As a professional musician, you want to create music. Whether it’s your main source of income or just a side hustle, you want to get paid for your work. Your melody, lyric or complete song is the product of your creativity and the thousands of hours spent gaining knowledge and experience. When a song is played in a venue somewhere on the other side of the world, you are entitled to a certain amount of money. It’s that simple. But before you’re getting paid, your work has to be recognized and processed to make sure you’re getting the dough you deserve. This sounds simple, yet a big amount of songs remain unrecognized and therefore unpaid to the rightful owner.
In the US, it is estimated that about 25% of mechanical licenses (for instance when someone releases your music through on-demand streaming services) are not being paid. Not because of malice, but simply because the track isn’t recognized. If the song can’t be recognized, the artist won’t get paid. When we look at a global level, there are concerns about plays at music venues, such as festivals or clubs.
Music recognition technology
Pretty much any song can be recognized by using music recognition technology (MRT). Those matches can be sent to every involving party, one of those being performance rights organizations (PROs) who collect and distribute among their affiliates. This results in musicians, songwriters and composers receiving more royalty payments.
The concept of music recognition has been used for a few decades. Before consumers knew Shazam, big PROs already relied on private companies to help identify and pay the involving parties on radio plays. There are two main benefits to MRT:
• bigger royalty checks for copyright owners, and;
• more transparency: a way for copyright owners to see if their distributor captures and pays the proper amount of money to them
The technology is available, why are a lot of musicians not getting paid what they deserve?
Well, shockingly, a big percentage of music venues or festivals don’t use MRT. Often, no one keeps track of what song is being played, resulting in music producers not getting their fair share of income. Even worse, if a song remains unidentified and unclaimed for a certain period of time, it is often paid to the wrong party.
That’s a serious issue. Luckily, in the past few years music recognition technology has been gaining more interest. Currently music venues, festivals and clubs can install hardware that recognizes the plays at a relatively low price. The recognitions are then sent to PROs, waiting to be paid out to the rightful parties involved.
Despite the progress, challenges remain.
The system doesn’t work without the involvement of rights owners, PROs and a handful of others.
Distributors play an important role by making sure that their music catalog is registered with music recognition technology companies to maximize the chance of recognition. That way rights owners have an incentive to upload relevant metadata belonging to their tracks.
Progress takes time, especially in the music industry. But music recognition technology is here to stay and it will uncover unrecognized and unmatched royalties for the sake of the rights owners. Despite the technology being available, challenges remain. Most venues aren’t equipped with music recognition technology yet and some of the biggest PROs haven’t implemented MRT solutions yet. A coalition of rights owners, PROs and legislators need to come together to encourage the industry to implement modern technology for the benefit of musicians worldwide.
By using MySoundsafe, it is completely transparent who produced a song. The proof of ownership is immutable and logged safely using blockchain technology. If the data is correct, it should be much easier for PROs to match a royalty with the copyright owner i.e. you will get paid more. On top of that, you possess proof of creation of your song, which is logged forever using a timestamp. No more plagiarism claims for you 😉