Last month, two seemingly unrelated tech music business announcements were made that have the potential to reshape the creative dance-music marketplace online. First, Apple Music announced its new partnership with digital distributor Dubset that would allow the streaming service to post DJ sets that contain certain copyrighted material, a practice that until now has faced many legal and financial hurdles. Two weeks later, the free audio streaming and download site SoundCloud laid out a new, two-layer service in light of its freshly cut deals with the major labels. For ten dollars a month, subscribers can access major-label content, while everyone else can still listen to the DJ sets and tracks uploaded by individual users. Since its October 2008 debut, SoundCloud has been the de facto home for everybody from singer-songwriters to abstract-leaning producers, but it was intended from the start as a showcase for DJ mixes.
It's tough enough for artists to make sure they're paid for every stream of their songs, but what about remixes? There is a system in place from Dubset called the MixBank Rights Management Platform, and it helps rights holders identify samples in songs that belong to them. Apple Music and Spotify already use the platform to help pay sampled artists for their contribution to streaming remixes. Sony Music has just opted into the system, making it the first major label to use Dubset's platform. This enables Sony to manage its massive catalog and monetize the use of samples on streaming services.
Last August, Sony Music made a deal with Dubset, a company that helps rights holders identify samples in songs to ensure they get paid. Apple and Spotify also connected with the licensing company for the streaming services' unofficial mixes, too. Now, indie label Merlin has struck a new deal with Dubset that will hopefully help independent musicians monetize their own samples.
Back in March, Apple reached a deal with Dubset to make sure sampled artists in remixes and DJ mixes on its music service were properly compensated. Last week, Spotify did the same, inking an agreement to leverage Dubset's MixBANK distribution platform to ensure that both the artists creating the mixes and those being sampled receive the royalties they're due. The MixBANK system checks an uploaded track for copyrighted material before getting permission for its use from the correct label and/or publisher.
A tense scene unfolded yesterday as user-generated, music-streaming service SoundCloud held an all-hands meeting to explain to employees why it suddenly had to lay off 40 percent of its staff last week. But as security ominously filed into SoundCloud's meeting rooms at its offices around the world during the all-hands video conference broadcast from its Berlin headquarters, the startup's staff discovered they wouldn't be getting the answers they wanted. Instead, sources at SoundCloud tell TechCrunch that founders Alex Ljung and Eric Wahlforss confessed the layoffs only saved the company enough money to have runway "until Q4" -- which begins in just 80 days. That seems to conflict with the statement Ljung released alongside the layoffs, which noted that, "With more focus and a need to think about the long term, comes tough decisions." The company never mentioned how short its cash would still last.