The amount of music both created and consumed outside the traditional paths of royalty collection is astounding.
For instance, while digital music services like Apple Music and Spotify have around 30 million licensed “official” tracks in their libraries, the number of tracks available to stream on YouTube is near a billion.
That’s because most of YouTube’s music is what’s known as “derivative” content… think remixes, covers, and mashups of music originally created by others. While great for engagement, and to a degree… promotion, these derivative uses exist in a murky area as far as royalty payments are concerned.
Fortunately, there are a number of new services gaining prominence in the music business designed to clear things up, and find new money for artists and songwriters in the process.
The main issues with the use of derivative works boil down to permission and payment.
Whether it’s a fan-made track or a remix by a professional DJ, more often than not the creator didn’t get permission for using the original song or songs before creating and posting it. And it’s not always clear to the services hosting this music whether the songs posted are sampling music from others.
Once discovered, the rightsholder behind the original work used generally must choose between just letting it go or demanding a takedown. There’s often no means to compensate them for the use of their work.
A number of startups have emerged to address these issues by creating a system for identifying of sampled music.
Dubset created a technology called MixSCAN, designed to identify the different tracks included in a DJ mix, and pay the copyright owners accordingly through its MixBANK system. This allows music services like Apple Music to stream mixes using the system for the first time. While it’s major publishing groups like Sony/ATV and the National Music Publishers Association are on board, it reportedly is still working out its major label licensing deals.
How to get involved: Rightsholders—from labels, to publishers, to individual DJs and producers—can review the system and sign up for an account here.
MetaPop, founded by the former CEO of dance-music online retailer Beatport, takes two approaches. Artists and rightsholders can upload music cleared for remixing use to its database, which it then offers to remix outlets and artists as a source of pre-cleared tracks—70% to the rightsholder, 15% to the remixer, and 15% to MetaPop. It also uses its Remix Finder technology to find and index existing unlicensed remixes on sites like YouTube and SoundCloud and creates licensing for them through its database. The revenue split is simple. The company has deals with thousands of indie labels in the dance music space, but is still talking to the majors.
How to get involved: Simply create an account and upload your music here.
Sonalytic identifies not only songs, but also song clips and even isolated tracks (such as the drum track or the bassline) of those songs. This allows rightsholders to monitor the use of their music across digital channels as well as on TV, radio, and live events. In what may be a herald of things to come for the previous two on this list, Spotify this month acquired the company to improve its publishing data system and better match songs to rightsholders due money for streaming on the platform.
How to get involved: Use the company’s signup form to request a demo.
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