Education

Songwriting Advocacy 101: Streaming & Digital Media

December 8, 2021

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Education

Songwriting Advocacy 101: Streaming & Digital Media

—The new media in the digital world are combining various income types and it can get confusing.

—There are two types of audio only streaming:

Non interactive streaming (SiriusXM, Pandora, and internet radio) This means that someone else is controlling what the consumer listens to and in what order. This type of streaming only involves performance rights and you will be paid your writer’s share (and your publisher’s share if you are self-published) via your PRO.

Interactive Streaming (Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon Music, etc.) This means that the listener controls what they listen to, when, and in what order. This type of streaming combines both performance rights AND mechanical rights. The performance rights will be paid via your PRO just like non-interactive performance royalties. But the mechanical royalties will be paid separately. The new Music Modernization Act (MMA) which SONA was instrumental in getting passed through Congress will govern how these mechanicals are tracked and paid in the future through the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC).

KEY CONCEPT:

Once the MLC is up and running, you will need to make sure your songs are registered in the MLC database in order to receive your mechanical royalties. You should do this whether you have a publishing deal or not. 

—The mechanical rate that is paid for streaming has historically been 10.5%of a music service’s revenue and this is then split between the performance and mechanical pieces. But earlier in 2018 in the U.S., the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) approved an increase in this base rate so it will increase by 40% in increments over the next 5 years. Sadly, Spotify, Amazon, Pandora, and Google have appealed this ruling. SONA is fighting along with other writer groups and publishers to get these services to drop their appeal and allow songwriters to receive the raise that we so desperately need and deserve. Notably, Apple Music declined to join the appeal.

—YouTube is its own unique beast as it involves a video component as well as an audio component. The industry made a deal with YouTube years ago where in exchange for not suing them for rampant copyright infringement for encouraging unlicensed synch uses YouTube now shares their ad revenue with the music rights holders and though it is a complex calculation, generally, YouTube keeps 50% of the ad revenue and then the remaining 50% is split 15% to songwriters and publishers and 35% to master recordings and artists. Over time we will work to get this to be closer to a 50/50 split.

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