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Performance royalty accountability in 2012.txt


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Performance royalty accountability in 2012.txt

  1. 1. A Goal: Performance Royalty Accountability In 2012Post image for A Goal: Performance Royalty Accountability In 2012 * Share * * * Share/Bookmark {Title} * EmailBy George Howard(follow George on Twitter)Imagine a scenario in which the moment you create a piece of music it is: digitally fingerprintedand registered (with the Library of Congress, and your PRO). Imagine then that when that musicis used in a TV show, this usage is immediately detected, and the public performance fee youare owed is immediately transferred to your bank account.Sound too good to be true? Well, the reality is that the technology for just such a scenariodescribed above exists. Additionally, we clearly have motivated buyers and sellers to make thishappen.However, instead of moving toward a system like the one described above � a system oftransparency and accuracy � we continue to bumble through a system that really hasn�tchanged in the last 100 years or so.If we�re to have any optimism towards the business of music continuing to grow � in an erawhen music creators have seen their revenue from sales go from roughly $7 per sale for a fullalbum, to fractions of pennies for a stream of the same album � we MUST push for innovationin the measuring, collecting, and paying of music usage.I recently met, Scott Schreer, the founder of a company called TuneSat. In talking with him, myoptimism that we may indeed be tilting toward not only a healthy music business, but one wheresongwriters can flourish, has been greatly enhanced.This is not an ad for TuneSat. I�ve not used the service, and while, based on my limitedexposure to him, Mr. Schreer certainly is a very smart and passionate individual, I simply don�tknow enough about him or his company to recommend or not recommend it. I do, however, feelstrongly that it�s worth your time to check out and make your decision.Rather, TuneSat represents a tangible example of how technology might alter the economicfortunes for composers, artists, and publishers alike (anyone that has an interest in a royaltystream).Music used in TV, at last count, accounts for $800 million of the $2 billion distributed tocomposers annually by the PROs in the US. Additionally, music used in TV representssomething akin to what radio used to represent for artists: exposure that can lead tosales/streams of their work, ticket/merch sales, etc�
  2. 2. No one can deny that the goal of many musicians is to have their music used on TV. However,the vast majority of musicians are woefully under-informed about how the process works.It�s not their fault. As stated above, it�s an old and outmoded system; one that pretty muchdefines byzantine.For instance, question one: how much do you get paid when your song is played on TV?Impossible to answer. The variables are many: is it a theme song, what time of day was it aired,are there vocals on the track, is there anything else surrounding it (people talking, etc�), is itbackground instrumental music. Beyond these, one massive distinction is whether or not thesong is what�s called a �featured registration� or a �non-featured registration.� Afeatured registration is essentially a song that has a band or artist associated with the track (i.e.a song that was released on a CD, available from iTunes). A non-featured registration is a workthat was written specifically for the TV show or ad. This distinction becomes very importantwhen you realize that a featured registration earns the writer six to ten times what a non-featured registration earns when it�s broadcast.These and other weighing factors make a huge difference to the bottom line of the rights�holders whose music is used on TV.However, there�s yet another problem. Mr. Schreer informs me that as much as 80% of allmusic that�s on TV is misreported. This means that music is being broadcast on TV, and theauthor (or copyright holder) is not getting paid the correct amount (if anything). Typically, thismisreporting occurs as a result of human error in conjunction with the byzantine classificationsused by the PROs in order to calculate weightings (and thus payments).TuneSat�s goal is to use fingerprinting in order to reduce this number. Even a fractionalreduction when you�re dealing with $800 million represents tremendous value for artists.I hope that they pull it off.As we can see all around us (from the financial world to the Arab Spring) institutions thateschew transparency are crumbling. Technology is making it increasingly difficult to obfuscatethe flow of information. As we increase transparency, we reduce transaction costs, and thusincrease profitability for artists.This is truly our best hope. As the barriers of entry for broadcasters come down, and anincreasing amount of music is streamed, rights holders have an opportunity to make up involume what they are losing in margin, but only if we increase accuracy in collection, reporting,and payment._____________________________________________________________________________________________________________George Howard is the former president of Rykodisc. He currently advises numerousentertainment and non-entertainment firms and individuals. Additionally, he is the ExecutiveEditor of Artists House Music and is an Associate Professor of Music Business/Management atBerklee. He is most easily found on Twitter at: