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2020: A Pivotal Year on The Path to Building a Diverse and Inclusive Music Industry

This guest column comes from Lara Baker, Songtrust’s Director of Business Development for the UK and Ireland:

For the music industry, 2020 will go down in the history books as a very challenging year. With the impact of COVID-19 felt globally, everyone from artists and songwriters, to touring crews, to some of the largest companies in the business have suffered great losses and the struggle to stay afloat with no certain end date in sight.

However, when reflecting on this turbulent year, perhaps in time we will also come to see this as the year in which we started to take meaningful steps towards building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive music industry for all.

In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in May a global movement began, with Black Lives Matter marches taking place across the world and millions of people coming together to demand systemic change.

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Songtrust and Highvibes want to get African songwriters paid

One of the most interesting things about the African music industries in 2020 is the way their structures – from artist deals to distribution to royalty pipelines – are being constructed at a rapid pace.

All the while learning from what’s in place elsewhere in the world, which doesn’t always mean copying them.

The latest partnership of note in this area is between Songtrust and Highvibes, the latter being a distributor and publisher based in Ghana and Nigeria.

The deal will see Songtrust powering a new music publishing administration service for Highvibes. The news follows a survey conducted by Highvibes in November 2019, which it said found that 95% of songwriters and producers in Africa were ‘unpublished’.

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How Songtrust’s focus on education and accessibility is helping songwriters’ success

Royalty collection platform Songtrust enjoyed a record-setting year in 2019, as collections for its songwriter, producer and other rightsholder clients grew by nearly 250% year-on-year.

The company, which is part of the Downtown Music Holdings group, now administers the musical works of more than 300,000 clients, and is collecting royalties from more than 150 countries, including more than 50 direct agreements with collecting societies.

According to President, Molly Neuman, there have been three pillars to Songtrust’s growth so far: education, open access, and the rapid globalisation of the music industry. She’s overseen the company’s efforts around all three since joining Songtrust in December 2017 from her previous position as head of music at crowdfunding firm, Kickstarter.

Neuman’s career has also included executive roles at US indie body A2IM, Rhapsody and eMusic; co-owning label Lookout Records and management company Indivision; and before that played in punk bands, including Bratmobile.

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Songtrust royalty collections have grown by nearly 250% in 2019

Royalty-collecting startup Songtrust is finishing 2019 by revealing some new figures on the growth of its business and the creators it represents.

The company, which is a subsidiary of Downtown Music, says that the royalties it collects for songwriters, producers and other rightsholders have grown by nearly 250% this year.

That’s based on Songtrust expanding to administer a catalogue of more than 2m songs for more than 300,000 clients, collecting royalties from more than 150 countries and territories.

(Not all these stats are new: Songtrust first announced the ‘2m songs’ figure in June. At the time it was collecting for 26,000 publishers and 205,000 individual songwriters, and its collections were up by 70% year-on-year – so the collections growth appears to have accelerated in the second half of 2019.)