Guest Blog: Jeff Price, “Why You and Taylor Swift Are Not Getting Paid The Money You Earned From The Streams Of Your Songs (And No, Your Record Label Is Not Supposed To Pay You)”

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Since the inception of interactive streaming music services in the US over a decade ago (i.e. Rhapsody, Spotify etc.), music publishers of all sizes and geographical locations have been underpaid, or not paid at all, for streams of their songs. The reason: streaming music services did not build the needed infrastructure to make the payments and outsourced the job to third party companies. This problem– combined with the existence of a US compulsory license, bad meta-data, advances to major publishers, lack of accountability, confusing royalty rates and no ability to audit– created the perfect storm for hundreds of millions of dollars to be earned but not paid.

This problem extends beyond US-based music publishers; it impacts and affects every publisher located anywhere in the world.

To address and fix this problem, Audiam is launching the International Association of Music Publishers (IAMP) www.iammusicpublishing.com.

IAMP’s mission: Get music publishers and songwriters worldwide paid accurately and on time for the digital use of their compositions.

IAMP, using its own technology combined with a deep understanding of global copyright laws as well as enforcement and revocation of the US compulsory license, gets music publishers paid their past, present and future royalties.

IAMP’s efforts are already producing results. In October 2014, it recovered over $55,000 in interactive streaming mechanical royalties dating back to 2007 for twenty-five of its publisher clients from five different interactive streaming services. More money is being recovered each month.

IAMP provides the service under a first of its kind no risk structure for music publishers with catalogs larger than 75 compositions.

Benefits include:

  • Termination with 30 days notice
  • Schedule deal
  • Choice of Territories & digital services for direct licensing
  • Monthly detailed consolidated statements and payments with direct deposit
  • Location of unidentified versions of sound recordings and metadata

Identifiers including ISRCs, digital service identifiers and other data points available in electronic format to re-purpose (i.e. send to foreign PROs etc)

And more (complete list here)

Current music publishing clients of IAMP/Audiam Include:

  • Creeping Death (Metallica)
  • Three Pounds of Love Music, Wagging Dog Tail Music,

Al Herbert Music, Avanails Publishing, Niandra La, Des Music, Tear Of A Tiger Music publishing

(Red Hot Chili Peppers)

  • Black River Music Publishing
  • Goo Eyed Music publishing

(Jason Mraz)

  • Another Victory Music Publishing

(Victory Recordspublishing catalog)

  • Silva Music Publishing
  • Wild Gator Music

(Mike Campbell, co-writer Tom Petty)

  • House of Hassle Music Publishing
  • Dean and Britta

(Dean Wareham of Galaxy 500/Luna)

  • Ruthless Attack, Dollarz N Sense

(Ruthless Records Publishing)

  • Juan Rodriguez Music Publishing

(Tercer Cielo)

  • Earache Songs

(Earache Records Publishing)

  • Mothership Publishing
  • Fig Music Publishing

(Epitaph Records Publishing)

  • 8 Minutes 20 Seconds Publishing

(Pretty Lights)

  • Lost Toy People music publishing (Thomas Dolby)
  • G360 Publishing
  • Four Seasons Partnership (Franki Valli & The Four Seasons)
  • SyVy Publishing (Steve Vai)

And many others…

Read on for the long version of how we got here today and what IAMP is doing to get publishers paid.

To learn more, please visit the IAMP site. or its FAQ page.

Background On The Problem.

Since the launch of the first interactive streaming music service in the United States over 12 years ago, songwriters and publishers have not been getting paid all the money (called “mechanical royalties”) they are due from interactive streams of their songs.

The lack of inaccurate payments has put every single interactive streaming music service in breach of the US compulsory license.

The infrastructure and pipelines to pay songwriters and publishers from streaming (the number one way people listen to music) is completely and utterly broken.

Why Does This Problem Exist?

The record labels and publisher/songwriters create music and culture and license their works. They are not technology companies.

The technology companies (i.e. Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Spotify etc) use music to sell hardware, phones, software, subscriptions, and to increase market share and/or grow the value of their companies. However, as the technology companies do not create music, and don’t know the ins and outs of the music industry, they have not built systems the music industry can effectively work with.

This breakdown between the music and tech world prevents music services from obtaining all the legally required licenses and making the required payments to music copyright holders.

As an example, due to mapping or other technical issues, each month for the past ten years, 15% – 30% of the music service’s sound recordings have not been matched to a composition. This means the mechanical royalties from the streams of those recordings most likely have never been paid to the publisher.

Of the money that is paid out, approximately 5% – 12% of it is being paid to the wrong composition rights holder and/or has the wrong information as to what percentage should be paid to whom.

Estimates by IAMP/Audiam put this unpaid or erroneously paid songwriter/publisher revenue at over $100 million over the past 10 years.

Understanding the Problem:

Here is the information you need to know to understand why you are not getting paid, how to get paid and what you can do about it. 

What is an Interactive Streaming Music Service? 

“Interactive” streaming services are music services that let you listen to music as if you own it. For example, an interactive streaming service like Spotify allows any specific song to be played on demand as well as stopped, started, rewound, skipped etc as many times as you like.

“Non-interactive” streaming services do not let you listen to music as if you own it, instead you listen to music as if you are listening to a radio station. For example, the non-interactive streaming service Pandora does not allow you to pick specific songs, go back, unlimited skips going forward etc. 

What Rights Do The Interactive Streaming Services Need to Use the Music? 

In order to use the music interactive streaming services must get two separate licenses:

A Sound recording license; they get thisfrom the label/distributor.

A Composition license; they get this from the publisher/publishing administrator.

How Do The Interactive Streaming Services Get the License For the Composition? 

There are two ways the interactive streaming service can get a license to the composition:

• Compulsory license

• Direct license

The compulsory license is a government-mandated license with specific rules.

The publisher/songwriter can’t say no provided the rules are followed.

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