In the past, digital start-ups frequently approached the music industry with tech solutions to problems that didn’t exist for most artists and labels. That paradigm has seemingly shifted in the past few years, and now the solutions being brought forth by tech companies are helping to alleviate certain stresses and strains on the music industry. On this episode, we’re highlighting new tech companies like Ursa Music, Corite, and Pitch who are creating new revenue streams for artists and labels, rather than cannibalizing the old ones and taking a cut.
Twenty years ago, Syd Butler started Frenchkiss Records, after his band Les Savy Fav couldn’t find a home at the prominent labels of the time. Fast forward up until today, Syd’s now part of Seth Meyer’s 8G Band, the label is still going strong, and Les Savy Fav is still playing shows. On this episode, Syd joins us to talk about the label’s triumphs and tribulations over the course of the last two decades, as does Craig Finn, who’s bands The Hold Steady and Lifter Puller have enjoyed success under the Frenchkiss umbrella.
Several high profile artists moved away from sampling in the late 90’s, after a smattering of lawsuits were brought against artists like De La Soul, Biz Markie, 2 Live Crew, etc. for the use of unauthorized samples in some of their biggest hits. As a result, the familiar sounds of hip-hop, pop, and electronica changed dramatically in the decades that followed, as people were both scared off of sampling, and/or confused by the myriad of clearances and fees needed to sample legally. To solve this dilemma, Tracklib has stepped into the arena to act as both a clearinghouse, and conduit between sample based producers and the companies that own both sides of the material that producers want to use in their derivative works.
Under the current distribution model, labels and rights holders typically only get paid once a month by their distributor, and those payouts are often for streams and downloads that occurred well before the pay period. In an era where artists and labels are able to see nearly real-time usage data for their catalog, these delays in payment have made rapid growth difficult in some cases, and now there are companies stepping in with solutions. On this episode, we speak with Bruno Guez of Revelator and Daniel Dewar of Paperchain about their efforts to increase the liquidity of assets for rights holders by advancing payments to them based upon their catalog’s performance on DSP’s.
The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019, or C.A.S.E. Act, is currently making its way through Congress, and it stands to have a significant impact on musicians and labels across the country. As it stands now, if you’re a musician who’s had their music used without a license, your only recourse is to go to a federal copyright court to defend your claim of ownership, which often costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in court and attorney(s) fees, and you must travel to D.C. for the hearing. The C.A.S.E. Act seeks to change that reality by creating a small claims court, that would be much more accessible to artists and labels, both financially and physically, since proceedings can happen remotely.
Like every other role in the music industry, the face of management is changing to meet the current needs of artists. With fewer and fewer labels investing in artist development, the work of building a team up around an artist has started to land more and more on the shoulders of managers. In our exploration of this topic, we speak with Brian Dubb of Centralized.me, who has developed a web based “virtual management” application that helps developing artists manage themselves, as well as Adina Friedman who works for the management company, “Friends At Work.”