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Dubset: Umixing the legal woes of remixes

by Amber Healy

Songs inspire and motivate us to try new things, go on adventures, get work done, even to push a little harder at the gym.

Songs also inspire other musicians and creative types to incorporate pieces of an existing composition and build on it, altering it into something that’s new but familiar, like meeting someone who looks like your best friend but is a totally different person.

The problem is, when musicians (like DJs) use samples or meld pieces of an existing song into something new-ish, sometimes they don’t get the proper approvals and permissions to release that song to the world as a new creation.

Of course, there are legal issues to be confronted when using original songs without explicit and correctly obtained permission as well: If a song is used in a public setting – restaurants, bars, clubs, you name it – royalties and copyright clearances MUST be obtained by licensing fees.

The Problem with Peloton

This is how Peloton got into trouble earlier this year: It’s being sued by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) for $150 million for failing to secure the proper rights to use songs in its wildly popular cycling classes.

NMPA, which filed the lawsuit in March on behalf of nine music publishers, claims Peloton “knowingly and willfully infringed” on copyrights they hold, “using plaintiffs’ songs in workout videos without obtaining synchronization, or sync, licenses. These licenses give a music user permission to release a song in a video format,” CBS News and other outlets reported at the time.

The songs used without payment include some of the industry’s biggest artists: Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Florida Georgia Line, Lady Gaga, Shawn Mendes and dozens of others.

If a major company, expected to become publicly traded on the stock market this year with an estimated value of $4 billion, can’t get licensing right, what hope do budding musicians, or event highly skilled professional mixers, have of avoiding legal trouble?

This is where Dubset comes in.

Creative Solutions for Creators

The company, created a few years ago, has deals with Sony, Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music, Warner Brothers, SoundCloud and Merlin to help DJs and remixers not only secure the appropriate permissions they need to incorporate copyrighted songs into new versions but also to make those remixes available for use on streaming platforms.

This means that not only can a DJ remix a Rihanna song and incorporate new elements to reflect his or her interpretation of the song, but both the DJ and Rihanna get paid for it. It’s a game-changer for artists who have otherwise been facing legal action for their work.

“Dubset Media is a technology solutions company for the music industry, and we love what we do,” the company says. “Our goal is to create a new marketplace for mixes and remixes and build the foundation for new royalties through online streaming. Technology that is powerful, innovative and disruptive. Solutions that are simple, universal and profitable. We work with the belief that the potential for music in the digital age is limitless.”

The company uses “cutting-edge technology, a rights management database and easy-to-use dashboards” to make sure everything is secured and cleared.

Dubset helps all sides…

It’s also a smart business decision: If there are 20,000 new licensed songs released daily, per the company’s website, there are some 300,000 new user-generated compositions or creations released in the same timeframe. If you’re a musician with a copyrighted song and someone uses your work in their remix, you get new ears on your creativity – why not welcome that AND get paid?

Image courtesy Dubset

The difficulty has always been doing this above board: the legal side of the music industry is wonky, murky, confusing and usually in some state of flux. The jump to digital has made things both more difficult to stay in compliance and easier to flub. Look at the infamous “Dancing Baby” case, in which a mom fought Prince’s team for years because she posted a 20-second video of her toddler dancing and one of Prince’s songs just happened to be in the background.

DJs have learned a skill, mapping out beats and phrases and pitches and tones and layering new elements onto existing songs in ways that keep a party going or help listeners reconsider what they know or think or feel about a tune. But they largely have been kept away from sharing their creations because they can’t widely release their songs without facing legal challenges.

Dubset helps DJs easily find which songs are eligible for use – and with those major label agreements in place, the possibilities are nearly endless – so they can take a performance or remix, play it live, add it to a streaming platform and get compensation when someone else uses it.

Kind of brings the whole idea full circle, doesn’t it?

Rights secured means artists paid

Everything is secure, everything is done properly and everyone gets paid for their creative content output. If the future of music is digital, and if artists aren’t making what they should from streaming compared to what they earned from album sales, this could be a compromise that benefits all parties.

Had Peloton worked with Dubset at the outset, they wouldn’t be facing a legal predicament that might take away one of its most attractive features. Of course, that’s for the courts to decide.

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