Dubset offers an innovative music marketplace for DJs, artists, labels, publishers, and distributors. Through cutting edge technology, a rights management database, and easy to use dashboards, Dubset is creating new mix & remix distribution and monetization opportunities built on transparency, ownership control, and simplicity.
About Stephen White, CEO
Appeared in Hypebot
While Dubset’s MixBANK solution, delivered to market in 2017, was obviously not designed for Article 17, the company’s technology, processes, approach, and results uncannily provide Apple Music, Spotify, and other music services the same rights solution now required under law throughout Europe.
Article 17 will dramatically change the where, when, and how of audio and video consumption. There’s no doubt Article 17 places rights holders and their copyrights at the center of the required solution, and in many cases, rightly so. The buyer-seller marketplace dynamic in audio and video, within UGC (User Generated Content) service, is absolutely broken. Not because supply can’t reach demand (the advent of these UGC sites has enabled that), but because there is no ability for a rights holder to set the market value of their content, either at the point of consumption or transaction. Article 17 will (finally) establish the basis of copyright owners setting the “value” of what their property is worth, facilitating a more robust and fulfilling transaction.
The Four A’s
Dubset has approached copyright, specifically in music, from a Four A’s approach: ACCESS, ATTRIBUTION, AUTHORIZATION, and ADMINISTRATION.
These are, not by coincidence, the very four tenets of Article 17. This gives Dubset a unique set of experience around how UGC is managed in an Article 17 world, the opportunities and challenges it will face, and the ultimate outcome it can expect.
4ACCESS has fostered a world of sharing media that is instantaneous, imaginative, and seamless within our daily lives. The challenge is that often the sharing of media contains something that belongs to someone else. Whether it be a song playing in the background of a cat video or a full concert filmed from an iPhone, consumer ACCESS to content, technology, and ultimately distribution enables a rapid capture-to-share experience of almost any audio or video.
ACCESS is wonderful; however, without rules, limits, or boundaries, very much like the current Wild West Safe Harbor environment today, it will inevitably lead to dysfunctional, uncontrolled, or vacant marketplaces (when viewed from the lens of those who own some or all of the content that ACCESS has made available). Dubset approaches ACCESS challenges in a very conditional manner, forcing standards for both measurement and rules of engagement (transactions). Although challenging for some rights holders at first, these standards have enabled Dubset to successfully gain broad rights holder participation across millions of artists and composers, minimizing disruption and enabling scale.
Whose content is it anyway? Content is typically either original, a copy, or a derivative, many times a combination of those three. Before any potential transaction can even be considered, full identification and ATTRIBUTION must take place. Each author or owner of audio or video within a new piece of audio or video must be accurately identified, commencing engagement. While UGC audio and video sites might do a wonderful job delivering content to consumers, the Safe Harbor approach has now proven unsustainable. Article 17 will completely re-establish the UGC marketplace by placing the identification, ATTRIBUTION and engagement of copyright owners upstream from any potential delivery of the content to the consumer. Early on, Dubset understood the importance of the rights holder being upstream and set them up as such in the sequencing of UGC content management. As such, the company developed identification and ATTRIBUTION engines capable of identifying nearly every instance of an unaltered copyrighted recording appearing within a piece of audio. Once a recording is identified, Dubset quickly links the recording to its proper rights holders, by territory, utilizing its proprietary metadata engine covering over 60 million copyright protected works.
While ATTRIBUTION is primarily a function of the quality and efficacy of the data, AUTHORIZATION operates in a world of immediacy, driven by accuracy and speed. Traditional licensing structures within audio and video are iterative, slow, and one-off; rarely based on broad industry standards. The problem is that technology has enabled a music and video evolution that operates at a speed not capable of being met by those traditional licensing structures. A successful post-Article 17 world for any service provider requires unlimited sets of simultaneous yes/no decisions across all rights holders. A video cannot go through a two-week AUTHORIZATION process before it gets approved for distribution, the process needs to take seconds.
How does one accomplish such a task? In the world of Dubset, the best example is a one hour DJ set; a very recognizable, relevant, and often UGC located piece of audio that contains, on average, the underlying musical tracks representing 125 artists and composers, who are represented by approximately 50 discreet labels and publishers. Early on, Dubset recognized that not only would traditional licensing structures not work, but completely new rules-based transactional profiles would be necessary to ensure full compliance within seconds. Utilizing a carefully designed set of catalog rules, Dubset enables rights holders to establish track use and distribution parameters in advance of any potential distribution. The result: simultaneous yes or no decisions for 125 artists and composers on any music mix within literally seconds. It’s important to note that much of the focus of Article 17 has been on ATTRIBUTION, yet consumer success is likely to be predicated on the speed and agility of the AUTHORIZATION elements of the solution.
ADMINISTRATION in a world of potentially multiple pieces of copyright within audio or video requires the micro-parsing of media, data, assets, rights, and revenues, each completed and administered with an unnerving combination of speed and accuracy. Further, standards and conditions are a massively important part of successful and scalable ADMINISTRATION, as without either or both, admin will grind to an unceremonious halt.
Upon close review, it appears that one of the real challenges streaming services will face under Article 17 is the requirement for human intervention in instances of challenges to rights and ADMINISTRATION. While excessive human intervention can cripple the path to scale, there are numerous technology sub-stations and processes that can be layered into the ADMINISTRATION process that go a long way in offsetting the inherent iterations taking place between two (or more) humans resolving a conflict. This is an important area of experience Dubset has developed; balancing standards, conditions, and technology in a way that human intervention becomes only the final approach in the resolution workflow process.
While it will take a “minute” before the music and video industries see the full effects of Article 17, we are already seeing exciting new technologies and partnerships appearing that are clearly headed to the solution starting line. The music industry, most notably on the publishing side, has been the poster child for disparate or lack of common standards, which has led it into an era of data intensity it was unprepared for. However, directives such as Article 17 will now force a more collaborative and global approach to addressing and solving some long-overdue transparency, rights, and data efficacy issues, and that’s not a bad thing.
Dubset is unveiling a new way for DJs to find tracks for their mixes. By partnering with mau5trap, the label started by electronic music icon deadmau5, the remix and mix set licensing pioneers are launching new branded crates. These crates will make it considerably easier for DJs and producers to browse and curate content for their sets across the 4 million artists and 50 million tracks available for use and streaming with Dubset distributed mixes and remixes on Apple Music. In other words, less guess work, making it easier to find the perfect tracks to put into your next mix.
Say hello to the mau5trap horde, lead by one of electronic music’s finest,the boss himself, deadmau5. The Canadian-based mastermind is widely credited for his contributions to the dance music scene and his knack for staying at the forefront of DJ mixes and technology. Boasting a MixCRATE full of classic label releases from mau5trap recording artists like Feed Me, Rezz, i_o, No Mana, ATTLAS, Tinlicker, & many “moar,” the mau5trap MixCRATE is the first of its kind to hit the Dubset platform.
In addition to the crate highlighting the label’s decade of music, mau5trap and Dubset have partnered to release a series of VIP mixes via Apple Music, which recently created a genre dedicated to DJ Mixes and Live Sets. These mixes include sets by Testpilot (an alias of deadmau5) who just performed at Ultra Music Festival and Beyond Wonderland in March. deadmau5 also recently announced his all-new live North America tour, calling attention to his latest technological feat, the cubev3, which carries over into 2020 with more dates to be announced soon.
“Though we’ve long had high-level searches and filters, DJs are pretty much left to their own devices to figure out what they can put into a mix,” explains Clark Warner, VP Artist Relations at Dubset. “Mixcrates are unique portal to see what’s available, with a few hundred tracks as opposed to 45 million to choose from. The mau5trap crate will showcase the label’s catalog, from new releases back to their early records, so that DJs can compare it to their own collections and make sure they aren’t missing something.”
DJs aren’t the only ones benefiting from a different curation approach for tracks in Dubset’s catalog. “Labels have a strong interest in a deeper relationship with content creators. They want them to understand the parts of their catalog that they love and value,” notes Stephen White, Dubset CEO. “We’re here to facilitate that intersection and bring these parties together in a way that yields great results for both.”
Mix music, streamed by hundreds of millions of consumers globally, represents a massively popular and growing category. Until recently, users had to turn to free and ad-supported UGC services to find it. Thanks in part to Dubset, this music is finally making its way to premium
services where the industry prefers to drive consumers. Working closely with rights holders and the world’s largest music services, Dubset uses its identification and rights management platform to get mix content to services like Apple Music.
“Putting content curators together and allowing them to use their creative spark to figure what speaks to them is one of the most rewarding parts of what we do,” White reflects. “It’s an interesting role, to help facilitate matchmaking with large and influential catalogs, one we’re privileged to play.”
A decade since its formation, mau5trap—the independent label founded by groundbreaking electronic music producer deadmau5—has become a bastion for trailblazing and genre-defying artists. Casting a palpable influence over the genre, Mixmag readers voted mau5trap among the “Top 50 Labels of the Decade,” placing it in the Top 10. It has served as an influential platform for dance music heavyweights such as Feed Me, Zedd, Moguai, Noisia, Chris Lake and many more. A combination of dark, forceful techno and complex, electro sounds, the label acts as a hot bed for rising talent such as ATTLAS, Matt Lange, No Mana and REZZ.
A paradigm has shifted in the music business, but most insiders are unaware. Hints and signs of it are everywhere though, from the genres on Apple Music and Tidal to a steady drumbeat of deal announcements with platforms like SoundCloud, Spotify, and Claro Musica. The shift is DJ sets, live performances, and remixes. Once the banished outcasts of the mainstream music business, they are now legit; loud, proud--and lucrative.
It’s still relatively early in the movement. However, you can find these works easily now, even on major music services. Not only are they now being enjoyed on the highest per-play royalty services, the underlying labels and publishers are receiving proper royalties. A five-year build of technology and catalog rights has enabled DJs and producers to take their amazing craft and expression from studios and venues to the world’s most important streaming platforms like Apple. All thanks to a small but feisty company called Dubset.
Led by hip-hop superfan and Gracenote veteran Stephen White, the service set out to do the impossible, to acquire the right to identify, distribute, and collect royalties for every possible track in sets, remixes, mix tapes, and the like. Despite an industry fraught with poor data and under-collaboration, the company built the requisite technology, working closely with artists, labels, composers, publishers, DJs, and producers all seeking the same goal. Together they improved the consumer experience and helped grow music revenues.
To do this, Dubset developed a system that assigns ISRCs (the unique “barcodes” for recordings) not only to the remix or mix tape as a whole, but to each individual use of tracks within that whole, allowing every element in the work to be forensically traced back to the original track, work, and set of rights holders.
The rights holders and the royalties they now receive are truly where the rubber meets the road in music licensing. Matching a recording and composition back to its proper rights holders, by territory, is no easy task. Doing that to the 23rd power (on average, twenty-three tracks per one mix) is what many believed was the impossible. To get this underway, Dubset knew the first step was to ingest as much rights data as humanly possible, but to do this, they needed the support and permission of the labels and publishers.
“This was a monumental task, one most figured was an exercise in nobility and futility,” explains Bob Barbiere, Chief Strategy Officer and SVP of Licensing at Dubset. “It’s literally taken years of dealmaking and lots of grey hair to get to where we are today over fifty million tracks, and 1.8 million artists and composers. Yes, with no shortage of perseverance we made it.”
Getting the first people on board was critical. In 2015, Universal Music got serious about its works being used as part of mixes and remixes on SoundCloud and issued a major spate of takedown notices. In the ensuing cascade, well-loved DJs libraries disappeared overnight and the DJ and mix consumer industry went into a tailspin. It was clear hundreds of millions of fans desperately wanted the content. However it was obvious safe-harbor sites were not, in rights holders’ minds, the best solution for this music.
“We had the approach ironed out, but it took us years of hard pitching to convince labels and publishers that people would actually pay for subscriptions to content like this, that people wanted mixes and remixes as part of their subscription service experience,” notes White, Dubset CEO. “Streaming matured, and labels came around, especially when they saw what we could do.”
What they did was collect almost 90% of the world’s known catalog of recordings from over 50,000 labels and publishers and incorporate them into Dubset’s MixBANK Rights Management platform. MixBANK can now identify these tracks and trace their rights holders. This lays the groundwork for clearance, distribution, and collection, a process serving rights holders and music services, and one which is now well underway.
“This has been one of the biggest challenges we have faced as DJ’s,” world famous DJ Jazzy Jeff says. “It has been impossible to distribute our mixes and remixes without having to worry about them being taken down. That is incredibly frustrating to have your art relegated to the shadows.”
This revolution is now picking up serious steam. Dubset announced a string of major deals at a rapid pace in 2018, with many more to come in 2019. From major labels and publishers to indie distributors, to associations like Merlin and NMPA, right down to mixing software platforms, Dubset is incorporating all stages of mix and remix culture into its vision. By far, the greatest evidence of how far Dubset and the content have come appeared late last year, when Apple made DJ Mixes and Live Sets a main music genre, a change Apple rarely makes.
Points out Barbiere, “The ultimate goals remain the same: empowering DJs and producers while protecting rights holders and taking away the risk for music services. Although I believe what we do is highly innovative and complex, at its core it enables the music industry to focus on hundreds of millions of mix consumers and do what they’ve proven to do best: expand the breadth and excitement of music libraries in order to touch all segments and communities of music fans.”