If you're a dance music fan, you've no doubt seen many great unauthorized remixes appear on the internet, only to be swiftly taken down for copyright infringement. Bootlegs can result in punitive action, like getting the remixer's SoundCloud or YouTube account shut down, it can also warrant legal action from artists, labels, and publishers.
However this is finally starting to change. Recently, Dubset signed a deal with Apple to help facilitate legal licensing of DJ mixes and remixes, and Skio Music have also launched their own system for licensing samples and remixes.
Former Beatport CEO Matthew Adell and Boomrat's Michael Mukhin have teamed up to launch MetaPop, a service that focuses on making it simple for remixers to go legal, and for the original artists and labels to make some profit.
THUMP: What were the problems you were trying to address with this system, and how does it work?
Matthew Adell: The first half of the problem is that a bunch of people are making really great shit that gets taken down, or that they get threatening letters about. We have people creating great stuff, and we have a system that thwarts them. The other half of the problem is that I wanted to understand what the opportunity is for the rights holders, because I really believe very strongly that this is both a technology problem and a diplomacy problem. There has to be a way to satisfy creators, to satisfy the fans of the creators, and then to also to satisfy the rights holders, original songwriters, and performers.
We determined that simplicity is incredibly important. It's important that creators can just create, and not worry about negative repercussions, and it's important that rights holders can trust the ecosystem to not create a great deal of additional work for them, and to drive revenue back to them. So, we identified a system by which rights holders pre-clear their catalogue with MetaPop. When a rights holder signs up, they determine which portion of their catalogue they wish to licence to MetaPop.
Once the remixers upload their remix to MetaPop, the remixes go straight to YouTube and SoundCloud and begin monetizing. They can appear on the MetaPop channel, as well as on the channel of the remixer, as well as on the channel of the original label if the label wishes. The very last step is that the rights holders can identify any of these remixes that they do love, and partner with Metapop to redistribute those remixes to Apple, Spotify, and anywhere else.
Are there any restrictions on what the remixer does?
We do filter the remixes for hate speech, or unauthorized commercial speech, but that has never happened. I thought it was important to shield labels and original artists from, let's say, the Illinois Nazi Party remixing their song and turning it into a chant. That's not what we're here to do, not that I've ever seen it happen. That's the one reason we would take something down.
If I remix a song and clear it through MetaPop, I can put it on my own SoundCloud and YouTube channels, but nowhere else until the label gives the go-ahead?
You can put it on your channel, but you have to publish and upload it through MetaPop, and we'll put it on your channel for you. That's all just part of us helping the rights holder know that MetaPop is collecting all the revenue and splitting it. We want rights holders to have confidence that we are not creating work for them. We don't want them to have a task to chase down remixes and the money that comes from them.
Are downloads enabled for the SoundCloud files?
No, we do not enable downloads. If a label wants to make downloads available, they can make them available. Almost all digital music listening is happening at mobile these days, and there are very few downloads. I realize that discounts DJs who need downloads, and we may find a solution for that in the future. We wanted to make the ecosystem transparent and easy for everyone, and that's why we didn't want to add the complexity of downloads to our initial beta offering.
Is the end goal to expand to other platforms and offer more than just streaming?
Absolutely. For instance, our labels have a dashboard where they can see all their remixes, and which are most popular. We'll be working with them to get those remixes placed on iTunes, or Spotify. That's something that will come.
Right now, the key focus is communicating to labels that people are doing these remixes, whether they like it or not. Many, many millions of them are not being identified by YouTube or SoundCloud's content ID systems, so even if a label wanted to have them all taken down, it's not working. This is happening, let us help.
What is the money breakdown?
We are very transparent about this, and it's right on our site. There is only one split, and it is non-negotiable. 70% of the revenue goes to the original rights holder, and we split the remaining revenue equally with the remixer.
Why are instrument stems available for some songs but not others?
Labels are not required to submit stems to participate, and there are tons of really great remixes that are done of tracks where stems have never been available. If someone really wants to remix something, they're going to figure out a way. When we do a special promotion or feature, then the label supplies us stems and we give them away to our users.
But the core of MetaPop is not to be a stems marketplace. Giving the stems away is optional, but I know that we're finding that if you're willing to do that, there will be more remixes made, and you'll make more money.
Benjamin Boles is on Twitter.