PRS Begins Legal Action Against Soundcloud

The Performing Rights Society today distributed an email announcing legal action against Soundcloud.

I love Soundcloud. I think it provides a great service. It allows musicians to share their music and be part of a community who, spammers aside, listen to and share their tracks.

What it doesn’t do however, is pay musicians for streams of their tracks. Even though the likes of Spotify offer a pittance compared to a full CD or download, they are at least making an effort to remunerate musicians. Soundcloud do not.

I believe in free culture: art, music, literature etc should be free to anyone, anywhere and anytime.

The kicker here is that there is a proportion of musicians who pay for a premium Soundcloud profile – Soundcloud have an income stream. The musicians who Soundcloud make money from are not financially compensated for their work being hosted and played the platform.

The PRS support their members by ensuring that if their music is played, the member is compensated accordingly. It means many retailers pay into a license that then feeds back to the artist, for example.

Soundcloud does not have a PRS license, hence musicians not being paid.

As an independent musician who uses the PRS to ensure that I get some compensation for the many gigs I play for free (£5 per pub gig – or £5 for 30 minutes work), I support their action.

As someone who uses Soundcloud to promote my work, I hope they find an amicable agreement.

The email from the PRS is in full below:

Dear Member,

PRS for Music begins legal action against SoundCloud

After careful consideration, and following five years of unsuccessful negotiations, we now find ourselves in a situation where we have no alternative but to commence legal proceedings against the online music service SoundCloud.

When a writer or publisher becomes a member of the Performing Right Society, they assign certain rights to their works over for us to administer, so it’s our job to ensure we collect and distribute royalties due to them. SoundCloud actively promotes and shares music. Launched in 2008, the service now has more than 175m unique listeners per month. Unfortunately, the organisation continues to deny it needs a PRS for Music licence for its existing service available in the UK and Europe, meaning it is not remunerating our members when their music is streamed by the SoundCloud platform.

Our aim is always to license services when they use our members’ music. It has been a difficult decision to begin legal action against SoundCloud but one we firmly believe is in the best, long-term interests of our membership. This is because it is important we establish the principle that a licence is required when services make available music to users. We have asked SoundCloud numerous times to recognise their responsibilities to take a licence to stop the infringement of our members’ copyrights but so far our requests have not been met. Therefore we now have no choice but to pursue the issue through the courts.

We understand SoundCloud has taken down some of our members’ works from their service. With our letter of claim, we sent SoundCloud a list of 4,500 musical works which are being made available on the service, as a sample of our repertoire being used, so that they understood the scale of our members’ repertoire and its use on the service. We asked them to take a licence to cover the use of all our members’ repertoire or otherwise stop infringing.

SoundCloud decided to respond to our claim by informing us that it had removed 250 posts. Unfortunately, we have no visibility or clarity on SoundCloud’s approach to removing works, so it is not currently clear why these particular posts have been selected by them given the wider issue of infringement that is occurring. Ultimately, it is SoundCloud’s decision as to whether it starts paying for the ongoing use of our members’ music or stops using these works entirely.

If the streaming market is to reach its true potential and offer a fair return for our members, organisations such as SoundCloud must pay for their use of our members’ music. We launched our Streamfair campaign in June to raise awareness of this issue and highlight how music creators need to be properly remunerated from streaming. We believe that all digital services should obtain a licence which grants them permission to use our members’ music and repertoire, in this case the works of songwriters, publishers and composers.

The streaming market cannot fairly develop unless this happens. We have always been pro-licensing and pro-actively work with organisations in order to propose an appropriate licensing solution for the use of our members’ works.

We remain hopeful that this matter can be resolved without the need for extended litigation. Members will appreciate that this is now a legal matter and our ability to communicate around it is therefore limited by the legal process. However, we will try to share information and updates whenever we can.

Please visit our website to read our frequently asked questions.

Yours faithfully,

Karen Buse

Executive Director, Membership and International
PRS for Music

How To Embed Soundcloud in Tumblr

Soundcloud and Tumblr are leading the way in both of their respective fields, and combining the two by embedding SoundCloud’s audio player is a popular way of sharing music.

SoundCloud is a music streaming service which gives you 2 hours worth of space with which you can upload your mp3s. Posting the streams of these mp3s to Tumblr, the popular microblogging platform, couldn’t be easier.

First, login to both your SoundCloud and Tumblr accounts, simple, I know!

In Soundlcoud go to ‘You’, and then ‘Tracks’ – this will take you to the songs you’ve uploaded. Once you’ve decided what song you want to embed into a Tumblr post, click on the ‘Share’ icon.

This brings up a new module with a piece of HTML code – copy the HTML and head over to Tumblr.

In your Tumblr dashboard start a new post by clicking ‘Text’ and in the clear page, copy the HTML. Hit ‘Preview’ to make sure it looks right, and then publish your post!

A simple yet effective way of sharing your music with your Tumblr community without going over your limited audio uploads.

If you’re on either Tumblr or Soundcloud leave me a comment and I’ll be sure to have a look and a listen!

Soundcloud Team Up With Hype Machine

Hot on the heels of the announcement that SoundCloud will now be working with Hype Machine, I’ve just received the following e-mail:

Hi Matt,

we’re sending you a quick email because you’ve indicated in your SoundCloud settings that you’re in the category of Press/Blogger/Podcaster/Media and we have some important news that we think will be of particular interest. Today we’re announcing an integration between ourselves and The Hype Machine. We’re huge fans of The Hype Machine and have a sneaky suspicion that you might be too.

But what does this integration mean?

The Hype Machine now detects SoundCloud players

As you probably know, The Hype Machine aggregates a number of blogs and pulls in the posts and tracks that it finds. They now detect embedded SoundCloud players. So, if you are a blogger this means that you can now use our players and know that your post will show up on the Hype Machine. The Hype Machine won’t currently detect a SoundCloud plain-text download link but we have some really nice new players for premium users including customisable artwork- and mini-players. You only need a Lite account which is just €21 if you use this special 25%-off discount code we’ve created for you:

HYPEM2d1sc
Sign up here: http://bit.ly/4Hn1T3

The Hype Machine plays back the original track that is hosted on SoundCloud

What’s nice is that once The Hype Machine has detected that the audio comes from a SoundCloud player it can then simply stream the music directly from the SoundCloud servers. This means that if a label or artist has uploaded that music then they get lots of useful information on how much hype their track is getting. And we’re doing all the hard work in terms of streaming the music. That’s what we do best!

It’s super easy to post more music from more original sources

Hopefully this all means that bloggers can be posting more interesting music from more original sources. Most of the public tracks on SoundCloud have a handy little share button so you can grab the embed code. What’s more, we allow you to customize the player or even post directly to WordPress and Blogger. If a label or artist is sending you tracks to put up on your blog then consider asking them to send you the SoundCloud link as well so that you can embed the player. We should stress that we’d encourage you to use tracks that have been already uploaded by the artists or labels of course.

Here’s a few examples, try the share button out for yourself.

Massive Attack: http://soundcloud.com/lucidonline/girl-i-love-you-she-is-danger-remix
Owen Pallett: http://soundcloud.com/dominorecordco/sets/owen-pallett-heartland
Lightspeed Champion: http://soundcloud.com/dominorecordco/sets/lifeissweet
Mvsevm: http://soundcloud.com/discobelle/sets/mvsevm-french-jeans-first-look

We’d love to get your feedback

We think this is exciting news. Hype Machine and the music blogs serve a massively important role in fans discovering new and interesting music. It’s often the blogosphere that helps new acts break to a wider audience. We’re thrilled to be part of that ecosystem by allowing artists and labels to serve tracks directly to music bloggers via SoundCloud. At the same time we hopefully eliminate a lot of the hustle for bloggers themselves having to re-upload tracks to their own servers or use generic file sharing services like supermegasendfile.com.

This is certainly an interesting partnership and could provide us with some great innovations in the coming months.