Sigh! It’s the Copyright Royalty Board to the rescue again…

Copyright Royalty Board To Set Mechanical Royalty Rates For Digital Music Services |

I love the hyperbole of this story.  Leave it to music industry trade organizations to call this a major settlement.  What a crock of sh*t!  After years of acrimonious wranglings, posturing and petulance, all these industry dinosaurs could come up with to bring some semblance of sanity to the digital music licensing process was to rely, again, on the legislative intervention of the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB)…… sigh!

I prefer the frankness of Digital Music News when referring to this ‘historic’ accord:

That said, something did happen here – even if it was in a licensing corner.  In a nutshell, pre-existing mechanical licensing structures related to paid downloads, subscription services like Spotify, and ringtones will largely remain the same, with newer rates established for emerging platforms like mixed-format bundles, locker services, and concepts like Muve Music.  Most involved ‘greater than calculations’ and a rash of complicated percentages and formulas.

Thanks Paul.  In short, if you’re a music publisher, you’re doing better.  Everyone else, get in line, maybe you’ll see some ducats.

How many of you have heard of Muve Music by Cricket Wireless?  Launched in January 2011, this phone bundled with an all-you-can-eat music service topped 500,000 subscribers one year later and they’re adding over 10,000 subscribers a week.  Granted the music is stuck to your phone, but you get millions of song, all readily and easily accessible to play back via the phone.  At $65/month for unlimited talk, text and music playback that’s a good frickin’ deal.  I pay twice as much with AT&T and have no music service in my plan.  The beauty of the Muve Music service is how Cricket Wireless knows exactly what you’re downloading, listening to and how often.  The customer details they have are a gold mine and I hope they’re leveraging that information to keep their costs down when negotiating with labels directly.

It would be so much easier if Cricket Wireless had access to the ToBeDigital exchange I proposed in my previous post.  It’s going to take some time before artists and songwriters trust themselves enough to collaborate on gaining fans and dollars chaordically, however, now that they’ve finally recognized there’s gold in tending directly to them copyright fields they’re much likelier to exploit their copywares by themselves.  A similar idea comes from Ian Rogers, the CEO of Topspin Media, who proposed the construction of a machine-readable, rules based content registry into which content owners can easily opt-in or out after having set up the rules and the prices for the different use of their content.  As Rogers says very eloquently:

The upside to the industry as a whole is massive, developers willing to play by the rules can integrate media into their apps (and pay for the rights to do so) simply, and a true digital marketplace for content governed by market forces, not gatekeepers of large catalogs of content. I strongly believe the net of this will be more money to content owners more quickly than the current course we’re on today. We keep hearing “digital music needs to get to scale quickly for the music industry to succeed”; why wait for one player to scale when you could scale an industry of players?

By “players” he means you artists, you songwriters, you who actually create AND own something.  So what are you waiting for???


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