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‘Get Played, Get Paid’: Dubset Partners With Pioneer to Distribute DJ Mixes

Music licensing and digital distribution company Dubset has announced an integration with DJ hardware and software company Pioneer to clear and distribute DJ mixes using the latter's paid DJM-REC iOS…

Music licensing and digital distribution company Dubset Media Holdings has announced an integration with DJ hardware and software company Pioneer to clear and distribute DJ mixes using the latter’s paid DJM-REC iOS recording app.

DJs can now upload mixes using the app to Dubset, which identifies copyrights using its proprietary API, allowing selectors to legally distribute their live sets and mixes to streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify. (Last year, Dubset announced a similar partnership with Tidal, distributing mixes, remixes and DJ sets to the JAY-Z-owned streaming service.) The San Francisco-based company manages licensing and the dispersal of royalties to labels — like Sony Music and Warner Records, which inked a deal with Dubset in March — and music publishers using its MixBANK platforms, while its MixSCAN technology analyzes live sets and mixes to determine the audio files’ rightsholders. 

DJM-REC also facilitates the uploading process to platforms like Mixcloud, SoundCloud, and Dropbox: DJs can plug their USBs into DJM mixers (DJM-TOUR1, DJM-900NXS2, DJM-750MK2, and DJM-450) with digital send/return capabilities to process and upload their sets in real time.   

“This partnership brings together Pioneer, the best-in-class DJ tools company with Dubset, the leader in compliant distribution of DJ mixes and remixes to major music services,” said Dubset CEO Stephen White in a statement. “This exciting partnership enables, for the first time, DJs to upload their live sets through their Pioneer DJM-REC app to Dubset’s MixBANK where the set will be analyzed, parsed, cleared, and distributed to Apple Music. A seamless live performance-to-distribution model has been at the top of the DJ communities wish list for a long time, and it is now here.”


Artists whose songs are played in another DJ’s mix or live set are paid through Dubset on a pro rata basis, or a time-based allocation. It’s not how long the selector lets the track play, but how much percentage it takes up of the overall set; for example, open-format DJs typically play between 30 seconds and 1 minute of every track, so each artist they play would receive a split of the overall royalties contingent on how many seconds their music was played. “It doesn’t matter how long it’s played,” Dubset vp distribution Dave Nicomini tells Billboard. “We’re very much on a ‘get played, get paid’ style approach to how we’re handling royalties and the flowback to rights holders.” 

Whether artists included in live sets should receive compensation commensurate with the DJs playing them has become more of an urgently debated question in recent months. When Aphex Twin played tracks by up-and-coming artists during his recent Coachella and New York City performances, some critics said it wasn’t fair that the U.K. electronic music icon was (allegedly) getting paid a large fee to perform while those in his mix were getting nothing, and others blamed a system that wasn’t set up to distribute the equivalent of performance royalties to those producers.

Either way, says Nicomini, this new Dubset partnership won’t bring a remedy to the unequal payment situation, but it does “provide a path for up-and-coming artists to get discovered and have their name recognized when it appears on global streaming services like Apple Music,” which linked up with Dubset in 2018 to establish DJ mixes and live sets as their own genre. (A move that had been in the works since a deal between the two entities was initially struck in 2016.)

He continues, “That’s the biggest value proposition [of the Pioneer integration]. Beforehand, a lot of that stuff lived in the ether. It went unidentified and you didn’t know what it was, or the DJ spinning his records decided not to disclose what he was playing. In our case we’re identifying it and making sure the proper people are getting paid. Just as valuable to these rising artists as the monetization is the name recognition, getting their name out there and visibility amongst a new set of fans.”