In the latest Musiio by SoundCloud podcast episode, host Hazel Savage sits down with Bina ‘Bob’ Mistry, SoundCloud’s Director of Music Licensing. Mistry’s background in music publishing is extensive, including stints at PRS for Music, Apple Music, and Peloton. She also founded her music business consultancy to help creators, called music:defined.
This sets the stage for a lively conversation about the complexities and opportunities in music licensing, including royalty claims, and the importance of understanding music business fundamentals for self-releasing artists.
Listen to the full episode:
1. Unclaimed royalties: a billion-dollar challenge
Bina ‘Bob’ Mistry reveals a startling statistic: songwriters leave billions of dollars behind each year in unclaimed royalties. According to her, a lack of understanding of how royalties are collected leads to missed earnings – particularly among self-published creators.
Mistry urges artists to educate themselves on the various revenue streams and to be proactive in claiming what they are owed.
In the UK, there are three main societies to register with: PRS for Music (houses PRS and MCPS), which covers the composition, and PPL, which covers neighbouring rights in relation to the sound recording.
2. Accurate metadata is vital
In discussing creator’s challenges, Mistry explains that something as mundane as a misspelt artist name can complicate royalty collection. Metadata issues, like inconsistent spelling or incomplete information, can lead to disputes and unclaimed royalties.
Mistry advises creators to ensure their work is properly registered with all pertinent details, signifying the critical role of meticulous metadata and rights management. It’s certainly not the most glamorous part of the industry, but it is fundamental to creators’ livelihoods.
3. Sort songwriting splits and registration early
When should creators start caring about publishing? “The moment you even think about writing a song,” advises Mistry. Agreeing songwriting splits and registering works is critical and should be done at the creation stage to avoid future disputes and lost revenue.
Creators often overlook this aspect until it’s too late, leading to complex situations that hinder royalty collection. If three writers want an equal split, two will take 33.33%, and one must take 33.34 to make a complete 100%. Otherwise, publishers or PROs may not pay out all of the royalties.
Mistry underscores the importance of this: “Having that one agreement between you and making sure the song’s registered, will change so much. And it’s so simple.”
4. What’s the value of music publishers?
A publishing deal can be more than just a financial arrangement – it can offer vital copyright protection, additional exposure, and help with international royalty collections.
Mistry suggests that songwriters could consider such deals early in their careers for the benefit of investment and strategic guidance, but should also understand the industry enough to make an informed decision about whether a publishing deal is right for them. A publishing partner can be a powerful ally in navigating the music industry’s complex landscape.
5. Songwriter recognition and transparent education
Mistry passionately advocates for songwriters to have more recognition. “Without songwriters, there is no industry. People forget that. I want songwriters to be at the forefront,” she says.
She calls for labels and publishers to strive for greater transparency and better education for creators, especially related to deals and royalties. The industry can pave the way for fairer and more sustainable creative careers by equipping songwriters with knowledge.
Watch the full episode above for more insights on music licensing, the importance of early-stage rights management, and navigating music publishing.
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