If you are a lesser known composer/musician what do you do when someone uses your tune on YouTube without your authorization?
1. Sue them like record companies sued a granddaughter’s grandmother because her granddaughter was upstairs illegally downloading songs?
2. Have your lawyer send them a threatening cease and desist letter?
3. Ask them to pay you royalties?
4. Sue Google and YouTube?
5. Use YouTube’s content management tools to get the offending videos off the service?
If you’re like me, none of these alternatives appear very attractive either because they’re expensive, time consuming, ineffective or serve against your own best interest which is to get your music published and heard. So what to do?
Independent artists can now seek assistance from Audiam.com. Its biz model is brilliant. Any indie composer can register her/his music with the site which then hunts down YouTube videos that include it. If Goog is running ads against the video, Audiam keeps track of views and collects licensing fees on behalf of itself and its artists. If Goog isn’t running ads, Audiam authorizes YouTube to do so then collects more fees.
Audiam keeps 25%, the artist gets the balance. Audiam is collecting $30k a month right now from its catalog and it should grow fast*.
Audiam was founded by Jeff Price (now an advisor to Canuck performing rights organization SOCAN) after he left TuneCore. On Audiam’s website, TuneCore’s mission is written up this way, “to right a wrong and create a new industry that served the artist, as opposed to exploit them by providing all artists access to distribute their music into the world’s largest digital music stores allowing them to keep their rights and get 100% of the revenue when the music sold.” Jeff says he left TuneCore after, “VC’s tossed out Founders and original advisors.”
Is Audiam’s 25% cut too high? Depends. Apple and Goog take 40% or 30% of revenues from content creators in their respective app stores. Not-for-profit American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers monitors public performances on behalf of member’s music copyrights and takes 10%.
What I like about Audiam’s model is that it performs a valuable service for independent creators, at no upfront cost to them, takes some of the legal pressure off of Google and YouTube, allows music consumers to have more (legal) access to a wider variety of content, boosts revenues for YouTube, gets some of that for his catalog and reduces litigation burden on all players and on society. All this by inventing a clever business model and without firing a single (legal) shot in the one part of the planet that has about 3% of its population and 60+% of its lawyers.
(* Artists Against YouTube Music Piracy, John Tozzi, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 28, 2013.)