If a man loses his wallet, and his ID with address is inside, but the finder does not make any effort to return the wallet, then the man could rightly claim theft.
But if a man loses his wallet, and the only identifying piece of information in that wallet is the picture of a cat with R.I.P. written on it, then in all fairness, keeping the wallet is not theft, it’s finders keepers, right?
So is it really fair to claim finder’s keepers without at least trying to find the owner? In many places, the law says the wallet must be turned over for safekeeping to the police, and if they cannot find the owner after a reasonable amount of time, then the wallet is to be turned back over to the finder.
What I have just described here is the music business. The one losing their wallet is the songwriter (who is often the artist and publisher, too). The ones finding that wallet are the digital aggregators, online retailers, and major labels and publishers. And who’s the po-po in our little story? Why, the performing rights organizations and royalty collecting companies.
There is no denying the song is out there on the street for the public to hear. Somebody wrote it. Somebody recorded it. Somebody mixed it, mastered it, and uploaded it. And somebody is hoping to be able to make some money with it. But somebody forgot to embed their complete set of metadata.
There are way too many somebodies forgetting to put their legal ownership information on it or in it before they release it. In effect, the songwriter as artist and publisher dropped his wallet on the street and dared everybody to find him and is inviting theft.
Does this even make sense? So why does it keep happening? Why do millions of songs get uploaded for sale every year with no or incomplete tracking data of the rightful owner associated with it?
Theft, finders keepers, and “oh my gosh I hope I find it” are not good ways to run a business, but in the music business that seems to be the order of the day when it comes to the small business person, the DIY/Indie.
The major labels and publishers, as well the digital aggregators, take great pains to document that all earned money should come to them. The performing rights organizations cannot find most of their clients because the songwriter-publisher has not even completely listed themselves accurately with the PROs. So, there the PROs sit, on top of pots of unclaimed money because they cannot find you.
As a songwriter wanting to place music with artists, I found out the hard way how many moving pieces there are in the royalty collecting process. I also found out the hard way how many artists don’t have their business processes in place so that we could all get paid when they covered my song.
So, to make it easier on everyone, I invented a SaaS called MyDigitalCatalog.com that makes the process of collecting needed information and confirming the rights are protected before a song is taking a walk in the street. It’s easy to use. It’s thorough. It’s all online, and the member data is encrypted and backed up on multiple servers. It’s only purpose is to help songwriters prove they own a song so that they can get paid.
If you are an artist, songwriter, publisher, agent, manager, or entertainment attorney, then you owe it to yourself and those you collaborate with or help to check out what MyDigitalCatalog.com can do for your music business. Stop throwing profits in the trash can.
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