MediaNet Blog

In Streaming, Licensing Means Far More Than A Huge Music Catalog

Posted by Glen Sears | July 9, 2015 10:08 am | No Comments

music licensing streaming

Key Takeaways

  1. For every song in a digital music catalog, there is a huge rights and licensing stack that is far more complicated to fulfill.
  2. Without a digital music platform that understands these relationships, potential for lost and escrow revenue increases dramatically.

At MediaNet we regularly see and hear music services touting the sheer size of their music catalog. On one hand, it’s the easiest number for regular folks to get their head around. A service has “this” many songs, and more is better. But where music streaming starts getting interesting (and difficult) is in paying for each song to get played.

The Problem

If you’re a music service, broadcaster, bar, venue, or other licensee of music, managing the process of calculating payments seems almost impossible. The large volume of digital usage, limited availability of ownership data, and the generally byzantine royalty structure all add up to one thing: lost payments.

Billions of dollars of digital payments are administered each year, $6.9 billion in 2014 according to the IFPI.

Rights holder losses are due frequently to old systems, unmatched pay, slow processing, poor ownership data, paper processing, and lack of open markets. We estimate these losses exceed hundreds of millions of dollars.

Content owners and legacy middle men (Labels, publishers, PROs, Societies) that license copyrights have a difficult time tracking, monitoring, and receiving payments from the 1,000’s of licensees in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, it can take up to 18 months for rights holders to get paid through these legacy systems.

These problems are a result of the transformation of music from a physical distribution and licensing framework to a digital distribution and licensing framework. Specifically there are two critically transformative changes: Volume, and License Laws and business models.

The volume of individual music transactions has increased massively. Not by factors of 5, 10 or even 100, but by an order of magnitude in the billions (yes, billions). Billions of lines of usage each month, compared to millions of sales of CDs each year.

License laws and business models are also very different in digital streaming and subscription models, requiring complex calculations and access to ownership data covering millions of content owners. The play of one song can require tracking and paying over 10 different entities, with royalty calculations of a single play monitored down to 6 decimal points (e.g. $.000003).

Incumbent services that have supported the music industry for almost 100 years, services that powered the entire royalty payments supply chain, simply were not designed to handle these volumes. They have managed to “get by” using older analog legacy systems (e.g. spreadsheets) and processes that are cumbersome and have numerous gaps in the workflows. These gaps cause loss of data resulting in loss of ability to properly account and completely pay all rights holders.

The Solution

When licensing, delivering, reporting, and paying on a world-class digital music library, it is imperative that the foundation be built with these things in mind. Any service that isn’t aware of plays and licensing isn’t built for the future.

Many companies are spending their time trying to consolidate and simplify licensing. Some are tracking down any number of the 900,000 revenue streams worldwide.Others are working toward combining mechanical and performance license servicing.

This is all great news. I fully support anyone who is working to make digital music licensing simpler and more efficient. But the question still exists: who will handle the digital fulfillment supply chain? Can they also get rights holders paid?

The answer? Here at MediaNet we’ve built and host a database of rights holdersspecifically matched and linked to Sound Recordings. Every time a song is delivered, we know who needs to get paid and how. Without any need for third parties. No third parties means less translation, better accuracy, and payments accounted for.

This is the way all future digital music platforms need to be built. From the ground up to be ready for any changes in licensing or publishing. A platform custom built to ensure that no matter what the contract says, everyone is getting paid.

If you’re interested in learning more about how MediaNet can help power your service, I’d love to chat! Email me at or follow me on Twitter: @francjohnson

Follow MediaNet! – Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

Have questions about how Medianet can help your digital music business? Ask us here. Want a topic or insight published on this blog? Ask us here. Other questions or comments? Let us know!

FAQ: 5 U.S. Digital Music Use Types & the Licenses You Need

Posted by Glen Sears | June 19, 2015 11:08 am | No Comments

Digital Music License Royalties

There you are, on the cusp of planning or building your digital music service. Maybe you’re creating an online radio station. Maybe something as simple as covering a song and posting the video online. Whatever your project, if it contains copyrighted music you need a license. Probably more than one. It’s critical that everyone gets paid each time the play button is pressed.

The question is: what license(s) do you need? Mechanical? Performance? Do I have to negotiate? Is it compulsory? What about synchronization? Where do I go to obtain the licenses?


FAQ: The Basics of Core Music Licenses

Posted by Glen Sears | June 12, 2015 2:10 pm | No Comments

basics of music licenses

In almost every situation, before you can use a copyrighted piece of musical content, you need to obtain at least one license. This license entitles you to use the work, and also requires you to pay various types of royalties to the copyright owners. In many cases, more than one type of license is required.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of music licenses, who they are obtained from, and what they are used for.

Master Recording License

Gives the holder of the license the right to use a recording made by someone else. Master recording licenses are controlled directly by the rights holder, usually the artist or record label. A master recording license must be obtained for each song required for a project. These projects typically include things like compilation CDs.

Mechanical License

Gives the holder of the license the right to copy or duplicate a song. Mechanical licenses are controlled by the song’s publisher or songwriter(s), sometimes both. A mechanical license entitles the rights holder to mechanical royalties, which are paid every time the song is “reproduced.” Projects that require mechanical licenses typically include CD pressings and cover songs.

Public Performance License

Gives the holder of the license the right to “publicly perform” a work of music. Performance licenses are controlled by the songwriter, or the songwriter’s Performing Rights Organization. These PROs include ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and others. The term “public performance” includes much more than just live performances. DJ sets, background music in businesses, presentations and meetings, and digital radio & streaming services all require performance licenses.

Sync License

Gives the holder of the license the right to “synchronize” a musical work to another visual medium, usually video. Sync licenses are controlled by the composer, songwriter, or publisher; sometimes all three. Projects that require sync licenses typically include theme songs for television, video advertising, movie soundtracks, and video games.

Print License

Gives the holder of the license the right to reproduce lyrics or sheet music for a musical work. Print licenses are controlled by the song’s publisher or songwriter(s), sometimes both. Projects that require a print license typically include sheet music books and lyrics websites.

Compulsory License

Allows an individual or company to obtain a music license without first seeking the rights holder’s consent. In exchange, that individual or company pays the rights holder a set fee for the license called The Statutory Rate. Projects that can receive a compulsory license are jukeboxes, digital broadcasts, Public Broadcasting Service, Cable TV broadcasts of local stations, and mechanical licenses for an album or digital recording (also called a compulsory mechanical license).

Have questions about the MediaNet platform? Ask us here. Want a topic or insight published on this blog? Ask us here. Other questions or comments? Let us know!

The MediaNet Blog

Insights, News, Announcements, and Updates on MediaNet and the ever-changing world of music, technology, industry, and law.

Get Weekly Music News Updates Directly To Your Inbox!

Recent posts

Echelon Fitness Launches Fully-Licensed Music Offering for Fitness Classes via MediaNet’s Enterprise Platform
November 23, 2020
MediaNet Announces Music Catalog Partnership with ACX Music for “UFC Ultimate Sound”
November 10, 2020
MediaNet Announces Deal with Coda Music to Provide Music Catalog and Backend Services
October 29, 2020



Powered by WordPress