​Major Labels, Streaming Services and Tech Companies Join Forces to Tackle Artist Royalty Issues

​Major Labels, Streaming Services and Tech Companies Join Forces to Tackle Artist Royalty Issues

Major labels, streaming services, publishing companies, startups and artists have banded together for a new initiative coming out of Boston.

Berklee College of Music's Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship (BerkleeICE) has announced a new initiative by the name of the Open Music Initiative (OMI) designed to simplify the ever-contentious issue of how "music creators and rights owners are identified and compensated" by using open source frameworks.

While others have attempted to streamline the process, the new initiative seems particularly promising given the massive list of collaborators that have signed on to take part. Amongst 50 participants companies are labels like Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner; streaming platforms like Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud and SiriusXM; and visual streaming giants like YouTube and Netflix. Crowdfunding site PledgeMusic, publishers Downtown Music, outspoken musician Zoë Keating, academics at University College London, and a number of other startups and industry collectives will also take part.

OMI's mission statement is: "to promote and advance the development of open source standards and innovation related to music rights and all their associated uses." An official statement continues: "Utilizing today's technologies and open source mindset, OMI believes the way music rights owners are identified and compensated can be radically improved for digital era sustainability."

Spotify head of communications Jonathan Price said in a statement: "We think transparency across the entire music economy is essential to rewarding artists, songwriters and everyone involved in the creation of music fairly and rapidly."

That sentiment was echoed by Pandora founder and CEO Time Westergren, who said, "This is a very important effort and we're deeply committed to bringing more transparency and simplicity into the industry."

Netflix's Bryony Gagan bridged the gap between music and television, adding, "Music is an important ingredient of any film or TV experience. As the world's leading Internet television network, Netflix has a strong interest in informing any initiative that has, at its core, the aim of reliable, efficient and transparent administration of the rights of content creators."

A number of artists have publicly addressed the need for better regulations when it comes to royalties from online music streaming in recent years. Taylor Swift criticized Apple Music in an open letter last year, Adele kept her monster album 25 off of streaming services altogether, while artists like Prince have opted to keep their catalogues (or at least particular releases) exclusive to Tidal.

Follow the BerkleeICE-led initiative's progess at the OMI's official website.