This article, in its attempt to answer the headline’s question, actually serves as a decent newbies primer on the soup of different types of music licenses that need to be navigated. One gripe: composition rights aren’t solely about the lyrics.
Over a month after a leaked contract broke the news of SoundCloud’s plans to implement a paid subscription service the company’s co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Eric Wahlforss has confirmed the move. While Wahlforss didn’t confirm or deny the details featured in the June leak, the contract that popped up online last month outlined a three-tier subscription service consisting of a free option and two premium offerings. The free option will allegedly give users access to a limited catalog with advertisements included while the cheapest paid service offers a larger catalog and an ad-free experience. The most expensive option would allow users unlimited and ad-free access to SoundCloud’s entire catalog.
SoundCloud’s paid services applied solely to musicians / labels up to this point, with potential listeners being the reason to deposit the yearly fee. It will be interesting, and probably frustrating, to see how SoundCloud will juggle its usefulness to professional users with an apparent new emphasis on listener generated revenue. Many labels and artists — including those in the ‘majors’ — are reliant on SoundCloud for promotion and embeds on their sites. If this forced compromise cripples its effectiveness for promotion then there will be a bit of scrambling from labels of any stature.
(A) new report from the Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship says these (streaming royalty) squabbles miss the point. In fact, there are a bunch of other players, complex accounting and backroom deals that stand between the royalties services pay out and the artists’ paychecks.
Here’s the rub: those royalties are passed down a line of rights groups, publishers or third-party distributors before they make it to the label and then the artist. These players are supposed to divvy up the royalties companies like Spotify are paying out, which is complicated; the composition and recording are usually two separate copyrights, or there might be several co-writers or publishers. All the agreements dictating those payments are secret, and researchers found that royalty statements were difficult to parse.
As the music landscape converts to streaming, the advantages of the self-released artist become even more apparent. May you live in interesting times, indeed.