Podcasting – Why Aren’t The Artist’s Getting Paid?August 30, 2019
Electronic music is currently in a state of emergency with the increasing popularity of streaming platforms and decreased physical download sales.
Artists and record labels fear for its future and there is an overall concern about the longevity of the music itself.
Whilst this is something that has been on the horizon for some time, adapting to streaming is proving more difficult than originally anticipated. Now stringent measures are being implemented and unlicensed streaming – copyright infringement is greatly under the microscope.
Thousands upon thousands of artists/labels music are streamed across the net each month without any formal registration, an account of activity and certainly no royalties paid. It is amazing the extent of it compared to say the opposite scale of digital DL sales, which are boarding extinction.
The new Internet law – Article 13 is around the corner, which will enforce the streaming portals liable for the content hosted on their platforms rather than the user who uploaded it. It is very similar to the crackdown on Napster many years ago where Napster was held liable for providing the platform that enabled people to share illegally.
In regards to electronic music which has always been format dependent, it’s now become majorly important that all streams are accounted for correctly, fully licensed and royalties are paid no matter how small. Without this, the industries artists and labels will further decrease into what was history rather than progression.
Electronic music has already been hit badly by streaming and now needs care and attention.
OK – If we look where the majority of new unlicensed / UN accounted electronic music is streamed, it’s in the form of Podcasts & DJ mixes etc – rather than single track uploads. There is a huge amount of unlicensed podcast type mixes on Soundcloud, Youtube and more alarmingly on platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify.
How can this happen?
Well, essentially portals like Youtube & Soundcloud are demanding that the uploader is using content they either own or have a license/permission to use. One reason for this is, well they don’t become liable for the content, they don’t have to pay any royalties or any license fees – hence nothing is paid.
Both these portals do have content ID checking that can block the use of unlicensed copyright and it is effective to a degree but heaps slip through.
Youtube also tracks content ID and allocates monetising but it very blurred and not accurate unless the owner uploads the content and adverts are placed on it.
Soundcloud boasts that artist/labels can monetise and be paid for their content – but again this only works if the owners are uploading and not 3rd parties like DJs.
Ok, so how do heaps of unlicensed & unaccounted music end up on Spotify & Apple Music, these two portals have huge audiences, many paid subscriptions and surely, they wouldn’t allow it? Well in the future, they will be forced not to but as it stands, yet.
Both Spotify & Apple Music – allow Podcast on their platforms, such as chat shows, topical discussion, or in terms of Electronic music its DJ mix shows & label shows. Once again neither Spotify or Apple music accept license responsibility for the content within these Podcasts, they don’t register the content or pay royalties for it.
Their end-user agreement with the uploader is very clear and much like Soundcloud – you must own the content you are uploading or have permission/license. In the majority, this is ignored by the podcaster and the music is uploaded unregistered, UN accounted and no royalties paid. Also, neither of these portals have any form of audio detection for Podcasts that auto takedowns copyright infringements.
Ok – are there better options?
Mixcloud is one portal that is fully licensed, they accept any music, promote tracklists and use audio fingerprinting to track and trace the content of the music uploaded.
When you upload to mixcloud you don’t need a license because you fall under theirs and they are responsible for the royalties, accounting to labels, artist distribution and publishers. It is also free to use – yes free.
For obvious reasons economically and morally it makes Mixcloud a preferred choice, however, it’s not as popular as the other platforms and needs more leading artists, DJs and podcaster to favour its use over others.
There is an argument that regardless of where a podcast is uploaded, even unlicensed its promotional value for the artist/labels music used? This is true to a certain extent but unlike the days of vinyl or early digital, in the modern digital domain it is not as effective and that is why it is increasingly important for streaming to be consumed via fully licensed sources.
What can we do – what positive action can we take?
Regular Podcasters – DJ mix show uploaders could be more mindful of the issues and portals they choose to upload.
If any are considering moving to Mixcloud – there are migration tools available for moving shows to say Mixcloud as a platform.
Considering there will be more forced takedowns from portals that cannot or will not accommodate licensing when article 13 is implemented and publishers crackdowns, it could be a good time to address this now.
As music fans or social media users – we could be more careful sharing unlicensed music links – maybe ask yourself before you share it, is it a legal link?
Is this an unlicensed podcast link i.e. on Soundcloud, Youtube, a Podcast on Spotify or Apple music?
If links are single tracks or EPs – check who uploaded it, was it the artist, the label, or somebody who doesn’t own it before sharing it.
Words – Iconic Underground & Artist Sustain