Stem Aims to Simplify Royalty Payments

Stem, a distribution and payments platform empowering independent musicians and labels with tools to grow their business, announces their biggest product in years with Royalty Services, which they detailed today to Billboard. The Royalty Services product helps labels to simplify the process of calculating and paying royalties—no matter who they distribute with. Starting today, independent labels can work with Stem to gain more insight into their royalty obligations, feel more confident that their calculations are accurate, and spend less time making payments. Most importantly, they’ll be able to offer their roster of artists the clear and timely royalty experience that they deserve.

Labels today struggle with royalties for a variety of reasons, but there are several similar bad outcomes across the industry:

  • Incomes are coming from a wide range of sources and partners.
  • Contract terms have grown so complex that they require a lawyer to decipher the splits.
  • A single track can involve a dozen collaborators who need to be identified and located before they can be paid.
  • Artists have projects across multiple labels and distributors who operate on different schedules.
  • Labels treat their semi-annual royalty periods like a trip to the dentist: often they have a sense something is wrong, but they don’t want to look into it until they have to.

The music industry deserves better. Earlier this year, Stem dared to ask why payments in music have lagged behind every other digital industry. Digital creators expect to get paid monthly, and they get a clear dashboard showing their earnings over time. Stem believes that in order to bring that experience to music, they need to offer better tools to the labels and rights holders that are responsible for calculating and paying royalties to artists and their teams. Over the past year they’ve worked with labels and artist teams like Quality Control, 3LAU, Fool’s Gold, and Our Vinyl to understand the challenges facing royalty finance teams today and build solutions that fit their needs. Stem Royalty Services are officially expanding to more customers today.

Stem Royalty Services will provide the tools that modern labels need to take control over royalty finance. In partnership with Curve, Stem is making it easy for labels to manage contract data, track earnings from DSPs and other sources, and verify that each statement is accurate in a fraction of the time they’re currently spending. And they've got you covered when it’s time to make payments. For years Stem has been one of the industry leaders in making life easier for the people who get paid from music—now every label can benefit from that expertise, and artists can enjoy a unified dashboard to view and collect their royalty income from multiple labels in one place.

“This is the next step in our mission to improve financial clarity for the entire music industry,” says Stem Chief Product Officer Brendan Kao“Labels need a clear dashboard to understand royalty obligations and payments, and artists deserve clear insight into what they’re owed. Now Stem can offer that experience whether you distribute with us or not.”

Stem Royalty Services are available to eligible labels and other music companies with significant royalty obligations, a desire to better understand their business, and a commitment to offering artists a better experience. Stem is available to work on assisting with onboarding contracts, catching up on previous royalty periods, and ingesting regular statements from DSPs and more. After each period is calculated, you’ll review a clear summary in the web app that makes it easy to spot mistakes and make adjustments. Once finalized, labels can fund payments to hundreds or thousands of recipients with a single transaction, while artists can view and manage payments from multiple labels in a single portal. 

“Stem's software makes royalty data easy to read to the point that I actually want to log in myself to look at trends,” says Coach K of Quality Control Music“With any other solution I would wait for my team to generate a report and then wait again while they pull the important details out of a massive spreadsheet. QC is about innovation, so we like using technology to move fast and keep setting trends for the industry.”

Learn more about Royalty Services at www.stem.is, and stay tuned for more from Stem soon.