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Many music business professionals, and the artists they support, are adapting to new ways of working during the Coronavirus outbreak. The music industry is demonstrating once again how versatile, innovative and determined it can be – resolutely continuing the business of music, both rising to unforeseen challenges, whilst coming together to help those in difficulty.

Some major music companies are working to provide support during the pandemic. Bandcamp waived their commission on downloads and merchandise on Friday 20 March. Live Nation set up a Crew Nation Fund and PRS for Music launched an Emergency Relief Fund. Spotify contributed to various organisations including the W.H.O, and announced a fundraising campaign, committing to match donations. Billboard have compiled a list of similar initiatives coming from the music industry and are keeping it updated.

Artists are finding incredible ways to connect with their fans in genuinely meaningful ways. James Bay is teaching guitar lessons on Instagram. Chris Martin, Pink, John Legend and countless others have live streamed performances from their homes. Secret Sessions are running an ‘In The House’ series on Instagram every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 19:00, with artists introducing us to their homes, families, pets, and music! Participants of Triple J’s new artist program, Unearthed, have been covering each other’s songs. And playlists, including ‘Quarantunes’, aim to provide strength, humour and escapism.

Producers, songwriters and performers are utilising a vast number of tools to collaborate online. Alongside standard screen-sharing and video calling platforms, an array of music specific applications are finding favour such as Soundstorming, ProCollabs, BandLab, Splice and so many more. Artists are also using this time to hone their craft further. For example, SMB alumni, Jai Ramage, a renowned vocal coach (ITV The Voice/The Voice Kids) now hosts online lessons and is even running a regular open mic night on Instagram.

As an industry we are seeing a number of trends. The picture is evolving and is often territory specific, but streaming appears to be down approximately 10%, whereas video streaming is up nearly 15%. The BBC saw radio streaming increases of 18%, and Global similarly reported a 15% growth. Perhaps the sense of community that radio provides could be an interesting consideration for DSP development in the future. Understanding these shifts and recognising new listening habits is hugely important for artists and the wider industry, so we can adapt, respond and grow in line with market changes. That’s work that is directly addressed on SMB’s up-to-date, expert led courses.

Here at SMB: The School of Music Business we’ve worked tirelessly to create an incredible online learning platform so enjoyment, studies and successful course completion can continue during the pandemic and beyond. Our online courses take place live so you can interact with your tutor and other students in real-time! With high quality video and audio, live notes, quizzes, breakout group sessions and much more - our virtual classrooms provide a genuinely immersive experience, wherever you are in the world. Details of all of our courses can be found HERE. We are also hosting free weekly ‘Music Business Question Time’ sessions, details of which can be found on the SMB Facebook page. Lastly, we would like to take this opportunity to send a message of support and solidarity to all those affected by COVID-19; those in the music industry we love, and in all communities facing this global challenge.

Metadata is one of the biggest issues in the music industry today. It’s believed that approximately 25% of all song writing revenue is lost due to incorrect, missing or unmatched metadata – billions left on the table, never reaching those that have earned it, and often, really need it! The problem has existed for decades and with the massive increase in the amount of music that is delivered to streaming services (40,000 tracks a day sent to Spotify!) and the rise of independent distribution, the situation is only getting worse. We discuss metadata best practices, songwriter agreements, music publishing, performance royalties and much more during our immersive and unique course Music Business Fundamentals.

What can be done?

As I see it, there are three ways to address the problem, we need to (1) create a universal standard for how metadata is collected, (2) have a single source for where the data is stored and (3) agree a system of data verification prior to any release.

There are many new start-ups focused on the ‘metadata data crisis’. 'Creator Credits' embeds metadata into the actual files at the production stage and is led by industry heavyweights Max Martin’s MXM Music, Avid Technology, Universal Music Group and DDEX. 'Splits' is a mobile app that makes it easier for artists to create ownership agreements. So there are efforts being made, but the problem is far from over.

Let’s look at the metadata basics:

In music, metadata (amongst other things) is all of the underlying information attached to a song, an EP or album. Let’s look at some of those:

Song name: Sounds obvious, but this should be the clear and full title (not ‘Song title mix 18’). If there is a featured artist on the track, that should be in the title too, for example ‘Song Title (feat. Artist Name)’. And if it’s a cover, that needs to be there too!

Artist: Artist/Band name

Album: Album title. If the song is a single, list the single title here or leave blank.

Composer: List the full names (check these) of all writers, information about their PRO (Performing Rights Organisation), split percentages and CAE number. Make sure the splits have been agreed in one place with everyone in agreement. If these splits conflict with each other later, the money will be withheld.

Grouping: Who owns the master rights and who owns the publishing rights? For example ‘Master (100%) Record Label Name / Publishing (100%) Publishing Company Name’. If you own the song in it’s entirely you can write ‘Artist Name (one-stop)’ or ‘Artist Name (200%)’.

Genre and BPM: Not compulsory but a good idea. Could help it be found in searches by music supervisors for example.

Comments: Include contact information here for licensing. You could also add the mood or a description of the song. If someone is searching for a particular type of song, this could be invaluable. Make it easy for them!

Updated: Sep 21, 2019

Are you a songwriter? Are you confident you know all of the revenue streams that you should receive? What if a song you wrote is played on the radio, or live in concert, or your lyrics are used on an Instagram Story, or even printed on t-shirt - are you owed money? Yes! It's crucial you know how your songs generate income, how to collect it, and how to maximise it! Our Music Business Fundamentals course includes a module on publishing and songwriter revenues. James Cooper, Head of Sync at Sony/ATV also leads our Music Publishing course. Get the knowledge, and get paid what you and your music deserves!

Here's a brief overview of 4 ways songwriters make money:

1. Performance Royalties

Anytime the song you’ve written is performed in public, you’re owed money! This includes radio, tv and live performances. Your song played in a gym, or at the local bakery? Someone performed your song live in a pub or on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury? Royalties are owed to you.

Anyone that wants to use your music in these ways, must buy a license from a PRO (Performing Rights Organisation) such as PRS for Music. The PRO will track the uses of your music for you, and pay out the royalties owed.

Performance royalties come from: Radio and TV broadcast Restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms, supermarkets, stores, businesses etc

Live concert venues


Interactive streaming (such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube)

2. Mechanical Royalties

If your song is reproduced, you’re owed money! Streamed on an interactive streaming service, downloaded, duplicated on to CD or vinyl? Mechanical royalties are due. Physical duplication is set at 0.091 cents per song, per unit. Ringtones (who downloads them?!) is 0.24 cents and for streaming, well that’s more complicated:

The amount for streaming will depend on whether the stream happened on a free/ad-based account vs. a subscription account. The amount will be a percentage of their revenue, less the performance royalty. But whatever the amount turns out to be, there is money owed.

These royalties are paid to the MCPS (Mechanical Copyright Protection Society) in the UK. If your songs aren’t registered there, you’re missing out on the money!

3. Print Royalties

Did you know that if the music you’ve written is printed, either as musical notation, tablature, or even lyrics on a t-shirt, or on an Instagram Story, you’re owed money!

Print royalties comes from: Physical or online sheet music

Guitar Tablature

Lyrics on liner notes Lyrics on Spotify or Instagram etc.

4. Sync Licensing

You’ve probably heard of this one! A one-time ‘sync’ (synchronisation) fee is usually owed if your music is used with a moving image. There’s no set rate, which means fees for the use of the music can be really high! It will depend on how the song is used, how much of the song is used, how integral it is to the piece, and if it’s being done for commercial purposes.

These one-time sync fees come from: TV and film soundtracks Adverts Video games Apps Trailers

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