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The Mechanical License Collective (MLC) is up and running. The Music Modernization Act of 2018 specifically called for a nonprofit organization designated by the U.S. Copyright Office to collect digital mechanical royalties in the United States. A few years later, the MLC is trying to bridge the gap between technology, collection and royalties. In fact the MMA, specifically states that the only way to receive digital audio mechanical royalties due to songwriters and producers from DSPs pursuant to the compulsory blanket mechanical license is to become a Member of The MLC. The addition of streaming to the music business ecosystem…


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It’s a great day in the life of a sound designer when they get that first email, text or call that one of their beats has been placed with an artist on a major record label. The great news is that a getting a placement can open up other opportunities for producers and get the momentum rolling. The alternative is that artists, attorneys and A&Rs often sniff inexperience and take advantage of your first major label placement opportunity. A common question I get from producers is: What should I do when a manger/artist/attorney contacts me about a placement?

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU FIND OUT YOU ARE GETTING A PLACEMENT?

The easiest…


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I will start off by saying deals are getting better. There are more players in the ecosystem and technology has led to more transparency than ever before. Even with that being said, treacherous deals exist and happen everyday.

Kanye West as Kanye West always does, did something bold recently. Kanye did the unthinkable and actually posted his contracts to Twitter, revealing confidential insights to contracts that held together some of Hip Hop’s most coveted and respected music projects.

The main focus here will be taking a dive into Kanye’s Exclusive Recording Agreement in 2005 that really is the Agreement that…


The music business in 2020 looks a lot different than it has in the past because there are more resources than ever. These resources come in a variety of modes including audio, video, text, graphics, etc, in addition to organizations looking to fill the gap that artists, producers, engineers, and music business professionals have lacked in the past. These days it is no longer acceptable for anyone looking to get into the music business to come in without a foundation. Musicians have an incredible amount of information at their disposal to form the requisite knowledge to get better deals and…


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Hip hop and samples go hand in hand, for better or worse. We have seen samples become the core element in some of the greatest records ever. We have also seen samples hinder the release of a record because the copyright owners refuse to offer clearance. That's the paradox when deciding to use a sample. It’s a cost/benefit analysis every time. Is the upfront fee and publishing/royalty you’re giving up worth using the sample? Additionally, if you are a producer using a sample on an instrumental, just know that this will likely affect your payout and publishing split. …


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I refer to the Mechanical Royalty as the lost royalty because when most people think of publishing they almost always think of ASCAP or BMI. These performance rights organizations collect the so-called “public performance royalty”. Public performances can include play on television or radio, in clubs and restaurants, on websites, or on other broadcasting systems. When your song is publicly broadcasted in one of the aforementioned mediums, a royalty is generated for which your PRO collects and pays out. Public Performance royalties could make up a large chunk of your publishing income. Another large chunk of your publishing should be…


What a year it was in the music business. Each year there are moments that define the music business landscape forever and 2019 was no different. We saw artists challenge their labels for their masters. We saw distribution companies launch with the goal of revolutionizing the relationship between artists and the companies they work with. We saw the Music Modernization Act become closer to actualization and enforcement. We saw music producers and sound designers mobilize to eliminate some of the injustices they face. We saw podcasts emerge into a billion dollar industry as music’s perfect sidekick. We saw a dangerous…


Every year there is a new hot button issue in the music industry and there are professionals speaking about it. With everything more digital-focused in 2019 and beyond it is important to balance that with in-person networking and community-driven music business education. The best way to achieve this is to pick a conference or two and show face. Build relationships with attendees and speakers alike and continue to build your network in the music industry. The problem is there are so many conferences popping up without much deference to actual quality, focus and expertise. …

Karl Fowlkes

Entertainment Attorney l Music Industry Professor at Drexel U, Hip-Hop Professor at Rowan U l Newsletter l Email: kfowlkes@elawandbusiness.com

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