Music Ally Debate on Transparency

In preparation for a the Music Ally Debate: “I Can See Clearly Now” – Transparency In The Digital Age, Phil Bird, CounterPoint’s Head of Global Sales writes an opinion published on the CounterPoint Site, here.

“In the modern era, corporations speak constantly about the need for transparency. This is often at the behest of consumers who demand corporations behave in a socially responsible manner. Furthermore, by having a transparent view of their supply chain, corporations can gain greater efficiency.” — Phil Bird, CounterPoint

The June 17, 2014 debate was sponsored by Counterpoint and took place at the MusicAlly office in London, the panel included:

  • Debbie Stones, PRS for Music
  • Brian Message, ATC Management
  • Phil Bird, Counterpoint
  • Adrian Pope, PIAS
  • Mark Williamson, Spotify
  • Mike Skeet, SkeetKaye

Large amount of time was spent discussing the streaming services, Spotify in particular. Artists do not know the parameters of the deals the labels have with streaming services, due in part to the practice of using non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to keep information about the deal away from outside parties. The royalty calculations from these deals are inherently complex and impossible to extrapolate clear rates from the final payments to the distributed labels or artists.

“We don’t tell the world or our members what precise licensees pay…” Debbie Stones said, referring to other areas of PRS’ business. “We haven’t been able to do that on online, partly because the services are so varied, trying to assess anything on a fixed-point value is difficult. But one of the things is this NDA culture… PRS can’t disclose all of those terms to its members directly. What it can do is where it’s paying out to its members, try and make the statements as transparent as possible.”

Read coverage of the debate: Music Ally “Transparency In Digital Music: There is a lot of Work to be Done” & Music Ally “LiveBlog: Digital Music Transparency with Brian Message, Greg Prior, Mike Skeet

Primer on Terrestrial Radio’s Performance Royalty History by Future of Music

Although the composers and songwriters receive public performance royalties from broadcast (terrestrial) radio, most often through collection societies like ASCAP & BMI, they are exempt from paying the performers. So, with an often used example of the song “I Will Always Love You” performed by Whitney Houston, a broadcast radio station plays the song, Dolly Parton gets paid for writing it but Whitney Houston’s performance goes uncompensated.

A great primer on this subject here on the Future of Music website, here.

“At least 75 nations, including most European Union member states, do have a performance right. This means that foreign broadcasters pay royalties to songwriters/composers and performers. But since there is no reciprocal right in the US, foreign performance rights societies cannot distribute these royalties to American performers.” – Future of Music




TuneCore Blog Soundcheck’s Poll Shows Only 10% Feel They Understand Royalties

The digital distributor TuneCore did an informal poll of their Soundcheck blog’s readers to find that only 10% of the musicians understood how their royalties were calculated.

If you or your artists feel less that informed, here are a few resources to get started on the subject:

TuneCore Soundcheck Blog
Video: TuneCore Presents: Copyright 101
(a great primer on the concept of copyright, the important first concept to understanding royalties)

CDBaby DYI Musician Blog
Post: Music Publishing Royalties Explained: What is a Mechanical Royalty?

UK’s Music Publishers Association
Video: Music Publishing Explained
Even though there are some differences between UK & US, the same basic principles apply)