Founded in 2002 INgrooves now owned by Universal Music Group is a global distribution, technology and marketing company which provides custom services like handling music publishing rights for artists and independent record labels. In this interview we ask the Executive Vice President of Rights + Royalties Steve Weatherby about the biz and some of his day to day activities at the company.

Peace Steve where’s home?

Home right now is Burbank, CA, but I was born in St. Louis, MO, went to high school in Syracuse, NY, college in Columbus, OH and then moved out to LA in 1997.

What’s a typical day like for you at the office??

A typical day for me starts by checking my calendar to see if I have any meetings or phone calls with current or potential clients or colleagues. I’m a slave to my email and spend a good majority of my day answering correspondence and working on Rights + Royalty projects.

Are Songwriters owed royalties when their compositions are played live onstage by other artists? Can you explain? What happens when money collected by PRO’s goes unclaimed?

Yes. The PRO’s (Performance Rights Organizations) ask that the writers provide set lists of the artists who are performing their songs. It can be a daunting task because if the songwriter is not the artist, then they will need to follow up directly with the record label or band manager.

From the website: BMI uses an independent source of live pop concert information to identify and create a database of the top 300 concert tours and/or concert events/festivals each quarter. Set lists are solicited from headliners and opening acts performing at those events. A royalty payment is then calculated for each BMI-licensed work performed at each event. This calculation is based upon the license fees collected from each licensed tour or event. Works performed as part of a medley; or as walk in, walk out, interlude, intro or “non-feature” music that is integral to the tour by either a headliner or opening act will be paid at a rate equal to one half of the full rate.  Since the number of BMI-licensed works changes from one quarter to the next, as do the license fees collected by BMI from concert promoters and venues, the royalty rate for your works performed in live pop concerts will also change each quarter.

In our continuing efforts to ensure that songwriters performing in live music venues receive royalties at every stage of their careers, BMI has launched BMI Live, a program enabling those songwriters to register their concerts and set lists online to be considered for payment.  To qualify, songwriters need to register their live musical performances on BMI will pay royalties to both writers and publishers via direct deposit.  The distribution from BMI Live will be made quarterly; updates on the program are available on the BMI Live page. The PRO’s only pay based on the set lists that are submitted, so there technically should not be any unclaimed income at the PRO’s.

How much influence do you think social media presence has when labels, A&R’s, music supervisors or booking agents consider when working with artists?

It’s all about analytics these days. There is not a lot of artist development happening by labels, as they can pick and choose which artists to work with based on their social media following and analytics.

How do you stay updated on trends in digital marketing, what are some resources you use?

I follow a lot of people on LinkedIn who will post articles, and try to keep up with the industry resources like Billboard, Music Business Worldwide, Digital Music News, etc.

Which tools, software or music apps do you use to work more efficiently?

For Royalty accounting we use both Record Maestro and Music Maestro. Ingrooves (now Universal) has a lot of proprietary tools and I also use Todoist to keep track of my daily tasks. We also use SalesForce for our contract management.

How important is video content in your marketing?

Video content is HUGE right now, so it is very important. Even releasing art tracks (still image over audio) is very important and can help create a following for your video channel.

Your thoughts on interactive videos? I heard viewing times are increased when compared to linear video ads, has this been your experience?

That’s a great question and unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of insight on interactive videos.

Should artists ever pay for traffic, plays, or views?

Absolutely not. It’s basically cheating, and those paid views and followers never seem to stick. Google has also become more aggressive in not paying for those paid views, so it’s really a vanity move. The other problem is once you pay for views to reach a certain number or goal, you will need to do that for every song/video you release going forward. Fans aren’t dumb either, they can tell when you have artificial followers/likes.

Advice you’d give someone aspiring to work in your field?

Great question. Read as much as you can and take an entry level job at an existing music company. If you have the ability to take music business classes, definitely do it, and just talk to people who are already in the industry. LinkedIn is a great resource and you can reach out to all kinds of people working in music. The job you think you might want, will most likely not be the job you first get, but learn everything you can about that job. Knowledge is power. Most of us were given an opportunity by someone else, and I feel like we all need to pay that forward.

Last word or shouts?

Thank you very much for reaching out to me with these questions. I hope I can be of assistance to anyone reading my responses.

INgrooves Music Group – Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter
Steve Weatherby – Linkedin
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EDITOR: La Mont Reed
IMAGE: INgrooves