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‘PROs have no idea what’s played’: Vnue pushes into rights

Vnue, a New York-based tech start-up that aims to “revolutionise the live music business” by recording shows and releasing experiential content to fans, is to acquire Soundstr, a music rights company that pays rightsholders based on the actual usage of their works.

“For years, the performance rights organisations have utilised blanket licensing agreements to charge businesses, such as the 62,000-plus bars and taverns in the US, large fees for music they are likely never going to play, due mainly [to the fact] the PROs have no idea what music is actually being played,” says Vnue CEO Zach Bair.

“Because of this, many rightsholders don’t see a dime from performances of their work in blanket licensed businesses. Our technology aims to solve this issue and make it fair for everyone.”

The acquisition of Soundstr will, says Vnue, speed up the development of its own music-identification technology, MiC (Music Indentification Center). With MiC, instead of paying blanket fees to license music, bars would only pay for music they actually use, eliminating costly lawsuits from collection societies that target unlicensed venues.

“The current performing rights system discourages venues from having music”

“The vision for Soundstr is to create transparency on real-world music use, ensure accurate songwriter payments when their works are used and simultaneously help licensees pay fees in accordance with their music use,” says company founder Eron Bucciarelli-Tieger. “Vnue is the natural home for Soundstr as the company seeks to carry on with that vision. I look forward to the day when general performance royalties show up on my performing rights statements.”

“The current performing rights system discourages venues from having music, and does not fairly compensate the musicians even if the venues do pay into the PRO system,” adds Bair.

“With the joining of the MiC system and Soundstr technology, we will better align the fees the venues pay with the music that’s actually played there – and by making this fee fair and transparent, increase the number of licensed venues and ultimately increase royalty payments to the actual rightsholders for the songs.”

 


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Top PROs partner for blockchain database

Three of the world’s largest performance rights organisations (PROs) are to prototype a blockchain-based system for royalty collection, in the biggest boost to the technology so far from the global music industry.

The goal of the project, which is backed by France’s Sacem (Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music), Britain’s PRS for Music and Ascap (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), is to explore how blockchain could enable the music industry to “create and adopt a shared, decentralised database of musical work metadata”, potentially streamlining the licensing process and ensuring faster and more accurate payments to rightsholders.

IQ last month examined the potential benefits of blockchain to the live industry, outlining additional applications for the technology – which also powers cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin – in ticketing, live streaming and virtual reality.

“Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies are opening up a world of new opportunities for all industries to address long-standing challenges”

While the PROs’ new project is “still at an early stage”, the three say it is “proving to be an exciting reference point for future industry blockchain solutions.” Socan – the equivalent body in Canada – has already signed up to Benji Rogers’ dotBlockchain Music, with CEO Eric Baptiste saying he is “convinced that [with blockchain] it is possible to address payment and rights inefficiencies […] that have been a drag on the entire ecosystem for far too long”.

Jean-Noël Tronc, Sacem’s CEO, comments: “We are very excited about this joint initiative. Sacem’s vision is to ensure a diverse and sustainable future for music, where creators are rewarded efficiently for their work. We have a long history of constant innovation and this partnership represents the next stage in that story.”

“Establishing authoritative copyright data has long been a goal of PRS for Music, and is one of the biggest challenges the industry faces,” adds PRS’s Robert Ashcroft. “Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies are opening up a world of new opportunities for all industries to address long-standing challenges. […]

“We see huge opportunity for beneficial industry change and collaboration from this initiative.”

 


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Ascap appoints new VP of membership in Europe

Ascap (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) has appointed Simon Greenaway vice-president of membership for the UK and continental Europe.

Greenaway (pictured), who was previously senior director of membership for the UK and Europe, has been instrumental in affiliating several high-profile writer-performers to the American performance rights organisation (PRO), including MNEK (Zara Larsson, ‘Never Forget You’), Ed Drewett (One Direction) and production duo MYKL (Zayn Malik, ‘Pillowtalk’). In his new role, he will report to Ascap’s vice-president of membership, John Titta.

Prior to joining Ascap, he was a songwriter, composer and producer who scored several hits with Charlotte Church. He has also worked on films including Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireTomorrow Never DiesNanny McPhee and Ice Age 3.

“Having someone with Simon’s background leading our membership team in Europe is invaluable”

“Music has no borders, and Ascap supports music creators in Europe and all over the globe,” says CEO Elizabeth Matthews. “Simon has been a key figure in expanding our European presence and building trusted relationships with creators and our society partners within these vital global markets.”

Titta adds: “Simon is a fantastic asset for Ascap. Under his direction, some of Europe’s best songwriters and composers have become Ascap members. Having someone with Simon’s background leading our membership team in Europe is invaluable, and we are looking forward to the opportunity to deepen our relationships with the global music community in the years to come.”

Ascap announced it October it was taking legal action against ten US venues for non-payment of licence fees.

 


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Ascap sues 10 unlicensed venues

American performance-rights organisation (PRO) Ascap is taking legal action against ten music venues, clubs and restaurants for non-payment of licence fees.

The venues – the Adrenaline Sports Bar & Grill in Las Vegas; Carmine’s La Trattoria in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Dorado Western Club in Houston, Texas; The Concert Pub, also in Houston; Conrad’s Seafood Restaurant in Nottingham, Maryland; Havana Club in Atlanta; Mezzo Ultra Lounge in Providence, Rhode Island; Show Palace in Oceanside, California; Pony in Memphis, Tennessee; and Spike’s Bar & Billiards in Rosemead, California – are alleged by Ascap (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) to have engaged in the “unauthorised public performance of its members’ copyrighted musical works”.

“By filing these actions, Ascap is standing up for songwriters”

“Hundreds of thousands of well-run businesses across the nation recognise the importance of paying music creators to use their music, and understand that it is both the lawful and right thing to do,” says Ascap’s executive vice-president of licensing, Vincent Candilora.

“However, each of the establishments sued […] has decided to use music without compensating songwriters. By filing these actions, Ascap is standing up for songwriters whose creative work brings great value to all businesses that publicly perform their music.”

 


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