Music Industry

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.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 38403 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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