Fair Pay for Every Play — Åsa Carild & How Being In A Pop Band Sparked A Career In Royalty Collection

On this new episode of Fair Pay For Every Play, host Kristian Luoma meets Åsa Carild who has recently been appointed Head of Platform at Utopia Music.

As a successful singer and songwriter, Åsa has experience in the music industry from both sides and brings with her a wealth of knowledge learned along the way.

“Music was not a choice in my family,” she laughs, “I never entered music, I just continued the line.”

Performing in indie pop band, Pineforest Crunch, Åsa paid attention to the workings of the major record label they were signed to before co-founding her own with a friend.

She then went to work in reputable music licensing companies, including ICE, before becoming CEO at the Nordic licensing hub, Polaris.

“When it all comes down to it, I would describe myself as a musician in heart and soul, but I haven’t worked too much with it lately. What I am and what I come from is always being super intrigued and interested in music and technology. Where I thrive the most is where those things are combined.”

Åsa is proud to be joining Utopia Music and be part of the campaign for fair pay for every play. She will be heading the Utopia platform unit that provides consumption analytics and economics data for the company’s service offering.

She and Kristian discuss how royalty collection societies can strive to create a fairer and more transparent process, ensuring fair pay for every play. As well as how artists can help themselves keep on top of their payments.

Here’s the notes:

00:00 — Introductions to our guest, Åsa Carild

01:40 — Åsa talks more about her journey as a musician

04:09 — What Åsa has learned about music royalties as an artist

06:46 — How Åsa co-founded an independent label

10:09 — What triggered Åsa to change careers and work with royalties

11:40 — What Åsa has learned and how the royalty model has changed

14:05 — Discussing the work that still needs to be done to ensure fair pay for every play

16:03 — Closing words and goodbyes

There is a responsibility on the artist to keep on top of what they should be earning

Åsa’s experience as a songwriter allowed her to learn about the importance of registering works correctly.

“In the past, I was responsible for registering our hit song. I’m dyslexic. I found out that I registered it with a misspelled name.” she recalls. “Fortunately, the collection societies did react eventually, but I have no idea how much we lost thanks to that. That shows how important it is to bring correct data in and there is human error everywhere.”

As a result, she advises that artists take the time and responsibility to ensure they check their registrations and update information as soon as it needs changing. Artists should also have an understanding of royalties they may be expecting and follow this up with a collection society if it isn’t received.

Learn from those around you

Whilst signed to a major record label, Åsa was always curious about how it operated and witnessed how different departments like PR and marketing worked.

These observations left her intrigued and gave her the knowledge and confidence to set up an independent record label herself to “try to give other artists the same opportunities that [she] had.”

The label was co-founded by her best friend.

“Some may say [setting up a record label was] a very interesting experience or a very expensive hobby.” she smiles.

Åsa says there has been a lot of change in independent labels since then.

“When we started a record label, the most advanced thing we could do was joining something called Box Man, where you could sell CDs online in different countries. And that was wild at the time… Today, you have every option to get your music out there.”

As a result, there is more music to compete against as everybody has the tools to make music and release it. She advises that artists take the opportunity to learn from people that they work or collaborate with, as this can help them to understand processes and get ahead.

Looking forward to a fairer future

“There has been immense progress and improvement in regards to the capabilities of collecting royalties for music,” Åsa says.

Previously artists had to rely on local societies to collect royalties for online use, but now artists can collect for their own royalties.

“This was a learning experience and it improved the income for the creators.”

Åsa believes that attitudes have changed from streaming platforms, too. “Now [streaming platforms] are really embracing that they have a responsibility, that even if it’s user-uploaded music that they make sure it’s licensed and paid.”

However, there are still conflicts that are stopping royalties from flowing in the right direction

“There’s a lot that can be done, but I think the most important is to connect the music industry. Recordings and works and usage information; all of that data needs to sit together for it to be truly represented and paid out.”

This would close a current data gap which allows artists to understand where and how their music is being listened to. Having this data would be valuable for creators and for the industry as “you would know what is happening with your music almost instantly.”

From this data, artists and their teams, if they have them, would have more insightful knowledge to plan releases, tour schedules, and promotional material. Being able to react and interact with it in real-time could also deepen the connection with listeners.

Creating a Better World for Music with Fair Pay for Every Play