Now in the Mix for Sony Music Artists: Royalties From DJ Sets

The Wall Street Journal - August 22, 2017
By Anne Steele

Startup Dubset woos its first major label with special song calculator

One of the world’s largest music companies agreed to license its songs to a startup that aims to help musicians and record labels make money when their material is used in DJ mixes and mashups played online.

Sony Music Entertainment is the first major music company to reach a deal with New York-based Dubset Media Inc., which has so far partnered with about 35,000 smaller labels and music publishers. Dubset’s technology determines how much of a given song is used in a mix created by a DJ and calculates royalties owed to various rights holders.

Dubset executives described the remix market as a massive untapped revenue source for the music industry. The company reached agreements last year to add its remixes to the libraries of Spotify AB and Apple Inc.’s Apple Music.

Andre Stapleton, a business-development executive at Sony Corp.’sSNE +0.27% recorded-music unit, said the Dubset deal “not only protects our artists, but also provides us with the tools to harness new revenues for them, while amplifying the popularity of the original master recordings at the same time.”

Dubset chief executive Stephen White said the average DJ mix is 64 minutes long and contains 22 songs, with interests held by more than 100 different rights holders. In a statement, Dubset said DJ-created remixes, like original music, must be independently registered, tagged and cleared before becoming available on any subscription music streaming service. The company said its technology identifies recordings sampled within DJ sets, determines the label and publishing rights holders and clears the DJ sets across all rights holders in a matter of minutes.

“This brings huge value to artists who historically have not had the ability to monetize their content used in DJ mixes and [it is] also recognition of what amazing musicians DJs are,” Mr. White said. Having Sony sign on is “a huge validation of what we’re doing,” he said.

It has been a long time coming, too. Mr. White said getting labels, artists and publishers on board and setting license agreements has been difficult.

“The cross-clearance network we’ve had to build requires us to have large number of labels on board,” he said. “It has been a heavy technology build.”

He said Dubset is working toward license agreements with other labels.

Write to Anne Steele at Anne.Steele@wsj.com