Apple Music Admits Harry Fox Agency Is Incompetent

apple-hfa


In a Music Reports letter dated February 29th, 2016, I, as the publisher of my music, received a Notice of Intention to Obtain a Compulsory License (otherwise known as an NOI) letter.

The name of the licensee is Apple / iTunes.

The name and title of the person responsible for the management of the Licensee is listed as Eddy Cue, Vice President of Internet Services.  And it lists the “Phonorecord configuration” as “Digital Phonorecord Deliveries, as set forth in 17, U.S.C, § 115 including, but not limited to, interactive streams and limited downloads.”

Also in this NOI is the “Expected date of initial distribution” as March 10th, 2016.  There’s just one catch, all of my music has been on Apple Music since its initial launch last June.  And like I noted in the Spotify lawsuit explanation, the law requires streaming companies to obtain a mechanical license at least 30 days prior to inclusion on the service.


Apple Music initially contracted HFA to handle these mechanical licenses and NOIs and as we’ve seen from lawsuits against Spotify (and rumored Tidal, Microsoft, Rhapsody, Google Play and Slacker).  But HFA has done an extremely poor job of securing the proper licenses.

Personally, I have never received an NOI from HFA.  Because I own the publishing to my songs, like David Lowery (who brought the initial lawsuit against Spotify), I should be receiving NOIs from HFA on behalf of their clients.  Those clients include Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal and the rest.  Music Reports, HFA’s competitor, handles the licensing administrative services for Amazon and Pandora, among others.  I receive NOIs from Music Reports on a regular basis.

But now, it seems with all of the lawsuits being brought against HFA clients for failing to obtain the proper licenses and pay the proper royalties, Apple is taking extra precautions.

They have now enlisted Music Reports IN ADDITION to HFA.

On the bottom of this Music Reports NOI sent on behalf of Apple Music, it states:

HFA AFFILIATES

Apple / iTunes has entered into a license agreement with the Harry Fox Agency. If you are an HFA affiliated publisher, please excuse this NOI, which has been sent to you purely out of an abundance of caution. Your arrangement with Apple / iTunes through HFA will continue to govern. If you have already informed us that you are an HFA affiliate, you do not need to do so again or notify or send anything to HFA.

This is the first NOI I’ve received on behalf of Apple and they only listed 3 of my 50+ songs I have on Apple Music / iTunes.


Personally, I don’t care as much that Apple (and EVERYONE else) has legally infringed upon my copyrights. They didn’t do it maliciously. Would I like to get paid my mechanical royalties? You bet! But am I going to sue over it. Naw. They contracted HFA to handle this and clearly HFA does not have the resources, knowhow or ability to carry out their duties. Those vilifying Spotify, Tidal, et al are just plain ignorant to the circumstances.

Unfortunately these laws are extremely antiquated and the copyright system is frankly broken.  There is no master database where all of the information exists, so it is nearly impossible for these services to know who every single publisher is of every single song in their database (Apple Music and Spotify each have about 30 million songs on their service).

There is now more music than ever being distributed to a myriad of services by self-released artists who own their publishing (like David Lowery, Yesh Music, myself and literally thousands more).  Lowery and Yesh Music sued.  I won’t.  Yes, the law is on their side.  But it’s a dick move.

Dear Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Rhapsody and EVERYONE ELSE, want to know how to stop these lawsuits?

Require your distributors to submit publishing information to you alongside the masters.  This would solve all of your issues.  Give distributors 3 months to provide this information for their existing catalog and anyone who doesn’t, rip their music down from your service.


This would force the indie distribution companies like CD Baby, DistroKid, Symphonic, Tunecore, along with all distributors including The Orchard, Believe, InGrooves Fontana, Caroline, Red and the rest to make their artists/labels simply tell them if they own their publishing or not.  And if they don’t, who does?  Simple enough.  I’ve distributed my music with CD Baby, DistroKid, Tunecore and Loudr and it’s not a tough ask.  The new contracts the streaming services strike up with distribution companies can have hold harmless clauses included, relieving all responsibility on the part of the streaming service.

CD Baby and Tunecore have been attempting to solve part of this issue with their own publishing services for their artists who also write their own songs.  CD Baby Pro and Tunecore Publishing will collect publishing royalties worldwide and negotiate mechanical licenses on behalf of their artists/songwriters if the artist chooses to opt in for this service.  Read my review of them here.

But, as of now, no streaming service requires this information from distributors and no distributor is offering it.

It really isn’t tough to solve this issue.  It just takes a bit of cooperation.

 

Ari Herstand is a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake 

About The Author

Ari Herstand
Writer, Musician, Whiskey Drinker

Ari Herstand has been a DIY musician for over 10 years, has performed over 600 shows around the world and released 4 studio albums and 2 live albums. He has had songs featured on multiple TV shows, commercials and films and has shared the stage with Ben Folds, Cake, Matt Nathanson, Joshua Radin, Eric Hutchinson, Milk Carton Kids and Ron Pope. He created the music business advice blog, Ari’s Take in the Spring of 2012 to help DIY musicians navigate the independent world of music. Herstand was born and raised in the Midwest and got his start in the Minneapolis music scene. He rose to prominence locally and consistently sold out the 800 capacity Varsity Theater. He became the go-to musician in the scene for music business advice before he moved to Los Angeles in the Summer of 2010. Currently residing in West Hollywood, Herstand still spends a good portion of his time on the road touring. When at home he splits his time writing music, writing articles, writing his book (out November 2016 with Norton Publishing), playing shows at the Hotel Cafe and acting in TV shows (see him in his co-star appearances on Mad Men, 2 Broke Girls, The Fosters, Sam & Cat, Touch and others).

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44 Responses

  1. David Lowery

    Ah, Ari. ever classy. Dick move? You mean standing up for fair pay for songwriters against a multi-billion dollar Goldman Sachs backed company is a “dick move?” So when say coal miners went on strike over poor pay at the beginning of the last century that was a dick move too? “Those bad miners they were such dicks to George Hearst” Just curious? Who do think aren’t dicks? Corporate shills and apologists? Soulless technology titans? Bankers? Let’s say that these streaming corporations have a metaphorical dick. One might say you take every opportunity to perform a different kind of metaphorical “dick move” on said metaphorical corporate dick. And yes, I will say that to your face. See you at SXSW.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Ha!

      Amusing that D. Lowery wants to compare his barking out, 3 chord, pseudo-folk, re-tread musings with the coal miners.

      Many, many, significant differences between what D. Lowery does today and what the coal minors provided 100 years ago. We can start with the fact that coal minors actually produced something that was useful to society.

      While that is certainly my own personal, subjective opinion of D. Lowery’s poor excuse for “songwriting,” the fact that it is a fairly uniform assessment, by music fans, in general, is borne out in his desperate lawsuits. He’s championing “fair pay” for songwriters?

      Not really. He’s suing for a potential $150k per song, because, like a handful of other less-than-superstar songwriters, he realizes that a shot at $150k for a couple of boring, C&W-tinged, alt-rock yawners that no cares about is a bigger payday than the actual royalties he could ever earn from consumers actually WANTING to PAY to hear that drivel.

      Some of us make music because we want to. Because we respect the art and want to advance the art. Not “make a buck.” If, as part of THAT process, someone wants to pay us, to hear how we are trying to do that, all the better. But that’s not why we do it.

      I will consciously AVOID D. Lowery at SXSW.

      Reply
    • Remi Swierczek

      Bravo David!
      Still in place of peanut short lived settlements with monster music killers divert your efforts to creation of $200B music industry.
      Use your political power and connect mega stars, song writers even book writers to get new fair use act before Obama goes away. Just get Oprah with her music friends on board and you will be almost done.
      Next day music and books will be locked in virtual walls. Same day 100,000+ Radio stations will kiss you for ability to become traditional music stores. I am solo inventor, music observer for over 30 years, busy building multimillion dollar flooring company that feed me and my family.

      You are MUSIC MAN with music network. Start chasing billions if not trillions.
      Millions extracted from well financed cancers of music is unproductive activity.

      Reply
    • Interested Observer

      As far as I know –

      Rhapsody is not backed by billions compliments of Goldman Sachs.

      As evidenced by HFA filing an NOI – a copy of which ended up on this site – they wanted to pay you.

      Seems like you must have said no and then sued them for $200M.

      Lots of holes in the logic of what you are trying to achieve – and Rhapsody is not Apple, Spotify, Google.

      Reply
    • John Roberts

      David, did something happen to you when you were 14 years old? You’re a fairly intelligent fellow and college professor yet your knee jerk pistol-whip personality has tells of some sort of stagnation.

      Your cause may be noble but more times than not you are your own (and peer’s) worst enemy. Maybe if you’d holster the juvenile snake spit you’d be taken more seriously in circles that really matter.

      Reply
      • ReacTOR

        What circles “really matter?” SF music. Tech Summit? The Grammys useless artist rights meanderings? Congress? Not passing any bills lately if you haven’t noticed. Midem? Sxsw? CES? Ask your buddy Chris Harrison about how he feels about Lowery being outside circles that “matter.” Regardless he has the entire streaming music business on fire. Pretty much shut down most funding. He has Apple the biggest company on earth looking over their shoulder. And this is looking more and more like it ends with a civil RICO. Maybe we should be in his circle?

        Reply
      • Strock Japp

        The only circles that matter are the ones where Bozos, Tim Cook, and Mumbles Page get into circle jerks with the Republican house and Senate offshore of Georgia. I’m hopping mad about the destruction of creative lives perpetrated by these charlatans. Apple is the only one with any possible rationalizations.

        Reply
    • NASO

      Yes, Ref, we know what a class action means.

      In fact, we know enough about it to know that simply seeking Class Certification doesn’t mean jack.

      As for your point about Lowery’s interest in Reverb:

      a) nothing about that indicates that he isn’t concerned about making money off of lawsuits, and

      b) if your point is that he’s financially comfortable, that undermines his “I’m just like a coal miner, trying to organize to get decent working conditions” argument, even further.

      But hey, please keep teaching US, all about the game, Ref!!

      Reply
    • Zoe K

      Maybe I am missing something….neither CDBaby nor TuneCore will collect only mechanical royalties for an artist. Their services are all or northing. If an artist collects thousands of dollars every year from TV licensing via ASCAP, they would have to give CDBaby 9% of that revenue in order to collect what will probably be a few hundred dollars, at most, of mechanical royalties.

      Reply
    • Steve Jobless

      Apple’s market cap is largely built of selling hardware which was primarily used to play pirated music post-Napster.

      David chose to sue Spotify…not Apple? I wonder if that’s because Reverb’s primary form of distribution is through the Apple App Store…?

      Reply
  2. Ari Herstand
    Ari Herstand

    David, Have you ever thought to go to Spotify and ask for your royalties? Yeah, HFA f’d up, but come on. Just go and ask for them. They would pay what they owe. And if they don’t, THEN litigate. I get it, you DESPISE Spotify, but there are good, honest, hard working people working there who LOVE music and want to support musicians. I’ve met many of them. Your demonization of the company since its launch (without any wiggle room or even the possibility that they could or would ever help an artist out) leaves no room for honest debate. I’m no fan of Goldman Sachs or Wall Street, but it’s a straw man argument to hold Spotify responsible for the evils of the banking industry.

    There are plenty of admin publishing companies who would go and hunt down your royalties for you (like Tunecore Publishing, SongTrust, Audiam – take your pick). Yes Jeff Price and Audiam has battled with Spotify et al as well, but at least he went to them, showed documents and asked for the money. You found a nuance in the law, which is nearly impossible to remedy no matter who you are, and went after Spotify because you hate them.

    Just curious, why didn’t you sue Apple, Tidal, Rhapsody, or anyone else? Why just Spotify? They’re all infringing.

    And since you hate them so much, why is your music even on Spotify? Why not pull it?

    Reply
    • Paul Resnikoff
      Paul Resnikoff

      Have you ever thought to go to Spotify and ask for your royalties? Yeah, HFA f’d up, but come on. Just go and ask for them.

      Ari,

      My (more cynical) observation, perhaps hardened by being an onlooker of this industry for so many years, is that ‘cooperation’ and ‘we’re in this together’ are not guiding principles in the music industry. I very rarely see cooperation that is required to grow industries, which partly explains why this industry has had so much trouble adapting and growing.

      Sad, but true in my opinion. It’s a combative business, and we enjoy bickering over who gets what seat in what lifeboat.

      In this case, I’d argue that Spotify was given a chance to rectify this situation, and get in front of it. When Audiam and Victory Records presented the issue last year, albeit in a combative way, Spotify (and others) could have alerted songwriters and publishers that there were licenses overlooked, and the issue was being addressed. Indeed, discussions had already been happening with the NMPA.

      That sort of corrective action would likely be viewed kindly by a presiding judge (for example, in the current litigation), as it demonstrates willingness to comply and forge an out-of-court solution. In the context of the overbooked, overloaded court system in the US, Spotify I think could have staved aggressive litigation that we see today.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        “‘cooperation’ and ‘we’re in this together’ are not guiding principles in the music industry”

        :)

        Reply
      • Musicservices4less

        Hi Paul,
        Gee, who could have predicted this problem was coming? You and I discussed this over 10 years ago. Let’s face it, it’s all about money, like who’s going to spend the money that is necessary to fix this problem. All intelligent record distributors know ahead of time that if they are going to be in the record business they have to spend the necessary funds to make sure they are not in violation of the existing law that they are operating under. I can’t believe that the geniuses at the internet/tech record distributors did not know the law.
        Instead, their tactic is to try to lower their costs by claiming that the law is old, antiquated, not in line with how music is sold now, etc. So because that they’re “huge”, they say who cares about the law, publishers and writers go f*** yourselves.
        Spend the g*d damn money, hire some staff and get it right. Or take your stupid business plans and admit they don’t work.
        Notice how paying publishers is not a problem for record labels because they make sure it happens so they don’t get sued!

        Reply
        • Nathan M

          Didn’t DMN publish Lowery’s demand letter to Spotify that predated his lawsuit? DIdn’t Lowery post all the songs on Trichordist months before he filed his lawsuit? Didn’t Spotify react to Victory the same way they did to Lowery which was to take down all his music?

          Reply
  3. Anonymous

    “It really isn’t tough to solve this issue. It just takes a bit of cooperation.”

    That would require the party doing the suing to actually want to solve the issue. Which doesn’t seem to be the case. Suing Rhapsody for $200 million will completely bankrupt them if successful. The mechanical royalties owed are not even remotely close to $200 million but obviously this is about much more than collecting unpaid royalties.

    Reply
    • Strock Japp

      Good. Any suits jockeying off the backs of people that actually make things should be out of work with emptied bank accounts. Middlemen are scum, period. Look at the US health care industry. I know they call them entrepreneurs, but those are people like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, not some bald boy legitimizing piracy to a generation of idiots who can’t see through weed clouds out of mommy’s basement. I’ve yet to talk to anyone who’s ever actually sold creative property who thinks copyright shouldn’t exist, yet a bunch of smarmy tech clowns think that’s the case. BTW, most artists are on the bleeding edge of tech, and its not just music. Artists, photographers, writers, moviemakers. Everyone’s getting jacked by these snotty punks hired by predators who should be facing antitrust lawsuits like Apple, Bozos, Google ( a heinous violator of civil rights, let alone artistic copyright). These companies are ALL criminal enterprises, the robber barons of today. They should be shattered into pieces.

      Reply
  4. Rick Shaw

    Cmon, let’s address the topic directly. HFA has been incompetent for almost two decades now. They are irrelevant and unnecessary in today’s music world. Times changed and they didn’t.

    Reply
    • Troglite

      Agreed! I’m amazed at how effective Spotify’s misinformation campaign has proven to be. Everyone seems to be talking about everything except the one question that matters most: why did Spotify and other tech companies simply delay making these songs available to consumers until they could clear the required mechanicals?

      If the answer is because HFA indicated that they had secured the mechanicals or that the mechanicals could be legally secured after the fact, I believe that represents significant liability for HFA. In the United States, I don’t believe there is any limit to the financial liability associated with gross negligence or wilful misconduct. I am not asserting these conditions rise to those legal standards, but I am suggesting that it’s a possibility.

      Reply
  5. Rob Filomena

    Hey Ari,

    I wanted to add a couple of things to the discussion on distributor data that may help clarify our role in clearing publishing for interactive streaming.

    While distributor data can certainly be helpful in providing a key lead towards clearance, there are a couple of barriers to over-reliance on it as the definitive source of publisher information for interactive streaming rights. Specifically to a couple of your comments:

    1. “But, as of now, no streaming service requires this information from distributors ”

    Certain streaming services do require this from distributors, and in those cases, we have been sending data from day one for our entire catalogue, but this unfortunately does not fully solve the problem. The data we have to send for our distributed catalogue (those outside of the songs we administer directly) is songwriter/publisher name/share of song provided by clients for physical and permanent digital downloads, which relate to the mechanical royalty activities for which we and our clients provide payment. There are couple of reasons why this data may not be useful to an interactive streaming service doing their own clearances

    – the client may have signed with a 3rd party company to administer just their interactive streaming rights, which would make the data we send irrelevant and confuse direction of payment of these royalties.
    – the client may have changed the name of their publishing company sometime after distribution and never updated their metadata with us. This is common and does not interrupt the flow of mechanicals for downloads and physical sales, as these are passed through along with sales revenue

    2. “and no distributor is offering it.”

    We take some pride in being proactive with all of our partners about sharing full catalogue data (in addition to our directly administered Cd Baby Pro catalogue). It is offered and offered often. I can’t speak to how other distributors handle publisher and songwriter data, but we fully recognize the key role distributors can play in providing vital information that can help DSP’s clear these rights, and our doors are wide open.

    Thanks Ari, and please let me know if I can clarify any of the above

    Rob Filomena
    Dir. of Music Publishing
    Cd Baby

    Reply
  6. Musician Who Understands

    At the risk of actually having the comments section of a DMN Post descend into actual educated discourse, I would like to as Mr. Filomena for some of the clarification he invited Ari to seek:

    Rob, it is unclear if you are saying that CDBaby licenses both masters and, in some cases, publishing, to on-demand streaming services. In your opening, you said:

    “Certain streaming services do require this from distributors, and in those cases, we have been sending data from day one for our entire catalogue,…”

    But just following that you also said:

    “The data we have to send for our distributed catalogue (those outside of the songs we administer directly) is songwriter/publisher name/share of song provided by clients for physical and permanent digital downloads, which relate to the mechanical royalty activities for which we and our clients provide payment. There are couple of reasons why this data may not be useful to an interactive streaming service doing their own clearances.

    Does CDBaby provide mechanical licenses to interactive streaming services, or, do you only provide them with master licenses and data on your mechanical licenses for physical product?

    Reply
  7. Rob Filomena

    Hi MHU,

    We have two tiers of paid distribution services at CD Baby: Standard and Pro (Ari mentions Pro above)

    For our Standard distribution clients, we do not provide mechanical licenses to interactive streaming services but only license a client’s sound recordings. Interactive Streaming services secure mechanical licenses themselves. In the course of setting up submissions, we collect songwriter and publisher data on all releases and some interactive streaming services require us to share this data with them so they can use it help them identify the rights holders they need to license from. As I state above, this is helpful, but imperfect information.

    For our Cd Baby Pro clients, we offer the same licensing of their sound recordings plus the additional service of administering their publishing rights. Interactive streaming services can license publishing rights CD Baby Pro compositions directly through a separate agreement and the client gets paid their royalties into their CD Baby account.

    Thanks

    Rob

    Reply
  8. Musician Who Understands

    Thanks Rob:

    So then, would it be fair for us to assume that the data problems you mention:

    “– the client may have signed with a 3rd party company to administer just their interactive streaming rights, which would make the data we send irrelevant and confuse direction of payment of these royalties.

    – the client may have changed the name of their publishing company sometime after distribution and never updated their metadata with us. This is common and does not interrupt the flow of mechanicals for downloads and physical sales, as these are passed through along with sales revenue.”

    …would only present themselves for the master-only DCBaby Standard client recordings? Since for the CDBaby Pro clients, you presumably a) would have secured – or know definitively that you did NOT secure – interactive streaming rights and b) would have relatively timely information on any name change for those CD Baby Pro clients?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Rob Filomena

      yes, correct on all fronts. Pro clients grant us administration rights to their publishing copyrights which allows us to license them to interactive streaming services. Changes in their ownerships are managed directly by us and we work to update their song registration metadata with collection societies globally.

      In addition, our publishing platform requires they grant exclusive rights, so we could not work with a client who had already authorized another 3rd party admin to represent them for interactive streaming as this would create a conflict. Such clients would only be eligible for Standard distribution.

      Thanks

      R

      Reply
      • Ari Herstand
        Ari Herstand

        Hey Rob, appreciate the comment. As someone who has distributed albums with CD Baby, I know first hand that I was never asked to input publishing and songwriter information. So how would CD Baby have this info to offer to the other streaming services, which you stated “Certain streaming services do require this from distributors, and in those cases, we have been sending data from day one for our entire catalogue, “?

        The only info CD Baby asked for was if the song was a cover or not and if it was I had to confirm I obtained a mechanical license for it via a check box. Now, I haven’t distributed an album with CD Baby in 2 years so maybe this has since changed, but how are you addressing the hundreds of thousands (millions?) of songs in CD Baby’s existing catalog?

        CD Baby Pro is different, as I noted above. And I full heartedly appreciate what CD Baby and Tunecore Publishing are doing for indie artists/songwriters. But what I’m saying is that ALL streaming services should require distributors to provide all publishing information in addition to just a license for the master. This would 100% solve the issue. Yes, it’s a lot more work for distribution companies like CD Baby, but this is truly the only way to solve the problem.

        It’s nearly impossible for any streaming service (or HFA, Music Reports) to hunt down publishing info for all 30 million songs and issue NOIs to everyone. It’s a broken system. So either the law needs to be changed or the streaming services need to change their current requirements.

        The system cannot operate the way it has been. Yes, traditionally, distribution companies only needed to license the master and publishers licensed the composition, but times have changed. This is not workable system anymore because everything has become so fragmented.

        Reply
        • Rob Filomena

          Hi Ari,

          We do have songwriter and publisher information, even for older releases. I see songwriter and publisher info associated with your releases as far back as 2005.In the early days (I’m speculating as this was well before my time) this was likely collected as part of the album credits section for each release.

          This data has become more crucial over the years and we’ve been increased the granularity with which we collect it. The last iteration was launched about 3 years ago along with the launch of Pro, which requires more detail than ever before for each and every track we distribute (Pro and non-Pro alike). Next iteration will include a field for ISWC, for those non-Pro tracks that have one, and will evolve further as needs and requirements of our partners and clients do.

          I strongly agree that this is problem we as distributors should be able to help with. Where we disagree is that services requiring us to send them data will solve the problem 100% tomorrow. The data we have on hand can be shared but it doesn’t put an agreement in place between the streaming service and the songwriter/publisher. Right now, it would just considered a “lead” to help them clear the rights themselves. If there’s a willingness to change how the licensing is executed, we could play a bigger role. Pro has been our defacto way of dealing with this. Another way would be asking for an interactive streaming clearance opt-in in our terms of service. This would have its downsides, as many songwriters already have exclusive agreements with 3rd party publishers for these rights, but could help many independent songwriters get paid more efficiently.

          Thanks

          R

          Reply
          • Paul Resnikoff
            Paul Resnikoff

            Interesting, I just assisted someone upload and distribute an album using CD Baby (I recommended you guys), and I remember having to input all of the publishing information, splits, etc. This was on an album of controlled compositions no less. That was maybe a month ago. I’ll be perfectly candid here, I don’t think I upgraded to Pro and may have left out the mechanical consideration entirely. I really don’t think anyone associated with this album received an NOI, they would have asked me what it was.

            Written while listening to Bob Moses on TIDAL

      • Troglite

        Ari,

        Maybe it’s just me, but if tech companies like Spotify had refused to make the songs that are submitted by digital distributors like CD Baby available to consumers until they had successfully cleared the mechanicals, wouldn’t that have been the most natural way to motivate distributors to fulfill the strategy you are evangelizing?

        Has anyone factually addressed why Spotify chose to make the songs available for use without clearing the mechanicals first??

        Reply
  9. Ari Herstand
    Ari Herstand

    Troglite: Yes, if Spotify et al refused to accept any masters from distributors without getting the publishing info first, this would have solved the issue. The reason it got so far this way is because traditionally there were no self-releasing artists so it was quite easy to figure out who to obtain licenses from and who to pay: label or publisher. And with a limited number of labels and publishers, it wasn’t an issue. And, before streaming, it was the responsibility of the label to issue NOIs and distribute mechanical royalties (in the US). However, the new streaming laws messed that entire system up and made the streaming service obtain the licenses (instead of the labels), which is an impossible task considering how many self-releasing artists there are.

    It was a lack of foresight on the streaming services part. And a lack of understanding of the laws.

    The laws should be changed. They are unworkable. But, as they are now, all streaming services, yes ALL, are infringing.

    The only way to fix this issue is either change the laws or streaming services should require this information to be sent to them alongside the masters from the distributors (even though this was traditionally never a distributor’s job).

    Reply
    • Troglite

      Thanks Ari. I appreciate you taking your time to share your perspective.

      I have to tell you that I found this statement chilling, even if it is true:

      Ari wrote:
      “The laws should be changed. They are unworkable. But, as they are now, all streaming services, yes ALL, are infringing”

      I suspect you realize that these are the same silicon valley talking points that gave birth to the DMCA. Your cure could have dangerous side effects. Caution is warranted.

      Your fight with Mr. Lowery leaves me feeling that the independent songwriting community may still be too dysfunction and disorganized to win that type of public policy battle. I find this quite sad considering that I think we can agree that these settlements and class action lawsuits do bring attention that could be used to illuminate these issues and opportunities in ways that enhance the influence of songwriters/musicians. If only we could speak clearly as a unified community. Instead, we let ideological arguments and self interests distract and divide us.

      I get that you are concerned that David’s approach may have the opposite effect by scorching the very Earth under our feet or making us appear unreasonable. I appreciate that you empathize with the employees of these companies, even though I question extending it to entire corporations and the handful of executives who actually make decisions.

      I don’t think Mr. Lowery is in this for his personal benefit. I think he is pushing for a true solution and some level of accountability that resembles justice. I also think that can make him appear stubborn, vindictive, or inflexible. Lawsuits, scandals, and celebrities are the only vehicles that have ever brought these topics mainstream awareness. He may be going in the back door…. but in all fairness musicians have collectively spent the last 10 years checking all the front doors and windows. They’re locked.

      And in case you are, I will share that I don’t worry about the numbers in the headlines. Even Donald Trump knows to ask for more $ than you actually want when starting a negotiation. :)

      I must admit, the response Mr. Lowery posted to your article also gave me pause. It read as thin-skinned and egotistical. I do wish him luck. But I will also share that it reminded me that it’s most important to be mindful of one’s ego when we are convinced that we are doing charity or being victimized. Then again…. I know how much it hurts when you’re fighting a perceived injustice and someone who could benefit seems ungrateful. The joys of public service!

      If your version of the facts is true, I hope these class actions lead to a negotiated settlement where independent songwriters have actually had a voice at the negotiating table, the companies admit breaking the law, and a REASONABLE penalty is paid. Perhaps a portion of that penalty could be in the form of a higher, direct license for the specific works in question. Doesn’t that seem like a reasonable concession to how sensitive cash flow is for many of these companies and the spirit of the original complaint?

      Reply
  10. Nathan M

    By the time Spotify launched in the U.S. there were plenty of self-releasing artists. Requiring streaming services to ingest songwriter data will probably require them to make major changes to their ingestion programming that they don’t want to pay for. Why think this? Because they’re not paying on millions of songs now. It will also require someone to check whether someone is trying to claim Stairway to Heaven. Just like….YouTube!

    Or services could just send the NOI to the Copyright Office for $25.

    Reply
  11. Anonymous

    I thought a big part of what Tunecore, Audiam, Songtrust, and the like was that they were getting you “all the royalties you are owned!”

    Is this not actually the case????

    Apologies if I’ve misunderstood the services offered by those guys.

    Reply
  12. Nikki A

    Ari,

    As always, I appreciate valuable information you continue to share with the independent artist music community. Follow-up regarding all comments posted has also provided valuable insight for me personally and professionally. I have used several aggregators for different artists over the past 24 months. I must say, the only aggregator that requires me to enter Songwriter, Publisher, Composer, and Producer metadata is Amadea Music.
    Although Amadea’s website is…..well there is quite some room room for improvement regarding its website design. However, this UK company does take extra time an effort to submit pertinent metadata prior to release. I have also noticed that the metadata is transferred over to digital stores that provide that information i.e. Tidal.
    In my recent experience, CDBaby also asks for this information prior to release. However, neither Tunecore, Distrokid, or Routenote require you to submit this information. That’s just my “two cents.” Have an awesome day and thanks again for sharing.

    Reply
  13. Steven Corn

    Ari: You say “But, as of now, no streaming service requires this information from distributors and no distributor is offering it.”

    I know that at BFM we provided it and The Orchard does too. If distributors have the publishing info (which are not always required fields), it’s more of an issue of whether the streaming services can accept and process the publishing information when it’s available. That doesn’t always happen (as you indicated).

    Reply
  14. basilia dufrene

    My colleagues needed to fill out IRS 1065 – Schedule K-1 recently and were informed of a great service with a searchable forms database . If others require IRS 1065 – Schedule K-1 too , here’s https://goo.gl/ds7b34.

    Reply

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