The streaming competition has started. Dubset, an American distributor specialised on digital identification, has signed a partnership with Apple Music, the second largest streaming platform in the world. This agreement allows Apple to legally offer its users thousands of previously banned mixes, now properly licensed. Both firms plunge into a market gap that was left open for a long time.
For one mix, that can cause a proper headache concerning legal issues, we can count up to several hundred right holders. According to the CEO of Dubset, Stephen White, contacted by Billboard, a classic mix has on average from 25 to 30 tracks, which requires a payment of several labels, in addition to two and even up to ten publishers for a single title. Do the math ... Before this administrative imbroglio, many platforms had already given up on this topic, like Soundcloud or Spotify. And this is were Dubset is coming into play. Unlike others, the distributor is based on two distinct technologies, MixBank and MixScan (scroll to the end of the article to see how they work) are dissecting the mixes, so they can clearly identify the music used and the people involved, and doing so, pay the labels and publishers concerned.
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SACEM CHASING SOUNDCLOUD FOR JUSTICE
Streaming platforms, whether it's Spotify with its 30 million subscribers or Apple with 11 million, are facing a major problem already for quite a while: the music, more and more standardised and locked up by the copyright, runs counter to its evolution. The enormous growth of user-generated content (including mixes, remixes and mashups), and the impossibility to upload it (due to the blocking practised for copyright reasons) are clearly the two major explanations for the decision of many users to look elsewhere for it.
The International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry (IFPI), responsible for the enforcement of the worldwide copyright for the music industry, estimates that 20% of Internet users all over the globe regularly listen to music via unlicensed services, and therefore illegal. They are standing for a huge financial windfall, which they don't want to share and so they rip-off most music professionals: artists, labels, online services, etc.
THE WAR ON STREAMING HAS BEEN DECLARED
Mark Lawrence, president of the Association For Electronic Music (AFEM, an association that defends artists of the electronic movement worldwide and which also includes Dubset) holds a view: "Electronic music is too often consumed for free. This type of music grew hand in hand with the rapid evolution of streaming and digital services, and despite billions of plays, most artists and rights holders earn very little compared to their colleagues in pop music. This is a first step to correct this imbalance," he explains, according to DJ Mag.
Same story on the point of view of Tommy Vaudecrane, president of Technopol, an association protecting electronic culture in France and especially initiator of the famous Techno Parade that takes place once a year in the streets of Paris, between Port-Royal and République. "This technology provides today an accuracy unmatched so far on my opinion. I encourage moreover the labels and publishers from all backgrounds to enrich the catalogue, so that the potential remuneration can increase." Cautious, he says: "We'll see how it works. Does Dubset pays the artists directly? Or will they limit themselves to the indentification Sacem is working on?"
Tommy Vaudecrane, CEO of Technopol
Anyway, Dubset is looking forward to the new era and hopes to launch the same kind of partnership all over the world: "Apple is just the start. The goal is to bring this device to the 400 other distributors around the world as well. When we reflect on the creation of millions of hours of content, this is a significant monetization for the industry," writes Stephen White, CEO at Billboard.
Tommy Vaudecrane, who is already imagining the benefits that such a technology will have here in France says: "The next step is a unit equipped with this technology at all festivals. This will adjust the charge rate that goes to Sacem and will also compensate artists, because their music can be played in a much more transparent way."
MixBank and MixScan, two feeder of Dubset
The first technology, MixBank, compares the records uploaded with the database and short audio extracts (three seconds) from Gracenote, another firm that specialized in digital identification and at whichs head we found Stephen White before he was joining Dubset. According to him, each extract can be associated with up to a hundred different tracks.
A second program, MixScan, is capable of a precise determination of where the different tracks begin and end during the mix, before identifying the right holders of each artist, thanks to the multiple partnerships that the company has built. Dubset has announced that they reached the agreement of about 14,000 labels and publishers.
The company based in New York also elaborated a whole set of rules in favor of the rights holders, who can if they need to, "blacklist" an artist, an album or a particular stock, limiting the duration of use of a song in a mix or remix, or even ban the association of an artist with another. In short, the artists have a lot of options enabling them to control the use of their work. More than the technology, it's this new broadcast system that proves its revolutionary approach.