Artists like Katy Perry and Christina Aguilera are demanding policy change to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), but is their frustration misplaced?
Some of music's most elite artists like Garth Brooks, CeeLo Green, Steven Tyler, deadmau5, Lionel Richie, Tony Bennett, Pearl Jam, Bette Midler, and dozens more, along with their managers, filed a petition with the U.S. Copyright Office to create a safer environment for them and up-and-coming indie artists to release music and videos online. Their complaint outlines the struggles with “antiquated policies” and acts as a measure to “protect the future of the music industry, recording artists and songwriters,” according to a statement from the RIAA.
Perry's mega star power was brought to the forefront of the conversation because her influence in the industry is substantial, and if she publicly backs this movement, others of equal stature are sure to follow. She and her peers believe reform is necessary to, as RIAA CEO Cary Sherman put it, "level the playing field and ensure that the entire music community derives the full and fair value of our work."
In a nutshell, they claim the music industry is losing control over how music is getting distributed and it's not seeing an agreeable return on investment. Additionally, there's a dispute over the rules of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Three letters were filed with the U.S. Copyright Office – one from the artist's managers, one from creators and one from artists and songwriters that "detail[s] how the out-dated DMCA and its faulty notice-and-takedown system allows some tech companies such as Google, YouTube, Tumblr, just to name a few, to build multi-billion dollar businesses off their content without compensation and drag down the value of their hard work into fractional digital pennies,” reads the collective statement.
Not so fast.
Roy LaManna, who has executive produced video treatments for Fall Out Boy, Justin Bieber, Tyga, The Killers and Ludacris and more, is CEO of a video monetization platform service named Vydia. Vydia, a music video distribution platform that allows artists to distribute and publish their music videos on some of the world’s biggest platforms including Vevo, YouTube, Dailymotion, Facebook and more, brings artists the best opportunities to promote and monetize their videos while managing their digital rights. He claims independent artists can make money from streaming, but believes the real problem at hand is metadata reporting, which prevents smaller artists from collecting a check.
"If you're an independent artist, you can absolutely make money through streaming," he tells BreatheHeavy.com via email.
Why is the streaming culture so important in current music culture?
Streaming is the future of the music industry. It's how fans want to consume their music and it's important for artists and record labels to meet that need.
What is the metadata issue in the backend that’s preventing independent artists from claiming their money?
The biggest issue for independent artists is that sites like YouTube don't have any of their metadata or policy information. Uploading a video natively to YouTube and turning on Ads doesn't monetize all the user generated instances of the copyright. It only monetizes the video when it's consumed on their individual channel.
Why do labels feel streaming sites like YouTube aren’t fairly distributing royalties towards indie artists?
I feel a lot of the streaming outlets have been unfairly targeted. There are plenty of YouTube stars making a good deal of money. In the next year, we'll see monetization strategies from Facebook, Dailymotion, and other video platforms that should increase an artists ability to make money. I think artists should focus on streamlining their infrastructure so they could maximize their profit.
Explain how independent artists can get paid, how the rights are divided and what major labels can do to remedy this meta issue.
A YouTube video has 3 individual rights: visual, sound recording and composition rights. You can have multiple writers but only one right holder for the sound recording and visual asset. The way that artists can get paid is by making sure that the streaming service has the correct information so they can correctly pay the owner of the asset. I believe the major labels should centralize the data and be more transparent with the process with the artist in their web portals. Right now, an artists can’t see if their song is in conflict on YouTube and is therefore not being monetized, all they know is that they’re not making any money.
How does Vydia monetize videos to better suit indie artists?
Vydia tries to take a very complicated process and make it simple. Right now, artists are uploading to YouTube natively and a lot artists are ignoring the other sites that will soon pay rights holders which is going to over complicate the issue. In addition, artists are also just uploading to Youtube and turning on monetization which doesn't prevent the user generated aspect of their intellectual property. What Vydia allows artists to do is upload the content, maintain the ownership and the meta on our platform and distribute those policies across all of the social platforms so you not only get paid on Youtube, but also Facebook and other platforms, once they start paying artists.
Should the DMCA be amended or abolished? What are your thoughts on it?
The DMCA is a very reactive process. If I upload something that you own to Facebook, you will eventually find it and issue a DMCA takedown notice to have it removed. Unfortunately, that's the best policy we have right now and it tends to be very time consuming and slow. I believe we should be moving to a proactive policy.
LaManna doesn't clarify what the proactive policy would be, but managers and artists supporting the reform agree, concluding the core problem of the law is "utter failure of the notice-and-takedown system to keep up with technological innovation and change."
Is Vydia the golden opportunity to change the way music is monetized? We'll have to wait and see.