Billboard reports on a study by the Berklee College of Music. File this under “Gee, Really?”
The central theme to “Fair Music: Transparency And Money Flows In The Music Industry,” a 29-page report being released today (July 14) by the Berklee College of Music and its Rethink Music initiative may just be: What a mess.
The 29-page report, led by associate professor Allen Bargfrede, undertakes a close read of the music industry’s many rusty, interlocking cogs — performance rights organizations, collection societies, subscription services, major labels, digital retailers, publishing companies. This detailed analysis afforded Bargfrede and his contributors an eagle-eyed view of the many problems facing modern artists and their representatives.
The problems identified in the paper, nearly without exception, concern a failure to address and embrace “new” technologies that would give artists and their managers a clear picture of who is listening to what and how much they are owed for it.
One particularly illuminating case study focuses on the confusing and error-filled royalty statements provided to a Grammy-nominated band by its label, which arrived in a novella-sized paper binder that the band’s manager had digitized in order to make digestible. “For an artist to try to understand it, it’s a complete mess,” Bargfrede tells Billboard. “If there’s one key takeaway [from the report], it’s this inapplication of technology and data standards that are already out there, that could be adopted and readily used, so artists aren’t getting 120-page paper statements that they don’t understand.” That statement, the report points out, was one of four the band would have received that year.