chatter among international indie label groups all the way up to Taylor Swift, who penned an open letter to Apple on behalf of all the hardworking indies out there.

Our mission will always be to provide you with the best opportunities to get your music heard and to make money doing what you love. This newly announced decision by Apple will help you achieve your goals. Read more about getting your releases in Apple Music here.

The Latest From TuneCore Publishing

Every month we give you the inside scoop from our sunny Burbank, CA office where the TuneCore Publishing Administration team is hard at work securing placements and making sure our TuneCore Artists are getting ALL the royalties entitled to them. Check out what’s happening in the world of publishing and see why it pays (literally) to be a TuneCore Publishing Administration Artist!

SONGWRITER HIGHLIGHTS

Lenny Macaluso is a classic songwriter with featured works in Boogie Nights, Kickboxer, and cult classic Star Wars satire, Spaceballs. The Philly-bred maestro began his career as guitarist/music director for Tina Turner and continues to have songs placed by the TuneCore Creative team in projects such as MTV’s Lenny Macaluso
 Ridiculousness and Fantasy Factory. More recently, in the months following the Boston Marathon tragedy, Macaluso teamed up with longtime collaborator Stan Bush on an inspirational rallying cry for the resilient American way of life titled “Unstoppable”.

TuneCore Music Publishing is thrilled to be involved in the budding career of Johnny Hwin and Brodie Jenkins who together form Cathedrals. The duo pens epic dream pop anthems and have seenJohnny Hwin and Brodie Jenkins consecutive singles skyrocket to the top of Hype Machine’s no remix list. After releasing their debut self-titled EP, securing multiple sync licenses and signing with the power house Neon Gold Records in 2014, Hwin and Jenkins are well on their way to indie-pop superstardom.

Sam Outlaw, self-described neo-traditionalist country writer,  creates original music that seeks to capture the spirit of the classic country music he learned from his favorite singers: George Jones, Sam OutlawWillie Nelson, Gene Watson, Don Williams, Keith Whitley, Dwight Yoakam, etc. After Outlaw earned a slot at The Stagecoach Festival in the Coachella Valley, he spent the summer writing for his upcoming full-length album, Angeleno, produced by music legend Ry Cooder (Buena Vista Social Club, Neil Young, Taj Mahal). Outlaw will also perform at the TuneCore Live: LA event on March 31.

SYNCH & CREATIVE

In addition to our Sync & Master Licensing Database, our creative team continuously works to place TuneCore administered copyrights across all visual media. Recent pitches include music for the upcoming TV pilot Lucifermultiple Lifetime TV movies, promos for The Brink on HBO and several broadcasts for Fox Sports.

RECENT LICENSES & PLACEMENTS

saulBetter Call Saul
“Milestones”
Writer: Jasper Wijnands
Artist: Shook
BonesBones
“Close Your Eyes” 
Writer: Jesse Cafiero
Artist: Split Screens
foreverForever
“Fascination For You”
Writer: Darron Grose
Artist: John Turk

IN THE NEWS

TuneCore stays current on industry news to make sure we’re the first to know how new legislation and deals will affect our writers. Here are links to recent articles you need to know about:

bmi_ascapDOJ Holds Hearing on Consent Decreesthat Govern ASCAP & BMI  

C         A Cheat Sheet For Copyright Reforms

edit_logoArtists Taking Center Stage: TuneCore Announces 2015 Initiative To Further Support Artist Visibility 


Learn more about becoming a TuneCore Music Publishing Administration Artist and how we can help you collect 13 different royalties worldwide!

The Latest From TuneCore Publishing

One month of 2015 is almost in the books! We’re pleased to bring you the latest news from our Publishing Administration office in Burbank, CA.  Take a look at who has joined our songwriter community and which compositions have recently been licensed in film, commercials and TV shows.

Songwriter Highlights

First discovered by Sean Combs in season three of MTV’s Making the Band, TuneCore Distribution and Publishing Administration client Dawn Richard is a former member of the girl group Danity Dawn RichardKane and “Diddy” fronted super group Diddy – Dirty Money. Richard brings her multiple platinum hits and chart topping success to her sophomore solo release Blackheart, the second installment in a planned trilogy. The New Orleans native states of her project, “I wanted each album to stand on its own, and have a cohesive story. The story in itself is about my journey throughout the music industry, and the love, the hate, the redemption and the whole thing in between.” Dawn Richard

TuneCore Music Publishing is proud to administer select compositions from the highly regarded songwriter Gregory Page. Page is an English born Irish/Armenian musician who creates oddly compelling songs that are full of cinematic mGregory Pageelodies. Perhaps best-written by the composer himself, “The tightrope my music teeters upon is the struggle between tradition & progress, history & fantasy. I am the songbird & the worm.” Fellow troubadour and Page’s producer on his latest release One Way Journey Home, Jason Mraz calmly states, “He’s the real deal, a rare gift.”

Adam Barnes is an Oxford, UK born songwriter and performer, currently residing in the countryside that surrounds the city. He is a folk artist; a haunting songwriter and an honest performer. After touring as direct support for William Fitzsimmons and Slow Club, Adam BarnesBarnes took a brief respite from theroad to hit the studio. TuneCore Distribution and Music Publishing Administration is proud to partner with Barnes on his most recent EP, The Land, The Sea & Everything Lost Beneath.

SYNC & CREATIVE

In addition to our Sync & Master Licensing Database, our creative staff continuously works to place TuneCore administered copyrights across all multi-media. Recent pitches include music for MTV’s Finding Carter Season 2, HBO’s Silicon Valley, Universal Pictures’ Sisters and a seasonal broadcast campaign for a global coffee chain.

RECENT LICENSES & PLACEMENTS

Fantasy Factory Sync Placement
Fantasy Factory-Sync Placement
Fantasy Factory
“Static”
Writers: Matthew Duda and Patrick Duda
Artist: Packy

Zales Jewelry Sync Placement
Zales-Sync Placement
Zales Jewelry 
“When The Moment Comes”
Writer: Erin Sidney
Artist: Mia Dyson

Vampire Diaries-Sync Placement
Vampire Diaries-Sync Placement
Vampire Diaries 
“Harlem”
Writers: Johnny Hwin and Brodie Jenkins
Artist: Cathedrals

IN THE NEWS

We stay current on industry news to make sure we’re the first to know how new legislation and deals will affect our writers. Here are links to recent articles you need to know about:

ascap_2Santa Claus” Tops ASCAP List


10 Reasons to Choose TuneCore Music Publishing Administration