If your music is being used by DJs to enhance their sets, you want to make sure you’re it would be nice to know you’re getting paid to be as well as played.
That’s where DJ Monitor comes in. Since 2005, the Dutch organization has been working to ensure that artists are compensated when their work is used during live performances and in DJ sets.
“We’re kind of the Robin Hoods for the independent artist,” says founder and CEO, Yuri Dokter.
DJ Monitor “was an idea born out of necessity,” Dokter says. “If you perform a work in public, for example if a DJ plays a record and 20,000 people are listening to it, someone has to pick up the tab.”
Under current public performance laws, event organizers are obliged to pay a percentage of their profits to performance rights organizations, which are then charged with compensating the artists whose music was played at the event. Before DJ Monitor, according to Dokter, this process was a mess.
“The bureaus had absolutely no idea who to remunerate,” Dokter says. “They would look at dance charts, CD sales and airplay charts and say, ‘Ok, we’re going to remunerate these people.’ It had no coherence whatsoever, it had nothing to do with who was being played and who was supposed to get the money.”
Artists that wanted to fight their corner faced several obstacles. “There were a lot of lawsuits,” says Dokter. “People couldn’t prove to the courts that their music was being played.”
To change things, Dokter created a piece of kit – the digimonitor – that’s got the power to change everything .
“It’s hooked up to every mixing board on every stage to record everything from A to Z,” Dokter says. “Then we publish playlists on an online playlist management system. It allows the rights holders to take a look at what’s being played.”
Performance rights organizations can then analyze these playlists and adjust the amount of money they send to artists remunerate artists accordingly. Thanks to DJ Monitor’s technology, the right people are starting to get paid for their work.
“Artists will be added to what’s being called ‘reference repertoire,’” Dokter explains. “We’ve identified that they’re being played out there.
“Now, it’s going to be undoable and too expensive to monitor everything and everybody. So, performance rights organizations will take an average of what’s being played and then make remuneration. You don’t get paid for one instance. Because we’ve monitored you, you’re on the radar and you will be remunerated from other sources as well.”
Even some of the biggest names in dance music are taking digimonitors with them on the road. Artists and organizers of renowned live music events around the globe are approaching Dokter with a view to using his technology.
“We often go with Armin Van Buuren or Tiestö on tour,” says Dokter. “We record all their shows, provide the playlists and publish them for foreign rights organizations. It means we will get some of the money back for the artists and the composers who are actually played.”
But, if you’re a DJ, then why agree to have one of DJ Monitor’s devices on your mixing desk? Don’t you value the aura of mystery that swirls around your sets? “We actually have a long waiting list,” says Dokter. “DJs play a lot of their own stuff; stuff from their own labels. They will have a tough time getting proper remuneration if they don’t have the proof that it was being played.
For the DJ/producer/label owner hybrds, there are other benefits to utilizing DJ Monitor’s devices. Consumers can access a database of tracks via a series of tweeted live playlists. If your track forms part of a live set, it’s automatically at the fingertips of music lovers.
“One of the biggest difficulties that a lot of clubbers have is that they’ll love a record but they have no idea what the record is,” says Dokter. “People can see via our tweets what’s being played and they can order it right away.”
DJ Monitor has deals with various record companies and music platforms that allow the company to maintain a large database for music recognition. According to Dokter, his database is far larger than that of Shazam or similar companies.
Those same deals prohibit Dokter from saying exactly how many of his devices are being used globally due to a confidentiality agreement. In his opinion, the number could be higher.