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Guest blogger: #1 in the series | October 1, 2008

We’re trying to have at least one of these a month. A series of guest bloggers from specialized fields, shedding some insight and expertise. Jessica Reznick is the head of Business Affairs at 72andSunny and she is going to kick off the series for us. Here are some words from her on the internet, the democratization of information and the toll it can play on our industry…Thanks Jessie!

While the internet has always made accessing information easy, the recent trend seems to be putting specialized skills and power in the hands of the masses. This has been evidenced through communities that pop up and allow every day people to explore a skill or lifestyle they never thought possible. Just look at the number of music videos, TV shows, weird talents, personal blogs and web pages that pop up every day. While the transfer of power may seem like a good thing, it can have its drawbacks too.

There is a new community site up called Song Vest (www.songvest.com). In a desperate attempt to bring in revenue to the tanking music industry, the song writers have come up with a site that allows online auctions for percentages of synchronization rights. For those of you not familiar with music rights, the synch (or publishing) rights represent the songwriters’ portion of song ownership. While it’s always been possible for multiple entities to own a percentage of the synch rights, this new community is taking it to a new level.

Anyone that signs up to the song vest community will be allowed to bid on ownership rights of their favorite songs. If you have the highest bid, you win the song rights, and therefore a percentage of the royalties when that song is played. Many are wondering, why do we care?

This could greatly affect the licensing negotiations for many popular songs. Whenever there are co-publishers on a song, agreements must be made with all ownership parties in order for the license to be valid and the song’s use to be OK’d. Most co-pubs are either music companies or are represented by law firms, and therefore they understand the process of licensing. This helps all the parties cooperate and usually follow the lead of the largest share holder of synch rights.

What will happen when any average Joe can own a song? Will we be able to easily find them? Will they hold out and try to get a huge bang for their buck? Will there be a larger threat of lawsuits if their rights are properly secured and accounted for? Is this new web community helping the related industry to adjust this new process? I guess well have to wait and see as it all develops.

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