Are you ready for a pop quiz?
A major US orchestra’s performance of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring – recorded in 2012 and released by a major label – is for sale on iTunes. How are the orchestra members who participated in the recording session paid for digital sales?
A. The performers aren’t paid anything for sales. The income from sales goes to the orchestra management, just like ticket sales.
B. The performers aren’t paid directly for sales. Orchestra members who participated in the recording are entitled to participate in distributions made by the Sound Recordings Special Payments Fund.
C.iTunes pays the orchestra management for sales, which then disburses the money to current player members as a bonus on their paychecks.
D. iTunes pays SoundExchange, which then distributes the income to performers on the recording via the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund.
Do you know the answer? It’s B; the performers are paid by the Sound Recordings Special Payments Fund.
This is just one of the questions on Future of Music Coalition’s Music and Money Quizzes, an online questionnaire that uses 37 practical, real-world examples to test musicians’ knowledge of the copyright laws and business practices that determine how the money flows back to creators and performers.
FMC’s goals with this project are twofold. We hope to:
- educate musicians about some common – but often misunderstood – copyright and revenue stream issues in a fun and challenging way.
- use the data generated by the quiz responses to identify knowledge gaps in the music community and, in partnership with unions, artist advocates, service organizations and schools, address areas of confusion.
FMC has a thirteen year history of developing educational materials for musicians. We have used everything from blog posts to fact sheets, infographics, video content, and in-person seminars and events to convey information. We crafted these quizzes in June 2013 as a natural extension of our Artist Revenue Streams project, a multi-method, cross-genre examination musicians’ earning capacity.
250 days, 2500 responses
In the past seven months, over 2,500 musicians have completed at least one of the four quizzes (easy, medium, hard, expert). This gives us some interesting data to assess quiz takers’ understanding of copyright law and business practice.
For instance, over 1,500 musicians have completed the 10-question “easy” quiz. The average score across ten questions is 67%. Unless we’re grading on a serious curve, that’s not an A.
On the “easy” quiz, the question with the fewest correct answers is:
A US-based band records an album of material they wrote, with one track being a cover of The Rolling Stones’ song “Brown Sugar”, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. The band sells all 500 vinyl copies of the album plus 500 downloads on iTunes to US customers. According to the current statutory rates, how much does this 4 minute, 30 second-long cover of “Brown Sugar” generate in mechanical royalties, based on these sales?
A. 9.1% of net sales
C. 10% of net sales, since it was one of ten songs on the record
Only 25% of quiz takers properly identified the correct answer as B: $91. Nearly half – 47% – thought they owed Mick Jagger and Keith Richards 9.1% of sales. Close, but incorrect nonetheless.
The “hard” quiz has been completed 246 times, with an average score of 73%. That’s better than the average on the easy quiz, but still around a C.
Here’s a question on the “hard” section that respondents found particularly difficult:
There’s a NYC-based session drummer who played on hundreds of famous records in the 80s and 90s, spanning many genres. Many of these famous studio recordings are still played on radio and streamed frequently. How is this session drummer paid when any of these recordings are played on Sirius XM?
A. He’s not paid for current performances. He was compensated for his time and expertise during the original recording sessions.
B. He only receives payments from the bands and recording artists who he is still in touch with.
C. SoundExchange sends 5% of its collected revenue and playlist data to the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund, which then disburses it to session players, sidemen and background singers based on satellite airplay.
D. He needs to get in touch with the original label that released the recordings to get paid.
57% of quiz takers correctly chose C: the session drummer is paid via the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Fund. However, 40% thought that the drummer received nothing for these current performances.
Quiz results and knowledge gaps
The incorrect answers across the quizzes generally suggest two things. First, there remains widespread confusion about the difference between musical composition and sound recordings, as well as the rights and revenue associated with each.
Second, some incorrect answers suggest a lack of awareness about the changes in the digital landscape that have altered the way that money flows back to creators. This result should be of particular concern to musician and advocates; in a shifting landscape, professional musicians could be leaving money on the table simply because they are unaware of all of the revenue streams for which they are eligible.
This is a core reason that FMC has continued to build out resources that address these knowledge gaps, including this list of the 42 revenue streams associated with compositions, sound recordings, performances or brand, how these revenue streams are changing and expanding, this infographic about music and how the money flows, and this New Business Models spreadsheet that explains how various rightsholders are compensated on digital platforms.
Lest you think that FMC is engaged in a cruel exercise, asking musicians tricky questions about the messy parts of the music industry and pointing fingers at their wrong answers, taking the quiz itself is designed to be educational. Each quiz question is scored immediately and, whether the person gets the question right or wrong, we provide an explanation about the answer and links to appropriate sources for followup. Quiz takers also get a summary of answers upon completion, and a score they can share on Twitter or Facebook.
We also want to extend the quizzes’ value. FMC is happy to share results with any advocacy groups or service organizations that want to better understand what trips up musicians. We can also provide educators or professors with access to a customized set of questions that you can use to test your own students’ knowledge. Contact Kristin [at] futureofmusic [dot] org if you’d like to implement an online quiz set for your class or your organization.
In an environment where changes to copyright law, licensing, and digital business models are affecting musicians’ earning capacity, it’s important that musicians and advocates not only recognize the knowledge gaps, but also build musician-friendly tools to help reduce the confusion. These quizzes serve as one more arrow in our quiver.