Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Infographic: How the Internet Has Rocked the Music Industry

Check out this sweeping infographic that highlights some of the major events in the retail music industry's recent evolution (link below). It's been a bumpy ride, but are we finally making our way out of the decade-long tailspin?

Thanks to ASCAP's Dean's List for the link. View the full infographic on Hypebot:

*Update 8/7/12* Please note the infographic was originally posted by the website Total Bankruptcy. Full article, including infographic can be viewed at:

Monday, July 30, 2012

When Sync Fees Don't Apply: Understanding "Ephemeral Use"

Is there really a provision in the U.S. Copyright Act that allows broadcasters to use ANY piece of music without the copyright holder's permission? There sure is. The provision applies to what are defined as "Ephemeral Recordings" and effectively alleviate broadcasters from the burden of needing to license music that is performed outside of their control during a live broadcast.

Production Music Association board member Ron Mendelsohn has written a very informative article on the matter, bringing to light both legitimate and debatable claims being made under the auspices of "Ephemeral Use". A highly recommended read for composers, publishers, labels, artists and songwriters who license their music for use in television and radio.

Read Ron's article on "Ephemeral Use":

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pandora and the Human Touch

Yesterday we wrote about The Echo Nest and its very technologically driven approach to music intelligence and recommendation. Today we look at the alternative and very human approach employed by the popular internet radio service Pandora.

The key to Pandora's "Music Genome Project", and hence the recommendations it serves its listeners, is the fact that EVERY piece of music is listened to and analyzed by an actual human being. That's not to say technology is not a factor - once a piece of music is analyzed, a very sophisticated algorithm helps contextualize the information and ultimately recommend music. But it all starts with the human ear - specifically a set of ears from one of 25 Musical Analysts at Pandora.

Read About What Goes Into Pandora's Human Analyses:

Meet Danny Eisenberg, the Music Analyst Who Analyzed Pandora's 1 Millionth Track:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can Musical Taste Predict Political Affiliation?

The Echo Nest is a music data company that powers many music experiences on the internet today (used in iHeartRadio, Spotify, VEVO, MOG amongst others). They've developed a music intelligence platform that synthesizes billions of data points into useful information to power smarter music applications for their customers.

In a recent blog post, co-founder Brian Whitman showcases the power of the Echo Nest platform with a light-hearted but interesting analysis of musical taste and political affiliation. Generally speaking, considering the sheer volume and diversity of music-related and contextual data they are collecting, it doesn't take much to imagine the myriad other potentially fascinating analyses, experiments and applications that this platform is capable of producing.

How Well Does Music Predict Your Politics?:

The Echo Nest Website:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Cultural Significance of Production Music

The music for Britain's first ever TV commercial? A #1 single in the U.K? The breeding ground for some of electronic music's most influential pioneers? Sampling goldmines for artists like Jay-Z and Danger Mouse?

Who knew production music had such significant cultural relevance?

The Believer magazine recently published an insightful exploration into the history and often unrecognized importance of production music. A great read with some fascinating bits of information!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

SoundExchange Tops $1B in Payments to Artists and Labels

For those unfamiliar with SoundExchange, it's time to take a closer look. The independent non-profit performance rights organization, established by the Copyright Royalty Board of the U.S. Library of Congress  in 2000, collects royalties from providers of non-interactive digital streaming services (think Pandora, Sirius XM, cable music channels, etc). Not to be confused with PROs such as ASCAP, BMI and SESAC (which collect on behalf of music publishers and composers), SoundExchange collects money on behalf of recording artists and master recording owners (the latter traditionally being the record label). Thus, when a recording of a song is streamed on a service like Pandora, the recording artists, record label, songwriters and music publisher all get paid (assuming they have all accurately registered their music).

SoundExchange recently announced that it has surpassed $1 Billion in total payouts to artists and labels and paid out a record breaking $108.6 million in Q1 2012. While collection efforts have made some very promising headway in recent years, they were notably challenged earlier this year as Sirius XM pursued direct licenses from content owners (thereby circumventing SoundExchange), and sued both SoundExchange and A2IM for alleged interference (both of the latter organizations initiated awareness campaigns to educate interested parties on what direct licenses would mean for them, including the lost guarantee of money going directly to recording artists).

Read more about SoundExchange and details of the lawsuit:

In other news, SoundExchange recently named three new members to its Board of Directors. Read about them here:

Learn how to register your music and begin collecting digital performance royalties! Visit the SoundExchange website:

Monday, July 23, 2012

ASCAP Settles with Local TV Stations


Last month ASCAP announced its settlement with the Television Music License Committee over public performance license rates retroactive from January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2016. The agreement covers a broad list of traditional and emerging distribution platforms, "and will also provide stations with access to license documents electronically on both the TMLC and ASCAP websites". It will be interesting to see how the latter feature is employed.

While the finer details of the deal don't seem to be available, this brings to mind our earlier posts about BMI's settlement with the Radio Music License Committee, and how updating the consent decrees under which ASCAP and BMI operate could help improve licensing conditions for copyright owners. Is this current process the best process for a healthy music industry? What are your thoughts? Please share them below.

ASCAP and TMLC Settlement Announcement:

Friday, July 20, 2012

EMI's Million Interview Dataset

This weekend marks the first in a series of community events, conferences and competitions taking place as part of a collaborative project between EMI and the non-profit organization Data Science London.

EMI has embarked on a MASSIVE market research initiative called the EMI Million Interview Dataset, aiming to log interviews with one-million music fans across 25 countries and detail their music-related interests, awareness and tendencies. In an effort to "radically transform analysis and insight in the music industry, improving the understanding of how artists and their fans connect to the benefit of music lovers everywhere" (source), EMI has opted to make sub-sets of this data available to the public.

The Music Data Science Hackathon is a 24-hour event challenging data science programmers and music geeks "to design an algorithm that combines users’ (a) demographics, (b) artist and track ratings, (c) answers to questions about their preferences for music, and (d) words that they use to describe EMI artists in order to predict how much they like tracks they have just heard." The competition will take place through the web platform Kaggle.

Elsewhere digital media strategist Mark Mulligan (former Vice President and Research Director at Jupiter Research and then Forrester Research) has done his own analysis of global streaming music adoption using parts of the EMI Million Interview Dataset, allowing him to present some very interesting statistics.

Read a summary of Mark Mulligan's analysis on his blog:

We've also posted his full report for online viewing:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Help Shape the U.S. Government's IP Enfforcement Strategy

Victoria Espinel, the country's first U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, recently released a call to action by the American people to submit ideas and recommendations for developing the Administration’s Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement, both domestically and abroad. Submissions (which are open to the public) can be made via the link below, and according to Ms. Espinel, "We will read all of your submissions – and we will make them publicly available so everyone can see them."

Read more from the media-dubbed "IP Czar" below and be sure to submit your suggestions! These are the types of initiatives that help protect the value of what we, as creators, do.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

BMI Settles with Radio Industry

BMI recently announced that it has settled (pending Federal Court approval) with the Radio Music License Committee over license rates for the public performance of it's roughly 7.5 million song repertoire. This concludes two-and-a-half-years of litigation and retroactively covers the period from 2010 - 2016. The new license terms address an expanded list of new media platforms utilized by the radio industry and also tie radio licensees to a percentage-of-revenue fee structure.

It's important to note that fees will now be lower than the prior agreement between the two parties and will effectively leave many radio stations with a credit balance for the remainder of this year. Reading the quote from BMI Senior Vice President, Licensing Michael Steinberg at the end of the article speaking about the burden of litigation, it's hard not to wonder if this is exactly the scenario David Israelite is referring to in his call for PRO consent decree reformation.

Read more details about the settlement on BMI's website:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

PMA President Randy Wachtler on the State of Production Music

In an interview with ASCAP, Randy Wachtler (President of the Production Music Association) speaks about the prominent role of production music in today's music industry and outlines what the PMA is doing to promote and uphold it's value. Hint: it involves a finely tuned balance of research, education and public relations. Composers and publishers - read below to begin educating yourself on the issues at hand.

Monday, July 16, 2012

NMPA's David Israelite Pushes for Publishing Reforms

David Israelite, President and CEO of the National Music Publisher's Association, calls for reforms to the licensing and compensation practices surrounding music publishers' copyrights. Specific focus is given to fair and equal treatment for mechanical licensing to interactive streaming services, public performance license negotiation tactics, digital radio transmissions and music videos (it's hard to believe many publisher's still aren't getting paid for these).

Read about his comments in more detail at

Friday, July 13, 2012

Aliens Have Landed, Hoping To License All Of Humanity's Music

What do aliens, Rick Astley, the Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter and copyright law have in common? Find out in this witty commentary on the current state of music licensing as written by (creator of Rhapsody) founder Rob Reid and narrated by the incomparable John Hodgman (the "PC guy"). Then check out Rob's poignant TED presentation on the oft debated numbers behind "copyright math" and his analysis of the "$8 Billion iPod".

All can be enjoyed courtesy of NPR at:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Understanding the Basics of Copyright

Our friends at ASCAP have put together a great guide to understanding the basics of copyright...and wrong. It's short, simple, easy to understand and information that ALL creators should know well.

View it online at:

Or download the PDF from ASCAP:

Monday, July 2, 2012

Creative Value

Kicking things off with a post I wrote in 2010 which I still find to be very relevant today. How are we, as artists, currently valuing our music and how should we be valuing it? Read this post for a few ideas and leave your comments here below.