MixSCAN: Making DJ Mixes 100% Legal

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?

SOLUTION

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.

WHO BENEFITS

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

CONTRIBUTORS

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.

Innovation in America: The Role of Copyright

Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet

Hearing Information: http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/113th/hear_07252013.html

Witness List: Sandra Aistars (Executive Director, Copyright Alliance), Eugene Mopsik (Executive Director, American Society of Media Photographers), Tor Hansen (Co-Founder, Yep Roc Records / Red Eye Distribution), John Lapham (General Counsel, Getty Images), William Sherak (President, Stereo D)

Issues highlighted were over-the-air performance royalties, digital piracy (i.e., copyright infringement liability and accountability, accessibility to IP enforcement), new music business models and the effects on music consumption and distribution, emphasizing music content as a great economic multiplier nationally and internationally, and the benefits of statutory licensing.  Of particular note to SoundExchange was Tor Hansen’s comments on statutory licensing, noting their appreciation for compulsory statutory licensing as defined by the Copyright Royalty Board and administered by my company SoundExchange.  This type of licensing, although not determined inherently by the free market, treats all sound recording copyrights as equal and is thus paid equally between signed and unsigned artists.

For some time I had supported the idea of free content and p2p services – developing revolutionary business models based on free content and free information, allowing content to enter the public domain in order to encourage reinvention and further innovation, developing p2p as a community to build interest in music producers as well as music aficionados, among other arguments.  I still feel that these arguments have merit to an extent; however, listening to a passionate panel filled with small to mid-market content companies and independent artists, a different perspective was expressed.

This hearing was filled with stories of p2p services monetizing from stolen content by advertising, a photographer that had spent years of his life collecting war photographs for a book that was then pirated the day of its release, and independent artists that simply do not have the capital to enforce their copyright and prevent their works from being stolen on a large scale.

Copyright was originally designed to give creators a financial incentive to create, in order to promote innovation and science.  Limits were placed on copyright, however, so that content could enter into the public domain and other innovators could build upon it.  This hearing emphasized that while the best artists may not create in order to make money, they are entitled to be able to make a living off of a talent they have spent years developing – and the ability to make a living inherently requires that artists be able to protect their works from being stolen and to be fairly compensated for their work.

Many argue that copyright protection only serves major copyright owners (such as the major record labels), but with digital distribution platforms, consumers increasingly have access to independent artists equally.  Copyright protection does not only serve copyright owners, but also the production and distribution chain, which acts as an economic multiplier for the national economy.  And lastly, stronger copyright protection gives an incentive for technology companies to innovate new content production tools and distribution models.

Concerns for stronger copyright protection include the inability of artists to opt out of copyright protection and royalty collection, as in the case of compulsory statutory licensing.  Proposed policies that hinder means of promotion – for example, copyright infringement liability being forced upon third party conduits such as YouTube and SoundCloud.  And lastly, digital rights management that has proven to be unsuccessful and a violation of user rights for those that legitimately purchase copyrighted products.

As with any policy, there are infinite sides to an issue.  In particularly, this hearing emphasized one side of the issue, the importance of copyright and the protection of intellectual property as expressed mostly by small and mid-sized companies and independent artist advocators.  It will be interesting to see the compromises that will be required between user rights and copyright as this committee aims to reapply the basic concepts of copyright to a rapidly changing digital environment.  This is only the second of many more panels to come.  Next week, the judiciary committee will be hearing testimonies from technology companies and their stance on copyright.

Upgrades to Registration and Recordation Functions in the Copyright Office

:: Paper written by my Department at SoundExchange ::

<<Covers the standardization of copyrighted works in order to promote interoperability and accessibility within the music industry>>

IN THE MATTER OF NOTICE OF INQUIRY
OF THE COPYRIGHT OFFICE, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS REGARDING TECHNOLOGICAL UPGRADES TO REGISTRATION AND RECORDATION FUNCTIONS

Docket No. 2013–2 COMMENTS OF SOUNDEXCHANGE, INC.

SoundExchange, Inc. welcomes this opportunity to respond to the Notice of Inquiry by the Copyright Office for comments regarding Technological Upgrades to Registration and Recordation Functions, Docket No. 2013-2, published March 18, 2013 (“NOI”).

SoundExchange is the non-profit entity designated by the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board to collect royalties owed under the statutory licenses for the public performance of sound recordings via certain non-interactive digital audio transmissions (e.g., “webcasting”) and the making of certain ephemeral phonorecords. See 17 U.S.C. §§ 112(e), 114; 37 C.F.R. Parts 370, 380. SoundExchange, in turn, distributes the royalties it collects to the performing artists and copyright owners of such sound recordings. SoundExchange is at the center of the ongoing digital revolution that continues to transform the music industry and is committed to working with all stakeholders, including digital audio services, recording artists, copyright owners, and the Copyright Office, to ensure that the industry continues to grow and thrive.

While the scope of this Notice of Inquiry is broad, SoundExchange would like to focus its comments on two specific areas:

  1. The critical role of unique identifiers, such as ISRCs and ISNIs, as well as other metadata for sound recordings, and the possibility of collecting this information as part of the copyright registration process; and
  2. The importance of interoperability and accessibility, ensuring that the Copyright Office’s records of registration and recordation are easily accessible by the public and managed and stored in databases that are interoperable with third parties’ databases.

As the Copyright Office knows well, the music industry has been transformed like no other by the digital age. Whereas the recorded music industry once depended almost entirely on the distribution of physical products, it now depends on diverse streams of revenue from a multitude of different sources and business models: digital downloads, on-demand subscription streaming, noninteractive digital radio, and so forth. At the same time, the number of recordings being created, and generating value, is exploding, and music is being consumed more than ever before. Sound recording metadata – the information about the sound recording – has always been important, but it is now an essential component of the ecosystem.

The Copyright Office has an opportunity to ensure that its registration and recordation platform serves a critical function in this ecosystem. Specifically, SoundExchange urges the Copyright Office to collect more data than it currently does as part of the registration process, including in particular unique identifiers as well as certain factual information about sound recordings. SoundExchange also believes the Copyright Office should develop a platform based on principles of access and interoperability and provide the tools to allow third parties to integrate the Office’s systems and data with their own. In particular, it would be ideal for the Office to make it simple for third party databases to draw on, and connect to, the Office’s records; and to permit third parties to facilitate registration, recordation, and other procedures.

I. Unique Identifiers and Other Factual Information: ISRCs, ISNIs, and Other Metadata

To ensure that its records are of maximum value, the Copyright Office should incorporate industry-standard unique identifiers, such as International Standard Recording Codes (ISRCs) and International Standard Name Identifiers (ISNIs), as well as other factual metadata about sound recordings. While we are not asking the Copyright Office to make the provision of ISRCs and ISNIs a requirement of registration, we do think it should be an option for those copyright owners who wish to associate their registrations with these unique identifiers. We also believe that by incorporating these standards into its system, the Copyright Office will aid in their widespread adoption.

i. Enable collection of ISRCs in order to identify sound recordings

What is an ISRC? One of the most meaningful enhancements that the Copyright Office can make to its registration forms for sound recordings is to collect ISRCs. ISRC is an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard administered by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). IFPI has designated national agencies in 50 countries worldwide to administer the ISRC regime in those territories (in territories where no such agency exists, the standard is administered by IFPI directly). In the United States, that designated agency is the Recording Industry Association of America. Each territorial body can authorize so-called ISRC Managers to distribute ISRCs for use by copyright owners. The Orchard, TuneCore and CD Baby are some of the ISRC Managers in the United States. Major record labels and other copyright owners may also receive ISRC registrant codes from their national agency, giving them the ability to handle the creation, distribution and registration of ISRCs for their own catalogs.

An ISRC is a unique identifier, capable of disambiguating sound recordings even when various recordings may have the same or similar titles, or even when various recordings of the same song exist as “studio,” “live” or “radio edit” versions. ISRCs are persistent in that they stay with a recording through its lifespan. ISRCs are format-indifferent, so that a recording used on compact disc, vinyl and MP3 products will carry the same ISRC across all usages, regardless of the medium of conveyance. As a unique identifier, an ISRC can be used by the public to retrieve associated reference metadata from other third-party databases, such as the names of featured artists on a track, the title of the track, the version of the track, and the duration of the track. In a world of tens of millions of recordings, it is critical that each recording be associated with a unique identifier that is used as a worldwide standard. Frequently, searching by title, or even by title and artist, for a specific recording will yield ambiguous results. In many instances, a single song will be the subject of multiple recorded versions by different artists, or even by the same artist who records live and studio versions of a song. For example, Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine,” in addition to having many recorded versions of his own, was also recorded by Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Marvin Gaye, DMX, Sting, Van Morrison, Tom Petty, and many others. In these instances, it t is much easier to identify a recording by using a unique identifier. ISRCs fulfill that role, facilitating the flow of information between and among organizations within the sound recording ecosystem.

ISRCs have become the standard within the recording industry to identify tracks. Record labels use ISRCs to identify their recordings and incorporate them into the metadata of their recordings that they provide to their digital partners. As examples, Apple’s iTunes store requires an ISRC for each sound recording in order to make that recording available for sale to the public, and SoundExchange collects ISRCs from sound recording copyright owners in order to identify accurately their recordings for the purposes of distributing streaming royalties properly.
Likewise, digital music services frequently report ISRC information to sound recording copyright owners when they report their usage under direct licenses in order to identify the sound recordings they have streamed.

Why should the Copyright Office collect ISRC information? The Copyright Office should collect ISRCs at the point of registration for sound recordings because it will make the Copyright Office’s records more useful, and it will be an additional step toward making ISRC numbers known more widely, thus enabling accurate use and greater reliance on ISRCs within the copyright community.

In its Notice of Inquiry, the Copyright Office has shown an interest in understanding how its records may benefit the copyright community. If the Copyright Office collects ISRCs at the point of registration, then the public can use ISRCs as a defined connection point between third party databases and the Copyright Office’s records. The public will be able to search the Copyright Office’s databases more easily for the specific records they are seeking, connecting information in the marketplace with information available in the Copyright Office’s records. This, in turn, strengthens the public’s trust in and reliance on the Copyright Office as a repository of valuable information. As with any field, cross referencing data from multiple sources will facilitate new insights and spur more innovations than can be imagined. On the other hand, if the Copyright Office does not collect ISRC information, the public will have difficulty engaging in the productive and efficient utilization of the Copyright Office’s records regarding sound recordings.

Collection of ISRC information by the Copyright Office will also encourage accurate use of ISRCs. While the recording industry has made ISRCs the standard for uniquely identifying recordings, their use by others within the copyright ecosystem should be expanded. As an example of the critical importance of ISRCs, digital music services that rely on the statutory licenses that SoundExchange administers are required under federal regulations to identify the tracks that they perform each month, so that SoundExchange may distribute their royalty payments to the proper artists and record labels. The track identification rules require services to provide the sound recording title and the ISRC for that recording or, alternatively to the ISRC, the album title and marketing label. ISRCs, if provided correctly, would be a much more efficient means for identifying a track, given that services generally do not report album titles and marketing labels in a consistent manner and that there are many similar sound recording titles that have been released. However, the percentage of tracks reported to SoundExchange for which the services provide correct ISRCs is woefully low. When SoundExchange receives faulty reporting information from services, it must take time to clean and complete that data so that the royalties are distributed to the proper parties. This expenditure of time and resources can cause delays and increase costs in royalty distribution. Accurate and complete reporting information, buttressed by correct ISRCs that properly identify sound recordings, allows SoundExchange to move royalty payments from digital music services into the hands of artists and copyright owners more efficiently, which in turn facilitates the continued efforts of artists to develop their creative works.

ISRCs have become a critical standard for the proper identification of sound recordings. In an industry where tens of millions of recordings have been produced, millions of which retain material commercial value, it is imperative that copyright owners and copyright users can use ISRCs to refer with confidence to specific recordings. Collecting ISRCs would allow the Copyright Office to participate meaningfully in that environment, making its records easily accessible by third parties, which in turn will facilitate the creation, distribution and consumption of creative works that are a critical component of the culture and economy of the United States.

ii. Enable collection of ISNIs in order to identify performing artists and other parties

As with ISRCs, the Copyright Office should collect at the point of copyright registration the names and International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) codes of the parties who contributed to the creation of the work. ISNI is an ISO standard that provides for the unique identification of parties to the creation of sound recordings as well as other works, whether those parties are individuals, music groups, record labels, or the like. Compared to ISRC, it is a relatively new standard, but it will become increasingly useful as it is adopted, not only for sound recordings but for a wide cross-section of copyrightable works. Although there are other identifier regimes for performers and other artists, ISNI is the only standard sanctioned by the ISO for identifying such persons and entities. ISNIs uniquely and authoritatively identify the public identities of the parties to a work, helping both to consolidate the variations in spelling of a person’s or entity’s name and to disambiguate the identities of persons or entities with the same or similarly spelled name. ISNIs also serve a vital role as a public layer above proprietary party identification systems. That is, an ISNI allows entities within a creative ecosystem to exchange information about a party without having to disclose confidential information about that party.

Collecting ISNIs at the point of copyright registration would have value for both copyright owners and users. ISNIs are a standardized means for identifying those who participate in the creation of sound recordings, including those who might have an ongoing interest in the sound recording even if they no longer own (or never owned) the copyright in the sound recording. In the United States and many other jurisdictions, performers and producers are afforded rights of remuneration that are independent from the bundle of rights within copyright. For example, under the statutory license that SoundExchange administers for the digital audio transmission of sound recordings, artists receive 50 percent of the royalties that digital music services pay, compensation that is distinct from the royalties accorded to copyright owners for those transmissions. Collecting ISNIs on the copyright registration will help to identify all the stakeholders in a standardized format and will ensure that royalties accrue to the correct parties. Further, as with ISRCs, ISNIs will serve as another defined connection point that will allow the Office’s database to work with other databases based on the identification of performers.

For copyright users, ISNIs can be useful in identifying whom to contact in order to obtain permission to use a work. Indeed, license management is touted by the International ISNI Agency (“ISNI-IA”) as a fundamental purpose of ISNIs. ISNI-IA notes that ISNIs will “facilitate reliable royalty management services across all repertoires and throughout the value chain.” See http://isni.org/about. As the Copyright Office grapples with the problems associated with orphan works, ISNIs can help prevent those problems from arising with future works.

iii. Enable collection of additional metadata for sound recordings

In addition to ISRCs and ISNIs, the Copyright Office should collect additional data elements for sound recordings at the point of registration. In particular, the Copyright Office should make it possible for copyright owners to input on the registration certain factual information about the creation of the recording, including (i) the territory of fixation, (ii) the performers on the recording and their country of residence, and (iii) the producer who facilitated the production of the recording. In addition to the elements currently collected at the point of registration (such as the year of the recording’s creation and the copyright claimants), each of these elements helps to identify the recording and the parties to the recording and is critical to the protection of sound recordings, both in the United States and particularly abroad. The Copyright Office should encourage those with an economic interest in sound recordings to gather and report that information in their copyright registrations, so that there is maximum clarity about the rights attached to each sound recording.

In the case of the territory of fixation, identity and country of residence of the performers, and the year of the recording, those elements will help to facilitate the flow of royalties among content users, collecting societies, and artists and copyright owners, both domestically and abroad. It is also important to note the difference between identifying the performers and producers, on the one hand, and the copyright owner on the other hand. Whereas the copyright owner of a recording can change over time as catalogs are bought and sold, the names of the performers and producers do not. As with ISNIs, including performer and producer information would help to ensure that royalties accrue to the correct parties under the rights of remuneration that are available to performers and producers and that are independent from the bundle of rights within copyright in the United States and many other jurisdictions.

II. Interoperability and Accessibility of Copyright Office Records

As we note above, accurate identification of works is not fully meaningful without the public’s ability to access that identifying information. Accordingly, we recommend incorporating user-friendly application program interfaces (APIs) and automated submissions into the platform, and we recommend following the Digital Data Exchange (DDEX) standard for the exchange of metadata about sound recordings. We also emphasize the importance of increasing public access to the Copyright Office by making it easier for registrants to provide data about their works. This may be done, in part, by allowing third parties to funnel copyright registration applications to the Copyright Office.

i. Increase interoperability of registration and recordation platform for public use

As the Copyright Office considers the design of its new platform, it should strive for an architecture that yields the greatest feasible degree of interoperability with third party
systems. To this end, the Copyright Office should strongly consider the implementation of well- defined web services/APIs to facilitate the automated flow of data between the Copyright Office and external users. Such an implementation would have a number of benefits, both to copyright owners and those who utilize copyrighted works. Copyright owners could use these methods to notify the Copyright Office of new registrations and deliver the identifiers and reference metadata the Copyright Office would collect when registering a work (as well as any necessary information about the registrants themselves). These interfaces would allow the Copyright Office to alert registrants of any inconsistencies, missing or invalid data elements, and other potential issues with their submissions that would prevent their acceptance, and also provide updates on changes in the status of a particular registration. Copyright owners could also use these tools to query the registration system for the current status of previously submitted works and any other information that the Copyright Office sees fit to expose.

A greater degree of interoperability also benefits other entities within the copyright ecosystem. Rights management organizations and other data aggregators could utilize APIs in order to learn about newly copyrighted works, either by generating a request to the Copyright Office that initiates a response containing the relevant information, or by subscribing to a data feed maintained by the Copyright Office that notifies subscribers when new works are successfully ingested into its systems. Finally, third party developers and other services could utilize these APIs in support of new and innovative applications for collecting and disseminating information regarding copyrighted content across the supply chain.

SoundExchange does not make any specific recommendations here regarding technology choices or implementation-specific activities for increasing interoperability. Instead we wish to emphasize the importance of facilitating the public’s ability to use the Copyright Office’s records, including supporting the automated registration of works and subsequent feedback, performing one-off data requests, and using such records to build comprehensive third party databases that address the needs of the community of copyright owners and users. Allowing information to move more easily through the copyright community will ultimately encourage innovation in accessibility and licensing of copyrighted works, for and by actors both large and small.

ii. Adopt DDEX standards in order to exchange information between databases

As the Copyright Office develops its new platform, it should ensure that its databases are compatible with the applicable Digital Data Exchange (DDEX) standards for exchanging information between databases. DDEX is a standards-setting organization that was formed to design standardized message formats for the exchange of metadata. In particular, DDEX has developed a series of XML-based standards for the communication of sound recording and audio/visual asset metadata between record companies, music rights societies and online retailers. Among these standards is the Electronic Release Notification (ERN) Message Suite Standard, which enables the communication by record labels of metadata about releases (e.g. artist name, album name, track names, ISRCs, release dates, etc.).

DDEX’s ERN standard is currently the standard most widely used by the sound recording copyright community for the exchange of metadata information. It benefits from substantial adoption already by the copyright community, and this standard is expected to be used even more widely in the future. While the ERN standard currently provides for the transfer of more information than is needed for the purposes of copyright registration (such as licensing deal terms in certain instances), the DDEX working group could define a profile for use with the Copyright Office’s databases that would limit the standard to those fields that the Office needs. The Copyright Office would not be charged with the task of developing this new protocol. Instead, the Copyright Office need only make plans for its platform to be capable of receiving and processing the data that flows through the ERN messages, which may entail implementing support of the choreography of message delivery and receipt acknowledgement as described by the ERN standard protocol, or whichever standard is deemed appropriate by the DDEX community in consultation with the Copyright Office. Because the ERN standard supports the use of web services to transmit messages between parties, this could be one application of the interoperability capabilities described above (though it should be noted that the Copyright Office would likely also need to implement the FTP transmission model, in order to serve those copyright owners who are unable to support the use of this service-oriented approach).

Regardless of the means by which the messages are conveyed, it is the adoption of the standard by the Copyright Office that will yield the most immediate benefit to participants in the copyright value chain. The DDEX standard not only provides a syntactically robust framework for representing sound recording metadata, it also defines a semantic treatment of the various data elements. This clear, shared understanding of the intent of each of the message elements (as captured by the DDEX data dictionary and comprehensive schema documentation) ensures that users can apply their metadata to the standard in a uniform fashion, and that organizations undertaking DDEX implementations with a large number of partners can streamline their integrations and avoid costly and time-consuming customization work. The value derived from the combination of robust structure, consistent treatment of data elements, and widespread usage throughout the sound recording and audio/visual copyright community should encourage the Copyright Office’s adoption of the DDEX standards.

iii. Expand the methods and channels for registrants to provide data about their works.

As another general principle, the Copyright Office should consider making it easier for registrants to register their works and to provide data about their works. This means that not all data fields that we propose here should be required in order to obtain copyright registrations, because supplying such information may be easier for parties with greater resources than for others. It also means that the Copyright Office should embrace an “open arms” policy for all, and allow for a broad range of technical capabilities among interested parties. For example, the Copyright Office should provide alternatives for parties to submit data, such as accepting data submissions via XML web services from larger entities, supporting the use of flat file templates submitted via FTP or other direct upload, and providing an online portal for manual input by smaller entities and individuals.

The Copyright Office should also design its registration and recordation platform to allow third parties to submit applications for registration on behalf of copyright owners. Copyright owners are already conditioned to provide information about their works to third parties such as performance rights organizations, licensing collectives and other commercial databases. Enabling copyright owners to obtain copyright registrations at the same time they are submitting their repertoire data to third parties would make the registration process substantially easier and would therefore increase the number of registrations. This would further the aims of the Copyright Office to develop the most comprehensive repository of copyrighted works possible. It would also particularly benefit the segment of the creative industry that has limited resources to seek copyright registrations of their works, such as smaller labels, independent artists and other entities that do not have formal registration procedures in place. Ultimately, as registration becomes easier, the records of the Copyright Office would become more comprehensive and therefore more valuable to the public.

III. Conclusion

SoundExchange would welcome the opportunity to discuss these comments further and to provide any assistance that we can. Metadata is a critical part of the music industry today, and the Office can play a core role in encouraging creators to collect and publish critical identification information about their recordings. In developing its systems, we urge the Copyright Office to focus on the following principles: improving access to standardized data, encouraging the collection of data that identifies the sound recording as well as those involved in its creation, ensuring interoperability with third party databases and registries, and making it easier for copyright owners to register. Collectively, developing a platform based on these principles will increase the use and value of the Copyright Office’s records, spur innovation in how the public utilizes registration information, and ensure that copyright in general continues to fuel the creation, dissemination and use of creative works.

Respectfully submitted,

SoundExchange, Inc. 733 10th Street, NW 10th Floor
Washington, DC 20001

Wishing the Best for Tipper

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It only happens once, twice… maybe a few times in an audiophile’s life.   You stumble across a musician, become captivated with his sound, and then spend a few years following him as he makes his way to the top.

It begins when the musician finally finds his staple sound – the result of several years of determination and experimentation that most musicians never master.  He then relentlessly performs live – tour after tour, sometimes playing six shows a week.  The only time the show stops is to produce an album – the fruit of a process that constantly runs in the background.  Over time, the musician grows in his person, his music, and his profession.

A similar process is experienced by his fans as they make all efforts to attend his shows.  A fan, let’s say, might…

see the show at a festival in southern California then…
drive to Portland to see the show the following week, then…
find a ride-share on Craigslist to get to San Francisco to see the show the following day, then…
hitch a ride to Denver to catch the show…

… one last time before the summer ends.

These two journeys – the fan’s and the musician’s – describe my experience with David Tipper.  I first saw him on a side-stage in 2010 and within a few years saw him only as the headliner of some of the most well-produced festivals in the country.  The growth that both he and I have experienced within these two years has been astounding – and because this piece is for Tipper, I’d like to share my experience with him as… in some ways an outsider… but in many ways an insider as a devoted fan.

The easiest starting point is his music.  As the joke goes…

What does David Tipper do when he’s not producing music? Producing music.

David Tipper has a unique sound that no one can mimic – and believe me, I’ve seen following acts try.  Despite all the many genres and moods that he can move through, Tipper has stayed true to his style that is difficult to describe – complex & dynamic, colourful & textured, infinitely layered, daunting yet whimsical, tastefully experimental – never any spoken words, yet somehow incredibly powerful.

Perhaps the only way to describe Tipper’s style is by describing the elicited emotional response.  I call it, the Tipper Face.  Your face is squished up and your eyes are looking up… as if you are searching for a thought to answer a curious question.  And you are.  It’s your brain figuring out how to process the uncanny beats that are passing through your ears.

So… at the top of your facial expression – imagine curiosity and bewilderment.

At the bottom, imagine jaw dropped amazement.

I’d like to add that The Tipper Face contrasted perfectly with Tipper’s own face when he performed – mysterious, calm, focused, and determined – a scientist at work.

The dance floor goes wild.  His music inspired experimental dance – anywhere from contact dance to people losing complete control of their bodies.

…If you were at The Bounce, you know what I’m talking about…

But that’s what the dance floor is all about.  Not necessarily losing control, but entering a head space where that inner dialogue is silenced, you are completely present, and you simply don’t care what you look like to anybody.

And Tipper’s music helps us get there.

Tipper, for a rock star you are quite the anomaly.  Despite your growing popularity, you haven’t sold out.  This was more than obvious when you played Infrasound, a tiny festival in Wisconsin, the summer after playing a set during a solar eclipse in the desert.

You always maintain that root sound and emotional trigger throughout all your work, while still evolving and progressing as an artist.  In part, I think this is because you continually strived to collaborate with cutting edge producers – whether their passion is in music, art, or technology.  At one point I had thought that you had stagnated, feared that the limelight had gotten to you – but then a month later you put on the best performances I had ever seen at Sonic Bloom.

The fans often ask at the end of his sets – what is life like after Tipper?  Well, it’s surprisingly good and I hope it remains to be the same.

But Tipper – Thank you for the experiences and thank you for the journeys. I truly am lucky to have been a part of it.  As much as I’ve traveled to see your shows, I can’t imagine who or where I would be today without them.

Amon Tobin ISAM 2.0 and the Growing Importance of Stage Production

Electric Factory — September 17, 2012

Amon Tobin’s ISAM 2.0 is the second coming of a two hour show piece that uses cutting-edge innovation to create a musical experience that errs on the side of performance art.  The tour’s aim was to create an audio and visual presentation of Amon Tobin’s, ISAM, using some of the most innovative techniques on the market.

MUSIC.  While Amon Tobin is known for his creative use of sampling techniques, ISAM uses field recording and layering techniques to turn self-recorded samples into powerful soundscapes.  The result is a rather complex piece of musical art that incites awe-stricken consumption rather than dancing.  A track by track commentary of the full album can be found on Soundcloud.

My preference still remains with the great story-telling found in his earlier albums, Supermodified and Bricolage that are profoundly whimsical, dark, and intriguing (One Day in My Garden, Slowly, Marine Machines).  While his earlier albums are jazz and DnB influenced, his ISAM set was bass heavy yet maintained that experimental, cinematic sound that is uniquely Amon Tobin (Journeyman).  The music did not inspire dance, with the exception of the two DnB tracks, which was fitting for Amon Tobin’s origins in the genre.  The track progression lacked overall movement and the intermission was abrupt and served little purpose for a two hour set.  At the same time, Amon Tobin’s music is always admirable for sound ingenuity, creating some of the most experimental sounds I’ve heard on a PA system this summer.

STAGE PRODUCTION.  Complementing the music is an equally complex and awe-inspiring stage performance that at times over powers the music.  The visual component was designed by V Squared Labs, Leviathan, Vita Motus, Alex Lazarus, and Stefano Novelli that pushed projection mapping to its greatest potential, creating a three dimensional canvas of blocks for abstract expressionism.  A closer look into the collaboration of the production team can be found in ISAM’s extended trailer.  With such an intricate stage design choreographed to the music, the show ended up being equally stage production as much as music.  An even-handed combination of audio and visual expertise was most apparent in both the opening and closing sequences.  Without much dancing to be had, the stage designed pushed Amon Tobin’s music experience into the realm of performance art.

A NEW PERFORMANCE MODEL?  This performance, in tangent with a few others, presents a new musical performance model in the EDM scene – one that thrives on the collaboration between musicians, artists, and technicians to create an experience, in the stead of (or in addition to) a dance party.  My favorite model for this style of performance art was the Techno-Tribal Community Dance Hall, which fuses dance, acrobatics, and movement with live electronic music.

In a growing EDM market where audio production programs are more accessible and user-friendly, it is increasingly important to have a visual performance that matches the musical performance.  Projection mapping has become a best practice solution as artists and technicians collaborate to create powerful landscapes that puts a musical act above all others.  This in turn is opening up a new market for performance based shows that requires greater participation and collaboration between many different types of artists.  Ultimately, ISAM became a tour above the rest by producing a show concept that emphasizes visual just as much as audio ingenuity.

With this performance-based concept in mind, I think it is important to acknowledge this evolution through advertising.   This type of music show should recognize a collaboration of artists in their advertising, rather than under one single musician.  This would promote the market for artists and performers alongside musicians.  Furthermore, the venue choice becomes essential in that visibility becomes equally as important as sound quality – appropriate space for the full production, balconies and stadium seating versus a predominately dance floor space, a theatre over a music venue – all become important choices depending on the degree of performance-based music shows.  From an audience perspective, ISAM 2.0 was meant for a large theatre with stadium seating, as opposed to a small music venue.

It’s all pretty exciting though.  Promotion of performance-based music shows has the potential to increase the attendance of people outside of EDM, including those in the art and dance community.  This could lead to a larger market with more diversified players.  And finally, collaboration-inspired performances mean greater participation that ultimately creates a stronger community.

Building Community on the Dance Floor with guest Freq Nasty

Friday, April 17, 2012
FORWARD Festival HQ

Darin McFadyen
Andrew J Killilea-Moore
Leslie Elmore
Darrell Duane

Within the past five years, the electronic dance industry as well as Burning Man has experienced a rapid growth in participants.  Growth is always welcomed as it not only brings new perspective and personality into the scene, but it also ensures survival from one generation to the next.  However, it is equally important to retain core community values as the scene gets larger.

My personal favorite value is the value of acceptance, which creates a space for people to be exactly who they are – a space in which people are free to express themselves without prejudice.  Based on this value, a strong community has developed around progressive ideals expressed through art, music, technology, and communication.  As the open space welcomes everyone to participate, it is crucial to retain this strong sense of community as it grows.

“Doing the same thing is easy, and comforting. Trying something new exposes oneself, and goes against (in theory) what has been done before. That is scary for people, who ultimately, just want to be accepted.

Came to the conclusion, all people really want is a safe place to exactly who they are…That’s what I feel our role is – to provide that safe space, in the capacity of what we have to offer, to our community.

What they are in that safe space, is not for us to decide, but safe spaces can be offered in a variety of ways and methods, and ultimately, that safety and acceptance is infectious. That stage of safety and acceptance is what we are here to talk about. Also the infection.

I love a good infection.”

From here, we would like to have a conversation on how to build community on the dance floor.  With a brief discussion on community growth, music, dance, and spiritual experience, we aim to have a conversation that focuses on moving from the individual experience to a community experience.