ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers has entered into a voluntary agreement with YouTube to share information and help monetise YouTube streams.
The move seeks to combine ASCAP’s database of 10.5 million works with YouTube’s own data hub, to help identify artists and tracks on the latter’s site. Such a move will enable rights holders to recoup royalties from streams, and with the help of YouTube’s Content ID software, which recognises tracks through audio fingerprinting, ASCAP is expecting to see the efficiency of information gathering increase significantly.
The voluntary licensing deal is retrospective, meaning that ASCAP will receive royalties from works streamed on YouTube from 2013 onwards, as ASCAP and YouTube were operating through a compulsory interim licence since then.
The agreement also seeks to compensate rights holders more accurately. Historically, rights groups have issued blanket licenses to those seeking to exploit their work, which gives the licensees greater flexibility in using their music. This new agreement seeks to ensure more precise data is shared, specifically counting how many times a particular track is played, which allows for a more detailed assessment of revenue. Ultimately, this will also ensure the correct market rate is paid for each track, freeing up the market and encouraging competition.
Such a dynamic is in line with ASCAP’s strategy to ensure more money reaches songwriters, composers and publishers who may otherwise miss out. It has also been cheered as a sensible, long term solution to lost profits deriving from YouTube streaming.
This voluntary agreement is just the latest move by ASCAP in ensuring transparency and efficiency in the market, having made its data public in 2015.