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Session launches Creator Credits, backed by UMG and Avid

Session, the Swedish music start-up co-founded by Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus and songwriters Max Martin and Niclas Molinder, has launched Creator Credits, an initiative that aims to help music creators be correctly credited for their work.

Creator Credits – described as “the world’s first end-to-end ecosystem for creator credits, in collaboration with leading music industry players” – enables music creators (songwriters, producers, musicians, artists) assign credits in the studio at the point of creation and automatically supply those credits ‘downstream’ to managers, record labels, publishers, performing rights organisations (such as partner society PRS), distributors and streaming platforms.

Session’s initial collaborators include MXM Music, the production and publishing company of hitmaker Max Martin, who has written 22 number-one hits; Universal Music Group (UMG); and Avid, which will embed Session’s technology into its industry standard Pro Tools recording software.

Session – formerly Auddly – announced the launch at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Texas on Friday.

“We are super-excited to announce this project and our collaboration,” says Session CEO Molinder. “I’m convinced that the best way to involve the creators in the data collection is as early as possible in the creation process. Session’s technology performs a short handshake with music society systems to authenticate creators and associate their vital industry identifiers with their account.

“When a creator walks into a Pro Tools powered studio their presence will be automatically detected and their identifiers, along with their typical contributions, can be easily added to a song.”

Barak Moffitt, executive vice-president of content strategy and operations at Universal Music, adds: “UMG is proud to work with Session’s team to make the process of assigning credits even easier and to ensure that the important work of contributors to songs and recordings are widely available.

“All contributors to a piece of music or any audio work should be clearly identified, recognised and rewarded appropriately”

“In addition to our own efforts, we have been working closely with Björn and Niclas for a couple years on the development of this platform as part of our commitment to a robust and effective crediting system for the benefit of the entire music ecosystem.”

With Session’s platform, the creator credit metadata travels with the song in the music industry standard DDEX RIN format as it is delivered to record labels and publishers. The creator credits package accompanies the audio and includes crucial industry identifiers for songwriters (IPI) and performing artists (IPN), as well as the emerging ISNI identifier, believed to be key to closing the ‘value gap’ between creators and digital platforms exploiting their work.

Finally, this creator identification information, along with their contributions to the recording and song, are assembled with the ISRC (recording identifier) and ISWC (composition identifier).

Once the song is then distributed to a streaming service, fans will have the opportunity to access more information about songs, while streaming platforms will enable consumers to follow their favourite songwriters, performers and producers.

“With Pro Tools software at the core of many of today’s music production environments around the world, the Avid team shares in the vision that all contributors to a piece of music or any audio work should be clearly identified, recognised and rewarded appropriately throughout the production and distribution process,” says Francois Quereuil, director of audio product management at Avid.

“We are particularly excited to enter a technology collaboration with Session and work with key players in the music industry to provide a durable solution to the challenges associated with capturing and recognising creators’ credits in an increasingly complex digital world.”


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Article 13 vote: Music orgs celebrate as critics lament “worst possible outcome”

European collection societies, PROs, publishers and music industry associations have welcomed today’s vote in favour of key provisions of the new EU Copyright Directive.

In a plenary session held earlier this afternoon, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted 438 to 226 in favour of an updated version of the directive, tabled by German MEP Axel Voss, including the much-discussed Article 13, which would compel “online content sharing service providers”, such as social networks or video-sharing sites like YouTube, to take “effective and proportionate” measures – which most believe would take the shape of automatic filters – to combat the sharing of copyrighted works.

The second vote follows an earlier defeat for the bill, on 5 July, which was met with disappointment by much of the music industry. Music bodies, especially collection societies/performance rights organisations, and their counterparts in the tech sector are sharply divided on the merits of the new directive, especially its controversial Article 13: songwriters’ representatives say the legislation would ensure fair remuneration of creators when their works are used online, while internet freedom activists, including the web’s creator, Tim Berners Lee, have said it would transform the internet into a “tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users”.

The amended Article 13, as voted on today, would only apply to platforms that host “significant amounts” of uploads and “promote” them, with an exception for small/micro enterprises, according to German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda, a prominent critic of the legislation, who dismisses Voss’s “cosmetic changes”.

Today’s vote means the European Parliament (the EU’s legislature) will now take the Copyright Directive to the European Council (the EU’s collective presidency, composed of the leaders of its member states), to decide the shape of the final legislation.

The director-general of Cisac, the network of authors’ rights societies – one of the initiators of the Europe for Creators initiative, which campaigned for a ‘yes’ vote – describes the vote as a “historic decision that will send a ripple effect around the world”. “The EU parliament has stood up for the core values that have underpinned Europe’s culture and creative industries’ protection for centuries,” comments Gadi Oron.

Repeating claims made by Article 13 supporters that fears of automated “censorship machines” and a ban on memes are unfounded and stoked by tech giants that stand to lose out from free access to copyrighted content, Oron adds: “Despite an onslaught of misinformation by big tech companies, Europe has led the way in bringing fairness to creators in the digital world. This was a vote cast in Europe, but which has positive implications for the future working environment of creators across the world.”

“Europe has led the way in bringing fairness to creators in the digital world”

Chris Butler, chair of the International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP), comments: “We are delighted with today’s vote, which is a clear victory for rightsholders. Article 13 of the directive is necessary to redress the grotesque imbalance music publishers face online and we urge Mr Voss and his team to stand firm in their upcoming negotiations with member state governments.”

“It is a great day for culture and music in Europe as the Copyright Directive is adopted by the European Parliament,” says Paul Pacifico, CEO of the Association of Independent Music (AIM), which represents independent UK record labels. “I would like to thank the MEPs from all parties for their energetic and highly engaged approach to this very sensitive and important legislation that stands to benefit the next generation of music artists and creators online who generate the content we all enjoy.”

Robert Ashcroft, chief executive of British collection society PRS for Music, says: “The European Parliament today took a bold step forward to ensure a functioning and sustainable digital single market for creative content. PRS for Music has fought from the beginning for digital services to pay all creators fairly for the content they use. Today’s vote was a ringing endorsement of our work and that of our colleagues in the industry over the last five years.”

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher says the vote marks a “fantastic victory” for “all those involved in the UK music industry”.

“I would congratulate the MEPs, British MPs, musicians, creators, investors and all who worked so tirelessly in support of these vital safeguards – despite the campaign of misinformation by [YouTube owner] Google and their allies,” he comments. “There must be no watering down of this breakthrough commitment to creators. It’s important that everyone continues to work together to implement real change as quickly as possible.”

The European Grouping of Societies of Authors and Composers (Gesac) – another Europe for Creators backer – believes the vote is “a victory for Europe and its independence from a few tech giants who have profited off outdated legislation to further consolidate unhealthy dominance and to siphon value out of Europe and its creators,” according to president Anders Lassen.

“the European Parliament is putting corporate profits over freedom of speech”

Reaction isn’t been so positive outside the music industry, with members of the public flooding social media to lament what many are describing as “the death of the internet”.

Along with 49 other MEPs, Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake had previously tried to amend the legislation, hoping to avoid draconian ‘upload filters’ by instead mandating that YouTube secure licences from all rightsholders, as well as secure an exemption for memes, gifs and other user-generated parodies. She describes today’s events as the “worst possible outcome” for “ordinary internet users”. “With this vote we are taking a step backwards instead of creating a copyright reform for the 21st century,” she comments.

Reda, meanwhile, calls the vote “a severe blow to the free and open internet. By endorsing new legal and technical limits on what we can post and share online, the European Parliament is putting corporate profits over freedom of speech and abandoning long-standing principles that made the internet what it is today.”

However, in a joint statement that welcomes the vote to “start negotiations on modern copyright rules”, the European Commission – which proposed the copyright directive in September 2016 – maintains the directive will benefit EU citizens and creators alike.

Say the Commission’s vice-president for the digital single market, Andrus Ansip, and commissioner for digital economy and society, Mariya Gabriel: “Our aim for this reform is to bring tangible benefits for EU citizens, researchers, educators, writers, artists, press and cultural heritage institutions and to open up the potential for more creativity and content by clarifying the rules and making them fit for the digital world. At the same time, we aim to safeguard free speech and ensure that online platforms – including 7,000 European online platforms – can develop new and innovative offers and business models.

“The Commission stands ready to start working with the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, so that the directive can be approved as soon as possible, ideally by the end of 2018. We are fully committed to working with the co-legislators in order to achieve a balanced and positive outcome enabling a true modernisation of the copyright legislation that Europe needs.”


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Closing the data gap: YouTube adopts ISNI IDs for creators

The International Music Managers Forum (IMMF) has welcomed news YouTube is to assign an ISNI ID to all creators, including artists and songwriters, whose work is used on the video platform, saying the move “could be a significant step towards closing music’s data gap”.

Google-owned YouTube yesterday became the first registration agency for the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI), an ISO-certified standard used for uniquely identifying the public identities of contributors to creative works, including recording artists, songwriters, composers and publishers. By using a 16-digit ISNI number, rather than names, to identify creators, music and media distribution platforms can accurately determine which people were involved in creating any one piece of content (while there is only one Prince Rogers Nelson, for example, the myriad John Smiths would otherwise have more trouble getting paid).

Google-owned YouTube is the world’s largest video-hosting platform and the web’s second most popular site (after Google). It is also by far the most popular site for on-demand music streaming, although it is remains controversial for the royalties it pays, with the so-called ‘value gap’ – or the mismatch between the value YouTube extracts from music and the revenue given back to creators – regularly coming in for criticism from the recorded music industry.

“Authors of music are often also performers, and performers who make recordings also play live, take photographs, and many write books, appear in films, etc., etc. They need a single ID for all their activity, or for sector IDs to link together to a single point,” says IMMF, who discussed the issue at recent conferences including Tallinn Music Week and Eurosonic Noorderslag, in a statement.

“We view this as a transformative opportunity to offer the music industry a valuable identifier scheme”

YouTube, the association says, will now “drive adoption of ISNI from the B2C [business to consumer] end of the supply chain”, although it adds the music industry’s reaction to the news should be “less about YouTube and more about ISNI and solutions to music’s data gap”.

“By adopting ISNI, artists, songwriters and other creators will be unambiguously identified, enabling better visibility and tracking on YouTube,” says YouTube technical program manager FX Nuttall. “Bringing the ISNI open standard to music opens the door to more accurate credit for creators, discovery for fans and transparency for the industry.”

“We’re delighted to partner with YouTube on such an ambitious effort”, adds Tim Devenport, executive director of ISNI International Agency. “Many organisations active in the music sector have already shown interest in using ISNI identifiers as part of the infrastructure they need to manage rights and royalties effectively. Working closely with YouTube, ISNI is very pleased to contribute its experience and skillsets to these critical objectives.

“We view this as a transformative opportunity to offer the music industry a valuable identifier scheme and, in so doing, to deepen ISNI’s knowledge of this domain and improve its technical facilities and approaches.”


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