Áine Tennyson: Digital Media’s Influence on The Production Music Industry

The monetisation of music is an ever-increasing landscape, and with the development of new technology, and media platforms on the rise, the challenges and potential seem to be blooming, however daunting. How does this affect Production Music Libraries? Are the PROs, CMOs and MROs doing enough to keep up? Who is in the driving seat? Who is this benefiting?

“As a newly founded Independent Production Library, we don’t have the luxury of waiting for revenue to walk through the door. The traditional Production Library model of focusing on music for broadcast is no longer enough, and we must adapt to thrive. Embracing and understanding these new avenues and possibilities seem like the only way forward.

While the Covid-19 Pandemic devastated the world, one company took the music industry by storm; TikTok. Not only did TikTok unintentionally break new artists and create new trends, but it also began a new wave of advertising opportunities for brands. Digital advertising has blown up, but it has also blurred the lines between branded content, advertising, and user-generated content. A daily question on our minds; “Is it advertising? Is it branded content? Are influencers getting paid?” Who makes the rules?!

Aside from licensing difficulties for TikTok, there is also no ignoring the rise of bespoke compositions. Custom lyrics, custom music, and lower budgets, what are we to do? Bespoke music costs are verging towards being on par with production music licenses, how do we keep up and remain competitive with our prices, and not forget the importance of paying composers fairly! Will this threaten the future of the production music industry? Should we question the traditional business model? 

Social media platforms are now providing their users with a copyright-free library for user-generated content. However, is enough being done by these platforms to educate their users on the complexities of copyright for music? Are they teaching them when it’s appropriate to license music and when it is classified as user-generated content? Is this the threat to the songwriter and publisher of which we should be taking most heed?

While TikTok has dominated the conversation over the last few years, where do we stand on YouTube? Streaming revenue may be perceived as secondary income for a Production Music Library, but it certainly is growing. Content ID is a digital fingerprinting and monetising service for YouTube, which can initiate a copyright claim every time music is used on a YouTube hosted video. Is this an advantage or a hindrance to music licensing, and does ‘whitelisting’ channels add an extra layer of complexity?

A further example of these limitations are the challenges posed by overlapping audio references within the works themselves. While many creatives have come to love royalty-free sample packs, or virtual instrument libraries such as Splice, Output and Native Instruments, for example; Unfortunately or not, there is no denying that there are tracks in multiple libraries that may have a similar vocal sample, drum sample or more. Therefore, when our music makes its way onto these platform’s Digital Rights Management systems, we may find ourselves unable to assert our ownership because the system

detects the samples, even in the most creatively masked or modified track, leaving revenue uncollected and ownership ambiguous.

The digital landscape is constantly changing but we may be starting to see some positive changes on the horizon of music monetisation. It’s not without its loopholes though; Take for example an audio-visual clip uploaded to TikTok: It can be downloaded, uploaded or shared onto any and all other social media platforms and policing that content, especially the music attached to this content can be difficult. A potential consequence of this, Meta is facing a copyright infringement battle, but has subsequently launched their new Ad Revenue share system for rights holders for Facebook.  Could this be the start of a fairer payment scheme for rights holders, and will TikTok be next? I personally look forward to the future of having a product on the market that will track all online watermarking of music, Content ID, VOD and SVOD, allowing the rights holders to be in control once more.  

As Web3 and the Metaverse loom upon us, along with the blockchain and NFT surge, and the ever-growing pressure from companies demanding copyright-free music and buyouts on performance in perpetuity; more than ever, we must collectively protect our copyright and champion the rights holders as an industry.”

Áine Tennyson – Production Manager – 1107 Studios

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