Licensing and YouTube – A Music Users Guide

This week, Sonic Scoop takes on the “Ins and Outs” of licensing cover songs for YouTube. The piece gives a simple overview of the steps that one needs to take, be it a casual uploader or more professional producer, for licensing music for both syncs and covers in videos posted to YouTube. Sonic Scoop sites an uptick in lawsuits and legislation in recent years as a reason to correctly license one’s music in the first place, rather than dealing with the repercussions after the fact.

Since there are currently no exact legal standards for what video creators must pay for these types of uses, the advice is fairly simple. For use of original song recordings or videos of covers (synchronization uses) contact the music publishers of the song you would like to use. The correct publishers can general be found through BMI, ASCAP and SESAC.

Although the article is fairly basic, it’s a great start for new content providers getting in step with the ever changing industry standards for music uses in new technology.

A New Face for Pandora?

After years of inciting resentment from within the music world, it would appear that Pandora is attempting to change its image. The one-time disrupter, now helmed by CEO Brian McAndrews, known for fighting Congress in hopes of protecting its profits (publishers only receive 4 percent of the company’s revenue), is trying to make friends within the industry.

McAndrews claims that he wants to listen to what the industry has to say and work together. To this end, he has recently hired several vets from different areas of the industry who have together, launched a campaign to put a new face on the company. As part of this strategy, Pandora plans to put on 79 free concerts in 2014 with performers such as Iggy Azalea, Celine Dion, and Magic, based on geo-targeted listening data, which identifies locations with concentrations of fans, as detailed in the article from Adweek linked below. In addition, the company has recently signed a direct (United States) licensing and marketing deals with indie-label collective Merlin and publisher BMG, as noted in the LA Times.

Still, experts are divided. While some are impressed, RIAA VP Mitch Glazier is quoted as calling this a “turning point” in Pandora’s evolution, many remain unconvinced. David Israelite, CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association, has referred to these moves as “lip service” saying “They’ve done nothing differently to address the actual reason they’re so unpopular in the music industry.”

More on Pandora’s efforts to reach out to the music industry: Billboard: Pandora Playing Nice or Paying Lip Service

Learn how data is used to target audiences for the Pandora concert series: How Pandora Mined Data to Create Lexus-Backed Concert Series

Article that details the agreement between Merlin and Pandora: Pandora partners with Merlin in first direct record label deal

Sirius XM Loses Lawsuit on Pre-1972 Royalties

A federal judge in California ruled yesterday that Sirius XM satellite radio is liable for copyright infringement because, up until this point, it has not paid royalties on recordings made prior to 1972. This particular case was filed by members of the band The Turtles. Sirius and other such companies have argued that they are not responsible for these royalties because, according to federal law, copyright applies only to recordings made on or after Feb. 15, 1972. However, it was argued by The Turtles that their copyrights are still protected under state law.

The New York Times reports that besides California, the group filed suits in Florida and New York, for over $100 million dollars. And the implications of this verdict may be even wider. Several major record companies have now filed suits of their own against Sirius XM and Pandora Media. In addition, music industry groups are lobbying Congress to change the laws governing pre-1972 recordings such as Sound Exchange’s promotion of the Respect Act.

It’s too soon to know the precedent that this particular case will set for US and state law. However, as Sound Exchange estimates that $60 million in royalties from pre-1972 recordings are left uncollected every year, there is potential for large ramifications.