Music Licensing
Jay Z Has Pulled His Catalog From Spotify
Category: Music Licensing

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 11: Jay-Z attends 2017 Roc Nation Pre-Grammy Brunch at Owlwood Estate on February 11, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ari Perilstein/Getty Images for Roc Nation)

This weekend, Jay Z fans around the world found themselves in a bit of an odd situation when they went to listen to the media mogul online. The rapper has removed much of his catalog from Spotify, the world’s most popular streaming service, and so far, it’s not entirely clear why.

The hip-hop star has always had his extensive discography available for streaming on the platform, but this weekend, something changed, and now only a few items are left. Hit singles that feature the industry titan, such as his collaborations with Kanye West as The Throne and tracks fronted by other acts that feature Jay are still playable, but all of his solo studio albums have vanished. Fans can still listen to his joint albums, such as two he recorded with R. Kelly and a mashup EP he and Linkin Park released in the early aughts, but none of his own records are playable.

Interestingly, if the goal was to make fans miss his biggest singles, that might not wind up happening, as many of them are still playable, despite the fact that the albums they were initially released on are not. Jay’s 2010 compilation The Hits Collection Volume One, which features popular songs like “Run This Town,” “Encore,” “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “99 Problems” and plenty of others that his most ardent supporters would likely miss the most, is still streamable.


This aversion to Spotify is new for Jay, who despite owning and operating a competitor, hasn;t focused on publicly fighting against the Swedish streaming giant. While the rapper’s camp hasn’t yet commented on the move, it appears that the hip-hop legend is trying to give his millions of fans another reason to at least check out his Tidal service, where his music is still available. The company has been struggling ever since it launched a few years back, as it has only managed to sign up about three million paying users, which pales in comparison to Spotify’s 50 million.

It is also possible that Jay is following in pop star Taylor Swift’s footsteps and that the removal of his content is his way of protesting the company’s free, ad-supported tier, which some big-name acts have complained about. Spotify recently revealed that it will begin windowing some new albums in the near future, only allowing paying subscribers to listen for the first two weeks, but for Jay Z, that might not be enough, and he may not want anybody listening to his creations for free. By pulling much of his music from Spotify, Jay could be telling the world that if they want to hear many of his chart-toppers, they are going to have to pay for that pleasure.



The music industry is on the rebound thanks to paid streaming
Category: Music Licensing

The music industry is growing once again thanks to paid streaming services. This year, the industry is on target to bring in the most revenue since the mid-2000s. If the numbers hold, 2016 will be the first time the music industry has seen its revenue increase year over year since the late '90s.


In the first half of 2016, the industry pulled in over $1 billion from paid streaming subscriptions. That’s basically already matching the $1.2 billion in revenue the industry collected from paid streaming in all of 2015, according to a midyear report released by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Paid subscriptions have grown to 18.3 million in the first half of 2016, doubling the total from this time last year, and up from 13 million in December. That growth has helped offset the continued decline of physical media — including vinyl, which was an industry favorite last year but is down 9 percent — and is just shy of closing the fiscal gap with digital downloads, with single and album sales topping paid streaming revenue by some $60,000.


RIAA 2016 mid-year report


It’s clear that paid streaming subscriptions are rapidly becoming the future of the music industry, and the segment's rapid growth is exceeding what many in the industry have expected. But how exactly is the music industry getting people to convert from free streaming services to paid ones? Micah Singleton and Ben Popper sat down to discuss the shift.


Ben Popper: To me this feels like the music industry is succeeding despite itself. They have not stopped demonizing services like YouTube and Spotify in the press, and yet those same companies are the ones fueling the one bright spot in an otherwise shrinking business. They also had a big boost from Apple, which has the cash to subsidize record labels, both by paying artists for exclusives and by moving away from free, ad-supported streaming. I don’t think either of those trends are good for consumers, who have less choice when it comes to what they can listen to and how they pay for it.

Micah Singleton: I’d argue that Apple has been the one leading the charge for paid streaming, given the huge marketing push the company has put behind Apple Music and the artists who have done exclusive deals with the service, like Drake and Chance The Rapper. And yes, the lineup of exclusives from Apple Music and Tidal haven’t been great for consumers who just want to pay someone $10 a month to listen to everything, but I don’t think this is the permanent future of the music industry. It seems like Apple and Tidal to a lesser extent are just using these exclusives to hopefully attain some sort of positive revenue flow. Once that happens they will taper off, but that time frame is still unclear.


Source =

“Panda” Producer Menace Signs Publishing Deal
Category: Music Licensing
Tags: Panda desiigner Menace beats dope bass 808 publishing rights deal royalties advance


U.K. producer Menace, who crafted “Panda” in two hours in 2014, inked a publishing deal with Tim Blacksmith’s Stellar Songs. The group has worked with mega stars like Billy Joel, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Elton John, Beyonce and more, so they clearly see potential in the 22-year-old beat maker.


“We obtained one of the best co-pub deals in history and we’re happy that Menace is now under the wings of [Stellar Songs] who has a great track record, working with everyone from Neyo to Rihanna to Sam Smith, and more,” Menace’s manager, Daniel “Bird” Desir, told Karen Civil.

Tim Blacksmith adds, “I’m extremely excited and happy to be working with Menace. I think his talent as a producer is going to be born out even further from what he’s already accomplished with ‘Panda.’ This is just the beginning of his success.”

Read More:

Source Equals:


BiNKBEATS UNRAVELED. Inspiration for the starving artist!
Category: Music Licensing
Tags: Beats Bink Starving Artist Smooth Dope Cool Live Instruments Producer J Dilla Underground Player


Tribute Medley by BiNKBEATS in recognition to another lost body of work by the boom bap king J Dilla!

The Estate of James Yancey has revived J Dilla’s longstanding company PayJay as a functioning imprint to release Dilla’s long lost vocal album, The Diary on April 15th, in conjunction with Mass Appeal Records. Initially intended for release in 2002, The Diary is the final batch of unissued material that Dilla had assembled for release during his lifetime, lending crucial insight into the producer’s prowess and thought process in the period leading up to his break with the major label system and the extremely fertile period that followed (which encompassed the making of the canonical classics Ruff Draft, Jaylib, and Donuts). The Diary features vocal performances by J Dilla, Snoop Dogg, Bilal, Kokane, Frank and Dank, Nottz and Boogie, over production by Dilla, Madlib, Pete Rock, Hi-tek, Nottz, House Shoes, Supa Dave West, Bink! and Karriem Riggins. The album was announced today in an interview with Nas on Zane Lowe’s show on Beats1 with the never-before-heard song “The Introduction.”

Read full article by RAPPCATS.COM here:

Checkout YouTube sensation Binkbeats performing a J. Dilla Live Mixtape for his Beats Unraveled project.


Source Equals:


ESPN Asked to Pay More Than $15 Million Annually to License Ambient Stadium Music
Category: Music Licensing
Tags: entertainment news ESPN music licensing

By Eriq Gardner

In response to ESPN's demand that a New York federal court determine a reasonable license fee for the performance of songs on its cable sports networks, licensing agency BMI is noting the "vast amounts of music played loudly and prominently in stadiums and arenas," ambient noise that is often picked up by the broadcaster's microphones and heard by its viewers.

Although some might assume that the airing of such background music constitutes "fair use" -- see for example ABC's 1978 legal victory over a song played by a band at a televised parade -- determining fair use is a case-by-case process that depends on the specific facts at issue. Thus, BMI says a blanket license that covers incidental and ambient uses is "particularly important."

According to a court filing made by BMI on Tuesday, "Advertisers place a premium on live sporting events... and ambient stadium music is a critical component of the broadcast that allows ESPN to attract viewers by making them feel like they are sitting in the stadium cheering on their favorite team."

The argument aims to rebut ESPN's attempt to get a break on royalty payments that could amount to about $15 million per year.

Last month, ESPN kicked off this rate-setting proceeding by talking how it "unlike typical television networks... acquires music rights through direct licenses."

ESPN still wanted a blanket license that would allow it to use BMI's catalog of approximately 10.5 million published songs, but thought the royalty rate should bear some proportional relationship to the amounts it directly paid songwriters and other publishers. "To date, BMI has refused to quote license fees to ESPN for the License Period that bear any such relationship and instead has insisted on license fees that completely ignore the best available evidence of the value of public performances of music on ESPN," states a petition.

BMI believes this is misleading.

The licensing agency tells the judge that when ESPN makes a direct license, it is interested in getting a specific composition for use in a particular program to be aired at a specific time and often for a limited period of time or number of performances.

BMI touts the benefit of having a blanket license as "insurance against copyright infringement, relief from the need to separately identify each and every composition inserted into its programming, greatly reduced transaction costs, streamlined collection and payment of royalties, and immediate access to the more than 10.5 million works in BMI’s repertoire."

What's more, BMI says there's no easy substitute for the value of the licenses it provides, and believes the direct deals that ESPN is making aren't the best benchmark for value.

Rather, the licensing agency thinks a court is better served by looking at the some 300 BMI blanket licenses made with cable networks since the mid-1990s when a court addressed a petition from Turner Broadcasting. Under those licenses, a "music intensive" network pays 0.9% of gross revenue, a "general entertainment" network forks over 0.375% of gross revenue, and a "news and sports" network pays just 0.1375% of gross revenue. BMI says ESPN generated approximately $11 billion in revenue in 2014, so that's how we arrive at the $15 million-per-year figure above.

Back in 2006, ESPN agreed to 0.1375%, according to the court documents, but requested and received an option where the formula would be adjusted to encompass a "program fee" and an "incidental and ambient uses" fee. The first fee was structured to allow ESPN to decrease its payments as it entered into direct licensing deals with publishers. Allegedly, this required ESPN to report such deals for verification. BMI says that ESPN "flouted its reporting obligations." Further, the program fee was pegged to ESPN's gross revenues for 2004. "Unexpectedly to BMI, ESPN’s actual revenue growth far outstripped that estimate, resulting in ESPN paying below market fees to BMI," writes its lawyer Scott A. Edelman.

As for the music playing loudly and prominently in stadiums and arenas, BMI says it doesn't matter that ESPN is making direct deals. Under its current arrangement, even if ESPN licenses every second of non-ambient music in its programming, it still has to pay the entire "incidental and ambient uses" fee. The parties are said to have recognized the difficulty and cost of directly licensing such music.

BMI might want full value for its catalog, but believes it is appropriate given that ESPN has "greatly increased" its use of ambient music "as the result of the distribution of its programming on its website and other mobile platforms."

Major Vs. Indie: What Really Happens When You Sign A Record Deal
Category: Music Licensing
Tags: Major Indie Record Deal

Major vs. Indie: What really happens when you sign a record deal

Major vs. Indie: What really happens when you sign a record deal

As the recording industry continues to battle against the steady decline of physical album sales, and now steady decline in digital album sales, it can be difficult as an independent musician to determine the best path to take for long-term growth and success.

Ultimately this crossroads is met with three separate avenues:

  1. DIY (Do It Yourself)

  2. Independent Label

  3. Major Label

There are pros and cons to each avenue, which should be weighed carefully against what type of musician / band you are and how you expect to see growth.

DIY Pros and Cons


100% Creative Control: No label means you have complete control over the direction of your music. You also have complete control over your marketing, and the free will to say yes or no to any opportunities that come your way. Simply put, this is the most ideal scenario possible for an artist.

100% Rights Retention: Without a label, any revenue generated from things like album sales and sync licensing deals goes right into your pocket.

Build Your Own Team: While DIY means Do It Yourself, it doesn’t mean do it alone. You are your own boss, so you can surround yourself with the people who share in your vision and have the skills to help you to move your career forward.


Limited Resources: No label means any money for things like recording, distribution, marketing, etc. all come from your pocket.

Limited Network: One of the biggest benefits to a label is the access to their existing network which can open significant doors and create opportunities for you and your music. Without a label, your network can be limited to those who you know directly.

Independent Record Label Pros and Cons


A Team that Believes in Your Music: Indie music labels are smaller companies who are less likely to be pressured by a board of directors to sign a specific sound, or promote a specific look just for success on the charts.

Personal Relationships with Your Team: Independent record labels tend to have much smaller artist rosters, allowing you to get more face-time with your team to discuss things like strategy and execution.

Pro-Artist Contracts: Indie label contracts are known to be more artist-friendly, giving the artist more money for their work through either profit-sharing programs, or simply a larger percentage of revenue than given by the major labels.


Funding: An issue for independent labels, being that they can range so greatly in size and success, is funds. A lack of funding means a smaller budget for recording, production of physical disks, packaging, distribution costs, tour support, merchandise, etc.

Size: Although a smaller size allows artists to form stronger relationships with an indie record label, it also means that the label itself has less influence and reach within the industry.

Major Label Pros and Cons


Funding: Although budgets are not what they used to be, the majors still have far more money for things like marketing and production.

Networking and Connections: Long-standing reach and influence comes with a deep-seeded rolodex of contacts across all aspects of the industry.

Reputation and Influence: Obviously size can make a significant difference when dealing with the biggest names in music. Being signed to a major label has its benefits, in that larger media outlets and bigger opportunities may be more likely to take interest in you.


Significant Turnover: Contrary to popular belief, major labels do sign many artists, but much of what is signed quickly gets turned over and dropped by the label.

Artist Unfriendly Deals: Being that major label record companies are a business, they likely do everything they can do profit as greatly as possibly from their investment in you, your music and your brand. Not only does this mean the possibilities of small royalties, but it means the artist does not get to keep the rights or even the creative control over their music.

What Type of Deal Should you Sign?

What Type of Deal Should you Sign?

If you determine that a label, either an indie or a major, is the right path for you, there are several types of deals that you can sign. Here’s a breakdown of 4 of the most commonly seen:

1. Production Deals

Rather than signing to the label, with a Production Deal you would sign on to work with a specific producer who has an agreement to develop artists within a label. Think of this as an artist development deal. You gain the benefit of working one-on-one with the producer, but you also take a big % cut, as it’s possible with these deals for the producer to take up to 50% of the royalties.

2. Distribution Deals

This type of deal is simple. You are often expected to create and produce your album from start to finish, and then the label helps you to get the product into stores. This deal could include getting music videos, albums, and singles onto the label’s own major digital channels. Most often, this deal includes no advance (payment given up front, used for recording purposes, which is paid back by the artist through album sales), and could take up to 25% of the money generated.

3. Major Label ‘Standard’ Record Deal

Formerly the most common type of deal, this is what most musicians think of when getting ‘signed by a major’. In this deal, the label would be part of the artist development, recording, pressing, distribution, and marketing. And in most cases, the label would pay the artist an advance. Once the advance is paid off, artists commonly receive a royalty rate of up to 15% of revenue generated.

4. The 360 Deal

Seen by many as the future of label deals, this is a new(er) type of deal offered by labels. With a 360 deal, the label gets involved in all (or most) aspects of the artist development, including touring and brand development, in exchange for taking a % of all revenues generated across all channels, not just recorded music. The benefit here is that you have the label’s network and influence to help you generate further revenue opportunities. The downside is the label can dictate all aspects of your career and will take a cut of even more of the money you make.

So Where does the Money Go?

The purpose of signing with a label is of course to record and sell music. Here’s what you can expect as a breakdown of percentages from music sales:

CD - In the making of a CD, here are the key players and the percentage of sales that they get: Artist (6.6%) Producer (2.2%) Songwriters (4.5%) Distributor (22%) Manufacturing (5%) Retailer (30%) Record label (30%).

[VIDEO] How to sell music online with Bandzoogle- CDs & Vinyl Records

ITunes - Selling an album on iTunes has less key players and the percentages are split a bit differently, though the artist doesn’t see much more at the end of the day. Apple takes 30%, and the label collects the remaining 70%, of which they pay out about 12% of their end to the artist (about 8% of the total purchase price of the album).

[VIDEO] How to sell music online with Bandzoogle Part 1- Digital Albums

Which Path Will You Take?

Now that you understand the different paths you can take as a musician, it’s time to weigh the pros and cons and decide which one makes the most sense for you. There is no right answer, it all just depends on where you feel you could use the help and how you can see yourself moving forward most comfortably and effectively in the future.

How To Choose Your Music Distributor
Category: Music Licensing
Tags: Ari's Take


Written by Ari Herstand, originally posted to Ari's Take:

This is the most comprehensive and accurate digital distribution review comparison piece on the web. By far. I checked. Who is the best digital distributor? Read on...
I updated this full report on 11/17/15.

I sat down with reps at 9 different digital distribution companies, CD BabyDistroKid,Ditto MusicLoudrMondotunes,ReverbNationSymphonicTunecore andZimbalam for this review, to get a full in-depth look at each company and for the reps to explain to me their company's best features (that I may have missed scanning their FAQ). Being a musician, I asked them questions I deemed most important for independent musicians. I have distributed 8 releases to date using a few of these services.

This review is just taking a look at companies that will get your music into digital stores and streaming services, like iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, etc and NOT about stand alone, digital download, self-managed stores, like BandCamp.
I also left out distribution companies who only work with labels (like The Orchard). Any artist can signup to any of these distribution companies without having to be approved.

Full disclosure, I should say, I have used CD Baby, Tunecore, DistroKid and Loudr to release my music in the past. I just released my latest album and this piece honestly helped me decide who the best company for this release was.

There is no "winner" necessarily because each company has unique features that may be super important to some artists and not at all to others. Every artist's situation is different.

If you have any questions or have used any of these companies please let me know in the comments below!

On To The Comparison!

(in alphabetical order)

CD Baby Review: 

I spoke with Kevin Bruener, Director of Marketing and a musician himself. He has been at the company for 8 years and worked alongside founder (and music biz icon) Derek Sivers for many years. This is one of the biggest (and the first) independent digital distributors in the world. They have over 330,000 artists signed up to their service.


* Because they have been around for so long, they are proven and aren't going out of business anytime soon (your releases (and reports) are safe).

* They offer physical CD and Vinyl distribution as part of the digital signup price (they will also fulfill (mail out) CD/Vinyl orders for a fee of $4 a pop). They have partnered with Alliance Entertainment, Super D and Amazon to get your CD/record in record stores around the world. You must apply for this feature.

* No yearly fees. Once you signup an album you never pay again for any service (other than publishing).

* iTunes weekly Trend Reports. Still don't get paid for a couple months, but you can see how the new release is doing.

* They also offer their publishing service CD Baby Pro that will link up. I did a full report on that here.
* Only company to collect SoundExchange (Rights Owner) royalties for you. It's a massive process (and headache) to signup as a rights owner (and fill out their catalog spreadsheet). CD Baby covers this for you. You still have to signup as a Featured Artist on your own with SoundExchange, but this cuts a lot of the hassle down.
* They give Ari's Take readers 10% off CD Baby Pro (must be Pro - not just regular distribution). Use promo code "ARISTAKE" at checkout

* They take 9% commission.
* They charge $5 for single UPC or $20 for album UPC. These aren't optional add ons. You can't distribute your album without a UPC - so add on an additional $5/20 for each release. 

DistroKid Review: 
I spoke with the founder, Philip Kaplan about his service. He is a musician and programmed it all himself. He is also the founder of the musician meet up site,Fandalism with over 600,000 musicians signed up. DistroKid is the newest service on the market. It opened up to the public on October 10th, 2013. In it's first year, it already has over 25,000 artists and labels signed up. In the digital distribution field they are quickly becoming a major player. It's a completely different model than all the other digital distributors. They have been recommended by Derek Sivers(founder of CD Baby) and Jeff Price (founder of Tunecore) - who no longer work at the companies.


* Unlimited songs. You heard right. Whether you release 1 song or 1000 songs, it's still $19.99 a year.

* Their website is SUPER clean and simple and you can get started with no headache.
* They clear cover songs and get you a mechanical license (with a check box.. and a fee)

* 2-4 hour upload time to iTunes (if it doesn't get flagged for an audit by iTunes)
* NEXT DAY trending reports for iTunes and Amazon (Spotify coming soon I've heard)

* They do not take commission.

* Email every step of the way. Every step that you complete you will receive an email - including when it's live on the store (only company that does this).
* They give Ari's Take readers 10% off membership. Click here to activate.


* They charge for their "Store Maximizer" feature which automatically adds all your releases to any new store that comes out. Worth noting, you can manually add your releases to new stores (for free), but who is going to keep checking back to see if any new stores are added? Adding releases to new stores should be built in for free. **Update 5-4-15
They do not work with an admin publishing company to collect all of your composition royalties. To collect these, you will need to work with SongTrust or Tunecore Publishing in addition to DistroKid (CD Baby Pro does this, but only for songs distributed through CD Baby)
Extra features prices (like the Store Maximizer) is not clearly stated in their FAQ or their pricing page. It's only on the actual Upload page.
* They charge $.99 PER SONG for Shazam atop the $20 a year
+How To Objectively Pick Your Best Songs (Or Find Out If You Suck)

Ditto Music Review: 

I spoke with Lee Parsons, the co-CEO and co-founder of Ditto Music (his brother is the other co-CEO/founder). He is a musician from the UK (now living in Nashville and heading up the US operations). Because Ditto started in the UK its main focus (and angle) is for UK artists. Anyone in the world can signup, but there is a clear UK focus on the website (just like there is a clear US focus on the other sites). They have about 60,000 total artists (now nearly split evenly US/UK and many coming in from Sweden and Australia). Not the biggest, but definitely large!


* Will distribute up to 10 songs to (just) iTunes for free

* They do not take commission


* Lots of expensive extra services (which are free with other companies).
They do not work with an admin publishing company to collect all of your composition royalties. To collect these, you will need to work with SongTrust or Tunecore Publishing in addition to Ditto (CD Baby Pro does this, but only for songs distributed through CD Baby)
* Customer Service. I've heard from many readers, once you pay for services you never hear from them again. This is more than one isolated incident so I have to mention it. I originally had Customer Service under one of their "Bests" as it is listed on their website that they have won awards here. But unfortunately, I'm moving it to one of their Worsts because of the responses I've received. **Update 7/25/14

* Ditto threatened to sue me for asking a question. They are hiding something. I've heard reports from readers that they cannot get their albums removed from stores and aren't getting paid. STAY AWAY **Update 10/8/14

* After this report came out I've received countless emails from musicians and labels saying how horrible Ditto has been to them. Unpaid royalties. Customer service email turnaround very fast only UNTIL you pay, then you never hear from them again. Missed deadlines. On and on and on. If you care about your music career, DON'T WORK WITH THEM! Review: 

I spoke with the founder, Chris Crawford. The service was created by 8 musicians. This is the 2nd newest service (by 16 days) and launched October 1st, 2013. Chris had a previous distribution company primarily used for A Cappella groups. Loudr's digital distribution service is mainly for cover artists to easily get their music on iTunes. Loudr goes directly to the publishers and gets licenses directly for their artists (instead of the artist having to hunt these down). Chris used to work at iTunes so has "an in" there still and understands it a bit better than most new distribution companies. They have a stand alone download store, similar to BandCamp, which is their main focus, but I felt it was worth to include their digital distribution feature as it's innovative and unique.
**Update 4-27-15: They have recently added a mechanical licensing service so you can obtain a license from Loudr and distribute with other services. 

+How To Legally Release Cover Songs


* No signup fee. You heard right. This is the ONLY company that is free to get unlimited music on iTunes. Whether you're releasing a single or 10 simultaneous albums, it's free.

* Obtains mechanical licenses for your cover songs

* Revenue splitting. If you have multiple artists creating a song together (like collaborations) and all artists are owed revenue from the downloads, they can all sign up for Loudr accounts and Loudr will pay out the respective percentages to each artist. This is especially great for "YouTubers" who constantly collaborate oncover song videos.

* Submission to Pandora. The only company that will submit you directly to Pandora.


* They take 15% commission. (If you want them to work out the mechanical license for US downloads they take 30% commission) 

* Most of their features like iTunes pre-order setup and digital booklet creation you cannot do on the site, you have to work with a support member.

* They only distribute to 7 stores - the fewest of any company
They do not work with an admin publishing company to collect all of your composition royalties. To collect these, you will need to work with SongTrust or Tunecore Publishing in addition to Loudr (CD Baby Pro does this, but only for songs distributed through CD Baby)
MondoTunes Review: 

I spoke with the co-founder Steve Norris, a self proclaimed "serial entrepreneur" and a musician. They do not have direct partnerships with their outlets, but rather work through INgrooves distribution.


* They distribute to the most outlets by far. Other distributors built up direct relationships with retailers over the years, while MondoTunes just teamed up with INgrooves Fontana distribution who had these relationships already.

* They distribute to most Asian countries 


They threatened to sue me for calling out the fake, very pro-MondoTunes (and anti-others) comments on this report. Steve sent me a loooong 8 paragraph email trashing the other services (before I posted this review). The fact that they have to go out of their way to trash others and are so defensive makes me think they are hiding something serious. 

+How To Act Completely Unprofessionally
They do not work with an admin publishing company to collect all of your composition royalties. To collect these, you will need to work with SongTrust or Tunecore Publishing in addition to MondoTunes (CD Baby Pro does this, but only for songs distributed through CD Baby)

* (Up to) 30 days to get on iTunes. Because they're working through another distributor it takes them much longer to get releases out. They have set their release date (by default) to 30 days. Sometimes it's quicker. Sometimes it's longer. If you'd like to have it expedited (1-14 days guaranteed, it costs $25).

* They DO NOT pay 100% of net income (like they claim on their FAQ - awfully misleading). Their distribution partner, INgrooves, takes 10% commission of net income from retailer. They have since updated their FAQ to mention this (only after my initial report came out and made mention of this clear, misleading omission).

ReverbNation Review:

I spoke with reps from ReverbNation twice. First with Ferol Vernon, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Artist Services, when I initially worked on this report (11/2013), and most recently (for the current update 5/2014) I spoke with the CEO, Mike Doernberg.
Vernon and Doernberg are the only ones I spoke with (of the 7) who are not musicians. This, to say the least, rubbed me wrong. Vernon's background is in business and tech. And he is the manager of artist services? He was a nice guy nonetheless. Anyway, ReverbNation is a one stop shop, "all in one package" for new, young musicians. They don't target established musicians and they have built up a huge network of bands just starting off who don't know where to begin (their website boasts 3.56 million). RN tries to keep everything in house (email services, EPK, social media sync, etc), which is great for bands starting off, not good for more established, mid-level bands. They also do not have direct relationships with outlets but use INgrooves Fontana for distribution (like Mondotunes).
Doernberg explained to me more of the vision of ReverbNation and explained they are currently in a company transformation. Since I first posted this initial report, ReverbNation has updated many of their policies, price points and distribution outlets. I guess blogs can make a difference!


* Packages. For $19.95 a month they offer a mailing list service (up to 10,000 subscribers), free song downloads, the ability to submit to opportunities such as TV placements and festival slots, and distribution of 2 releases per year.

* Tons of Data. Because they have so many bands who have registered so many shows, they have a touring database built up (similar to that can help bands find venues of similar size in multiple cities.

* They don't take a commission 


* Everything a band sets up with ReverbNation is branded heavily with ReverbNation. It's hard to operate independently from them in any respect.
They do not work with an admin publishing company to collect all of your composition royalties. To collect these, you will need to work with SongTrust or Tunecore Publishing in addition to ReverbNation (CD Baby Pro does this, but only for songs distributed through CD Baby)

* They are built for the beginning bands and don't offer "professional" services for bands that outgrow the beginning model.

Symphonic Distribution Review:

The newest company to this comparison, however, not the newest company on the list. I added Symphonic because I'd been getting many questions from readers and felt I should check them out. Right off the bat, I'm impressed. I sat down with the founder and president, Jorge Brea. They are another boutique operation (like DistroKid and Loudr) and only have 15 employees. Symphonic is one of the few distribution companies out there that caters more to EDM artists, DJs and Producers (but distributes artists of every genre). Symphonic was started in 2006 by Brea and now has a roster of over 15,000 artists and 3,500 labels.
* They do not take a commission
* No yearly fees
* They distribute to Beatport and Pandora

* Have a deal with the global not-for-profit independent digital rights agency,Merlin, which allows them special preference and benefits like Pandora/Beatport acceptance and higher royalty rates. Merlin bargains on behalf of their 20,000+ members (labels/distributors)
* They offer physical CD and Vinyl distribution (in part, powered by CD Baby). They have also partnered with Alliance Entertainment to get your records in shops around the world (must apply for this - not all are accepted).
* They have an opt-in admin pub service (they use Tunecore Publishing)
* They distribute to China and Korea
* High signup fees
* up to 2-3 weeks to get up in stores 

* They don't distribute cover songs (automatically). Their FAQ actually states they don't. Period. But Jorge mentioned that they will if you write in and send the paper work. This is a lot of work, whereas other companies either do this for you or have a check box.

* Their slogan is "Become Major" which is misleading as every musician equates "major" with "major label."

Tunecore Review:

I initially spoke with Chris Mooney, Senior Director of Artist Promotions and Strategic Relationships. That's a mouthful. They are one of the biggest distributors and he mentioned that 1 in 3 artists playing SXSW this year was a Tunecore artist.
**Update 9/21/15 - Tunecore has been sold to Believe Digital.


* They do not take a commission
* iTunes, Spotify and Amazon MP3 Trend reports. You can see how much you sold on iTunes and Amazon (and streamed on Spotify) THE NEXT DAY. You still don't get paid for a couple months, but this is a great way to see how a release is doing.

*They've been around a long time and are proven. Like CD Baby, they're not going anywhere anytime soon. Your releases (and reports) are safe!

*They have a publishing service linked up that you can read more about here.

+CD Baby Pro vs. Tunecore Publishing (The Full Report)


* Yearly fees

* Additional store costs. Every store they add after you initially sign up costs $2 to send your existing release to them. Or you can signup for their "Store Automator" for $10 per release to distribute to all future stores at no extra cost. Imagine my horror that releases I had with Tunecore from a few years ago were NOT sent out to a bunch of popular (newer) stores and now I owe over $150 to get it to them?! That's great they continue to add stores. It's super shitty they charge for each store. Ouch. No other company does this.

* High fees for most extra features
* They are now owned by Believe Digital. I don't trust Believe after what they did to Zimbalam artists once they acquired Tunecore (they made every UK artist take down all their releases - losing all reviews, ratings and playlists - and redistribute through Tunecore). Whose to say they won't do the same to Tunecore artists down the line for another company they acquire? Or just directly through Believe.

Zimbalam Review:
**Update - 9-13-15 
Zimbalam's parent company, Believe Digital, just bought TuneCore and is shutting down Zimbalam. So, uh, don't use them. Duh.
**Chart updated 1/21/16
Terms from above chart:

+8 Reasons Why Singer/Songwriter Shows Are Boring

Number of Outlets:
It's very tough to get an accurate number from anyone. I got a (somewhat) complete list from Ditto, ReverbNation and Mondotunes, but they claimed they hit more stores than their list stated. All distributors said numbers fluctuate so much because many outlets are sub distributors (like Medianet and 24-7) who send your music to stores they are partnered with. The outlets listed on each distributors' site are just the biggest. Mondotunes has by far the most (they hit most of Asia. Symphonic hits China and Korea). While Ditto seems to be a close second claiming they hit "all stores." It seems CD Baby, Tunecore, Reverbnation and DistroKid send it to about the same places, while Loudr are very clear they only support the ones listed. At some point this numbers game got way too absurd.

More, though, isn't necessarily better. All distributors hit iTunes and Spotify worldwide.

AND REMEMBER, just because you're in more stores doesn't mean you'll make more sales. You have to be able to promote to people who buy from those stores.

How much the company takes of the net amount. Meaning, after iTunes takes their cut of 30%, these stores will take 0-30% of the remaining amount.

Signup Fee:
This is the fee the distributor charges to get your album distributed and covers the first year of distribution.

Yearly Fee:
This is the fee the distributor charges after the 1st year signup fee. CD Baby, Mondotunes, Symphonic and Loudr don't have this, the others do.

Adding Stores:
All of the distributors are constantly bringing on more stores and outlets based on those that rise and fall in popularity (some shut down like and others pop up and take over the industry like Spotify). Only Tunecore charges per store they bring on. DistroKid has a Store Maximizer option to automatically add stores for a fee, or you can login and manually add each new store for free.

+What To Charge For Merch

iTunes Worldwide:
Every distributor sends it to iTunes in 100+ countries. It's important for someone in Venezuela who falls in love with your YouTube video to be able to download it from iTunes.

Speed to iTunes:
Chris at Loudr used to work at iTunes and explained that "there's no guarantee with Apple." However, CD Baby and Zimbalam have proven to Apple that their content is up to Apple standards and they no longer get flagged for review. Apple randomly flags releases for review from all the other retailers and if your album gets flagged it can add an extra 16 days to get to iTunes, HOWEVER, any distributor can ask iTunes to expedite it by simply clicking a button on their end.

Takedown Cost:
The cost to remove your album from all digital retailers. Distributors used to charge for this, but thanks to this report, none do anymore. Boom! The power of transparency!

iTunes Pre-Order:
You know how you can buy some artists' albums on iTunes for about a month before the release date and then get it at 12:01AM the day it's released? That's pre-order. Some companies offer "instant gratification" song(s) that customers can get the moment they pre-order the album. Some also are able to set the pre-order price different than the sale date price (like $7.99 pre-order vs. $9.99 day of).

Youtube content ID monetization program: 
Will you get paid for your songs on YouTube. Be careful, though, no company should take a % of revenue generated from your videos on YOUR channel - both CD Baby and Tunecore's affiliates do. Audiam does not. However, typically you can "whitelist" your channel with most YouTube monetization companies (however you then have to signup for Google's ad service which is a headache).

And to clarify, no company REQUIRES YouTube monetization. These are all opt in add ons. 

+11 Mistakes Every Young Band Makes

Digital Booklet in iTunes:
The ability to offer a PDF booklet that accompanies the album when it's downloaded.

Pandora Submission:
You no longer need a physical CD to submit to Pandora! Hallelujah! Read more about how to submit to Pandora digitally (anyone can) here.

+How To See Your Listener Data On Pandora

Symphonic Distribution is the only company that will submit you directly to Pandora.

Custom Label Name:
All retailers want to know who the label is. If you don't list one, the retailer will most likely default to the distributor name or the artist name. To have control over this create your own label name when distributing.

ISRC / UPC codes:
ISRC codes are identification codes encoded into the digital files (and in your CD - you should send these codes to your mastering engineer) that helps with tracking and charting. To register with Soundscan you need a UPC code. UPC bar codes are also necessary if you want to sell your CD/Vinyl in stores.
+How To Hire Freelance Musicians

Get Codes Before Upload
Some mastering engineers like to encode the CD with the ISRC and UPC codes before sending the CD to replication. This ensures that all digital files will be encoded properly and chart accurately. Not being able to get the codes before you are able to upload the masters inhibits tracking. That being said, with sonic recognition software coming out and very few people importing CDs anymore, it's not super necessary to encode the CD with these codes anymore, so don't let this be the deciding factor on who you choose.

Soundscan Registration:
It's free and super simple to do. Go to to do this. All digital retailers report their sales to Soundscan for chart placement. By registering your UPC on the Soundscan website it insures that the sales are tracked to the proper release (and artist). If your physical CDs are sold in physical stores (remember those?), those stores will report their sales as well based on your UPC code. Worth noting that Ditto's "Chart Breaker Package" registers for worldwide charts (not just Soundscan).

Opt Out of Stores:
Some independent artists have territory specific record deals and cannot distribute their album independently in certain territories (like a deal with Universal UK - not US). It's important to have this flexibility. You never know what lies ahead for your career.

When payment will be in your bank account (or Paypal)

Payment Threshold:
How much you have to have in your distribution account before you can withdraw the money.

iTunes Reporting:
DistroKid, Tunecore, ReverbNation, Zimbalam and CD Baby are the only services that will let you know how your release is doing in iTunes day by day (Tunecore, DistroKid) or week by week (CD Baby, Zimbalam and ReverbNation). All the others will let you know when they get paid from iTunes 6-8 weeks later. Some have added Amazon, Spotify, Deezer trending reports as well. 

Obtain License for Cover Songs:
If you want to releaser a cover you must obtain a license first. It's kind of a headache, but you can do this from Harry Fox Agency, Loudr or Easy Song Licensing. 

+ How To Legally Release Cover Songs

Customer Support Email Turnaround:
I tested all of this

Customer Support Phone:
Sometimes it's important to get a response right away.

Clearly, there is no "best" service. MondoTunes and Ditto, though, are the worst. After MondoTunes trolled my comments board and threatened to sue me, I can comfortably put them in the "do not work with this company" category. And the Ditto CEO lashed out at me and threatened to sue me for asking a question. What is it with CEOs and a lawsuit power trip! I went into this review with absolutely no bias, but digging deep into these companies have really shown me their true colors. And Ditto and Mondo's ain't pretty. I'll leave it at that. 

+How To Guarantee Your Music Is Heard By A Film/TV Music Supervisor

As for the best? Well, you have to decide what is best for your situation. Distrokid is best for constant creators; for those who don't work in album cycles, but create music all on their own and want to put it out in the world immediately. Loudr is ideal for cover artists, collaborators and those who don't want to pay any upfront fees. CD Baby and Tunecore are great for all their extra features and because they've been in the game for so long. Symphonic has a deal with Merlin, so they get some special benefits. ReverbNation is good for beginning artists who like everything bundled together with the utmost guidance. Where do you belong?

It's also worth mentioning that Mondotunes and Ditto took swings at the other companies when chatting with me. Props to the others for only talking about the companies they represent. This isn't a political election!

If you have any questions, comments or experiences with any of these companies please list them in the comments. I'll try to respond to everyone.

+CD Baby Pro vs. Tunecore Publishing (The Full Report)

Kendrick Lamar is being Sued.
Category: Music Licensing
Tags: Music Artist Sued

Best-selling rapper Kendrick Lamar is facing a lawsuit over a photo he used


Category: Music Licensing

Tidal flops out of iTunes Top 700 apps chart as company attempts reboot

Tidal flops out of iTunes Top 700 iPhone apps chart as company attempts an on-the-fly reboot

Hear that? It’s the sound of the Tidal wave — crashing.

Two weeks after rapper-entrepreneur Jay Z brought out Beyoncé and a half-dozen of the pop music world’s biggest stars onstage with him to roll out the Tidal high-quality music service as a new business model in the streaming world, the Tidal app has plummeted out of iTunes’ Top 700 iPhone apps chart.

Initially it appeared in the Top 20, but now is nowhere to be found — and already the company is making some seismic changes in an attempt to reboot the nascent operation, having cut loose CEO Andy Chen and replaced him with former Aspiro CEO Peter Tonstad, laid off 25 employees and is even having Jay and Jack White personally call subscribers on the phone.

“I believe in Tidal and what the team is doing to affect the change the music industry needs,” Tonstad told the Swedish news site Breakit. “We’re streamlining the company and refocusing our resources to ensure the platform continues to grow, and listeners can make a connection to their favorite artists. No one else is doing this.”

Tidal entered the market offering two tiers of service — a standard service for $9.99 per month and a premium tier with high-resolution audio downloads for $19.99 — but no free tier like rivals Spotify and Rhapsody offer to entice new users to try them.

Meanwhile, Spotify and Rhapsody edged out the massively popular Candy Crush Saga app to take the No. 3 and 4 positions, respectively, on the U.S. iPhone revenue chart as of Monday (April 20), indicating these comparatively long-running services are still growing.

The Beats Music service, which rapper mogul Dr. Dre and former Interscope Records chief Jimmy Iovine sold last year to Apple, has made it into the Top 20 of the iPhone revenue chart, as well.

Pundits, including The Times' pop critic Randall Roberts, have noted the mixed message Jay Z and the other high-profile Tidal spokespeople (and minority shareholders) may have sent in their introduction of the service, with millionaire pop musicians trying to make a case for a company that promises to pay musicians more equitably than its rivals.

"Next time Jay Z, Arcade Fire's Win Butler and Regine Chassagne and Jason Aldean pitch something for the good of starving artists," Roberts wrote earlier this month, "they probably shouldn't do it while in a mansion holding Champagne flutes and toasting their gold-leafed good fortune."

In a statement earlier this week, a Tidal spokesperson said the recent changes at the top and throughout the company were made to sharpen its focus.

“We've eliminated a handful of positions and refocused our company-wide talent to address departments that need support and cut redundancies," the Tidal rep said.

"Tonstad has a better understanding of the industry and a clear vision for how the company is looking to change the status quo," the rep continued. "He's streamlining resources to ensure talent is maximized to enhance the customer experience."

Follow @PopHiss and @RandyLewis2 on Twitter. For more on Classic Rock, join us on Facebook.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

1 2 3 4 5

How To Sell Beats Online Like A Pro

This website is powered by Spruz