In 2015, Brad Schnittger is designing a music licensing platform aimed at attracting and retaining musical talent in Cincinnati. The platform, called MusicLi, will provide local musicians with a simple to navigate site that allows legal documentation, registration, and music publishing to all happen in one place. Schnittger suggests that lack of easy, legal access to Cincinnati’s musical talent is one of the biggest barriers keeping area companies from licensing local music. Now, one month into the development of his project, we check in with Brad to see how he’s progressing:
My first few weeks at People’s Liberty has been a whirlwind. I’ve made it through the initial pomp and celebration of the announcement and have started to dive into the work. So far, I’ve spent the majority of my time mapping and further defining MusicLi and its various functions. I’ve made some headway.
- a rights management platform for artists and musical groups
- a basic music publisher for artists and musical groups;
- a hyper-local music catalog for area marketers and businesses.
Getting these basics defined was my first priority—that, and finding a way to succinctly communicate the distinct issue I’ve set out to tackle, along with my proposed solution. Enter: the one-pager; an attempt to succinctly and effectively present MusicLi to the local music community. Sounds easy. It isn’t.
Everyone knows how to tie a shoe. Not everyone knows how to publish a song or the work required to do so successfully. In a way, my co-fellow Bradley Cooper and I have the same challenge: removing complexity to make something simpler. During his fellowship year, Brad C. is literally making things smaller (tiny, even); for me, it’s much more figurative. I’m trying to explain a 40+-hour process, its drawbacks and solutions, in 500 words or less. And then create a platform that allows for the entire slug-like process to happen, in one place.
Below is a short list of things I’ve burrowed into, digested, and begun to dissolve into my one-pager:
- Securing a musician's intellectual property rights
- Defining who gets what when if the song becomes a hit
- Adding valuable metadata to published songs
- Registering with a performing rights organization
- Registering with SoundExchange and Soundscan
- Deciding what digital distribution option is best
In theory, all of these functions are relatively easy for anyone to tackle. However, each function presently has its own platform, its own application and data entry processes, and its own guidelines and specifications. Things get confusing, fast; and wordy.
Next on my giant to-do list is parsing out the fastest, cheapest and most streamlined path to legal US Copyright and music publishing. Not quite riveting, but not quite rocket science, either. The hardest thing about this is actually taking the time to do it—like actually doing your taxes, for instance. If only all the information was in one place.
MusicLi aims to be that one-stop-shop for musicians. Maybe a record label wants to sign a MusicLi artist, or offer them a publishing administration deal, or license a song. If they have their music rights wrapped up and tied with a bow, those deals are much easier to negotiate on both sides of the table. And much quicker.
Once the artist side is air-tight, I’ll move to the other side of the marketplace. I’ll be reaching out to Cincinnati-based ad agencies and brands to discover where they get their music and how I can build MusicLi to better suit their needs.