Blinded by Stardom: Who’s Behind the Music We Love?

Sep 28, 2017

This week, we introduced a new subsidiary called Royalty Flow, and boy did it make an impression.

Dozens of news outlets picked up on the announcement, including TV spots on programs like “Closing Bell” and “Good Morning America,” and print like Billboard, Rolling Stone, and many more.

Driving this interest, of course, is the fact that Royalty Flow is raising money to acquire a portion of music royalties from Eminem’s former producers—FBT Productions. Those buying shares in Royalty Flow will own an interest in the royalties from Eminem’s 1999 - 2013 catalog.

And because he’s a global superstar, it’s not surprising that the bulk of the press coverage was on the association with Eminem.

But there’s a bigger point here that transcends Eminem, this IPO, and certainly us.

You see, there’s an entire ecosystem of contributing songwriters, producers, and other artists behind every hit song. These behind-the-scenes artists rarely get much recognition for their role in the success of the music they’ve helped make. But, they don’t complain. They love the work and they’re proud of their contributions.

These behind-the-scenes artists are like stars, while the Eminems of the world are the Sun. The music industry revolves around the Sun, basking in its energy and warmth. And in that bright sunlight, the surrounding stars are rendered invisible. They’re there. They’re important. But it’s only in the absence of the Sun that you even notice the sky is full of stars.

As practical evidence of this, just take the music charts. The music business is obsessed with rankings. But when we looked for a chart ranking the songwriters behind the hits, we found nothing. As an outsider to the music industry, I found that odd.

So, a year ago, we created our own. We’re proud to publish this weekly chart and appreciate folks like Music Business Worldwide and Songwriting Magazine who’ve brought attention to songwriter’s contributions.  

But isn’t it curious that the music business is so performer focused that it took a small startup in Denver to bother creating a chart measuring the impact of songwriters?

The Royalty Flow IPO involves FBT Productions, the producers who first discovered and developed Eminem. The Bass brothers supported his early career both financially and creatively. And they mounted the most impactful challenge ever to how labels pay artists in the digital age through a groundbreaking lawsuit, which they ultimately won after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Universal Music Group’s appeal.

And there are thousands of other behind-the-scenes talents responsible for the music you listen to every day. Only, their contributions go largely unnoticed by anyone other than a handful of music business insiders, and institutions like the PROs who serve them directly. And you can bet the superstars they work alongside recognize their contributions as well.

In today’s music business, that anonymity has very real consequences. Lawmakers rarely recognize the role songwriters and producers play in music creation, leading to things like the recent DoJ ruling. Most music services don’t list them in fan-facing credits. And in the case of songwriters, there’s not even the opportunity to negotiate how they get paid.

Thankfully, organizations like the Songwriters of North America and campaigns like “Credit Where Credit Is Due” have emerged to lobby for better rights and recognition. Podcasts like “And the Writer Is…” and books like “The Song Machine” highlight the role they play. And movies like “Muscle Shoals” and “Sound City” celebrate the session players and producers behind the timeless hits we’ll be listening to for years.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the story of Royalty Flow is not about Eminem. It’s about the behind-the-scenes artists who work with the superstars to create the music millions love. Who along the way earn a piece of the work they helped create and protect. And it’s about changing the status quo… giving these artists more options and allowing fans and investors to participate.

-- Matthew Smith, CEO, Royalty Exchange

Are you one of the thousands of songwriters, producers, and other supporting artists responsible for making great music? If so, contact Royalty Exchange today to see if our financial options are right for you.