Nialler9, an Irish music blogger (probably the best known here), has just written a blog about a recent development on the music licensing front. [Here’s the article in full]
For the uninitiated, the general gist of it is…. until now, blogs have been operating in a legal grey area. Music has been uploaded on music blogs for streaming and download, and no royalties are generated for the artists creating the music. The reason it’s a grey area is because, in music law terms, all of these developments are very, very new, and no-one really has the whole business-model figured out. (As any of the major labels will tell you!)
IMRO (and their international affiliates) have not chased music blogs for royalties until now. Mainly, I assume, because artists (who IMRO represent) recognise that music blogs have provided a very useful function. They are an invaluable cog in the oft talked about new indie model. If a song on a blog sets the blogosphere alight then, apart from the immediately obvious exposure, it strengthens a band’s position when they’re negotiating for deals, tours, etc. Basically, the blogger gets to blog about songs they like, the band gets valuable exposure and everyone’s a winner (apart from the copyright organisations!).
€150 is essentially the annual blanket fee that the vast majority of these blogs will fall into. It’s not a huge amount (and in a way I’m surprised IMRO have made it so low – because rights organisations, like the big record labels, don’t have a reputation for being reasonable). I’m not sure how much small music blogs make from advertising, but I can’t imagine it’s an awful lot, so €150 could be the difference between them blogging, and not blogging.
Nialler9 had a conversation with an IMRO rep who offered some answers to questions about the whole situation. The answer that most drew my attention was the following :
“If the music you blog is made available through a link elsewhere (ie. deeplinking) then a licence is not required.”
Now, if this is accurate, then I have to ask what is wrong with deeplinking?
- Band uploads songs to soundcloud, youtube, or similar large site. (I’d recommend soundcloud.)
- Band sends links to music blogger.
- Blogger embeds songs/collection of songs into post/site.
- No-one pays any licensing fees.
Benefits of this method would be two-fold as far as I can see.
- No licensing fees.
- Bands have all the stats for plays/downloads at their fingertips, from EVERY site. No guesswork. You can see exactly how popular a tune is.
This doesn’t help podcasters, outside of licenced radio. But I think the embedding/deeplinking idea is a good one, and should be explored.
Some comments on Nialler9’s site suggested that artists leave IMRO until they change tack… but to be honest, I can’t see anyone doing that. I don’t think any band is in a position whereby they can decide to refuse their royalty cheques – ticket sales are down, ticket prices are down, album sales are down, sites like Spotify have offered Lady Gaga approximately $167 for over 1 million plays, …
The debate is probably going to rage for quite some time, but I’d love to know what people think about this particular idea.