Dubset's Major Move


Spotify and Apple Music could soon get the legal grey area of music like remixes and DJ sets that today live unofficially on SoundCloud. Sony Music Entertainment today became the first major record label to allow its music to be monetized through unofficial mixes thanks to a deal with rights clearance startup Dubset. That means Sony’s master recordings will be indexed by Dubset, and rights holders will be compensated even if just a tiny one-second snippet of their song is used in a DJ set or remix.

A source tells TechCrunch that Dubset is getting closer to securing deals with the other two major labels Warner and Universal.

If it can lock down all three, remixes and DJ sets featuring almost any music could be legally hosted on the top streaming services instead of being barred or removed for copyright infringement. That might eliminate the differentiation that’s kept struggling SoundCloud afloat. Illegal music uploaded there has sometimes flown under the radar since SoundCloud is protected by Safe Harbor law regarding user generated content. But if it’s legally available on Spotify, Apple Music, and elsewhere, listeners wouldn’t have to go to SoundCloud.

Could we be stepping closer to a mainstream acceptance of remix culture? A future where derivative works are not only allowed but encouraged is a divergent music future, indeed. As previously stated on this blog, if you can clear unauthorized remixes using Dubset, then why not clear samples eventually? We might be entering an era where most music is fair game for creative mutation, and the original artists get paid. How will that work with songs already released, especially the ones that sneakily didn't clear drum loops or other samples? Should clearance lawyers start looking at new career options?

As far as Apple Music and Spotify go, I really can't see them opening up their services to user-uploaded content a la SoundCloud. I'm ready to be surprised, but I do think those predictions are off the mark. The Verge gives a clue to where this might be headed for the two big streamers:

DJ mixes have historically proved to be especially difficult for monetized distribution. “The average mix is 62 minutes long and has 22 different songs in it, and those 22 different songs are represented by over 100 different rights holders,” {Dubset CEO Stephen} White tells The Verge. Using Dubset’s technology, a 60-minute mix can be processed in just 15 minutes.

During that 60-minute mix, White says, MixSCAN will fingerprint every three seconds of audio. “We’re using a combination of audio fingerprinting technologies and fairly advanced algorithmic approaches to identify the underlying masters that are being used in a mix or a remix,” he says. Although MixBANK asks DJs themselves to identify the masters, White says this is just to help validate MixSCAN’s results.

Apple's Beats 1 Radio regularly broadcasts sets by newsworthy artists and celebrities, but the Beats 1 platform still fails to make the news. These DJ events need exposure outside of the ephemeral original broadcast. Wouldn't it be nice if the sets were recorded and archived, and then available to play on demand via Apple Music? I think that's what's happening here. A different sort of license is required to make these DJ sets available on demand, and every song (and, yes, unofficial remix) must be cleared for this type of usage. Theoretically, Dubset's technology would not only clear the songs in the mix, but it would be able to do so in 15 minutes. A Beats 1 set could be available to stream on Apple Music within thirty minutes of its broadcast. Voilà. And I'd wager Spotify has similar ambitions.

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