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Posted November 4, 2020

by P. Gills


The COVID pandemic has had a significant impact on the music industry, especially in the live performance and public performances sectors with CISAC recently reporting a 35% global drop in global revenues. Of course, this drop in revenue has serious implications to the individual songwriters, musicians, singers, performers and those who represent them: music publishers, collective management organizations (CMO’s) and record labels.

Whilst the live performance industry has suffered more than any other sector, the growth in streaming continues to be the driving force in the industry bolstered by new high-quality audio and music video services entering the market alongside the established global players like Spotify and Apple Music. For many artists, performers and music publishers affected by plunge in live performance and public performance royalties, now is the time to review the songs you wrote, the recordings you produced and performed on, songs that you contributed to in any way. Now is the time to make sure you are covered historically and for the future.   

It is a myth that because you sign with a music publisher, record label or a CMO that it guarantees you are covered. The reality is that the data around your songs and recordings needs to be captured for existing digital services providers (DSP’s) and, as new services come to market and monetize music digitally, you need to make sure your song data is complete.

The reality is that if you are signed to a publisher, record label or a CMO, the data administration services they provider will vastly improve your chances of being paid correctly when you music is used. If you are a self-published songwriter, artist, producer or musician then it is your responsibility to ensure you are credited correctly on the songs where you have contributed creatively and then register nationally and globally to claim and collect the royalties you are due.

The reality is, regardless of whether you look after your own affairs or you are signed, there are many opportunities for you to get paid incorrectly or not even paid at all.

During my 30-year music publishing career, I have participated in many industry conferences and more recently on Zoom webinars, listening and contributing to how we can improve the exchange of music metadata to ensure accurate and timely payment of royalties to creators. The reality of these forums is that, historically the decision makers were not in the room and that there were competing priorities,  collectively and individually, from the music publishers and CMO’s and there were no common goals to support the creators.

In 2020, I can say that this is no longer the case there are multiple opportunities and many options for songwriters, artist and performers. However, the reality is we must start capturing music metadata at the point of creation, in the studio. The ability to do so has been revolutionized by the music tech solutions that are now available. Jammber, Session (formerly Auddly) and Muso.ai are good examples of services that are available to creators.

Ok so you are now gathering song data at the point of creation, how does this get you paid and attributed for your creation?

The data you have gathered needs to be made available to the music users, the DSP’s. Song data is aggregated by numerous organizations including Music Publishers, CMO’s, Labels and Independent Music Companies and distributed using agreed data exchange formats.

The good news is that there is a driving force within the industry, albeit sometimes a slow force, to a set of common standards through an organization called Digital Data Exchange (DDEX). The DDEX membership includes the relevant music industry organizations Music Publishers, Record Labels, DSP’s, CMO’s, International Standard Organizations and Music Tech Companies. Their mission is to create an efficient exchange of data across the music industry.

It is the exchange of this data that ensures you get paid!!  



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