TLDR: New licensing and royalty system for DJ mixes. Boycott this Service?
It’s not too surprising that the music market is increasingly being driven by electronic dance music, and in large part by DJs. This piece examines the barriers to monetizing the DJ industry as well as a proposed music-licensing solution.
DJs typically mix, remix, and sample other producers’ tracks to create one, long continuous piece, such as DJ mixes, podcasts, and mixtapes. In industry, these tracks are referred commonly as long format mix or long form digital music content. Due to technology advancements, DJing has become excessively user friendly and easily accessible. It is not a surprise that DJs are able to produce significantly more content than original music producers and that the industry as a whole is expected to substantially grow over the next few years.
Copyright owners are now realizing the increasing loss in revenue stream as traditionally they have not collected royalties from DJ sets due to a lack of licensing structure, technology, and fingerprinted content. In order to collect royalties, currently, music services need to license the sampled content within DJ mixes before distribution (with the exception of DMCA compliant services and On-Demand licenses that do not cover the sampling of tracks used in long format mixes). There is no leading technology to track listener data and manage the complex royalty identification and reporting processes needed to generate revenue from long form digital music content. Lastly, there is a lack of fingerprinted content that is able to uniquely identify a sample in order for royalties to be paid to the appropriate artist.
Without a proper royalty structure, DJs are only able to monetize their mixes through live performance, but are not able to collect royalties for streaming their mixes online. Furthermore, labels, publishers, and other rights holders are unable to collect royalties, although their music is sampled and incorporated into mixes
I ask, what sort of effects will this royalty system have on the electronic music industry, creative capability, and the value of electronic music to both the producer and consumer’s view point?
Dubset has created the software, MixSCAN, which is currently the only available rights and royalty management engine for DJ mixes.
DJs upload their mixes to Dubset, where MixSCAN software analyzes and fingerprints them for identification and royalty collection/distribution, and then offers them via music streaming platforms, such as TheFuture.FM. In short, this system will allow for royalties to be paid out to not only the copyright owners of the tracks used in mixes, but also the DJs themselves.
HOW IT WORKS
All mixes uploaded to Dubset are marked by MixSCAN with a traceable stamp that identifies every song, sample, length, artist, and album within the mix – which is then made available by a now legal streaming distributor such as TheFuture.FM. MixSCAN software allows you to fingerprint individual files that may contain more than one song or artist over time. For more information on the fingerprinting process, visit http://mixscan.com/documentation.html
TheFuture.FM will be the first distribution platform model that uses MixSCAN and distributes royalties for DJ mixes. This streaming service monetizes through non-subscription (ad revenue based) or subscription service that is $7.99 per month. Subscribers also receive exclusive mixes, podcasts, and live performances. Users are able to search by artist, performances and venue or create channels for listening now and queues for listening later. The service also gives detailed information of artists and tracks within each DJ set, including an option to buy each track used. Conversely, DJs are able to obtain data and analytics for free, such as who is playing their music and where.
Using this software, DJs are able to share their mixes 100% legally on streaming services by identifying and paying royalties to all rights holders of music in their mixes. Dubset advertises this service as an alternative to the risk of copyright infringement associated with other DJ mix streaming services. It is touted as “the first and only legal way to stream DJ mixes”
At the same time, DJs are able to collect royalties each time their mix is played, as long as they are registered with MixSCAN. Royalties are paid on both music distribution subscribers and mixplays at Thefuture.FM. They estimate that “over the next 3 years DJs will earn an estimated $55 million in royalties thanks to MixSCAN”
Labels/publishers/rights holders are able to collect royalties on the use of their content by DJs by identifying and paying all rights holders for the underlying tracks in a given mix. Dubset and MixSCAN creates and simplifies the licensing process between label/publishers and music distribution services.
Music distribution services are able to access a massive new library of content.
Dubset and MixScan are able to become the leading technology for DJ mix licensing
Gracenote will be handling the licensing, building relationship with major labels and publishers, and working to establish a blanket license covering all sampling of tracks, that works with Dubset’s content library and track identification technology.
Dubset Media will be building the technology (MixSCAN), the platform (TheFuture.FM), and the content by establishing the world’s largest library of fingerprinted mix content.
What sort of effects will this royalty system have on the electronic music industry?
Traditionally music services such as SoundCloud have been licensed through Creative Commons, an “open source” licensing company that allows musicians to license their music freely to those that want to use and remix, royalty-free. Copyright owners have the capability to submit infringing notices toSoundCloud who are then authorized to issue DMCA takedown notices who will then remove mixes containing the infringing material (same with YouTube). This system aligns with EDM tradition that has thrived on the use, remixing, and trading of tracks of all music genres, some tracks being so frequently remixed, they’re anthems. While it is difficult for producers to opt out of this licensing system as they often do not have the time or resources to enforce their own copyright if they wanted to, the EDM has thrived on this free exchange philosophy for years.
I think it’s a tragedy that this service is trying to pick apart mixes to pay copyright owners, luring DJs into this deal by also offering them royalties.
A few notes:
Most DJs (with souls) purchase the tracks they use in public. For shame if you don’t. Conversely, research shows that those that pirate music are more likely to purchase music because they are innately music aficionados.
Producers already do not get enough money from streaming services, I can’t imagine what royalty rate would be compromised for DJs who don’t even produce their own content. Has the market matured enough to start paying those that mix original content? Probably not.
Let’s be honest, almost anyone can make a DJ mix using other people’s music content. Does this skill truly even require a royalty paid to the DJ. While DJ can most certainly be an art form, the vast majority is simply about creating a dance floor or better yet, introducing music to people they otherwise would have never heard.
With DJ royalties as an incentive, the market would most likely be even more flooded than it already is.
I think it’s disgusting how this service wants to take apart the very being of what the EDM community was built upon – free exchange, participation, and experimentation – and what eventually got it to the fastest rising music genre in the U.S. It would deteriorate the EDM community into exactly what this scene is not about – money and pettiness.