Dissecting The Digital Dollar

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The Digital Dollar reports and guides: Helping artists and managers navigate the streaming business

Welcome to Dissecting The Digital Dollar

Dissecting The Digital Dollar is a series of reports, guides and tools from the Music Managers Forum designed to help artists and managers better understand the streaming business, and the impact the shift to streaming has had on the wider recorded music industry. The reports were produced for the MMF by music business consultancy CMU Insights.


Dissecting The Digital Dollar: Second Edition

The growth of music streaming has dramatically changed the business of recorded music. Instead of sharing in the proceeds of a physical or digital sale, music makers and rights holders are now participating in new commercial models based on revenue share and micro-payments.

‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ explains how the streaming business works, how the music industry has licensed the digital platforms and how digital royalties ow through the system. To help you understand this complex licensing model, it also provides a beginner’s guide to music copright, record and publishing contracts, and the collective licensing system.

When first published as a report by the UK’s Music Mangers Forum in 2015, ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ also raised a number of issues which were subsequently discussed at a series of roundtables in 2016 involving artists, songwriters, labels, publishers, lawyers, accountants and managers.

This Second Edition – available from Amazon for £15 – includes an updated version of the original report, a summary of the roundtable discussions, and two new guides providing further insight on label deals and the transparency debate.

Buy Dissecting The Digital Dollar Second Edition

Some comments on ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’

ROBERT HORSFALL partner at Sound Advice LLP
“Thank you and well done to the MMF and CMU Insights for publishing these must read guides for managers and artists, and their business advisers. Their desire for transparency in the digital era sits alongside my desire for a simplification of industry contracts. True partnerships call for both, so as to engender trust and to enable the financial health of the creative community.

CLIFF FLUET partner at Lewis Silkin
“‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ is so much more than a beginners guide – it goes deep into the intricacies of digital music, rights and revenues, and is an indispensable guide to the music industry in the streaming era”.

ERIK NIELSEN artist manager at Wingnut Music / Rocket Music
“‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ is an invaluable guide for professionals at any level in the music industry. It cuts through the fog to explain in plain English how the modern streaming and digital economy and ecosystem works, from the services themselves to labels and distributors, and the types of deals involved. Most importantly, it highlights traps, hidden costs, and other complex processes and challenges that even seasoned managers and artists can overlook – and need to be aware of!”

CARLOTTA DE NINNI head of research at Mycelia
“‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ is a must-read publication. It enlightens you on the complexities and the challenges of digital licensing. Everyone working – or wanting to work – in our beloved music industry should know it by heart”.

RICHARD LIGHTMAN producer, composer, musician and sound designer
“With the success of music streaming services, the music business has become a confusing and challenging place for artists, producers and their managers. ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ opens up the mysteries of digital streaming royalties, how the income streams are apportioned and how to follow the money. This is a must have for any musician or music business operative especially with the new ‘Deals Guide’ and ‘Transparency Guide’. A real eye-opener!”

DAVE WIBBERLEY artist manager and programme leader of the Music Industry Management BA at LCCM
“As an artist manager, ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ has given me a much better understanding of the complexities and inherent unfairness in much of the digital streaming business, particularly as it impacts upon songwriters and their royalties”.

The Digital Dollar Guides: Deals & Transparency

Based on the findings of the ‘Digital Dollar’ roundtables, in October 2017 the MMF published two new guides – ‘The Deals Guide’ and ‘The Transparency Guide’ – each also accompanied by a new tool for MMF members. You can download these guides as PDFs for free.



‘The Deals Guide’ explains the workings, legalities and pros and cons of the various different kinds of label and distribution deals available to artists today.

To accompany ‘The Deals Guide’ we also developed the MMF Digital Deals Comparison Calculator, which makes it easier for managers to understand the key differences between different deal types in terms of the services that are provided and the way revenues are shared.

Download The Deals Guide

Access The Digital Deals Comparison Calculator



‘The Transparency Guide’ identifies all the information and data artists and managers require from their business partners to fully understand and succeed in the streaming business.

To accompany ‘The Transparency Guide’ we also developed the MMF Transparency Index that allows managers to compare just how transparent different business partners really are, and to share that information with the rest of the management community.

Download The Transparency Guide

Access The Transparency Index

The Original Digital Dollar Reports

The first Digital Dollar report was published in October 2015 and the second in October 2016. You can still download these guides as PDFs for free.

‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar Part One’ was published in October 2015 and explains in one place how audio streaming services are licensed. It also includes a beginner’s guide to music copyright, recording and publishing contracts, and collective licensing, all of which impact on how the music industry’s digital deals are structured.

click here to download the Executive Summary

click here to download the Full Report

‘Dissecting The Digital Digital Part Two’ was published in October 2016 and was based on a series of roundtable discussions involving over 200 music professionals in four countries, including artists, songwriters, labels, publishers, accountants, lawyers and managers. The discussions considered seven key issues with the current streaming business model and the resulting report proposed a series of solutions.

click here to download the Executive Summary

click here to download the Full Report