I was contacted by CD Baby through Twitter and over the phone in response to my earlier blog post. They were really cool and took the time to hear my concerns and help clarify some of my confusion. This is new ground for them, just as it is for artists. Digital rights management is evolving very quickly, and that’s exactly why I want to understand what I am signing up for in a program like Sync Licensing. It is one of the first, if not the first, program like this for independent artists.
Here’s what I learned. On Twitter, @kbreuner responded with an important distinction I had missed:
“@loganheftel: Read your post. 1 big distinction. Your YouTube channel is making $ off videos. CDB sync is making $ off the songs. Hopefully in the future, YouTube will payout for both video and song.”
As a YouTube partner, only video revenue is managed. Sound recordings are separate, and since YouTube is not managing sound rights for its partners, that is where Rumblefish comes in. I then asked whether Rumblefish manages YouTube’s video revenue as well as the sound recordings:
“@kbreuner: On videos I upload that rumblefish administers, do they manage YT’s video rev AND the song, or is it entirely separate?”
When I was contacted by phone the next day, a CD Baby representative confirmed what Kevin suspected on Twitter. YouTube identifies the song, and manages revenue for the video plays on that song. When Rumblefish is authorized as administer of that song, the YouTube partnership revenue is then administered by Rumblefish instead of the YouTube partner. This is probably because of a few things; the way YouTube has structured its Content ID System, the way Rumblefish has structured its relationship with YouTube, and the fact that most artists do not want to deal with any of this.
I recognize that the “revenue” we are talking about is only fractions of pennies for 99% of the artists who participate in this program (myself included, go count my plays) and CD Baby said that most of the artists they work with (myself included) want to be able to manage their music, their rights, and all of their online presence as easily as possible. CD Baby did not know for sure, but it seems as though Rumblefish takes a cut of the YouTube video play revenue as well as the regular publisher share of the sound recording revenue. The work-around for this, as explained in my last post, is this opt-out form. This will enable music that I upload to my channel to be managed by my YouTube partner account, but still authorizes Rumblefish to manage that recording if anyone else uses it in a video. The form does have to be submitted for every video I upload that I want to separate from Sync Licensing on my own channel. Since my first post, I received another notification from YouTube matching my song to Rumblefish. I have not filled out this form for that song. I might, but I also might just let Rumblefish handle it. Considering how long it took me to finish this follow-up blog, I can definitely recognize the need to simplify my online efforts.
In conclusion, it is important to pay attention to what you agree to, because if artists do not want to bother with understanding their rights management, it will be managed away from them. I am enthusiastic about Sync Licensing. CD Baby and Rumblefish are providing something for artists that has never been possible to provide before, and this is an exciting time to be in a creative business.