Apple Music and Dubset: Good News For SoundCloud?


Apple has announced an agreement with Dubset Media Holdings that will allow Apple Music to stream remixes and DJ mixes that had previously been absent from licensed services due to copyright issues.

Dubset is a digital distributor that delivers content to digital music services. But unlike other digital distributors, Dubset will use a proprietary technology called MixBank to analyze a remix or long-form DJ mix file, identify recordings inside the file, and properly pay both record labels and music publishers.

Licensing remixes and DJ mixes, both based on original recordings, is incredibly complex. A single mix could have upward of 600 different rights holders. According to {Dubset} CEO Stephen White, a typical mix has 25 to 30 songs that require payments to 25 to 30 record labels and anywhere from two to ten publishers for each track. The licensing has been done in-house at Dubset. Thus far the company has agreements with over 14,000 labels and publishers.

*In many ways, Dubset is like any other distributor. The {streaming} service pays Dubset for the content. Dubset then figures out which label and publishers to pay. It retains a percentage of revenue for the service and pays the creator (the remixer or DJ) a share of revenue. *

Apple is just the start, says White. “The goal is to bring this to all 400 distributors worldwide. When you think about unlocking these millions of hours of content being created, it’s significant monetization for the industry.”

Much of the coverage I’ve seen, such as this article in FACT, assumes that Apple Music will use this alliance to go after SoundCloud. I have my doubts. For one thing, user-generated content isn’t really Apple’s bag (and adding this to the already muddled Apple Music interface would just create more headaches for casual users). My guess is that Dubset’s involvement is related to Beats One (and the inevitable Beats Two, Beats Three, etc) and making the station(s)’s sets ‘on demand’. Presently any radio sets that are on demand will have to consist of 100% pre-cleared music. I bet Apple would love to create more on demand content from the Beats station(s) without restricting their celebrity guest DJs. They would also be able to integrate featured guest DJ sets in Apple Music’s curated ‘For You’ section. Based on the timing of this announcement, I’m wondering if we might hear more at Apple’s event next week … there are rumors of a much-anticipated Apple Music overhaul.

As for SoundCloud, this news bodes well rather than being “ominous”. Apple doesn’t have an exclusive deal with Dubset, as the company openly aims to bring this technology to “all 400 distributors worldwide.” Having a huge corporation like Apple be one of the initial adopters will do a lot to convince others to come on board. What the technology accomplishes, once accepted throughout the industry, should do much to push ‘remix culture’ forward as it goes legit. And SoundCloud, who already dominate the niche of user-generated mixes and content, could end up coming out on top. Dubset’s tech, after all, seems to solve most of the problems that rightsholders have with SoundCloud’s service.

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