DJ Mixes in the world of streaming music (and video) — Part 2

In Part 1 post on the this topic, I explained how “DJ Mixes” are now being offered as part of the Spotify and Apple Music streaming services. The DJ mixes are NOT appearing on Spotify and Apple Music as podcasts, radio shows, Mixcloud or SoundCloud like streams, or as any type of non-traditional music product.

Spotify’s new DJ Mix offering as initially presented upon launch in September 2021

Instead the DJ mixes are being presented as a traditional music product like an album, EP or single. The new format? A “DJ Mix Album”: these albums either consist of the DJ mix being presented as a single album track or the mix being cut up into individual tracks that will play continuous as a DJ mix. Does this music product confuse you? I cover the details and nuances of the “DJ Mix Album” product here in part 1:

One of the craziest things I learned about the “DJ Mix Album” is that if a song is included in another artist’s DJ mix, Spotify and Apple Music will generate a new ISRC code for that song as it appears within the DJ mix.

An ISRC code is a standard product code to identify the master audio of a song. So if a DJ mix hosted on Spotify or Apple Music includes a song already existing in the world of music streaming and retail, that song will now have an additional and unique ISRC code for the version of it included in the DJ mix. This can create search and discovery confusion for listeners trying to find the original version of the song. Treating “DJ Mixes” as unique albums is not a well thought out idea because it creates song duplication within streaming services.

If a song is included in 100 DJ mixes on Spotify and Apple Music, which is totally plausible for a hit song, a listener will now encounter 100 versions of that song when they search for it.

After my first post about “DJ Mixes” in the world of streaming music, I came away with two major questions about the “DJ Mix Album”.

The first question was, how are major and independent music distributors delivering “DJ Mix Albums” to Spotify and Apple Music?

It turns out while there are very few artist FAQ’s out there on how a DJ could deliver a mix to Spotify and Apple Music, the answer is quite simple. Most distributors likely have an option to deliver a DJ mix as a “continuous mix” — one long song which is actually a 40–80 minute DJ mix. Distributors also have the option for artists to deliver a DJ mix cut up into individual songs from the mix, but that will play back as a continuous mix. You can see these options here within the dashboard of a major distributor, InGrooves.

Music Distributor InGrooves options to deliver a “DJ Mix Album” — either a full continuous mix or individual songs that will play continuously as a DJ Mix Album in sequence

It’s as simple as checking a box when delivering the “DJ Mix album” audio to streaming services, assuming an artist’s music distributor has this delivery option as a feature of their service.

Idris Elba’s “DJ Mix Album” with unique new “mixed” versions of songs he’s selected for his continuous mix seems to no longer be available on Spotify. Was it a licensing issue that made this “DJ Mix Album” go dark in the US? Also note that Spotify calls this a “Playlist” when clearly it is more similar to an album release, with singular artwork and new versions of the songs provided to the albums.
The first track in Idris Elba’s DJ Mix Album is “Biscuit — Extended” by Robin M. A new version of it was created for the Idris Elba “DJ Mix Album” on Spotify, and it was assigned a new, unique ISRC code.

The second question was how would “DJ Mix Albums” that included songs NOT owned by the artist or record label delivering it, be possibly allowed on streaming services?

I mentioned in the last post that I encountered an artist who had two of their songs included in a “DJ Mix Album” provided by the HARD Summer Festival on Apple Music.

This artist told me they had not been approached by anyone at the HARD Summer festival, Apple Music or their own music distributor with a request to license the songs for the DJ Mix.

However, they were not upset about the automatic inclusion of their songs in this Soul Clap DJ set. This set was recorded live as a real world DJ Mix at the festival, and then later was cut up into a “DJ Mix Album” and distributed into Apple Music. But it’s still crazy to think that the distributor of the “DJ Mix Album””did not need a license from this artist to include their songs a part of the release. I wondered how this could be possible?

I recently obtained an email from a music distributor that has opted in all of their clients (artists and labels) to the “DJ Mix Albums” offering at Spotify. What this means is unless the artists and / or labels opt out, their music can be pre-licensed for inclusion in “DJ Mix Albums”.

The good news for these parties is the streaming royalty will still go back to the artist / labels that have songs that are included in the “DJ Mix Album” on Spotify. The DJ mix provider will not receive any royalty from third party music in appearing in their mix on Spotify. At the time of writing this post, I’m not sure what Apple Music’s agreements are with DJ Mix providers.

This “opt in” of artist and labels songs into “DJ Mix Albums” on Spotify and Apple Music is very much like how unless an artist opts out of providing their music for inclusion in Instagram stories / reels, or Tik Tok posts, their music can be used by all creators on those platforms.

However, “DJ Mix Album”s unlike Instagram or TikTok posts, are NOT social media posts and instead are real media products with product metadata, codes and revenue streams. There currently is no alert system for artists / labels currently where they would be notified “your X songs have been included in Y ‘DJ Mix Album’” on Spotify and Apple Music.

Imagine if all of a sudden an artist’s new release is appearing in multiple DJ mixes on Spotify and Apple Music, there will be dozens of new “Mixed” versions of the original song, along with unique product codes. Listeners trying to find the original version of the song will have to keep a keen eye and ear on which version that really is. In part 3 of “DJ Mixes in the world of streaming music (and video)” I will cover some of the ways artists and labels can track the inclusion of their music in third party DJ mixes.

It’s my belief that turning DJ mixes into “DJ Mix Albums” on Spotify and Apple Music is not the right way to offer DJ mixes to listeners — they should be presented in the way that Mixcloud and Soundcloud mainly presents them — as a single audio file with a track list. The generation of new “mixed” versions of songs because of the “DJ Mix Album” format will cause both product confusion (multiple ISRCs) and listener confusion. Regardless, I do support DJ mixes as a great discovery tool for listeners to find new music and they should be made available on streaming services. It’s my guess that the “DJ Mix Album” format was the only way that Spotify and Apple Music could make the mixes available. From a licensing perspective, maybe these “DJ Mix Albums” are the only way to make the mixes legal. Let me know your perspective in the comments.

The following email from a distributor has me thinking that the trend will be for all music distributors to make this default option — an artist’s music can automatically be included in DJ mixes and multiple “mixed” versions can be generated from the original master audio. Any stream of a song within a DJ mix will generate the royalty back to the original artist and label.

Hi All,

We’re writing to you in regards to the recent amendment to our agreement with Spotify regarding DJ Mixes.

In order to make your tracks available to third party DJs for potential inclusion in future DJ Mixes to be made available on Spotify, Spotify needs to know which tracks we wish to submit for inclusion.

Spotify is committed to the following:

  • Each DJ making a mix will use at least 30 seconds of each track to be sure it is potentially royalty bearing.
  • Each track used in a DJ Mix will be clearly labeled as a ‘Mixed’ version of the original track — and will clearly state the original artist name and track name in the playlist and Now Playing screen.
  • Any plays of the Mixed version of a track that occur within the Spotify DJ Mix playlist will be calculated and paid as per the standard royalty provisions set out in the Merlin-Spotify Agreement.

By default we will be opting in to Spotify DJ Mixes for all labels we distribute to Spotify, only content that has been sent to both Spotify AND YouTube Content ID will be delivered, in order to avoid opting in content that labels do not have exclusive rights to.

Catalogue will be made available for DJ Mixes respecting the territorial rights delivered to Spotify as per the metadata in the underlying track.

You must let us know by Friday 21st January if you wish to OPT OUT of Spotify DJ Mixes for some or all of your content.

You may want to opt out if:

  • Your artist agreements do not grant the necessary rights.
  • Your distributed artists or labels have not granted you the necessary rights to collect on DJ Mixes.
  • Your distributed artists or labels do NOT want their music to be included in DJ Mixes.

If you are happy to be opted in for all of your content as described above you do NOT need to reply to this email.

Submission of DJs

We are also permitted to submit DJs to Spotify to be considered by Spotify for involvement in the DJ Mix program.

If you wish to submit a list of artists for consideration please also provide this to us by 21st January — please provide a list of artist names along with the URI of their Spotify profile.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns in regard to any of the above.

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musicdatapro

musicdatapro

Music Data Pro by Chuck Fishman: in depth about music marketing + data — specifically marketing musical artists on streaming services, streaming + radio.