The digital age has democratized both the production and the distribution of music, but getting paid for it, especially on the songwriting side, is still confusing. Some of the information gets complicated – neighboring rights don’t actually involve the rights of neighbors, for example – and much of it is biased.
Now the Music Rights Awareness Foundation, a Sweden-based nonprofit founded by ABBA songwriter Björn Ulvaeus, producer-songwriter Max Martin and songwriter Niclas Molinder, has teamed up with WIPO – the World Intellectual Property Organization, which operates as part of the United Nations – have teamed up to create CLIP (“Creators Learn Intellectual Property”) a website that will educate songwriters.
“I know firsthand how important it is for creators to know and manage their IP rights,” Ulvaeus said in the announcement. “Today, it is an essential foundation for a successful career in the music industry.”
Music Rights Awareness launched years ago, with the mission to empower songwriters with knowledge about the business. But CLIP, which offers an array of information and resources, took some time. “We started this work four years ago but the actual platform took a bit over a year,” Molinder told Billboard. “The audience is music creators around the world, but the plan is to grow it to creators in other areas.”
Billed as offering “everything you need to know about your rights as a creator” and introduced by Ulvaeus in a video, the site offers explanations of rights that are accessible as well as smart. The resources on songwriting, for example, include information about composers, topliners, arrangers, as well as explanations of their rights and how they interact.
The site is in English, but there are also plans to translate it into the five other official UN languages – Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish.
WIPO plays a largely unseen but important role in regulating patents, trademarks and copyrights – although mostly as a place where treaties can be negotiated, rather than as a top-down lawmaker. It often plays a role in explaining intellectual property but rarely in such an accessible way.
“Creators draw on their talent and artistic vision to give us music, art, song and dance,” said WIPO director general Daren Tang in the announcement. “We must do what we can to ensure they are recognized and fairly rewarded, so that they can thrive in their work and contributions to society.”
Ulvaeus, Martin and Molinder are also behind the app Sessions Studio, free software that allows music creators to assign and track songwriting credits to make sure they get paid. But CLIP and the Music Rights Awareness Foundation operate separately.
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