The idea of so-called compulsory licensing has been getting attention lately, because songwriters feel they’re being underpaid for their work. But having compulsory licensing makes the music business more efficient and serves a social good, according to Casey Rae of the Future of Music Coalition. “After all, what would the world be like if Patsy Cline had never recorded ‘Crazy’ by Willie Nelson,” he writes in a blog post.
In this episode of the Music Business Podcast, we talk with Casey Rae, who is the CEO of the Future of Music Coalition, a non-profit research, education, and advocacy organization for musicians. We talk to Rae about the need for transparency amongst streaming companies and why it’s important to artists.
There are a number of reasons for the inaccessibility of this information, one of which is the frequent sale of individual works and entire catalogs and the infrequent recordation of these sales. Further, in recent years there has been a proliferation, particularly in pop music, of songs with many writers, each of whom generally owns a share of the work, making it difficult for potential licensees without great knowledge of music licensing to determine whose permission they need for a certain use. The Future of Music Coalition illustrated this point using a hit song by Flo Rida that had 13 writers who were represented by a total of 17 publishers.
This month, on the eve of a headlining performance at Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival, the rock band Wilco released a surprise new LP entitled Star Wars, making it available for free download through the band’s official website, in exchange for an email address (it’s also available for free though leading digital retailers iTunes and Amazon).
After we’d all had a few days to listen, the band followed up with an emailed note to everyone who downloaded the album:
[…]Now a bit of background… We consider ourselves lucky to be in the position to give you this music free of charge, but we do so knowing not every band, label or studio can do the same. Much of the “music business” relies on physical sales to keep the lights on and the mics up. Without that support, well, it gets tougher and tougher to make it all work.
With the many headlines that have been seen over the past couple years regarding streaming services and artist revenue-related topics, even the casual music fan and average U.S. citizen may have begun to wonder what is going on behind-the-scenes of the music business as it relates to these topics. […]
Kristin Thomson, the Co-Director of the US-based non-profit Future of Music Coalition’s Artist Revenue Streams research project, has shared her perspective as representative of FMC which has covered the measure in depth: read more
“Is there any limit to Taylor Swift’s power?” Tim Lordan asks.
It’s just before 1 p.m. this past Friday, and Lordan — the executive director of the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee — is moderating a Capitol Hill panel discussion on the public policy of music streaming. With just hours to go before the weekend, he’s assembled a group of experts to answer a playful and provocative question: between Swift and Congress, who has a greater effect on the streaming industry?
[…]“(Streaming) is not about demand or the Internet being good or bad, it’s more about the value we put into it and how to foster what we get out of it to make sure some of it gets back to the creators,” Future of Music Coalition CEO Casey Rae said.
Rae says streaming also raises important questions about access to art as more and more music, movies, TV and other art is distributed online: Who gets to put a price tag on culture?
“If you’re paying more than $100 for an Internet connection and more for mobile plan, how much money does someone have for a streaming subscription?” Rae said. “There are bigger questions about the economics of cultural production that haven’t been resolved, and streaming is one of them.”
[…]But, as The Future of Music Coalition reports, independent music labels deserve some of the credit for Apple’s reversal as well. “It wasn’t just Taylor Swift,” Casey Rae of the Future of Music Coalition told NPR. “There was a huge chunk of the indie label community that was simply not willing to let Apple have a free pass.”