Business News Deals Digital Labels & Publishers Management & Funding

MMF launches Deals Guide and Transparency Guide

By | Published on Friday 20 October 2017

The UK’s Music Managers Forum yesterday published two new guides as part of its ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ project. Produced by CMU’s consultancy unit, CMU Insights, ‘The Deals Guide’ and ‘The Transparency Guide’ aim to help artists and their managers better navigate the fast-evolving streaming music business and make more educated commercial decisions.

CMU Insights has now been working on the ‘Digital Dollar’ project for the MMF for nearly three years. The initiative initially set out to provide a guide to how the streaming services are licensed by the music industry, and how streaming royalties are calculated and paid to artists and songwriters. The first ‘Digital Dollar’ report provided that guide, while also raising a number of issues with the current streaming business model.

Part two of the project considered those issues, based on a series of roundtable discussions involving artists, songwriters, labels, publishers, lawyers, accountants and managers in the UK, US, Canada and France. The second report summarised those discussions and made a series of proposals from a management perspective on how to meet the various challenges.

One outcome of those discussions was the need for artists and managers to fully understand the different label and distributor deals that are now available, so that they can make more informed decisions when deciding which companies to work with on distributing and marketing their recorded music. A second outcome was that managers needed to be much more detailed and specific in their call for more transparency in the streaming business.

‘The Deals Guide’ identifies ten different kinds of label and distribution deals now available to artists, from fee-based DIY distribution through to conventional indie and major label deals, discussing what different services different business partners are able to provide, what those label partners want in return, and what the key negotiating points are when agreeing a contract.

‘The Transparency Guide’ identifies 20 pieces of data and information artists and managers need from their labels, distributors, publishers and collecting societies in order to understand how their music is performing in the digital space. This is split into usage data, royalty data and deal information, with a Transparency Index provided to help managers assess the different labels, distributors, publishers and collecting societies they are working with.

Launching the guides last night, MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick said: “In the streaming age, the traditional relationship between the artist as rights ‘creator’ and label as rights ‘owner’ is over. As music fans have seen the rise of Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud and YouTube, artists have also seen new companies and new deals emerge behind the scenes which mean they have more choice when deciding who to work with to distribute and market their records”.

“This is very exciting”, she went on. “Though, as recognised in the ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ report we published last year, to capitalise on these changes, artists and their mangers are in urgent need of more information about the different kinds of labels and label deals available. And they also need more transparency about the streaming business to make informed decisions about their business partners. These two guides will help plug this knowledge block, ensuring managers are better informed to take the decisions that will grow their artists’ businesses”.

You can access both guides for free from the MMF and CMU Insights websites. Premium CMU subscribers can also access a CMU Trends article that reviews everything we’ve learned from the ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ project so far, with ten key points each from part one, part two and part three.



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