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My Music Royalties Were Stolen, What’s My Recourse?—DMN Asks Exploration Group’s Alexander Baynum

Step into the pulse of the music industry as our very own Alexander Baynum, Director of US Operations, sits down with Digital Music News to tackle the challenges jeopardizing transparency and accurate payments. In the ongoing battle against fraud—from false royalty claims to automated bot streaming—this discussion unveils the relentless efforts behind the scenes.

And next week, Alexander will be part of an online webinar hosted by Digital Music News, where the panel will delve into fraud prevention and liability reduction in the music industry. Some of the key topics to be explored during this session include the impact of inaccurate payments from public performances on the industry and the alarming issue of millions in royalties being stolen through false copyright claims.

  • Digital Music News’ Webinar ‘Missing Payments? A Look at Loss Prevention and IP Protection In Music'
  • January 24 | 11 am PT / 2 pm ET (3 hours runtime with Q&A session)

  • In this newsletter:

    The 12th annual She Rocks Awards takes place next Thursday, January 25, 2024, in the Anaheim Convention Center Ballroom.

    The MLC has issued notices of intent to audit Digital Service Providers that began operating under the compulsory blanket license administered by The MLC in 2021. This audit period spans from January 1, 2021, to December 31, 2023, covering the first three years of The MLC's full operations.

    A new initiative to certify generative AI companies that train their models on licensed content has launched. Called Fairly Trained, it was founded by ex-Stability AI exec Ed Newton-Rex, who stepped down last year in protest at its standpoint on the need to gain licenses from content owners.

    Now, the details...

    Exploration Weekly - January 19, 2024
    Compiled by Ana Berberana

    She Rocks Awards Tickets on Sale Now

    Founded in 2012 by the Women’s International Music Network, the She Rocks Awards honors trailblazing women from all areas of the industry– from educators, to label execs, manufacturers, non-profits, media, performers, engineers, and more. Get your tickets now for the star-studded event during the NAMM Show. The 12th annual She Rocks Awards takes place next Thursday, January 25, 2024, in the Anaheim Convention Center Ballroom, on the 3rd floor. The evening will recognize women who stand out as innovators and role models in the music industry. Those who are unable to attend in person can stream the She Rocks Awards online. Lydsey Parker returns to host the red carpet. Honorees include Debbie Gibson, Lindsey Stirling, Britt Lightning, Bonnie McIntosh, Kelsy Karter, Holly G, Sylvia Massy, Lindsay Love-Bivens, Melinda Newman, Laura Karpman and Jamie Deering. Opening performance by Jimena Fosada and hosted by Susanna Hoffs and AIJIA. Get your tickets here.

    The MLC Issues Notices of Intent to Audit Spotify and Other DSPs to Verify the Accuracy of Their Royalty Payments

    The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC) has issued notices of intent to conduct audits of Digital Service Providers (DSPs) that started operating under the compulsory blanket license administered by The MLC in 2021. According to a press release issued on Wednesday (January 17), the audit period includes usage under the blanket license that occurred between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2023 – the first three years of The MLC’s full operations. The MLC says it has sent audit notices to nearly 50 DSPs, including music streaming services Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple Music and others. Established by the landmark Music Modernization Act (MMA), the MLC is a nonprofit entity designated by the United States Copyright Office to develop and administer a mechanical licensing system that launched on January 1, 2021. The MLC is responsible for collecting and distributing royalties payable to songwriters and copyright owners by digital music services, and for the creation of a first-of-its-kind, public database that will contain critical copyright information on all musical works. In October, The MLC announced that it has distributed more than $1.5 billion in royalties to date. By sending audit notices to both the United States Copyright Office and DSPs, The MLC says that it is exercising a “key right granted by Congress” in the MMA. This right enables The MLC to conduct audits of DSPs operating under the blanket license to ensure the DSPs have accurately reported and paid royalties. According to The MLC, conducting audits represents an additional way that it can ensure the accuracy of the usage reports and royalty payments submitted by DSPs.

    Former Stability Exec Ed Newton Rex Launches Fairly Trained AI Certification

    Ed Newton Rex, the former VP Of Audio at Stability AI who resigned over the company's position on fair use, has launched Fairly Trained, a new initiative that will certify generative AI companies with “training data practices that respect creators’ rights". The scheme has the backing of a number of copyright owners, including music companies Universal Music and Concord. There is an ever-growing dispute between the tech sector and the copyright industries, including the music industry, over the copyright obligations of AI companies. The music industry is adamant that if a company trains a generative AI model with existing music, they must get permission from the relevant copyright owners. However, many tech companies argue that AI training is covered by copyright exceptions in at least some countries and, under US law, constitutes fair use, which means that no permission is required. That includes Stability AI, even though its music product, which Newton Rex oversaw, was training with licensed music. "There is a divide emerging between two types of generative AI companies”, says a blog post launching Fairly Trained, “those who get the consent of training data providers, and those who don’t”. However, “right now it’s hard to tell which AI companies take which approach".Fairly Trained, it goes on, aims to change that by offering a number of certifications. The first to be made available is called Licensed Model Certification, “which can be awarded to any generative AI model that doesn’t use any copyrighted work without a license”. At launch, nine AI companies have been awarded the mark, covering image, music and singing voice generation. They are: Beatoven.AI, Boomy, BRIA AI, Endel, LifeScore, Rightsify, Somms.ai, Soundful and Tuney.

    European Parliament Backs Music Streaming Royalty Changes

    The European Parliament has voted by a resounding margin in favor of changes to the music streaming economy. 532 MEPs voted for and just 61 against a resolution (33 abstained) that includes a series of proposed changes. They include “fair pay for authors”, which in this case is defined as revising “pre-digital royalty rates” as well as shooting down “payola schemes that force authors to accept lower or no revenues in exchange for greater visibility”. The resolution also called for European musical works to be “visible, prominent and accessible” on streaming services, with a hint at potential quotas to enforce this. The MEPs also want DSPs to “make their algorithms and recommendation tools transparent” and to add labels to any tracks that are AI-generated. European indies body Impala has welcomed the vote, with executive chair Helen Smith saying its call for modern digital rates is preferable in her members’ eyes to “so-called new ‘equitable remuneration’ rights which some parts of the sector are calling for”. CMOs umbrella body Gesac also welcomed the vote, calling it “a strong signal of recognition and understanding of the needs of creators”.

    Germany Generated 213 Billion Streams in 2023 - 12% More Than in 2022

    The volume of streams generated in Germany hit 213 billion last year. That’s according to new data published today (January 18) by GfK Entertainment and German Music Industry Association (BVMI), which report that the volume of streams in the market in 2023 was up 12% versus 2022 when 191 billion streams were achieved. According to Dr. Mathias Giloth, Managing Director of GfK Entertainment, a new record was set on Christmas Eve (December 24, 2023) for the most streams ever in a single day in Germany, with almost 830 million streams generated that day alone. BVMI/GfK’s report is based on paid and advertising-supported streams lasting 31 seconds or more for the period January to December 2023. BVMI reports that the number of total streams generated in Germany, the world’s fourth-largest recorded music market, has almost doubled within five years. In 2019 there were 108 billion streams. BVMI notes that if you add up all the data since it started recording streaming volumes in 2013, the streams now add up to over a trillion. BVMI reports that “current music” is “particularly popular” with listeners in Germany. According to the report published today, music produced in the 2020s contributed more than half (52%) of all streams in Germany last year. Songs from the 2010s accounted for 30% of all streams in Germany in 2023, while the 2000s accounted for 8% of total streams. The previous decades totaled a combined 10%.

    Random Ramblings

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