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SYNCK MUSIC Talks High-Volume, High-Quality Music Production

SYNCK MUSIC is the new rebranding of DOCUscores, REALITYscores, and TRAILERscores, bringing these three collections together under one company. Composers and co-CEOs Ram Khatabakhsh and Dirk Ehlert share their story of creating a boutique production music catalog with a unique vision for exceptional quality and a furious pace of releasing music for documentaries, film, and television.

How did the original DOCUscores label first begin?

​I [Ram] met Dirk in April 2018 after he arrived in Los Angeles from Germany. Upon meeting Dirk for coffee, we had a fantastic working synergy and had many great conversations about the film and TV industry. Over the next few months, Dirk visited my studio as we worked on several projects, and we got to know each other better. Dirk convinced me to switch to Cubase as my main DAW after having used Logic for 17 years, we always laugh about this.

I had a private label that I was running on the side and Dirk mentioned planning a new catalogue that’s mostly aimed at documentaries and filmmakers. We realised early on that it made a lot of sense for us to partner together, with us both having an extensive knowledge of production music and being film and TV composers. We started working on 11 albums in late April 2019 and by the 1st of September 2019, we launched DOCUscores. This was extremely tough but with the help of our team, we managed to achieve this.

How big is the team? How many composers do you work with?

​We recently welcomed 25 new composers as we needed to fill in more briefs. DOCUscores and REALITYscores have a total of 45 composers and we’re always on the lookout for talented composers and instrumentalists.

What kinds of releases have you been working on recently?

​I​​t’s overwhelming thinking about the number of releases we have worked on in the last two years. Managing both DOCUscores and REALITYscores and considering the client needs we have done well over 80 albums combined. Most of our volume is on REALITYscores as we have a deal with BBC Studios, so on REALITYscores we produce about 4 to 6 albums a month. 

As DOCUscores celebrates its 2nd birthday, have the past two years mostly gone according to plan, or are there many aspects of the business where you’ve gone a different direction from what you had initially planned?

​We launched DOCUscores in September 2019 and a few months after that Covid happened, so it’s been challenging as we were planning to record more live albums with orchestras and musicians, but we did not slow down because of Covid, in fact, we worked very hard to keep the team motivated and our team was able to produce more than we anticipated.

It seems that you guys are always on the move. Where do you spend most of your time, aside from your LA headquarters?

​I’m based out of Burbank, CA and a Dirk was in Newport Beach until he moved back to Europe in November 2020 and is currently located in Spain. We also have studios in London and Austin which we work out of based on our schedule.  

What’s your advice for a company that’s trying to get started building a global network?

​At SYNCK MUSIC we primarily focus on two main aspects: 1: Building a strong relationship with clients/potential buyers. 2: Producing high-quality music at a consistent rate. We also have a great working relationship with our sub-publishers in different territories. We found that these two main principles have helped us to grow the company further, but as always there are no strict rules. The music and film industry is always evolving, so it’s important to stay updated and adapt accordingly.

Does SYNCK MUSIC have a company mission that guides your business development or client experience?

​Our company mission is simple and straightforward, and that is to create the best-sounding production music. As a small publisher, our budget and resources are limited, but we do work aggressively to maintain this principle. We also have plans to work with experienced music supervisors and hiring additional sales team. 

Any all-time favorite placements?

We had a fantastic brief from DJI for their Ronin series launch. We worked closely with the producers and director from the early stage of production all the way to post and were able to provide them with the music for the Ronin series. 

Friday, 12 November 2021
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Major DSP Songwriter Payment Proposals to Begin in 2023 are Now Public

The once private proposals from the major streaming companies for their future songwriter royalty payments are now public.

With the 2017 royalty statutes expiring in 2022, the streaming payouts for 2023-2027 are now the subject of heated legal debate between the US Copyright Royalty Board, digital service providers such as Spotify, Apple, Amazon, Pandora, and Google, and musician advocacy groups such as the NMPA.

One of the most impactful numbers in the royalty payout calculation for DSPs is known as the headline rate, which refers to the portion of a DSP’s annual revenues paid to songwriters.

The rate has previously been set by the US Copyright Royalty Board at 15.1%, and the NMPA is now requesting that the headline rate be increased to 20%. Spotify, Amazon and Google all appealed this raise.

Spotify, Apple, Pandora, and Google, have all countered the raise, proposing a return to a previous headline rate of 10.5%, except for Amazon Music which proposed 10.54%. 

Musician advocacy groups are further concerned with transparency surrounding the revenue figure used to calculate the headline payment. NMPA CEO David Israelite and Executive Director of the Nashville Songwriters Association International Bart Herbison are addressing the issue by advocating for additional revenue streams to be built into the deal.

One of these payment plans would be a Total Cost of Content (TCC) percentage which would require DSPs to pay publishers at least a set percentage of what they pay to the labels. The rates for TCC have been the subject of much debate, as the US Copyright Royalty Board ruled to increase TCC percentage by ~1% each year from 22% in 2018 through 2022 until it hit 26.2%.

Amazon’s proposals get even more complex, forgoing TCC for “an all-in floor of 80 cents per subscriber per month for the standalone portable tier, and 40 cents per subscriber for the less-expensive non-portable tier”, among other revenue streams.

The Music Modernisation Act, which was signed into law on October 11, 2018 through the US House and Senate with unanimous support, obligates the US Copyright Royalty Board’s 2023-2027 royalty rates mandates to use the “willing buyer, willing seller” standard to ensure a fair arrangement.

Currently, there’s still work to be done before the two parties are able to reach a willing consensus.

Friday, 5 November 2021
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SourceAudio for Mobile Puts Essential Site Features in the Palm of Your Hand

SourceAudio mobile-optimized library sites are live!

Stream audio, create playlists, and view complete metadata.

Send and receive tracks, playlists, and albums all on the go.

Search and filter tracks to find the perfect track wherever you are.

Tap into the SourceAudio network to find premium music using any mobile browser.

Friday, 29 October 2021
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How to Nest Stems and Alternate Versions of Tracks Under Main Versions

Nesting your tracks to group alternate versions, cut downs, and stems under their respective main versions is a tremendous organizational benefit. 

Instead of having to scroll through many listings of all the different versions of the same track a track whose alternate versions have been nested will show a [+4] on its listing, which can be clicked to reveal its 4 nested alternates.

There are three ways to nest your tracks on your SourceAudio site:

1. CSV Import

Importing a .csv file with SourceAudio nesting data in it is generally the most practical method of nesting, especially for large numbers of tracks.

To nest tracks that have been published on your site, begin by exporting a metadata csv from your admin panel > Manage Metadata > Export Data. You can use the tools seen here to only export the catalogs, labels, or publishing date range you’re looking for. Tick the bubble for "only these" and select exactly which catalogs or labels you want to export (cmnd+click to select multiple.)

Once the csv is downloaded, you can begin editing this data to assign alternate tracks to their respective master versions. This data is stored in the Master ID column. When the nesting is complete, the data will look like the image below.

A helpful tip: as you can see in this screenshot, the master ID column has been moved from its original position (typically around column AK) to column B, right next to SourceAudio ID for faster nesting. When this is done, make sure to copy the original column and paste it into its new position – don’t just create a new column and label the header or you could overwrite existing data you have in your master ID column.

Once your Master ID column is next to your SourceAudio ID column, just copy/paste the SourceAudio ID of your master track into the Master ID column of every track you want to nest under it.

For instance, if you had a master track "Happy Birthday" like in the image above, you would copy and paste Happy Birthday's SourceAudio ID into the Master ID field for "Happy Birthday (Drums)", "Happy Birthday (Guitars)", "Happy Birthday (Version 2)", etc.

Once you've done that, save your edited csv and upload in your admin panel > Manage Metadata > Import Data.

That’s it! After completing the import, you should see your tracks nest on your site as the imported data populates. When you export a CSV in the future, you’ll see this data in the Master ID column.

2. The Auto-Nester

The auto-nester is a powerful and convenient tool for quickly nesting tracks, however being an automated system, the auto-nester does not guarantee accuracy, so it’s best used first, before doing any manual nesting such as in methods 1 or 3, because the auto-nester will overwrite any previously existing metadata.

Find the auto-nester in your admin panel > Manage Metadata > Nesting, and click the label that you would like to nest.

On the following page select only the options that apply exactly to your tracks in accordance with their current metadata, and then click to nest in the bottom right.

After the auto-nester has finished running, export a csv from your admin panel > Manage Metadata > Export Data, and proceed with option one above to complete the nesting of your tracks.

3. Nesting from a Track’s Details Page

The third and final method available to nest your tracks is to nest one at a time. This method can be handy if you only need to make a minor change on a few tracks.

Begin by viewing the track you want as the master in its detailed view by clicking its name from a line listing so that the track’s data then takes up the entire screen.  Next, click the button directly underneath the large bold track title that reads Edit Track Metadata, and scroll down to find a button on the right side of the screen that reads Manage Alternates. Click that button and you should see a yellow banner appear across the top of your site explaining that you are currently nesting alternates for that track. 

Under Similar Tracks, you should see a small green plus icon appear on every track. Clicking that green plus icon and it will turn into a red minus icon – meaning that the track has been nested as an alternate under your master track. You can click the red minus icon again to unnest the track and turn it back into a green plus.

While managing alternates, you can navigate to anywhere on your SourceAudio site and click the green plus on any track to nest it under the track whose alternates you’re currently managing. When you're done, just click the Done button in the yellow bar at the top of the screen to finish managing alternates.

Managing the Order of Nester Tracks

You can adjust the order of your nested tracks with the “Nesting Sort Position” metadata field. Enter a numeric value for each nested track, and the tracks will be sorted according to these numbers – the track with the lowest number will appear as the first nested track and the track with the highest number will appear as the last.

You can also adjust your tracks’ nesting sort position by heading to the master track’s detailed page, clicking Edit Track Metadata at the top of the page, clicking Manage Alternates, and then dragging the track up or down in the order by clicking and dragging the icon of six dots next to the track’s title.

Friday, 22 October 2021
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SourceAudio Collect Makes Global Royalty Collection Easy

Performance and mechanical royalty collection that’s quick, simple, and effective.

Our payout totals are growing every day! Enroll in SourceAudio Collect to receive quarterly payouts for all your global royalties. 

SA Collect brings you performance and mechanical royalties from 75 territories including the US

○ 35 labels and 127 publishers are using SA Collect to collect their global royalties

Multiple libraries already have over 100k uses reported in their first year

Already have some territories covered? No problem! We can exclude any territories to provide collection in just the locations you need.

Signing up for SourceAudio Collect puts you in control of your global publishing – and enrolling is free!

Contact our sales team to get started with SourceAudio Collect now.

Friday, 15 October 2021
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