Artists Are The New Gatekeepers
With nearly a decade in the Entertainment Industry I’ve seen many “advancements” in the way music is distributed and consumed. One major change has been removing the barriers to entry into music distribution sources. It’s easy now for a musician to have their music ingested into DSPs like Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora. These companies have become the most common way to have your songs heard, and begin accumulating fans and followers. The “gatekeepers” and roadblocks to getting your music out into the world have been cleared, or at least it seems that way.
After further review, I’m seeing trends in the industry that damage the artists ability to earn royalties, and it is all too common. There is a process to ensuring recording artist don’t shoot themselves in the foot. It has to do with the order by which you receive your copyrights and when your ISRC is assigned. I have been informed by a legal consultant for a huge radio conglomerate that songs that have ISRC code issued prior to their “Issued” copyright date are a liability. The nature of most business is to limit liability, so when a recording presents this type of liability it is deemed “Untouchable”.
Theses “Untouchable” recordings will never be ingested into the radio or many of the other larger paying opportunity pools because of the “potential risk”. If an artist registers a recording with a distribution source prior to gaining the rights to do so (ie. Copyright) any contracted business with that recording could be “Voidable” in court. This is a potential for loss and that risk is just not worth the time and money required to market and promote a project. Most of the time, recording deals are risky enough without adding on the additional risk of an ownership battle.
Ultimately, it falls on the artist to be conscious enough to learn the process and become a Publisher, or hire a competent professional to handle this process for them. The majority of streaming services are using the uploaded content to sell placements to advertisers. Unfortunately, most of the songs uploaded by Independent artists improperly are only eligible for fractions of their potential value. This is why they are “Untouchable” recordings to investors, meanwhile the DSPs are able to sell advertising placements regardless.
Get Help Or Get Educated
Musicians and creatives are still being exploited, but this time it’s mostly from their lack of motivated to uncover knowledge and the discipline to apply it. I’ve studied with @Harlemzfirstlad3 Juanita Purcell for a couple of years, She’s given me lots of insight into the world of music encoding and metadata.
With her knowledge and some of my own personal experience I’m confident enough to launch my own Music Sync Agency. She has assembled a “Tribe” of data specialists to educate Independent Musicians on all things data, and has offered up her schedule for consultations and panelist bookings.
“Artist should pre-set their copyright. That means when the idea for the song is 95% complete (95-MAR), begin filing your copyright. This begins the establishment of your asset.”
Here’s the proper order for a recording artist to follow when recording, mastering, encoding, copyrighting, obtaining ISRC codes, registering with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO), and SoundScan:
★★Jaunita Recommends Pre-registering your copyright as soon as the idea is in an “unchangeable state”.★★
Recording in a Studio:
- Find a suitable recording studio with the necessary equipment and expertise.
- Prepare your songs, lyrics, and musical arrangements.
- Work with a producer/engineer to capture your music in the studio.
- Record each instrument and vocal track separately for better control during mixing and mastering.
- After recording, the tracks need to be mixed to achieve the desired balance and sound quality.
- Hire a professional mixing engineer or work with your producer to mix the individual tracks.
- The mixing process involves adjusting levels, panning, adding effects, and enhancing the overall sound.
- Mastering is the final step in the audio production process before distribution.
- Engage a mastering engineer who specializes in optimizing the sound quality for various formats.
- The mastering process involves equalization, compression, stereo enhancement, and overall audio enhancement to achieve a cohesive and polished final product.
- Once the mastering process is complete, you’ll need to encode your music into the desired digital formats.
- Popular formats include MP3, WAV, and FLAC.
- Use audio encoding software or work with a digital distributor to convert your mastered tracks into these formats.
- It’s essential to protect your music by obtaining copyright protection.
- Visit the official copyright office website in your country (e.g., U.S. Copyright Office) and follow their guidelines for registering your songs.
- Submit the necessary forms, fees, and supporting materials to secure copyright protection for your compositions.
ISRC Code Allocation:
- The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) uniquely identifies each recorded track.
- Obtain ISRC codes for your individual songs or tracks from your national ISRC agency or through a digital distributor.
- Assign each track a unique ISRC code, which will be embedded into the metadata of your digital files.
Register with a Performing Rights Organization (PRO):
- Join a PRO (e.g., ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) to collect performance royalties when your music is played publicly.
- Choose a PRO based on your country and affiliation eligibility.
- Sign up as a songwriter and register your copyrighted songs with the PRO to ensure proper royalty collection.
SoundScan and Distribution:
- SoundScan tracks sales and streaming data, which is vital for charting and industry recognition.
- Work with a digital distributor (e.g., TuneCore, CD Baby) to distribute your music to various digital service providers (DSPs) such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music.
- Ensure your music is properly registered with SoundScan to track sales and streaming numbers for reporting purposes.
Remember to consult with professionals, such as music lawyers or managers, who specialize in the music industry to ensure you navigate the process correctly and protect your rights as an artist.