Friday 25 August 2017

Bootleg mixes get a legal lease of life with new deal

Bootleg mixes get a legal lease of life with new deal Dubset

The first major record label has signed with Dubset, a startup which provides rights management and clearance to bootlegs and unofficial remixes.


That label is Sony, which these days appears to take the form of a gaming console business with some ancilliary stuff thrown in (at least that's what the finances will tell you). Sony Music Entertainment - which has a really awful logo - has signed with music startup Dubset.

The company's offering is called MixBank, a platform that identifies individiual tracks within remixes and DJ sets. Once each track is identified, it automatically clears the tracks across all appropriate rights holders and thus making the remix, set or bootleg totally kosher. It's one of those ideas where it's surprising that no-one has thought of it sooner: structurally, it's like a plugging Shazam into a bunch of database connectors.

MixBank is, however, highly impressive in its scale: since January, Dubset has developed a relationship with over 35,000 labels and publishers. As Bob Barbiere, CSO at Dubstep, puts it:


Our toolset enables participating distribution partners to support and protect artists and composers, by requiring mix content to be registered and cleared through Dubset. We fully expect that all music services who want to offer DJ set mix and remix content will follow this path, ensuring proper identification, registration, reporting and compensation to rights holders for use of their intellectual property.


The idea is fundamentally a sound one, and highlights the journey that industry majors have come since the late 90s, where any sort of messing with the originating work was to be frowned upon; some of you may remember the debacle of The Grey Album, where EMI (itself now part of Universal) ordered retailers to stop selling the album, only to be met with hostile fans who themselves offered the album for download in retaliation.

What's unclear at this stage is whether rights clearance also changes the financial model. If rights are acknowledged in a DJ set, then is the rights holder paid any more? Is the DJ paid any more? Seemingly, the body who would most stand to gain out of this is the record company, whose saving on legal action would run into millions each year.

And, there's your Dubset cost-benefit analysis right there.

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