[Music Monday] The Darker Side Of Digital Music
Many people are not aware the complex structure that sits in what is vaguely known as “the music industry”. For many people, what is seen through the media is the musician, artist or songwriter (albeit not as often), and sometimes a mild mention of the music label here, a record producer there, and sometimes the supporting musicians of a certain album. But actually, a clockwork between songwriters, publishers, record producers, music labels, distribution channels, artists, and countless other people and bodies are involved in an intricate (and often confusing) dance. So, what happens if that clockwork breaks down?
Yet again it was somehow much simpler in the pre-digital days of music, and even that balance was struck after years of haggling, negotiation, and corporate maneuvering. The publishers represent the songwriters for anything to do with duplication (duplication of the song to any medium, of which they get ‘mechanical’ royalties), and synchronization (the use of a song in sync with any sort of other media, i.e. TV commercials) and make sure the songwriters get a good deal. The record labels basically invest in making albums and building artists, and take the lion’s share of profits from album sales. The distributor – the CD store and any go-betweens – make money from distributing the music products, and public performance collecting societies, usually representing the songwriter also, collect royalties from any company or body that uses songs for public performance, i.e. for TV broadcast, radio, karaoke, hotels, restaurants; anything where the establishment using the music gets an indirect benefit (more viewers, more customers, etc). Things more or less stayed in balance and any issue was discussed between the industry-level associations.
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