Study Says the Music Industry Lacks Transparency. Well, Duh.

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.

Continue reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.