Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Diane Lilli, for an article in Food & Beverage Magazine, about what we are doing with Soundstr. The headline of the article is spot on:
“The Licensing Revolution: VNUE’s Soundstr Offers Performance Royalty Reform for Venues and Artists”
Think about that headline for a second. This is a hot topic, especially as it relates to music streaming – but the gaping hole has been in the “general” licensing category – meaning bars, restaurants, and other brick and mortar establishments. And yes, radio stations too.
My passion, of course, is bringing fairness to everyone involved, from the artists, writers, and creators, who make the music, to the businesses and stations that play the music. Without reform – and transparency – this cannot happen. And without accurate tracking, the performing rights organizations – PROs – have no way to really know who should be paid. With Soundstr, we have the ability to do just that, and we are already working hard on it, with some field deployments to be happening this year.
Read the article below for the full interview, and you can also visit the site here:
By Diane Lilli
The next time you enjoy dinner or a drink or a latte, you might just want to thank someone who may be invisible to you but just happens to be changing the very music you hear at public venues across the nation. Every time you spend some quality town in a restaurant, bar or café, or in mall, hotel or casino, you’re probably hearing music, but until now, the way this music is licensed has been anything but transparent – or fair. For the first time, the murky multi-billion-dollar world of music licensing – run by a system that is widely regarded as inefficient at best – is being replaced by a modern, hi-tech, affordable platform that will not only keep your toes tapping while you eat/drink in public places, but also protect your favorite venue while actually paying the musical artists who created the songs in the first place.
Zach Bair is CEO of VNUE, Inc. (OTCQB: VNUE), a music and technology company creating new revenue streams for artists, and building technology to protect their rights. Bair is an engineer, musician and industry expert who has spent his entire career working in technology, and also as a professional musician and owner of several venues. He said he found out fast how the old-fashioned music licensing system in place today is not only hopelessly out of date but also confusing, threatening and downright unfair to all concerned. Run by “PROs”, which are performing rights organizations, owners of venues sign expensive “blanket license” agreements, which then forced them to pay up big time, or face major copyright lawsuits.
Sounds fair, but the problem with this system is twofold: many of the artists whose music is being played in public places are not getting any royalties, since no one could figure out who was playing which music when/where, and the venues playing the music are being targeted for high fees in an unbalanced, logical way – without any kind of true real-time tracking.
“One day a PRO knocked on my door one too many times,” said Bair. “Their calls and threats were non-stop. I decided there must be a better way to identify songs, and since I was so upset, I literally sat down and wrote up a provisional patent, filed it and started evangelizing it. My idea, which we called the “MiC System” for “Music Identification Center”, came fast, and I was pulling things together along the way. Knowing artists were not getting paid enough – or at all – I started to meet others, like Soundstr founder Eron Bucciarelli-Tieger of Hawthorne Heights, who was not getting paid for his public performances. It was a no-brainer to bring the Soundstr technology into VNUE.”
Bair’s new program, about to go live July and roll out nationally, is a marriage of technology and transparency. With general licensing unfair, and no accurate way to identify and track music played in real-time, Bair’s new system is the perfect storm of practical hi-tech tracking of each piece of music with a transparent program resulting in lower fees for venues and higher payments for musical artists.
“General licensing is unfair because it is so vague and does not protect musicians,” noted Bair. “There is no accurate way to police it. Currently, they send someone in to “spy” on a venue, and when a song is played they threaten the owners with copyright lawsuits. It’s just the wrong way to do it. Soundstr tracks all music played, so it is more like a utility. You would pay for what you use.”
With about 160,000 brick and mortar bars and restaurants in the U.S., only a small percentage, perhaps 30 percent according to Bair’s sources, are actually licensed properly for blanket license fees. But in today’s hi-tech age, Bair knew he could use his engineering skills to create an affordable and accurate tracking system that will benefit everyone. And, he believes the PROs will eventually embrace it.
With this new model in place, and set to launch July 1st live on radio stations, the revolution will be music to your ears.
To learn more about how VNUE’s Soundstr can work with your venue, please email Contact@Vnue.com
Main VNUE website: www.vnue.com
Soundstr website (product specific): www.soundstr.com