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Lucy Thraves

Editor

Collaboration in the age of coronavirus

12:51, 7th September 2020

VEVA Sound president Deborah Fairchild discusses the ways in which musicians and producers can protect their work as artists continue to explore news ways of collaborating remotely

What impact has the coronavirus pandemic had on the ways musicians collaborate and record?

A lot of musicians had already adapted to working from home studios, but I think there’s a difference between choosing to work at home instead of going into the studio, versus being prohibited from collaborating in person. Songwriters are now collaborating and writing new songs via Zoom and video calls and it’s great they are able to do this. However for many songwriters being in the same room is critical in collaborating and organically creating new music this way. Many musicians and songwriters are also having to learn to be their own producer and engineer, as well as being the performer, while others have been working this way for a long time. That has definitely been a learning curve for a significant portion of the community.

What does the rise in streaming mean for musicians, particularly in terms of pay and copyright? How might their work be used without their permission?

Despite the rise of streaming, revenues from US Recorded music are still down 50% from the peak in 1999. Musicians have to be creative with how they leverage their copyrights. Like with anything else, an asset is only as valuable as the extent to which it is exploited. Many musicians have expanded their revenue sources (to include sync, for instance) for the first time. Also, with the creation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective (the MLC), it’s exciting to know what’s on the horizon. Starting in January 2021, The MLC will issue and administer blanket mechanical licenses to eligible streaming and download services (digital service providers or DSPs) in the United States. The MLC will then collect the royalties due under those licenses from the DSPs and pay songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers. This is a huge step forward for the entire industry.

Musicians have to be creative with how they leverage their copyrights

What advice would you give to a musician worried about the use of their work and/or their pay?

The large focus for musicians shouldn’t be so much that their work is being used without their permission, but that royalties are being collected for work on which they are not properly (or accurately) credited. Keeping accurate records for every copyright; including splits, credits, and metadata, is critical for musicians to leverage their body of work for years to come.

 

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