@TXMusicOffice: Music Industry Economic Impact Study Quoted by Sen. @JohnCornyn

The good news is the bad news is wrong.  And someone has the data to prove it.

If you watched Smokey Robinson’s riviting testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this week, you may recall that Senator John Cornyn read some statistics from the Texas Music Office Economic Impact study on the benefits to the State of Texas from the music industry.

This one exchange should give the lie to the usual cant we hear from lobbyists both in and outside the music business that we will never win against the broadcasters on terrestrial royalties because there’s a radio station in every Congressional district.  There’s music industry in every state at least, if not every Congressional district.

The economic impact study concluded:

Combined, music business and music education directly account for over 95,000 permanent jobs, $3.6 billion in annual earnings, and just over $8.5 billion in annual economic activity, up from 92,000 jobs and about $7.5 billion in annual activity during 2015.

  • The ripple effects associated with the direct injection related to music business and music education bring the total impact (including the direct effects) to over 178,000 permanent jobs, $6.5 billion in earnings, and $19.8 billion in annual economic activity. The State of Texas also realizes over $323 million in tax revenue from these impacts.

In addition to the TMO economic impact study, you should also read Titan Music Group’s Austin Music Census that really drills down deep on the local impacts and has become a rally point for Austin musicians.

The Texas Music Office sets the gold standard for providing federal lawmakers with the information they need to defend the music industry as important job creators rather than an afterthought.

Senator Cornyn’s exchange should debunk forever the idea that there’s no support for music industry initiatives outside of New York, Nashville and Los Angeles, so nobody bothers to explain themselves to residents of flyover states.

@hypebot: @SoundExchange Launches Music Data Exchange To Connect Label, Publisher Metadata

SoundExchange’s new Music Data Exchange (MDX) is a promising idea that gets at a big part of the real problem with mass infringement of songs by digital services.  It also gives some hope of actually reducing the “pending and unmatched” (or “black box” in the vernacular) at the source–before the songs are infringed.

Regardless of what the Music Modernization Act’s proposed blanket license and new retroactive safe harbor for infringing services may do, if the song ownership data isn’t available pre-release, it is unlikely that the proposed Music Licensing Collective will result in more efficient payments to songwriters subject to the blanket license.

When I worked at A&M Records, I established a policy of enforcing requirements in producer and artist agreements that writer and publisher information (including splits) be delivered to A&R Administration along with every new recording as part of the larger label copy process.  A&R Administration then was able to send the full publisher and song metadata for the recording to the Copyright Department so that there was no need (or much less need) for them to chase down the information on new releases.  That’s not only extremely inefficient, it also makes their job exceptionally frustrating and Kafka-esque.

This required putting some sensitive English on the ball, so to speak, about enforcing our contracts with the most important people on the label–the artists and producers.  But it was a simple pitch–let’s get this right so that songwriters get paid properly.  That resonated.

This policy resulted in A&M having the lowest pending and unmatched in the industry–to the point that on audit some people thought we were hiding something.

On balance, the downside of denying the black box slush fund just didn’t compare to the upside of making sure our songwriters got paid (many of whom also were our artists).  While I’m glad that the plan worked for A&M at the time, what’s really needed in an era of massive infringement by digital services is an industry-wide solution that takes away that excuse.

Nobody likes litigation, but it has become a last resort when faced with people who just don’t seem to care and would rather buy themselves a new safe harbor than do the right thing.  MDX may offer that opportunity and solution.

Hypebot recently published an interview with SoundExchange’s Jonathan Bender that gives a clear explanation of the goals and functionality of the service.  I think it’s a solution that everyone should support.

And use.

…[I]t occurred to us that we were addressing a problem after it happened. We said, “Isn’t there a way to address the problem before it happens? Before you get to the point where you have settlements and lawsuits and unhappy writers and publishers?”

That was the core idea of Music Data Exchange – to create a centralized, rational process for labels to request publishing data and for the publishers to respond to those requests on a central site…

In one of my first meetings with one label’s copyright department I asked, “How do you get the publishing data?” They said they generate a report of all their new releases each week, typically hundreds of recordings, hand it to their copyright people, and then they commence to email publishers they know asking “is this your song?”

That’s just one label. Add hundreds of labels and hundreds of publishers to that, and thousands of recordings a week. It’s no surprise that it’s a mess.

Read the post on Hypebot.