AMHERST — Folksinger and songwriter Paul Kaplan, a longtime host of the Pioneer Valley Folklore Society’s Song & Story Swap, will mark 25 years of involvement with the event Sept. 2 when he plays as the featured performer.
This month’s Song & Story Swap begins at 7 p.m. at First Church and will be built round the theme of “climate.”
Kaplan, who lives in Amherst, has been part of the folk music world since the late 1960s, when many of his early songs were published in the protest song magazine “Broadside.” In the 1970s, he also produced three posthumous albums by noted folk/protest singer Phil Ochs.
A number of other artists have recorded Kaplan’s songs over the years, and in the 1980s his environmental songs landed him a spot in the Hudson River Sloop Singers with Pete Seeger. He’s the recipient of 11 ASCAP songwriting awards and will be touring in Denmark, Germany and England this fall.
Attendees of the Sept. 2 show are invited to contribute a song or story on the topic of “climate” during an opening round before Kaplan’s performance. Admission is free, with a suggested minimum donation via virtual tip jar to the artist of $7.50.
More information is available at pvfs.us.
AMHERST — The University Museum of Contemporary Art, the largest gallery at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is opening the 2023-2024 year with a new director and three fresh exhibits.
Amanda Herman, who’s served as education curator at UMCA since 2018, has been appointed the museum’s interim director. She takes over for the former director, Loretta Yarlow, who retired earlier this summer after nearly 18 years heading UMCA.
Herman, who moved to the area from San Francisco in 2012, has previously taught photography, art and social practice in the Five Colleges system in addition to working on a number of art projects with organizations and public school in Springfield, Holyoke and Easthampton.
As UMCA’s education curator, Herman has expanded the range of programs, from teaching graduate students to curate their own exhibitions to having undergraduates serve as museum educators at the gallery. She also plans public programs and collaborations with faculty across disciplines, from the College of Nursing to Department of Art History.
A UMCA, she’s overseeing three new exhibits opening Sept. 22: “Strangeness,” a large-scale video installation by Raida Adon that explores themes of displacement; “Artists, Born Elsewhere,” works from UMCA’s permanent collection by artists who immigrated to the U.S.; and works by Westhampton artist Susan Yard.
An opening reception for all three exhibits takes place at the museum Sept. 21 from 5 to 7 p.m.
— Compiled by Steve Pfarrer
AMERICANAFEST has released its full schedule for 2023, promising an exciting array of showcases, panels, and special events. Presented by the Americana Music Association, the annual event is set to take place in Nashville from Sept. 19 to 23, spanning 48 venues and featuring an impressive lineup of more than 200 artists and bands. With nearly 300 events on the agenda, attendees are in for a music-filled display.
One of the main highlights of AMERICANAFEST is its robust Business Conference, featuring over 70 panels. The discussions will delve into artist interviews, insights into the music industry’s inner workings, inclusivity, career building, and pivotal peer-to-peer interactions. Noteworthy panels include an in-depth exploration of the career of 49 Winchester, discussions on AI’s role in music creation and its legal implications, and a focus on the rise of ambient music in the Americana genre. The event will also commemorate the legacies of Hank Williams and Sam Phillips, both of whom would have turned 100 this year, with retrospective looks at their contributions to the industry.
Music enthusiasts can look forward to a diverse array of performances and events, including the “Songwriters Round: Three Voices, Three Instruments.” This special acoustic round on the opening night of AMERICANAFEST will feature Alisa Amador on guitar, Phoebe Hunt on fiddle, and Kaia Kater on banjo.
Inclusivity and diversity are celebrated through events like “Americana Proud: A Voice for All,” hosted by Autumn Nicholas and Vidalia Anne Gentry, which hopes to bring LGBTQIA+ artists into the limelight, transcending boundaries of gender and identity.
Another unmissable event on the calendar is “Want Symphonic: Rufus Wainwright with the Nashville Symphony.” This partnership between AMERICANAFEST and Rufus Wainwright will commemorate the 20th anniversary of his albums Want One and Want Two. Notably, Wainwright will be accompanied by the Nashville Symphony, performing both albums in their entirety with orchestral arrangements.
The “Pitch Meeting” hopes to be one of Nashville’s most innovative open mic nights. Musicians join forces to provide acoustic artists with a full-band experience, enhancing their performances with electric guitars, a rhythm section, harmonies, keyboards, and even horns. The National Museum of African American Music will also host captivating in-the-round performances by official AMERICANAFEST showcasing artists.
AMERICANAFEST’s dedication to creating an immersive experience extends to The Bluebird Café, where ticketed showcases will feature performances by artists including Wainwright, Teddy Thompson, Mariel Buckley, and more.
Additional events include the “Musicians Corner,” a free outdoor concert presented by New West Records in celebration of their 25th anniversary, as well as the “Relix & Dayglo Present AMERICANAFEST at Brooklyn Bowl,” curated by AMERICANAFEST and featuring a star-studded lineup.
To secure a spot at these events and more, festival passes are available for purchase on the AMERICANAFEST website. With prices starting at $149 for Festival Passes and $399 for Conference+Festival Passes (with special rates for Americana Music Association Members), music enthusiasts can gain access to a wealth of performances, discussions, and immersive experiences.
The comprehensive schedule can be accessed through the official 2023 AMERICANAFEST mobile app or online on their website. Both the iOS version on the App Store and the Android version on the Google Play Store are readily available for download.
Full List of AMERICANAFEST 2023 Official Showcasing Artists
Adeem the Artist
Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves
Amelia White + The Blue Souvenirs
The Arcadian Wild
The Band of Heathens
Benjamin Dakota Rogers
Billy Allen & The Pollies
Blue Water Highway
Boo Ray and His Shod-Hot Band
Dan Tyminski Band
David Nance & Mowed Sound
David Wax Museum
Dawn Landes and Friends Perform The Liberated Woman’s Songbook
Ever More Nest
Gordie Tentrees & Jaxon Haldane
The Hanging Stars
J. R. Carroll
Jason Hawk Harris
Jenny Owen Youngs
John Paul White
JP Harris’Dreadful Wind & Rain
Kevin Daniel & The Bottom Line
The Lil Smokies
Maya de Vitry
The McCrary Sisters
Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper
Mike Stinson & Johnny Irion
North Mississippi Allstars
The Pink Stones
Rodney Crowell Trio
Sam Nelson of X Ambassadors
Sarah Lee Guthrie
Sean Della Croce
The Secret Sisters
The Sensational Barnes Brothers
Shovels & Rope
Simeon Hammond Dallas
Sons of the East
Sons of Town Hall
Steep Canyon Rangers
Them Dirty Roses
Three Times A Lady
A Tribute to Loretta Lynn
The Two Tracks
Vidalia Anne Gentry
The Wandering Hearts
The Watson Twins
West Texas Exiles
The Wheelhouse Rousters
The Wild Feathers
The Wilder Blue
William Tyler & The Impossible Truths
Rapper Eminem personally demanded that Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy stop using his music at campaign events.
Ramaswamy made headlines earlier this month when he rapped one of Eminem’s legendary hit songs, “Lose Yourself,” during an impromptu performance at the Iowa State Fair.
Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images
That was the first — and now last — time that Ramaswamy could legally perform Eminem’s songs on the campaign trail.
Last week, music licensing firm Broadcast Music Inc. informed Ramaswamy’s campaign that Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Mathers, requested his music be removed from the library to which Ramaswamy’s campaign had purchased rights.
“This letter serves as notice to you … that BMI has received a communication from Marshall B. Mathers, III, professionally known as Eminem, objecting to the Vivek Ramaswamy campaign’s use of Eminem’s musical compositions,” the letter states. “BMI will consider any performance of the Eminem Works by the Vivek 2024 campaign from this date forward to be a material breach of the Agreement for which BMI reserves all rights and remedies with respect thereto.”
Eminem’s decision is not unusual. More than two dozen artists, for example, demanded Donald Trump stop playing their music at his campaign events and political rallies.
But Eminem’s decision drew criticism because, in the eyes of critics, his demand contradicts the attitude that his early work, like “Lose Yourself,” promotes.
The real slim shady stood up and sold out,” another person criticized.
Many have tens of millions of views.
Yet Eminem hasn’t hit any of these folks with copyright strikes.
Why is he targeting a dorky Republican presidential candidate? What is it about Vivek that’s *so* offensive?” one person noted.
Ramaswamy’s campaign responded to the letter by citing Eminem lyrics.
“Vivek just got on the stage and cut loose,” said campaign spokeswoman Tricia McLaughlin. “To the American people’s chagrin, we will have to leave the rapping to the real Slim Shady.”
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While Taylor Swift’s net worth might not come close to the likes of wealthy businessmen Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, the star is still very wealthy.
Taylor Swift is undoubtedly one of the most successful musicians of our time, according to various sources, Taylor Swift has a net worth of around $700m, although as most of her wealth is tied up in private businesses and property, this figure is subject to a lot of speculation.
In this article, we will delve into Taylor Swift’s net worth and explore how her success as an artist has helped her build the fortune she has today.
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Most successful singer-songwriters began with the hard work of playing for free, and Taylor Swift is no different. Born on December 13, 1989, in Reading, Pennsylvania, she showed an early interest in music and singing, starting out at age 10, she learned to play the guitar and began writing her own songs.
Swift’s big break came in 2006, when, at the age of just 17, she signed a record deal with Big Machine Records, a label Swift later regretted signing on with (more on that later).
Released later that year, her debut album was a critical and commercial success spawning several hit singles, including “Tim McGraw,” “Teardrops on My Guitar,” and “Our Song.” The latter became Taylor Swift’s first number-one hit on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Taylor Swift’s career began in the country music market, although her music quickly gained mass appeal. She went on to release her second album, “Fearless,” in 2008, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and later went on to become the top-selling album of 2009.
After her early career success, Taylor Swift continued to dominate the music industry in the 2010s. In 2010, she released her third album, “Speak Now,” which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and featured hit singles such as “Mine,” “Back to December,” and “Mean.” The album showcased Swift’s growth as a songwriter and her willingness to experiment with different musical styles.
Swift’s success continued with the release of her fourth album, “Red,” in 2012. The album featured a more pop-oriented sound and included hit singles such as “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “I Knew You Were Trouble,” and “22.” The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and cemented Swift’s status as one of the biggest pop stars in the world.
In 2014, Swift released her fifth album, “1989,” which marked a departure from her country roots and embraced a full pop sound. The album included hit singles such as “Shake It Off,” “Blank Space,” and “Bad Blood,” and won several awards, including the Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The album was a commercial and critical success and cemented Swift’s status as one of the most successful musicians of her generation.
With Big Machine Records, Taylor Swift released some of her best-selling music. The contract with the record label lasted from 2005 to 2018, and when the deal was up, the artist switched to Universals’ Republic Records. However, Big Machine continues to own the original recordings of her first six albums.
Big Machine sold itself to private-equity group Ithaca Holdings, owned by music manager Scooter Braun, who Swift claims has bullied her. Although Ithaca sold the rights to her music to Shamrock Holdings for a reported $300m in 2019, Swift decided it was time to re-record her first six albums and keep the master recordings under her own control.
While motivated by personal reasons, this was also a savvy business decision. By keeping the rights to her music, Swift can keep all the royalties without having to split the takings with other investors.
Most of the singer-songwriter’s wealth comes from her music sales and very lucrative tours.
Her Reputation stadium tour grossed over $345m in 2018, while her latest Eras stadium tour has generated a staggering $1.4bn in ticket sales.
Not all of this revenue goes to the artist, but Taylor Swift has plenty of other income streams.
She owns several properties, including a $50 million apartment in New York City and a $17 million beachfront mansion in Rhode Island and an interest in streaming service Tidal.
And like all celebrities, Taylor Swift has signed numerous sponsorship deals, partnering with major brands, including Coca-Cola, Keds, and CoverGirl. Swift is known for being very selective about the brands she works with – she only partners with those that align with her values and image. She also has a range of merchandise highly sought after by her fans.
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US collecting society ASCAP has been having some fun on social media this week posting not especially subtle digs at its rival BMI in response to reports that the latter rights organisation is close to being acquired by a private equity outfit.
Most of the music industry’s collecting societies around the world – including ASCAP – are not-for-profit organisations owned by their members, so usually some combination of artists, songwriters, record labels and/or music publishers.
However, BMI is actually owned by a group of broadcasters. But, until last year, it nevertheless operated on a not-for-profit basis, which meant most people didn’t notice. Then, last October, BMI announced it was becoming a for-profit enterprise, arguing that going that route would allow it to seek the investment required to expand and enhance the organisation.
That decision was made after BMI had considered selling itself. The society’s board initially decided not to sell, but then last month it was reported that talks were back on with possible buyers. And last week it was revealed that private equity firm New Mountain Capital was now a frontrunner to acquire the organisation.
All of that has prompted an assortment of groups representing songwriters to demand that BMI answer a bunch of questions about what impact the profit margin is having on the fees it charges on the royalties it processes; who will profit from any sale; and what having a new private equity owner will mean for the society and its members.
So far BMI has failed to answer any of those specific questions, instead putting out vague assurances that the decision to become a for-profit entity and any imminent sale is all in the interest of the songwriters whose songs it represents. A response that hasn’t in any way placated the songwriter groups.
In the US, there are a number of collecting societies that all represent the performing rights in songs, each representing a different set of writers and the songs they have written. So ASCAP and BMI compete with the smaller and also privately owned SESAC and GMR.
In most collective licensing scenarios, licensees – like radio stations and concert promoters – seek something nearing a blanket licence, meaning they really need to get licences from all four societies. This means the real competition between ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and GMR is within the songwriter community, where they compete for songwriter members.
As a result, while BMI and ASCAP regularly collaborate on lobbying and data projects, they very much compete when it comes to trying to persuade songwriters to sign up.
ASCAP has been using the controversies currently surrounding BMI’s for-profit status and imminent private equity deal to suggest that it is the American collecting society that is most focused on the interests of songwriters.
So, what’s your favourite BMI dig from ASCAP’s social media posts this week?
• ASCAP. Creators first. Not for profit. Not for sale.
• There is no “I” in ASCAP.
• ASCAP. We put our songwriters first in everything we do. Always.
• Private equity never wrote an iconic love song.
• ASCAP. Not for profit since 1914 and still going strong.
• ASCAP. Growth without greed.
• ASCAP writers. Who owns us? Who gets paid? You and you.
• ASCAP. We pay songwriters not shareholders.
• ASCAP. Where royalties and values unite.
• Humans first. We are not the artificial society of composers, authors and publishers.
Actually, the last one relates to the challenges posed by AI and ASCAP’s role in campaigning on all that for its members. I don’t think they’re suggesting BMI is run by robots. Well, not yet.
Of the 1.15 million Australians who cancelled their subscriptions to video streaming services between January and March 2023, 44 percent said it was to save money because of cost of living, according to research firm Kantor.
However pulling their subs doesn’t seem to be the case so far with music streamers. In fact, the arrival of TikTok’s new streaming service, TikTok Music, could lead to a boom. Its game-changing mix of streaming and social media is tipped to wave in a new second generation of music streaming services and transform TikTok’s China-based parent company ByteDance into a more powerful global player than it is already. Australia is one of five countries where TikTok Music has been introduced (in beta mode) alongside Singapore, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico.
Figures from the last few years have shown how Australians’ huge appetite for consuming music has shown a marked tendency to pay for streaming. In mid-2021, when audio streaming subs had reached 13.5 million (up 13 percent from a year before) over half were paid subscriptions, compared to 42 percent in 2020.
By end of 2022, when the Australian recorded music industry hit its highest figure in 16 years (valued at $609.6 million), music streaming made up 67.4 percent of the share and was worth $410.7 million, up an 8.9 percent growth from the year before.
The figures are expected to keep soaring even as subscription prices rise. “Our price increases have had very little impact on our subscriber growth,” said Spotify CEO Daniel Ek. “We expect it to grow 30 percent this year. Obviously music is undervalued and streaming services have more pricing power than thought.”
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From September, the price of a Premium Individual subscription in Australia goes from $11.99 a month to $12.99.
Record companies too have long been pushing for services to up their subs charges. “We see these initial price increases as an encouraging start,” said Warner Music CEO Robert Kyncl. “There’s no evidence that the services are experiencing elevated levels of customer churn. We believe the market will bear further price increases in the future, and we’re expecting that they’ll arrive on a more regular cadence than in the past.”
Kyncl was speaking after Warner announced its earnings for its fiscal Q3 (calendar Q2) 2023, which ended June 30, and were up by 9.9 percent year on year (YoY) to US$1.564 billion (AU$2.42 billion)
Streaming revenue grew 7.3 percent to $822 million in that quarter. Warner indicated that the recent streaming pricing hikes would show significantly in fiscal 2024, which for Warner begins on October 1, 2023.
Universal Music Group’s Q2 earnings went up 10 percent to €2.080 billion (AU$3.5 billion), of which ad-supported and subscription streaming revenue grew 11 percent YoY to €1.426 billion ($2.40 billion). The money from streaming subscriptions alone mounted 13 percent YoY to €1.068 billion ($1.79 billion).
Sony Music Entertainment’s revenue rose 16 percent to ¥358.2 billion ($3.87 billion) for the fiscal quarter which ended June 30. Streaming made up ¥164.89 billion ($3.87 million), an 18.52 percent YoY hike.
Statistics show that in the current cost crisis, Australians aged between 18 and 29 years old have cut back on meals, petrol, food takeaway deliveries and some types of entertainment. Earlier this year, the music industry had a wake-up call when two of the biggest festivals failed to draw usual numbers – Bluesfest from 100,000 to 70,000, and Splendour In The Grass from 50,000 to 35,000.
So why is music streaming immune so far? The answer may be in the profile of the Australian music streamer by researcher Roy Morgan in June 2020. “People who stream music online are more likely than the average Australian to be young, tech savvy and ready to spend,” stated the report. “The quintessential Australian streamer is a young woman under 35 years of age and likely to be in full-time white collar employment. She’s likely to be a ‘big spender’ and a ‘Metrotech’.”
Metrotechs are “socially aware, successful, career focused, culturally diverse as well as trend and tech focused. They are committed experience seekers, willing to spend big on the best of city life and thrive on being out and about in the world.”
The Metrotechs most likely to stream music are in the High Life, Fit & Fab and Academic Optimists categories.
According to AppMagic, Spotify was the most downloaded music service app in Australia with 23.8 million downloads by January 2022, and responsible for almost half of Australian consumers who spent money on digital music content. Second was YouTube Music with 8.7 million downloads, and SoundCloud Music at third with 7.6 million downloads.
Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music and Deezer upped their subscription prices in the past 18 months. The latest was Tidal on August 1. Most reported that it did not slow fans signing up.
The Swede did better than its own executives or financial markets expected in its latest postings in July. Premium subscribers grew 17 percent YoY to 220 million, beating its prediction of 217 million. While it anticipated that the number of MAUs (monthly active users) would make it to 530 million, in reality it jumped by 27 percent from 2022 to 551 million.
Spotify expects premium subscribers to reach 224 million in Q3 (the three months from July to September) and MAUs to grow to 572 million. It generated US$2.9 billion (AU$4.5 billion) in revenue in the first quarter of 2023.
Apple Music last revealed its subscription figures in June 2019, when it was at 60 million globally. But that hasn’t stopped music associations and app measurement firms from trying to crunch numbers their way. The Business of Apps put the June 2022 figure at 88 million. The National Music Publishers Association used its data to claim Apple Music had 32.6 million payers in the U.S, second to Spotify’s 44.4 million.
US investment firm JP Morgan suggested Apple Music will reach 110 million payers by 2025 and be worth US$7 billion (AU$10.8 billion) a year.
Last year Amazon Music announced it grew subs numbers by 25 percent year-over-year to reach the 55 million mark, and hit 68 million this year. It generated US$1.3 billion (AU$2 billion) in revenue in 2022’s fourth quarter. Around this time, Amazon Prime’s two million Australian subscribers got Amazon Music’s full music and podcast library for no extra cost, giving them 100 million titles.
Globally Amazon Music is regarded as third largest streaming player, with a 13.75 percent market share, to Spotify’s 33.37 percent and Apple Music’s 17.80 percent.
China’s biggest online music platform company announced it arrived at 99.4 million subscribers in June 2023, up 20 percent from the previous 12 months. That gives it a 13.39 percent share in the global music streaming market in terms of subscribers. Revenues grew by 37.2 percent year-on-year to RMB 2.89 billion (AU$622.7 million), a new record for TM. However MAUs were down to 592 million at the end of the first quarter this year, compared with 636 million at the end of the same quarter last year.
YouTube Music’s last figures were in November 2022, when it reached 50 million subscribers (up 20 percent from previous year), giving it a market share of 10.11 percent in the global music streaming subscribers. Launched in Australia in 2018, it was second most downloaded streaming service app here with 8.7 million boot-ups last year.
It’s retained fan loyalty with features as exclusive concerts, TV and radio sessions, meets where they can watch together, “afterparties” for when an act launches a video or song, and recently, live lyrics. YouTube Music generated US$2.5 billion (AU$3.8 billion) in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2022.
In 2023, nearly 120,000 tracks are being uploaded daily to streaming services, up from the 100,000 added each day in 2022.
Two overseas reports in recent weeks have substantiated the rosy future of music streaming. Persistence Market Research expected the global music streaming market to grow from US$30.42 billion (AU$47.2 billion) in 2022 to reach US$124.68 billion (AU$193.7 billion) by 2033, escalating at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.8 percent between 2023 and 2033.
It attributed the continued growing technology that made music streaming remain a great experience. These included the widespread availability of high-speed internet and affordable data plans, seamless movements between devices, greater adoption of smartphones that allowed “music on the go”, and innovations in audio compression and streaming.
Finance powerhouse Goldman Sachs adjusted its forecast for global revenue for recorded music in 2023. It now puts the growth rate at 7.5 percent instead of 7.3 percent. There would be a compound annual growth rate of 8.6 percent for 2023 to 2030. Streaming would be strong fuel for this growth, itself already pegged at a growing rate of 11 percent.
One would be the growing streaming subscription prices. Goldman Sachs said, “We believe that such price increases are not just a one-off, and we would expect the industry to work towards implementing price increases on a recurring basis, especially in an environment of higher inflation.”
The other was how music streaming services have learned, from the gaming sector, that making money out of “superfans” was a $4 billion opportunity. Right from the start, they charged users a flat monthly fee because they assumed they all had a similar level of engagement. That proved not true because the greater intensity of their relationship, the more they would pay plenty for exclusive and personalised content.
My Little Pony is arguably one of pop culture’s most enduring brands, and in 2023, it’s celebrating 40 years of friendship and magic.
Remixed in size and color after the 1981 My Pretty Pony fell short in inspiring young buyers, the My Little Pony brand took off with the release of some Gen1 ponies in 1983, followed by TV specials, shorts and animated series bearing the toy line’s titular name. By the mid- to late ’80s, the ponies had become a fixture of the children’s media and toy industry.
In the four decades — and four more pony generations — since, the Hasbro brand’s endless appeal has led to more toys, shows, movies and games. As a result, My Little Pony has left an imprint on multiple generations, from the children of the synths-era to today’s current TikTokers.
To help celebrate that cross-generational appeal, Jessica Vaughn, head of sync at Venice Music and the founder and president of Head Bitch Music — a full-service music production house that has worked on series like Bridgerton, Criminal Minds, Melrose Place, FBoy Island, Chucky, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts — has remixed the My Little Pony classic theme for fans young and older.
Through two EPs featuring more than 20 combined remixes, Vaughn — who is also involved with Web3 Music Rights Group, a nonprofit focused on fair and equitable licensing agreements and copyrights in the Web3 space — has delivered a series of thematic spins that are not only at the disposal of Hasbro, but My Little Pony fans across the world.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Vaughn, who is a singer-songwriter in her own right, about crafting music that not only captures My Little Pony’s steadfast themes of friendship and magic, but pays tribute to its distinctive eras. She also discusses making music for brands in the social media age, creating music for young audiences, and how Web3 technologies and AI are reshaping the modern music industry.
You released two EPs in July — a six-track compilation of sped-up and lo-fi remixes and instrumentals, as well as a second 14-track collection featuring acoustic, ’80s and ’90s remixes. What inspired these?
I’ve been working with Hasbro on and off since 2014. I’ve worked on Jem and the Holograms, the My Little Pony spinoff the Equestria Girls, Littlest Pet Shop. Any small animal or an animal that becomes a real girl, I’m your girl. (Laughs.) Hasbro had approached us about helping with some of the marketing materials around My Little Pony. I’m such a fan. I feel like it’s so empowering. It was a show that as a young child I really related to, so when they asked me to reimagine some of the songs, I was like, “Absolutely.” The first EP is all the main ’80s theme. There’s been different iterations of that theme — we’re on Generation Five now — so it’s been through a lot of changes.
It was a really exciting project because we got a ton of amazing female creators involved as well as the bronies, the producers that we worked with. We got to do a ’90s pop version, an ’80s remix. It was just a lot of nostalgic moments, as well as some modern touches. But it came about organically. I spoke to the head of music [at Hasbro] and we put our heads together to figure out what would audiences want to interact with. We had the one theme sped up, as that’s what Gen Z kids and younger want, and then a whole reimagined EP. But we are going to be doing some more My Little Pony across a lot of fun generations.
You were clearly trying to tap into the generational diversity of the My Little Pony fan base. How did you find the right sound to represent those generations?
We talked a lot about how we connect to each generation of Pony fans. I was born in the ’80s, so I really grew up on the ponies in the ’90s. I’m actually the one who’s singing on the ’90s girl-pop version because doing a Britney [Spears] theme is easy having grown up on that. But we didn’t want to alienate newer fans that might not be so aware of the ’90s and the ’80s. We wanted them to also be like, “This is silly. This is fun. I want to post about this.” So no matter the style — obviously we are catering to that nostalgia — we worked to not alienate those that might have grown up with different versions of the ponies, and also different eras of music.
You’re also always thinking about the parents. What I like about Hasbro so much is that I really believe they work in a really holistic way. There are the kids, the fans with no kids, and there are the parents. Whenever I approach anything, whether it is a re-imagination of a preexisting catalog song or an original song, I try to think about all the listeners. I don’t want to leave anyone out because music is supposed to resonate with you. It’s supposed to make you feel less alone. If you’re making something that is alienating, you’re missing the point of this magical universe, in my opinion.
What would you say makes the My Little Pony theme distinctive? And what elements of the original were you willing to play with? What might you have not wanted to change?
There’s definitely motifs in the song. Toward the end, there are three notes, and we were really going back and forth with Hasbro on this. Do we need to keep it? Do we need to lose it? Certain notes are always going to be recognizable across the board, no matter what brands you are working on. People just associate it with that. So they were really adamant about keeping it, and I was trying to make it work within only having 30 seconds or only having 60 seconds. But then also with the motif, how are we going to do the ’80s remix with that? Is that a guitar part? Is that a voice, a synth? There are certain elements in the theme, especially the ’80s theme, that are so iconic. It’s very child-like, the voices. Obviously, there’s some adult mix with this high-pitched voice. But you can’t tell if it’s like numerous characters or just one character.
People get really attached to what they grow up with, so if you re-imagine it too much, it’s almost like you’re taking something away from someone. You have to be really mindful about that. The things that really make the theme the theme are the motif and all the friendship and magic. I feel like the lyrics are really important, but there are some lyrics that you’re like, “Are they dated? Should we say it?” At the end of the day, it’s that nostalgia, so we can’t change it. But we can build upon it. The ponies and the pony and brony [adult male] fans want to feel safe. Those motifs and the setting is really important to that. So each theme remix whether it was ’90s, or ’80s, or acoustic, pretty much entered in the same fashion. The production may change, but the melodies don’t. It’s the approach to the melody that does. You might change it one way for the ’90s, but then you’re doing a more acoustic version, and you might sing it more like Taylor Swift. It’s all about how you interpret the same material without changing it.
My Little Pony debuted in a time when toy lines were frequently adapted into TV shows, and before there were more restrictions around marketing to children through the TV. Which is probably why those theme songs feel so catchy — they weren’t just themes, they were toy jingles. Do you feel like the My Little Pony theme embodies jingle elements that make it memorable? If so, what are they?
I work in sync and custom music, so this is something I think about every day. When creating a theme, or even a theme that already exists, that needs to resonate with somebody as a person, and I honestly do believe that Hasbro is really good at this. When I think of My Little Pony, I think of feeling safe, being free, having friends and empowering young women. That naturally lifts their brand, the shows and the movies because they’re all about that: being independent, leaning on your friends and living in this magical world. And then going all the way back, we all grew up on this, so we already have that within us. It’s like with any show that you watched back in the day. These iconic brands, that’s what they have to do with their themes. No matter the theme, no matter if they change the theme. It all comes from the direct source of how the initial viewers felt. Then they evolve, and that’s how I approach the music. Some people are like, “Children’s music? I don’t have kids.” But I was a kid, so I give it 100 percent. These are memories that stay with people for the rest of their lives.
Once people reach a certain age, they can move or even lose some respect for the music of their childhood shows. But at an animation-themed Writers Guild picket, the playlist had all these kids’ show songs that were not just recognizable, but danceable. What does it take to make a good theme for a kids show?
There’s always a certain amount of finesse, intelligence and silliness. Just like any TV show theme or anything that accompanies music-to-picture, you really have to think about whether this supports the narrative. To me, that feels like a paint by number situation. Be fun within the lines. When I wrote the original theme for Littlest Pet Shop, that was for a little bit of an older audience — similar to My Little Pony. I had such a blast doing that, because some of the references were Fitz and the Tantrums. But how do you take Fitz and the Tantrums and make it also universal for kids, for the families that are watching?
Going back to the My Little Pony EP songs, Hasbro and fans will have access to them — both for business and for fun. How did you take that into consideration when crafting them? And did you think about, in terms of Hasbro’s use for marketing, what might perform better certain places online and off?
The Hasbro team and I talked about this a lot. The ultimate goal for these and other releases that we’ll be doing is supporting the brand and helping engagement across the board, whether that’s for marketing lift, or for new people to discover the song on TikTok and then be able to use it in their content in a silly way or as a fan. So we did some of the conversions because there’s so many different ways to engage as a user with audio content. My favorite is the ’80s remix. It’s fun and silly, and maybe it’s just my age that makes it perfect for someone like me, but, you can make a really fun video to that, if you wanted to post ads. And if Hasbro does want to run ads for their brand, they have all these different versions that they can now test out, if they so choose. But we definitely thought about that — especially the sped-up and slowed-down versions. Those are obviously for [Instagram] Reels and for TikTok. We really had them in mind. We studied what are people creating that are slowed down and sped up. At Venice Music, we have a lot of artists that I represent that also do really amazing on TikTok, so I had a perfect case study.
Beyond your work with Hasbro and other networks and shows, you are attached to a nonprofit focused on Web3 technologies. AI isn’t Web3 exactly, but it is an increasingly discussed topic in terms of how it’s used in relation to artists and their rights. In what ways has AI impacted your work? Do you use it at all in your process?
I co-founded a group called the Web3 Music Rights Group with some other players in the music licensing space out of necessity. We were like, how do we solve this problem? And this is before we were in deep fake-land. We were like, “Metaverse!” and we were thinking about NFTs — or, I guess, we’re not really calling them NFTs anymore because that did not go well. (Laughs.) But we asked, how do we create a safe space for each other to ask questions and then create general standards that we can share with our community. As someone who deals with rights all the time, it can be a muddy place to work. It can be confusing. It can be ever-changing. Things move at such a fast rate, sometimes legislation can’t keep up with it. So it’s our job sometimes to “Wild West” and regulate this to the best of our ability as good citizens.
With AI, the way that I’ve been using it right now, I use some AI assistance at my licensing job. But I really don’t use it a ton in custom music. Sometimes I like to ask ChatGPT marketing questions, or, “Will this resonate with someone?” I do ask specific questions around a release rollout, or maybe something I’m creating to get general feedback, but the biggest concern in America is that your likeness is really not protected — so your voice, etc. — while in other countries it is. That’ll be a really interesting thing to tackle when it comes to licensing. It’ll also be an interesting thing, too, as we’re seeing Universal and these larger companies try to work out this backend deal with fake releases. But AI has to source its content from somewhere, so unless it is actually saying, I am sourcing from here, here and here, no one can truly license that material for film, TV, advertising and gaming. You need to know where all the bodies are buried in order to license something.
If you’re doing something with AI where it’s an AI library — someone is creating all this music, maybe they’re using a voice, and then it’s creating and generating a song — that’s truly a free-use situation. You would maybe sign up for that AI program, and you’d be able to pull and resource whatever you want. But if something is sourcing, let’s say from Radiohead, it sounds like Radiohead, it’s [Thom Yorke’s] voice and they’re taking bits and parts of his song and then changing it, it’s still being sourced from somewhere. You’re seeing this a lot with authors and artists. I think that at the end of the day, you still have to source and credit, kind of like sampling. But we’ll see how it eventually unfolds. It’s moving so quickly, I wouldn’t be surprised if we need AI to help us monitor AI.
The sourcing issue is an important one across industries, from visual art to writing to music. But it seems like a given: One learns that they can’t just download a photo from Google Images and use it because there may be permissions attached. It works the same way with other art, content, creation. So why does it feel like this isn’t a widely established understanding with AI, including in music?
It’s a systemic problem in the sense that music rights are confusing for most people, they’re confusing for the people who work in music rights, and they are ever-changing. People connect to music in all different ways. People also consume music in different ways and have a different level of respect for music across the board. You see it with networks and how they treat creators in general. Every production company, every network, is not created equal in the sense of how they appreciate creatives. If you’re coming from the Napster generation, where you’re just used to being able to get music whenever you want it, you might not understand the value that music has and that it is truly a copyright.
These are just long-winded macro issues across the board that have a trickle-down effect of how people consume music on a daily basis. And the law’s still the law, but is it easy to enforce across the board when everyone is violating it? Not everyone has the type of team that maybe Taylor Swift has that can constantly regulate how her music, voice and brand is being used. I think that a lot of people are in the mindset of, I’d rather ask for forgiveness than permission.
AI has already started to make its way into the kids content space, from interactive episodes to cameos. In terms of music, which can become almost ear-wormy for kids, do you see any applicable uses for AI?
Not only do I work with Hasbro, but I work with Box Sign and they have a toy called [Toniebox]. We do a lot of the music for these little figurines that are in this screenless speaker box. It’s so important to put thought behind how you create music like this for children. There are ways to do it intelligently and to connect to numerous listeners. There’s a way to do it where it’s still silly and fun, but that you don’t dumb it down either. Kids are a lot smarter than they get credit for. So personally, if you’re going to use or generate AI for music for the children’s space, the only way that I could see it being used is almost like a splice package where AI generated this bed of music.
But personally, I just don’t feel comfortable as a person [with it]. I really labor over what we create, and I think it needs to be skillful, and you need to think about how young minds are growing up and how they’re going to interact with the world. That is a huge responsibility that I don’t necessarily trust at this current time for AI to be responsible for. Plus, I think it would take away some of that silliness and goofiness that works. You need a human being that has feelings to be able to connect to a child spirit.
There’s just so much hooky, zanny, specific stuff in a lot of those that it feels almost like AI couldn’t lyrically or musically match the distinctiveness of these themes. Do you think it’s possible for artificial intelligence to match the work of humans in the work you do?
It’s never going to be the same. For example, I love working with Hasbro because Equestria Girls and My Little Pony, those resonate with all genders, but as a young woman growing up, it obviously spoke to me. So it’s easy for me to pull from within myself when I’m creating for those brands. It feels real, because it is. AI and anything Web3-related — I don’t think anyone’s trying to avoid it, but it should be used as a tool to enhance the creators’ experience in a way that will help them resonate with their audience, or create a better allocation of time. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a replacement of what they do because then we miss out on true art that connects to people. I feel like everything you do should be an extension of your humanity. Everything should come from an authentic place, or else what are we really doing it all for.
When you cater to the least evolved version of what it’s like to be a human being, you’re really missing out. Algorithms can help you find the things that you want to watch, but even then you’re helping push them into the direction that you are already in. When you use things like AI to create something, it loses its magic. Emotion is so nuanced. It’s like poetry. There’s so many different ways to react to how something is created. A kid can play the piano, but is it the same thing as somebody who has played for 25 years? It’s not. So I’m not afraid of AI. I started this group because I want to embrace change. But I want to be able to understand it and speak up when I think that it is taking advantage of my fellow creators, composers and artists that I hire.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
In a time when music transcends boundaries and resonates beyond digital landscapes, choosing a distribution channel is crucial to sharing your artistry with the world. In this symphony of options, one platform stands out as the maestro of unequalled possibilities: Spotify. Spotify, the clear market leader in digital music streaming, offers a compelling combination of advantages that are widely regarded by both artists and customers. For musicians wishing to broaden their audience, interact with fans, and have a significant impact on the current music landscape, Spotify orchestrates a musical journey. Features like its enormous worldwide audience, sophisticated recommendation system, artist-focused tools, and revenue potential are part of this journey.
Understanding Spotify Music: Unveiling the Symphony of Digital Listening
In a world where music crosses borders, Spotify acts as a conductor, orchestrating the harmonious interplay between performers and listeners. A platform like Spotify Music is more than simply a place to store music; it’s a symphony of individual discovery, connection, and invention.
At the heart of Spotify’s algorithms is their magic. Through the intricate interplay of data and technology, customised playlists that are suited to each person’s preferences are produced. This algorithmic symphony introduces listeners to new music and provides musicians with a unique chance for their melodies to be heard by individuals who relate to their sound.
Beyond algorithms, Spotify’s artistry embraces curation as a form of artistic expression. Curated playlists are converted into digital mixtapes that enhance the music-listening experience. They are carefully crafted by Spotify’s team and individual users alike. Gaining a place on these playlists may allow musicians to gain more exposure and interaction with listeners.
Spotify Music for Artists is a source of enlightenment for musicians. Access to these tools provides important behind-the-scenes information. From understanding listener demographics to keeping track of the success of your songs, these insights guide your musical endeavours and assist you in connecting with your audience and honing your strategies.
Despite the complexity of the music streaming industry, Spotify provides a platform for musicians to generate income. Royalties are generated when more people listen to your music, which aids in generating a consistent stream of money. It shows how committed the platform is to assisting artists in their artistic endeavours.
Instead of merely being a place for passive listening, Spotify is a place for interaction. Thanks to the ability to create and share playlists, discuss songs with other listeners, and connect with followers, listeners become active participants in the musical conversation.
Music becomes a universal language that transcends all continents and cultures thanks to Spotify’s global reach. It allows musicians to collaborate with listeners from all around the world who connect with their works while allowing them to work across geographic barriers.
The Spotify Music ecosystem is a thriving place for music discovery. The “Discover Weekly” and “Release Radar” playlists connect listeners to new music and up-and-coming artists, establishing an ever-evolving atmosphere for musical inquiry.
Beyond the data and technology, Spotify honours the fundamental core of creativity. By displaying their music and giving their aural expressions a platform to be heard by a large audience worldwide, it honours musicians.
Comprehending Spotify Music entails looking past the songs and playlists themselves. It involves accepting an ecosystem where data and creativity coexist, algorithms jive with personal preferences, and the universal language of music. Spotify is a living symphony that encourages musicians to create their stories and listeners to go off on musical explorations. It’s a platform that combines artistic expression and innovation, bringing listeners and producers together in a celebration of the limitless power of music.
Steps to get your music on Spotify
There is no greater platform than Spotify for musicians who want to share their music with the world. Spotify provides an unrivalled opportunity to engage with a wide audience thanks to its millions of active users and global presence. This article describes the crucial actions to take in order to upload your music to Spotify and begin growing your fan base.
Make sure your music is of the highest calibre. How your music is perceived by listeners can be significantly influenced by professional production.
Decide on a music retailer like SoundOn. You can use these services to upload your music to Spotify.
Make an account on Spotify for Artists. You can do this to manage your music, see analytics, and claim your artist profile.
Upload your tunes to Spotify using the distributor of your choice. Give precise track titles, album artwork, and release dates in your metadata.
Create an engaging artist bio and add catchy images. A carefully crafted profile can encourage people to explore your music.
Set a date for the music’s release. You can plan the release of your music on Spotify.
Pre-save campaigns can help you publicise your imminent release. This enables listeners to download your song before it is formally released.
Create playlists that mix songs from you and other artists, then distribute them. Collaborative playlists keep listeners interested and expose them to your sound.
On your website, social media, and other platforms, share the Spotify links. Encourage your followers to follow you and save your songs.
Interact with your listeners by using the Spotify platform. Analyse streaming data, react to reviews, and adjust next releases to adhere to listener preferences.
Keep fans interested by releasing new songs frequently. Regular releases can increase recognition and fan loyalty.
Advantages of Choosing Spotify for Your Music Distribution
Spotify is a titan in the quickly developing sector of digital music distribution, giving artists unequalled advantages and fundamentally altering how music is shared and listened to. Choosing Spotify as your favourite platform has a number of benefits, all of which can significantly advance your musical career. Here are some further details on why musicians wishing to connect with a large audience and broaden their reach should select Spotify:
1. Vast Global Audience:
Globally dispersed users make up a large portion of Spotify’s user base. Spotify provides an unequalled opportunity to market your music to a widely diverse audience thanks to its millions of active listeners from various countries, ethnicities, and age groups.
Your music will likely be found by listeners who might not have otherwise done so thanks to Spotify’s algorithm-driven playlists and recommendation system. The organic growth that results from this exposure and the possibility of attracting more listeners to your sound.
Spotify’s user interface revolves around playlists. Having your music played on well-known playlists might cause a sharp increase in streams and followers. Additionally, collaborative playlists let musicians interact directly with their listeners and other musicians.
4. Artist Tools:
A variety of tools and data are available through Spotify for Artists to help artists better understand their audience. You can customise your plans using information on listener demographics, song performance, and geographic reach.
5. Customizable Artist Profiles:
With Spotify, you can make artist profiles that represent your aesthetic and musical preferences. You may increase your internet visibility and trustworthiness by including artist biographies, photographs, tour dates, and even links to your social media accounts.
6. Monetization Opportunities:
Spotify’s monetization potential cannot be ignored, even though streaming revenue may fluctuate. As your popularity expands, you may expect a steady stream of income from the royalties that artists receive based on the number of streams.
7. Direct Uploads:
Spotify for Artists programme enables musicians to post songs directly, avoiding the need for other distributors. With the direct upload function, you have more control over how your music is distributed and the release process is streamlined.
8. Curator Collaborations:
The curators of Spotify’s playlists are always searching for new songs to include. Working with curators opens up opportunities for inclusion on important playlists, which exposes your music to more people.
9. Offline Listening:
Your music is more available even when there is no internet connection thanks to the option for listeners to download it for offline listening. The possibility of subsequent listens and continued engagement rises as a result of this convenience.
10. Trendsetter Status:
Being on Spotify reinforces your position in the digital music environment and gives your music career credibility as one of the pioneers in the music streaming market.
Spotify is a shining illustration of how technology and creativity can coexist in the realm of digital music. Its algorithmic genius welcomes listeners into a world of personalised musical discovery, and customised playlists offer a guided journey of emotions and genres. Artists are empowered by insights, interactivity, and monetization options, while listeners from all across the world join in a tranquil celebration of sound. SoundOn is the all-in-one platform for global music distribution + TikTok music marketing. Distribute your music globally on TikTok and all major streaming services while maintaining 100% ownership and artist-friendly royalties without administration fees. Explore unique promotion features that help you promote new releases with TikTok’s creator marketing.
One senior publishing executive texted MBW over the weekend simply calling it “genius”. A leading talent manager, meanwhile, told us he thought it “tacky and childish”, and “a cheap look”.
Whichever camp you fit in, you can’t deny that ASCAP‘s new social media campaign – aiming its guns at historical rival BMI – is getting the music industry talking.
MBW broke the news last Wednesday (August 23) that NYC-based private equity firm New Mountain Capital (NMC) was in advanced talks to acquire BMI.
Some industry sources suggest that New Mountain and BMI have agreed a transaction in principle for approximately USD $1.7 billion. Other sources suggest, however, that it’s not yet a done deal.
News of BMI’s talks with NMC news arrived 10 months after BMI revealed that it was scrapping its long-held, not-for-profit business model (under which it had operated since being founded in 1939) and changing to a for-profit model.
Over the weekend (August 26 and 27) and the two days prior, ASCAP posted numerous messages on Instagram and Twitter (X) that clearly took aim at BMI’s newly-for-profit status, in addition to its sale talks with private equity.
In one such post, ASCAP, which remains a not-for-profit entity, writes: ‘ASCAP. Not for profit since 1914 and still going strong.’
Another slightly more pointed post, is captioned: ‘Private Equity Never Wrote An Iconic Love Song.’
Under that slogan, ASCAP writes: “Behind every hit is a songwriter that deserves to make a living.
“No private equity or outside investors means YOU get paid first. ASCAP has proven operating on a not-for-profit basis can deliver industry-leading innovation, growth and record-breaking financial results for members.”
There are a number of other similarly-themed posts on ASAP’s socials.
One, pictured at the top of this story, simply reads: “ASCAP. Creators First. Not for profit. Not for sale.”
Another adds: “ASCAP. We pay songwriters, not shareholders.”
Directly addressing songwriters, ASCAP further writes: “We’re led by music creators like you. ASCAP is the only PRO in the US founded and governed by songwriters, composers and music publishers.
“Every decision about how we operate is made by music creators like you – not broadcasters, corporations and investors, like our competitors.”
BMI had been gearing up for a potential sale in early 2022 and enlisted Goldman Sachs as an advisor in March of that year to help review strategic opportunities.
Yet by August last year, BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) had pulled the plug on the sale, saying the transaction was “no longer an avenue we are considering”.
Sources familiar with the matter said interested parties like private equity firms and technology providers had tabled offers for the company in 2022, but some backed out, while other offers did not meet BMI’s requirements.
After scrapping those sale plans, BMI revealed in October 2022 that it was transitioning to a for-profit business model.
Last month, Reuters reported that BMI had renewed sale talks with potential buyers. Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg wrote that BMI had again turned to Goldman Sachs “for guidance as it fields interest from potential acquirers, including private equity firms”.
Last Wednesday, citing senior music biz sources, MBW reported that BMI had explored talks with a number of potential backers/suitors, with the frontrunner being New Mountain Capital, an NYC-headquartered private equity firm with aggregate assets under management of over USD $40 billion.
One senior music publishing source told MBW that New Mountain Capital had recently begun a due diligence process on BMI.
As noted by MBW last week, New Mountain Capital has one existing link to music: the firm is an investor in Citrin Cooperman, which last year acquired Massarsky Consulting, one of the predominant valuation companies working in music rights.
Meanwhile, BMI’s recent moves have prompted songwriter groups to question what the impending changes at the PRO will mean for the royalties that it pays to songwriters and publishers.
In a letter to BMI CEO Mike O’Neill sent earlier this month (August 17), obtained by MBW, the Artist Rights Alliance, the Black Music Action Coalition, the Music Artists Coalition, Songwriters of North America and SAG-AFTRA stated:
“Songwriters have a vested interest in changes at BMI and in any proposed transaction which is wholly dependent on songs they have written… BMI does not own copyrights or other assets; it is a licensing entity for copyrights owned by songwriters and, by extension, publishers.
“Songwriters have a right to understand these decisions and how it impacts us.”
“Songwriters have a vested interest in changes at BMI and in any proposed transaction which is wholly dependent on songs they have written.”
New letter from songwriters’ groups, issued on August 25
Following MBW’s story about the talks between BMI and New Mountain Capital, MBW obtained an additional letter, issued on August 25, in which those same songwriter groups told BMI President & CEO Mike O’Neill that they “were extremely disappointed and upset to read the announcement of BMI’s sale” to NMC.
“Songwriters have real questions and deserve real answers before any further action is taken. While we appreciated you responding to our [initial] letter, all of our questions went unanswered,” they added.
They continued: “We understand that a deal has been agreed, but has not closed. Prior to taking any other action, we are giving you another opportunity to provide songwriters with real, substantive answers to the questions we posed.”
Earlier this week, MBW asked if a cull of BMI’s huge songwriter membership could be on the cards if it does indeed end up being sold to a private equity company.
BMI’s collections and payouts in the full year to end of June 2022 were $1.573 billion and $1.471 billion, respectively.
ASCAP’s collections in calendar 2022 totaled $1.522 billion, an increase of $187 million or 14% versus 2021.
The body reported that its Royalty distributions to ASCAP members in 2022 also exceeded $1 billion (for the sixth year straight in 2022), up 10.7% versus 2021, with a total of $1.388 billion “available for distribution to ASCAP’s music creator and publisher members”.Music Business Worldwide