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Apple seeking lower revenue share payouts to labels

Apple reportedly is looking to renegotiate its deals with record labels in a move that could reduce the share of revenue it needs to pay out to those industry players. Unnamed sources told Bloomberg that the talks cover both Apple Music and iTunes. The current deals are slated to expire in June, but could be extended if new terms are not reached, according to the sources.

Under the present terms, Apple initially returned about 58% of its revenue from Apple Music subscribers to labels. Sources said that labels would consider a lower rate if Apple is able to expand subscriber rolls and deliver on other requirements.

Other top streaming services have been pursuing similar changes to their label deals. Spotify successfully renegotiated a new deal with Universal Music Group for a lower rate based on meeting certain subscriber growth targets and windowing content. The willingness to shift financial structures could be a sign of faith in the growth streaming has seen in recent years. Streaming is projected to have continued revenue growth in the U.S. and internationally, and subscriptions are on the rise.
Jay-Z, a new album, and Spotify’s ongoing journey toward artist-friendly distribution

For the release of his newest work, Jay-Z opted to gate the album to his Tidal streaming service for one week. But even after distributing the music to most other digital platforms, Spotify still does not have 4:44. That may not be a cheap decision for the artist.

Industry insiders told Billboard that Jay-Z may be losing weekly payments of as much as $1 million by leaving Spotify in the cold. That estimate is based on numbers for likely payouts to popular artists and album stream counts following the release of a new album. Other performers such as Drake, whose 2016 album Views spent a long period of exclusivity on Apple Music, set that standard for how much Spotify’s large audience could boost royalty payments.

Given that streaming revenue is probably a tiny sliver of Jay-Z’s annual income, the choice to keep his new album (and several old ones) off of Spotify seems driven by personal principle rather than finances. Spotify’s market-leading position and large audience of more than 140 million means that it remains the face of freemium listening for many in the music industry, (even though it’s also leader in streaming subscriptions with more than 50 million paying listeners). There’s still a lingering reputation among performers of streaming devaluing music, especially at free and ad-supported tiers. Since the time when Taylor Swift removed her entire catalog from the service, Spotify has inked two major label deals that allow artists to window their work to paying listeners only. That was a sticking point for many artists, but Jay-Z’s action shows that there may still be an uphill battle for Spotify to convince A-list performers to distribute new releases on its platform.

Posted on July 25, 2017 by Anna Washenko
YouTube Red and Google Play Music to combine, but details are scarce

YouTube Head of Music Lyor Cohen said that Google Music Play and YouTube Red will be combined into a single property. Cohen confirmed the eventual merger during a session at the New Music Seminar event in New York. He said the move would help educate consumers and increase the company’s subscriber numbers.

There have been rumors of such an action for several months, especially after the teams for those services were combined in February. Lyor did not go into more detail about the timeline for blending the properties, and did not discuss specifics around if and how names, branding, or the apps themselves might change.

The announcement appears logical for the YouTube/Google/Alphabet enterprise on a few levels. Both properties have somewhat opaque, confusing names, and their connection isn’t obvious, even though the two platforms are closely related: subscribing to one service also grants you access to the other. Making their relationship clearer would make the experience simpler for listeners.

YouTube Red also still faces an uphill climb to convince a critical mass of people that it’s worth the subscription price. YouTube has a long history as a free service, and the value proposition needs to be clear to secure paying customers. As of November 2016, The Verge was reporting 1.5 million subscribers for the multimedia service. That’s barely a sliver of YouTube’s audience, which numbers in the billions.

On the other hand, Google Play Music underwent a relaunch at about the same time, introducing new features such as contextual song recommendations. In most research into streaming music habits, Google has a narrow share compared with YouTube, so it could benefit from tapping into the vast audience commanded by the video platform.

Posted on July 27, 2017 by Anna Washenko
BMI Members Receive Free Song Submission to the Independent Music Awards

BMI affiliates are again this year invited to take advantage of one free song submission after their first paid submission to the 16th annual Independent Music Awards (IMAs). Enter in any Album, EP, Song, Producer, Video or Design category here during the program and you’ll receive a free song coupon with your receipt.

BMI members who release their music independently, or who are signed to independent labels, can submit their recordings and design projects. Iconic artists including Tom Waits, Amy Lee and Michael W. Smith, along with fans, music supervisors and talent buyers from North America, Europe and Pacific Rim will choose the year’s best artists and releases. (Past IMA nominees include Macy Gray, Jackson Browne, fun., Killer Mike, Passenger and Flying Lotus, as well as BMI members Five Finger Death Punch, Valerie June, Melissa Auf der Maur, Elizabeth Mitchell, Girl In A Coma and Bent Knee).

Winners will be announced from the stage of Lincoln Center during a day-long music event showcasing IMA artists to fans and industry representatives during NYC GRAMMY week.

Posted in News on July 28, 2017
3 Quick Tips for Recording a Demo

Recording your song demos can - and should - be a terrific experience. Hearing a world class singer and studio musicians bring your song to life is one of the great joys of being a songwriter. That being said, there are a few things to keep in mind both before and during the demo process to make the most of your experience.

1. Do your homework
One thing that I’d highly recommend is doing as much work as possible prior to getting to the studio so you can be fully present during the actual session. One of the first things you can do in advance would be to finish your song. I understand. I’m a songwriter, too, and sometimes you get so excited about a song that you want it demoed right away. You figure you’ll just put the finishing touches on it in the studio. The reality is that this is an expensive way to write. Songwriting is tricky enough without paying a studio’s hourly rate for the privilege. Having a good clean rough recording is also imperative because not only is this how the demo singer will learn your song, it will also be what the session musicians will reference in the studio. Don’t assume you’ll be relaxed enough to sing and play your song on the spot. Studios can be a bit intimidating. Better to make the rough recording and get it the way you like it before you get to the studio so you’ll have something solid to refer to if there are questions.

2. Bring lyric sheets for everyone
Lyric sheets are for much more than just keeping a record of your written words. They are indispensable at demo sessions. Make sure you bring multiple copies of your printed lyric sheet with every word written out - not “repeat chorus” for example - to the session. The vocalist, of course, will use it to refer to while singing but the engineer will use it to keep up with where they are in the song during recording and fixing selected spots. Finally, you should use your copy to take notes. And speaking of taking notes…

3. Take notes first, talk later
In order for your session to run smoothly, it’s more often than not much better to hold your comments until either you’re asked to weigh in or there’s a natural pause in the proceedings. That being said, don’t assume you’ll remember everything you’d like to check and fix later. Taking notes as the vocalist goes through the song is a great way to maintain a session’s momentum instead of stopping and starting the vocalist every time you want to check something out. This will go a long way towards helping the singer warm up into the song, get the feel and not get frustrated - or tired - along the way. There will always be time to fix/correct and when that time comes, you’ll be able to refer to your notes and methodically address each question or concern.

While a demo session might only last a few hours, your finished demo should last for years and years. Do yourself a favor and give your songs the best opportunity to succeed by prepping appropriately and being organized and methodical during your studio session.

Good luck!

Posted in The Weekly on July 24, 2017
ASCAP & BMI Announce Creation Of A New Comprehensive Musical Works Database To Increase Ownership Transparency In Performing Rights Licensing

New York – (July 26, 2017) – ASCAP and BMI, the nation’s two leading performing rights organizations, have joined forces to create a single, comprehensive database of musical works from their combined repertories that will deliver an authoritative view of ownership shares in the vast majority of music licensed in the United States. Expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2018, the first-of-its-kind database will feature aggregated song ownership data from ASCAP and BMI and offer greater transparency to music users and the industry. The announcement was made today by Elizabeth Matthews, CEO, ASCAP and Mike O’Neill, President and CEO, BMI.

A cross functional team of copyright, technical and data experts from BMI and ASCAP began working on the project over one year ago in anticipation of the demand from licensees and the industry for more clarity around ownership shares. The database, which will be publicly available initially via ASCAP’s and BMI’s websites, will feature aggregated information from BMI’s and ASCAP’s repertories and will indicate where other performing rights organizations may have an interest in a musical work. The joint database will serve as a foundation that can evolve to include a broader range of music information across the entire industry.

Matthews commented, “ASCAP and BMI are proactively and voluntarily moving the entire industry a step forward to more accurate, reliable and user-friendly data. We believe in a free market with more industry cooperation and alignment on data issues. Together, ASCAP and BMI have the most expertise in building and managing complex copyright ownership databases. With our combined experience, we are best positioned to make faster headway in creating a robust, cost effective market solution to meet the needs of the licensing marketplace.”

O’Neill added, “This is an important solution for the marketplace created by the experts who know their data best. We have always advocated for data transparency and supported the need for a user-friendly and comprehensive solution that would benefit music users and music creators alike. While BMI and ASCAP remain fierce competitors in all other regards, we recognize that our combined expertise allows us to create the best solution for our members and the marketplace. We’re excited by our momentum and the promise of what this database can become in the future.”

The respective teams are analyzing, testing and reconciling the data from each organization, addressing incomplete and/or incorrect registrations, share splits, U.S. representation of international works and complicated ownership disputes, among other things. They are now testing the combined data sets in a cloud platform, and the results of that analysis will serve as the foundation for the joint database. 

The joint database will roll out in phases with Phase One expected to launch by the end of 2018, and include the majority of ASCAP and BMI registered songs. It will be secure, user-friendly and searchable and will be updated as new information becomes available. Future phases will explore customizable, interactive API solutions and the potential inclusion of other databases. 

ASCAP and BMI have proven their commitment to industry-wide data transparency by making public aggregated song share ownership through their respective online, searchable repertory databases – ASCAP’s ACE Repertory and BMI’s Repertoire Search. Both PRO public databases already include the following information, which will be combined in the joint database:

Song and composition titles
Performing artist information
Aggregated shares by society for ASCAP & BMI
International Standard Work Codes (ISWC) and other unique identifiers
IPI names and numbers
ASCAP’s and BMI’s respective databases will continue to be available on each organization’s respective website during the creation and initial launch of the joint database.

# # #

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) is a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers of every kind of music. ASCAP's mission is to license and promote the music of its members and foreign affiliates, obtain fair compensation for the public performance of their works and to distribute the royalties that it collects based upon those performances. ASCAP members write the world's best-loved music and ASCAP has pioneered the efficient licensing of that music to hundreds of thousands of enterprises who use it to add value to their business - from bars, restaurants and retail, to radio, TV and cable, to Internet, mobile services and more. The ASCAP license offers an efficient solution for businesses to legally perform ASCAP music while respecting the right of songwriters and composers to be paid fairly. With more than 625,000 members representing more than 10 million copyrighted works, ASCAP is the worldwide leader in performance royalties, service and advocacy for songwriters and composers, and the only American performing rights organization (PRO) owned and governed by its writer and publisher members. Learn more and stay in touch at www.ascap.com, on Twitter and Instagram @ASCAP and on Facebook.

About BMI:

Celebrating over 76 years of service to songwriters, composers, music publishers and businesses, Broadcast Music, Inc.® (BMI®) is a global leader in music rights management, serving as an advocate for the value of music. BMI represents the public performance rights in nearly 12 million musical works created and owned by more than 750,000 songwriters, composers, and music publishers. The Company negotiates music license agreements and distributes the fees it generates as royalties to its affiliated writers and publishers when their songs are performed in public. In 1939, BMI created a groundbreaking open-door policy becoming the only performing rights organization to welcome and represent the creators of blues, jazz, country, and American roots music. Today, the musical compositions in BMI’s repertoire, from chart toppers to perennial favorites, span all genres of music and are consistently among the most-performed hits of the year. For additional information and the latest BMI news, visit bmi.com, follow us on Twitter @BMI or stay connected through Broadcast Music, Inc.‘s Facebook page. Sign up for BMI’s The Weekly and receive our e-newsletter every Monday to stay up to date on all things music. 


Lauren Iossa, ASCAP


Cathy Nevins, ASCAP


 Liz Fischer, BMI


July 26, 2017 
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