We live in an era now where things we feel might last a long time often don’t last quite as long as we had expected. As civilisation has advanced through the passage of time so has the rate at which we adopt new technology and then discard it with this trend ramping up exponentially, especially in recent times.
Not so long ago we listened to music on Walkmans, then iPods and now it’s our mobile phones usually paired with wireless headphones that are providing the soundtracks to our lives. I remember when artists were getting discovered on the once legendary MySpace, this was eventually superseded by SoundCloud and now it seems we have a new king in town – Spotify and namely the Spotify playlist.
So what exactly is a playlist. Direct from the horse’s mouth (Spotify!), a playlist is a collection of songs. You can make them for yourself, you can share them, and you can follow the millions of other playlists created by Spotify, artists and fans. I believe playlists are so popular because you get to pick the music you want to listen to, so unlike older linear media channels where the music is programmed for you, now you can listen to what you like all the time. Great right? Well the obvious downside to this is that you can in fact get stuck into lazy listening habits, not listening to anything new, but instead the same playlist you created 4 years ago. The onus is now on you to find great new music, or is it?
You’ve all probably (if you have Spotify), seen the playlist called Discover Weekly? This is an algorithmic playlist, meaning it’s been curated by a Spotify AI system for you that’s assessed your listening habits and found similar music to suggest to you. Another famous algorithmic playlist is release radar. Last year, Bryan Johnson, director of artists and management at Spotify UK, said that Release Radar alone is driving more streams than any of Spotify’s in-house playlists, and certainly far more than any curated playlist that isn’t managed by Spotify’s editorial team. Yet musicians are spending all their time and energy seeking placements on bigger curated playlists.
So if you are a music producer or artist, how do you go about getting onto an algorithmic playlist?
There are 3 key steps to this:
- Build your Spotify following – get your fans to follow you on the streaming platform
- Focus on good activity to engagement ratios – Spotify don’t care as much about streams (a vanity metric) as they do about what your fans do with your music: adding your song to a playlist, listening to the whole song without skipping, sharing it on social channels.
- Release more music regularly – the more tracks you release the more chance you have of making it onto an algorithmic playlist
So whether you’re an artist or fan, things are changing and they will continue to change, that’s for sure. Any music makers now have to seriously consider the Spotify playlist as a force of nature within the music sphere and the algorithmic playlists are what you should really be looking at to exploit.
It’s great to be in the presence of royalty, go on take a bow. Ok, right, i’ve got my ego in check and can now begin. I’m sure some of you guys using SendMusic have had music published whilst others don’t know what that means. I’ve been in both positions and yes, the music industry can be very confusing, especially so when it comes to getting paid when your music gets played. To begin, as an artist the first thing you NEED to do is sign up to a Performing Rights Organisation. Examples of this include PRS, BMI and ASCAP. The whole point of their existence is to get you paid! PRS is the main Performing Rights Association in the United Kingdom and I am signed up to them.
As the name implies Performing Rights Association collect one of the biggest forms of royalties: Performance royalties. In music, royalties are paid to owners of copyrighted music. How do you copyright music? You register it with a Performing Rights Association like PRS. It sounds confusing yes, but just create some music and then register the tracks you’ve made with the Performing Rights Organisation you’re signed up with to understand the process and what to do.
There are four different types of music royalties. Each music royalty type also has separate and distinct copyrights. The four sources of royalty revenue in the music industry are:
1. MECHANICAL ROYALTIES
Royalties generated for the physical or digital reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works. This applies to all music formats such as vinyl, CD, cassette, digital downloads, and streaming services. For example, a record label pays a mechanical royalty to a songwriter every time they press a CD of their music.
2. PUBLIC PERFORMANCE ROYALTIES
Royalties generated for copyrighted works performed, recorded, played or streamed in public. This includes radio, television, bars, restaurants, clubs, live concerts, music streaming services, and anywhere else the music plays in public.
Performance Rights Organisations often collect performance royalties.
3. SYNCHRONIZATION ROYALTIES (SYNC)
Royalties generated for copyrighted music paired or ‘synced’ with visual media. Sync licenses allow the right to use copyrighted music in films, television, commercials, video games, online streaming, advertisements, and any other type of visual media.
Furthermore, a synchronization license does not include the right to use an existing recording with audiovisual media. A licensee will also need a master use license before using copyrighted music with a new audiovisual project. This is an agreement between the master recording owner such as a record label and the person seeking permission to use the recording. Any use of protected music in an audiovisual project, whether it’s a full song or short sample, will need a master license as well as a sync license.
4. PRINT MUSIC ROYALTIES
Print royalties are the least common form of payment a copyright holder receives. This type of royalty applies to copyrighted music transcribed to a print piece such as sheet music and then distributed. Additionally, these fees are often paid out to the copyright holder based on the number of copies made of the printed piece.
The next logical question then is who gets music royalties?
The following either receive or distribute royalties for copyrighted music:
Songwriters are those who write both the music and lyrics for a song. They receive either mechanical, performance, or sync royalties depending on the usage of their recordings.
The publisher is the person or company responsible for ensuring copyright holders receive payment for the use of their music. For example, a music publisher will obtain the copyright from the songwriter in exchange for royalty privileges. They also issue licenses for the use of music they represent as well as collect licensing fees. These fees get split between the publisher and the songwriter.
3. RECORD LABELS
Record labels are responsible for marketing and distributing an artist’s recordings. Generally, they issue contracts that allow them to exploit recordings in exchange for royalty payments over a set length of time. They also often have the master rights to a recorded song, but not the publishing rights. Moreover, record labels generate royalty income from mechanical and performance royalties. The artist then receives a percentage of these royalties.
4. PERFORMANCE ARTISTS
A performing artist is anyone who performs the songwriter’s original work. Performers do not have publishing rights unless they are also the songwriter. Moreover, public performances of copyrighted music generate performance royalties for songwriters. These fees are often collected by the PROs such as ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC.
5. PERFORMING RIGHTS ORGANIZATION (PRO)
PROs collect public performance royalties and distribute those fees to the songwriter and music publisher. These organizations also track performances and broadcasting of registered music played in public. The PROs in the United States include ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.
6. MECHANICAL RIGHTS AGENCY
Mechanical rights agencies manage mechanical licensing rights for the music publisher. They also issue those rights to anyone reproducing and distributing copyrighted musical compositions. These agencies often charge a set percentage of gross royalties collected for their services.
7. SYNC LICENSING AGENCY
Sync licensing agencies acquire the rights from record labels and music publishers to issue licenses for syncing music with visual media. They also distribute royalties for sync licenses to whoever owns the master recording rights.
In conclusion, there is a lot of information you need to digest and understand in order to really make money from music. Sign up with a PRO, like PRS or BMI. Register any music you make. Understand the royalties available to you and finally get the book “All you need to know about the music busniess” by Donald S Passman and you’ll be better positioned for the business side of music.
We have all sorts of users using our product – from DJ’s to mastering engineers to my dad – well truth be told he’s only seen it and likes the moving bubbles. One of our largest groups of users are music producers, I myself fit into this cohort.
Starting out as a producer is tough, some get lucky and get a hit straight away. Others toil away unable ever to finish a track, instead creating loops and thinking they are amazing. One of the best things you can do as a producer is to get into a finishing habit and actually just start to finish the tracks you make – as quickly as you can. Then analyse them, listen back to them, take stock and improve. This part is really easy and can be done anywhere, on the train to work or on the bus, anywhere really. It is really important to take stock of what you have created and measure how it actually weighs up against other tracks out there. Is the mix sounding good, does the arrangement work etc. Over time and with regular practice you will no doubt start creating some good music. I can’t reiterate it enough though, you must finish whole tracks and get accustomed to the process of doing so. Personally it took me a long time to get to the point of doing this but now I’ve gotten faster and actually finish music, a lot of it. This year I had over 40 tracks published for synchronisation to radio and television work, so if someone like me can do it so can you!
I believe that when making art, in this case music, it’s a vibe thing. You want to get your ideas out as quickly as you can when you’ve caught inspiration. To get quicker one of the best skills you can have is to know your Digital Audio Workstation inside out. It is essentially the canvas and paints that you work with to create. Back in the day this was a laborious task, who wants to read a long manual or .PDF, I sure didn’t and I don’t think many others did either, we just botched along picking up the odd tip or trick here or there. Luckily things have changed with the advent of the internet, there are tons of great training websites and videos out there now, some free and some paid. I’ve listed my favourite such resources below:
- Groove 3
- Lynda training
These are just a few but even using just YouTube properly (i.e not watching Conor Mcgregor knockouts when you’re supposed to be studying), you can find loads of great production tutorials that will help you with all aspects of your music production. Again here is where you might want to take stock and inventory of where you need to improve – is it arrangement, is it mixing, is it mastering, is it basic music theory? Essentially what actions and things to study are going to get you closer to making that next global smash?
Ultimately I do believe if you have even just a bit of talent it boils down to your TRUE desire. Do you want this and will you put it ahead of other distractions that provide short term payoffs (Netflix springs to mind for me)? I hope you make the right choice and are comfortable with your decision! Happy creating and if you want to send tracks, stems or whatever to whoever, remember to sign up for an account with use at SendMusic and improve your workflow and make more songs!
Let’s jump back to 1994, yes that’s a long time ago and look, I still feel young ok! Every week I would listen to pirate radio religiously, to the freshest Jungle and Drum & Bass, the sound of London at the time. Weekends would roll around and my friends and I would travel to Section 5, a record shop on the Kings Road in London that sold the freshest cuts of vinyl. Steve (the owner) got to know us and after a while he started reaching under the counter to give us special test presses and white label records – unreleased tracks yet to come out to the public. We felt special, I felt special, it was my feel good ritual, getting the hottest music, before almost anybody else had their hands on it.
At the time I flippantly thought vinyl would stay around forever and my ritual would go on, never changing. How wrong I was! Vinyl gave way to CD’s, and these then gave way to mp3’s and now we’re in the era of the Spotify playlist. The rituals to find new music and get your hands on music before others has changed, yet good music remains good music and around the world teenagers still continue to do some quite stupid things. Through this digitally disruptive period we’ve also seen record company and artist profits fall. For a certain age group getting new music is linked to piracy. Napster, the first widely used P2P service started the trend and even though it got shut down the cat was definitely out of the bag.
But things are changing – for the first time since Napster the record industry posted an increase in revenue for three consecutive years. People seemed to have warmed up to the idea of signing up for a streaming service such as Spotify or Apple Music. Even better news for artists and producers is the Music Modernization Act that’s been signed into law in the US. This new law alters the way artists and producers are paid by streaming services in favour of the artists. Musicians who recorded songs before 1972 are ensured royalty payments through streaming services as part of the new act. Music creators are finally starting to get compensated fairly when their music is used by digital and satellite music services. Great news we say!
We at SendMusic also aim to help music industry professionals from all walks of music come together. Whether your an artist, a producer, an A&R, a label owner… Well anyone to be honest – if you want to share, collaborate, update and send music more simply and faster than any other site give SendMusic a try! We also give you amazing tools, to do things like let you set your music links to only stream or download, the icing on the cake is we let you create a special short-link (send.mu/) under which you collate all your social and merch links. You can then paste this link anywhere, i.e. your Instagram bio and people are taken to a landing page that contains all the links you’ve added. Take a look at mine to see what I mean:
So the rituals to get your hands on music have in fact changed and we’re helping that change happen, come and join us and create your own rituals too!
A warm welcome to you from us here at SendMusic. We’ll introduce ourselves properly over the course of these next few blog posts but first, let’s get down to business! We’re really excited to be launching SendMusic as we think it’ll greatly enhance your workflow and productivity. SendMusic makes working with the music files you send and receive simpler, faster and more effortless – regardless of the platform you use, regardless if it’s mobile or desktop. There’s more, SendMusic is also a tool for organising ALL your social links in one place… Don’t have time for a website? Can’t be bothered setting up a landing page? We’ve got you covered!
“So how does it work” we hear you ask? SendMusic has two main ingredients that make up our very unique hot sauce:
1 – You can send music files and any other file types, (including very large files up to 3GB on our free account), using SendMusic REALLY easily – it’s literally drag and drop onto the homepage.
When you upload a file you can set it to either Stream only or Download. The site generates a link to all of the music file or files you have uploaded and emails this to your recipient. Full previews are available for all uploaded files. This makes SendMusic really useful for listening to the music you receive on the go, without having to download it first to your hard drive.
You also have an option to set how long you want the generated link to expire in, which can be 1 day or 1 week (or 1 month if you sign-up for a free SendMusic account). If you do sign-up you also get access to an inbox which contains all the files you have both sent and received. If multiple files are sent and you have set the “Allow” option to Download, the user can download all the files they receive really quickly as a .zip as well as going through them individually. When the receiver listens to the file you’ve sent you also get an email telling you the file has been listened to – pretty cool right!
To sum up you can:
- Drag & Drop files onto SendMusic
- Add the email address of who you’d like to receive your music
- Set the files to Stream only or Download
- Decide how long until the file expires – 1 day or 1 week (or 1 month with a free account)
- Press Send and we’ll send an email to your recipient letting them know they’ve got music!
- Send more than one file and it turns up as a playlist
- Send more than one file to download and you can easily download everything as a zip file
That’s the music part covered… but there’s more:
2 – SendMusic is also built to promote you and your music by organising all your social links in one location and making your online presence more uniform and centralised. Just generate your own ‘send.mu/YOUR NAME’ short-link within the platform and add any sites or pages you want associated with you or your brand here. Latest releases, videos, playlists, merch store, live dates, radio shows – plus all your social links if you want them… anything you want to share with the world or promote, just add a link to it!
You can then place this short-link anywhere you like and when people click on it they will be directed to all of the sites and pages associated with you or your brand, all in one central location. It’s so much simpler and coherent than having numerous sites and pages littered around the web!
As an example I’ve generated my own shortlink – ‘send.mu/PaL’ and added it to my Instagram bio and Twitter bio. Someone could then click on my short-link and either send me music or check out my Instagram, Soundcloud or Twitter page. How great is that for an artist, producer, musician or record label who might want people to send them demos or also check out their playlist on Spotify? Or maybe you want to buy tickets to their gig or see what merch they’ve got available? Now you can do all of this – all from one place! We haven’t thought about all the people who could utilise this function fully or all the uses as they are innumerable… but we’re eager to find out 🙂
So, why don’t you give it a try yourself? Try sending some music to your friends here – https://send.mu
You can also check out my short-link here: send.mu/PaL and send me some music or comment on my awful Instagram photos! You can generate your own short-link also!
Ultimately this is a product for people in or around music, made by people in the music industry. We’d love for you to give SendMusic a try. If you have any feedback, positive or negative please do drop me a line at [email protected] and we’ll take it on board. We have lots of great new features coming and some awesome people and artists already using the site. Please subscribe to our newsletter if you haven’t already done so and once again, thanks for joining us on the start of this journey! We’re really grateful you joined us…