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What is a Producer & Audio Engineer?

Behind every good song and album, there was a team of people that came together to create something special. When you listen to a song you might not think of how complex the process was to get it to where you are listening to it at. Creating music is a rewarding challenge. Songwriters, recording artists, composers, producers, and audio engineers put their all into creating something for the listener to enjoy. Producers and audio engineers manage the creative elements of the technical process of recording the song or album.

Our guide explains who is a producer, what a producer does, and why a producer is so important. The term producer often gets tied in with audio engineer; while they have many similarities, these two individuals have different roles within the music industry and the progress of creating music.

In this newsletter:

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers has submitted new comments on artificial intelligence to the Copyright Office, addressing the arguments of AI and tech companies including Anthropic.

German song rights society GEMA and global record industry trade group IFPI have both welcomed the outcome of last week’s negotiations around the EU AI Act, with key transparency obligations remaining in the latest draft.

The UK Parliament put the spotlight back on creator remuneration in music again this morning, prompting the Council Of Music Makers to call on MPs and government to help get industry discussions around how streaming money is shared out “back on track”.

Now, the details...

Exploration Weekly - December 15, 2023
Compiled by Ana Berberana

ASCAP Doubles Down on Support for ‘Direct Voluntary Licensing,’ Right of Publicity Expansion in New Copyright Office AI Comments

ASCAP just recently filed this more concise reply, having laid out in detail its position on and concerns about the unprecedented technology roughly one month ago. These remarks (like those from the aforementioned Anthropic, AI music generator Boomy, and several others) were delivered in connection with the Copyright Office’s August 30th request for comment on AI and copyright. Somewhat surprisingly, ASCAP’s latest submission doesn’t focus on the prevalent claim that training AI systems on protected materials constitutes fair use. Rather, the text centers on three main points, the first being the broader importance of direct licensing for creators. (An ASCAP representative later told us that the organization had contested the fair use arguments in an earlier filing). “[A]rmchair speculations about the efficiency of licensing do not justify a rampant disregard for creators’ rights,” the PRO relayed of certain parties’ opposition to licensing. “As they have done countless times in the past, licensing models will adapt to the evolving technical environment to ensure that creators are compensated for the use of their intellectual property.” Behind the stance, ASCAP also took aim at the idea “that the sheer volume of training data required for developing AI tools generally precludes direct voluntary licensing.” And in support of the point, the non-profit cited Boomy, or an AI platform “developed exclusively on the basis of fully licensed or otherwise legally obtained materials.” Next, ASCAP emphasized that AI, contrasting “innovations like sound mixing, autotune,” and more, “poses the very real threat of supplanting—rather than supporting—human creativity.” “No previous technology can do what generative AI has made possible: generating new content; near autonomously; at large scale; instantaneously; and at a level of quality that is increasingly indistinguishable from human work,” the organization spelled out. “The resulting threat to creators’ livelihoods is not idle speculation, but a real and growing phenomenon.”

Music Industry Cautiously Welcomes Outcome of Last Week's EU AI Act Talks

Music industry groups have cautiously welcomed the outcome of last week's negotiations around the European Union's AI Act following concerns that transparency obligations in the new regulations would be watered down. The version of the act in place following last week's talks is "a step in the right direction" and contains the "essential principles", say reps for the music community, though things need to be further refined at a technical level. For the music industry, the transparency obligations in the act are particularly important, with copyright owners wanting AI companies to be fully transparent about what data has been used to train their AI models, and for AI-generated content to be clearly labeled. With the act now in the final phase of negotiation, it was known that the governments of certain EU member states, following fierce lobbying from the tech sector, were keen to relax some of those obligations. However, on Friday, the European Parliament and EU Council confirmed that a provisional agreement had been reached, saying that "it was agreed that general purpose AI systems, and the GPAI models they are based on, will have to adhere to transparency requirements as initially proposed by Parliament”. These include “drawing up technical documentation, complying with EU copyright law and disseminating detailed summaries about the content used for training”.

Music-Makers Urge MPs to Help Get Creator Remuneration Discussions "Back on Track"

The UK's Council Of Music Makers has urged MPs to "hold the music industry's feet to the fire" in order to ensure ongoing issues around streaming remuneration are addressed. The call came as Parliament's Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee again put the spotlight on creator remuneration at a hearing this morning. In a statement, the CMM - which brings together five organizations representing music-makers and their managers - said: "It's been over two years since the CMS Select Committee called for a complete reset of the UK's music streaming business to address a wide range of market dysfunctions. Their groundbreaking report brought the entire industry to the table for the first time”. “Despite some progress on improving data and transparency, the most contentious issues around music-maker remuneration are yet to be explored”, it went on. “This is an intolerable situation for the UK's artists, songwriters, musicians and producers. We urgently need MPs and the government to help get industry discussions back on track, so that together we can deliver solutions in 2024”. The Select Committee made its call for a "complete reset" of the digital music business in 2021 at the end of an inquiry into the economics of music streaming. In response, the UK government's Intellectual Property Office kickstarted three strands of work seeking industry-led solutions to issues around metadata, transparency and remuneration. As a result, an industry code on metadata was launched earlier this year, and another focused on transparency is expected in the new year. However, there has been much less progress on remuneration issues. For the CMM, those remain the biggest issues. And they are the issues that MPs returned to earlier today at a session that included input from Nile Rodgers and VV Brown.

Spotify to Stay Live in Uruguay After Government ‘Clarification’

Spotify will NOT be pulling out of Uruguay due to new legislation bringing in ‘equitable remuneration’ [ER] for musicians and other creators. The streaming service announced last month that it would shut down on 1 January in Uruguay, spurring the country’s president to launch talks in an effort to resolve the situation. It is now resolved, and in Spotify’s favor. “The clarification to the recent changes in music copyright law means that the rightsholders – to whom Spotify already pays roughly 70% of every dollar it generates for music – should be responsible for these costs,” is how Spotify described its deal. An article from El Observador offers some independent context, noting that the clarification also affects video streaming services including Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO Max. It also breaks down the articles of the regulatory decree, including the potential use of an arbitration court if there is a ‘discrepancy’ between performers and producers (artists and labels in our industry’s case) in the royalties. There will also be a commission created by the Uruguayan ministry of industry, energy and mining to discuss the ‘charging percentages’ for rightsholders.

UK Music Licensing Company PPL Paid Out Over $61M to Performers and Recording Rightsholdes in Q4

UK music licensing company PPL paid out £48.7 million (approx $61.9m) to over 137,000 performers and recording rightsholders in its final quarterly distribution of the year – a new high for its December payment. PPL reports that the £48.7 million represents a 13% rise from the £43.2 million paid out in December 2022. This includes collections from the use of recorded music in the UK and overseas. PPL now has 113 agreements with overseas counterparts, with new partnerships signed recently with RAYS (Azerbaijan) and ISAMRA (India). More than 12,500 non-featured performers from the UK and around the world also received supplementary remuneration for Copyright Term Extension, from recordings released between 1963 and 1971 – the ninth year PPL has administered such payments. Also included in this Q4 payment is revenue from PPL’s sister company VPL, which licenses music videos when they are played in public or broadcast on TV. PPL CEO Peter Leathem OBE said: “Administering our highest ever December payment, particularly from more of our international counterparts than ever before, is the perfect way to end 2023.

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