Independent labels and artists had something extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
In a November 25, 2015 ruling, the U.S. Copyright Office made it clear that webcasting royalty rates for the period covering 2016-2020 would treat major and independent record labels the same, as has been the case since the the establishment of a public performance right for digital transmission of sound recordings. Last week’s decision, handed down by Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante, is a response to the Copyright Royalty Board’s (CRB) question about whether the federal statute that provides for rate-setting (17 U.S. Code § 114) would permit different rates for majors and indies.
Today (June 26, 2015), the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced that satellite radio company SiriusXMhave settled a lawsuit brought by labels against the service for not paying royalties on older recordings.
The $210 million settlement is being touted as a win for labels, and potentially a resolution to an open legal question that has bedeviled the industry for a while now: whether recordings made before February 15, 1972 are eligible for royalties when “publicly performed” on digital radio. read more
It’s no secret that debates over the role and structure of on-demand streaming services continue to be a source of ongoing controversy. Unfortunately, too often, these debates are framed in terms of the impacts on the largest commercial players or net industry revenues. This can be valuable as an entry point, but it can also be flattening; streaming critics and supporters alike may have a diverse range of reasons for the opinions they hold. Part of what we try to do at FMC is encourage a deeper understanding of the full breadth of independent perspectives, and to that end, we’ll be hosting a series of guest posts exploring the streaming issue from multiple angles. To kick it off, here’s some thoughts from Joe Steinhardt, owner of independent label Don Giovanni Records and a PhD Candidate in Communication at Cornell.
Music superstar Taylor Swift and her label Big Machine Music have pulled her catalog of songs from the music streaming service Spotify.
“There’s only three major labels left on the planet. They have tremendous leverage,” says Casey Rae, vice president of policy and education at the Future of Music Coalition, which represents the interests of musical artists.
Yesterday (June 25, 2014), the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet held yet another hearing in its ongoing review of existing copyright law. (Our full recap is here; check out our coverage of the full series of hearings here.) Today, we’ll focus on one particular topic that has come up repeatedly in Congress and elsewhere: the lack of federal copyright protections for recordings made before February 15, 1972. read more
At FMC we’re all about artists getting paid for the use of their work, particulary when the music is used by large, publicly traded companies. But if the labels are so keen to make sure that performing artists (or their heirs) are being properly compensated, there’s a better way to do it.
If you’re a copyright nerd (wait, you’re not?), you may have come across the issue of “pre-’72s.” In a nutshell, recordings made before February 15, 1972 are not protected by federal law, which can complicate how—or whether—royalties are paid for certain uses, like plays on internet or satellite radio.
Many people are unaware that there wasn’t even a copyright for recordings until 1972. Well, that’s not entirely true—some sound recordings made before ’72 are copyrighted at the state level. Still, federal protections are relatively new. At least when compared to compositions, which have been protected since the early 1800s (public performances of musical works came under federal law in 1897).
Debates about pre-’72 recordings might seem arcane, but there are major implications for today’s music ecosystem. First there’s artist compensation. The absence of a performance right for pre-’72s means that there’s no guarantee that recording artists are going to get paid fairly for the use of their work when played on Internet or satellite radio. (AM/FM broadcasters aren’t obligated to pay performers anything, though they do pay songwriters; more info on this crazy loophole here.) The lack of federal recognition also makes it more complicated for services to obtain a license to play music—and where there is no permission, there’s potential liability.
Same issue, new lawsuit. The big three record labels (Sony, Universal and Warner Bros), along with indie ABKCO, are the latest to sueSiriusXM for underpayment of royalties for pre-1972 sound recordings.
When a label goes through transition, losing the initial person who was pushing for you and had your back can be really confusing — and lonely.
“A lot of times, historically, how this would happen, an A&R guy would be like, ‘Oh, I’m so excited about this new band! You guys are gonna be big!’” says Casey Rae, deputy director of the Future of Music Coalition, an advocacy group for musicians. “And we get you on the label, and everyone’s all excited, and then all of a sudden that A&R person loses their job and you’re just out in the wilderness, and maybe you’re just a line item on some accountant’s ledger sheet. And you can easily be X’ed out because, well, we have other priorities.” read more