Tuesday, February 23, 2021

How much each distributor pays for Spotify and Apple Music

I'm holding a live training on The 3 Myths and 3 Truths of Livestreaming for Musicians on Friday, March 5th at 12pm (noon) PST. It's not over Zoom (whew!) - no need to dress up - and it will be LIVE. I'm going to be discussion how you can use Facebook, Twitch, Instagram, and YouTube to build a dedicated following, how you don't need a large following to be successful in livestreaming; how you can make a living livestreaming from home, along with going through case studies of the musicians who've been killing it in the livestreaming space this past year. This is a free training, and as long as you register before the webinar begins you'll receive a link to watch the replay. Register here.

+Read this full report (and see the charts) on aristake.com

All streams are not treated equally.

How much Spotify and Apple Music pay for a stream varies on many factors.

There are around 800 different pay rates for each stream on Spotify. Some of the variables include:

  • Country/Territory of the listener
  • Subscription plan level (free, family, student, discount, premium)
  • Promotional stream
  • Distributor / label negotiated rate

We're focusing on the last point here. But I'll get to that in a minute. First let me break down the most obvious points:

Country/Territory of the Listener

Spotify and Apple Music pay more for a stream from a listener in the US than a stream from a listener in India. Why? Simply because the cost of a standard premium subscription in the US is about $10. In India it's under $2.00. Not to mention the free, family and discount plans.

For the ad-supported free plan on Spotify (Apple Music only has a 3-month trial - without ads) advertisers pay more for US Spotify placement than they do for India Spotify placement, so the pay split (which has never been revealed) for ad-supported streams will also be much less.

Subscription Plan Level

Spotify and Apple also pay differently based on the listener's plan. So Spotify (and Apple) will pay-out more for a stream from a listener on a $9.99/mo premium plan versus a listener on the free, ad-supported or family plans.

Worth noting that Apple Music pays a lot more than Spotify across the board because Apple Music does not offer a free, ad-supported streaming experience to users. Ad supported streams pay much less than subscription supported streams.

As of December 31st, 2020, of Spotify's 345 million monthly active users, only 155 million of them are subscribers.

Promotional Stream

This is a very new thing that Spotify is experimenting with. Spotify is offering labels and artists the ability to essentially advertise their songs on the platform as suggested songs to listeners (once they finish listening to their chosen song/album/playlist). Instead of paying a fee up front for advertising, you instead take a lower payout rate for the promoted streams. We don't have any data on how this is working yet.

Distributor / Label Negotiated Rate

This is what we're focusing on with this report. One of the biggest reasons that there isn't a "Spotify pay rate" or an "Apple Music pay rate" is because each distributor negotiates a different pay rate with each DSP (Digital Service Provider - catchall for streaming services). Some indie distributors are part of the Merlin network - which essentially collectively bargains for a rate which will then be utilized for all distributors in that network.

Merlin publicly lists on their Press page that they represent “15% of the global market share” and Merlin’s members include: Amuse, CD Baby, AWAL, DistroKid, Symphonic, Vydia, Sub Pop, Ultra Records, Mad Decent, Secretly, along with "hundreds more" indie labels and distributors.

Supposedly every Merlin deal will result in the same pay-rate for each label and distributor.

But just being part of the Merlin network does not mean that the distributor has to opt-in for every deal. Which is why some distributors have higher pay rates than others who are also part of Merlin.

Worth noting, no distributor paid out more than $.004/per stream for spotify us in 2020

Note that's Spotify US - not Spotify across the board.

We didn't calculate Spotify's average per-stream rate across all territories (as many other reports do) because it would be heavily weighted on the location of the artists' lister base. If an artist got included in a country-specific playlist, like "Top Brazil" and 90% of their streams came from Brazil, their numbers would look awfully different than someone whose streams come primarily from the US or India. Because streams are not evenly distributed amongst every territory, you have to split up calculations by country.

So, we did.

Read the full report (and see the charts) here.

~Ari

Follow Ari's Take on Instagram @aristake_ and TikTok @aris.take for daily doses of inspiration.

Keep up on Twitter: @aristake

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ariherstand.com

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Sony Music Publishing returns with a 'modern vision' – via a rebrand of Sony/ATV

Sony Music Publishing returns with a 'modern vision' – via a rebrand of Sony/ATV
The world's biggest music publishing company is no longer called Sony/ATV. It's now Sony Music Publishing.

The re-brand of the US-headquartered pubco sees the Sony Music Publishing name return for the first time in over two decades, complete with a new logo.

The move marks 25 years since Sony/ATV was first established in 1995 through a joint venture between Sony and Michael Jackson. That merger brought together the original Sony Music Publishing with Jackson’s ATV Music, which the late artist acquired in an astonishingly smart buy for just $47.5m in 1985.

A process of modern publishing unification at Sony began in 2016, when the company acquired the Michael Jackson estate’s 50% share of Sony/ATV for $750m, making it a wholly owned Sony company.

In 2018, Sony further consolidated its position at the largest music publisher – and simplified its structure – via the purchase of full ownership of EMI Music Publishing via two deals jointly worth more than $2.5bn.

This recent process of unification has been reflected in the new re-brand to Sony Music Publishing, a move driven by the publishing company's Chairman & CEO, Jon Platt... (MBW)

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Big-N-Mage Publishing


Saturday, July 6, 2019

U.S. Copyright Office


Why The U.S. Copyright Office Chose The Mechanical Licensing Collective

The Copyright Office said it chose the Mechanical Licensing Collective over the American Music Licensing Collective because the former fulfilled all the qualifications required by the Music Modernization Act to receive the designation, while the latter fell short on some of the qualifications. 
The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) is a new entity created by that statute and slated to begin operations on Jan. 1, 2021 to manage a blanket mechanical license and to collect royalty payments from digital services and in turn pay the royalties to the correct copyright owners. In order to insure that occurs, the MLC will build a database matching compositions to recorded masters. 
In a 86-page ruling, the Copyright Office laid out the reasons why it designated the group led by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), the Nashville Songwriters International Association and the Songwriters of North America instead of the American Music Licensing Collective (AMLC) to build and operate the Mechanical Licensing Collective created by the Music Modernization Act.
According to that document, "the Office concludes that while both candidates meet the statutory criteria to be a nonprofit created to carry out its statutory responsibilities, only MLCI satisfies the endorsement criteria, and MLCI also has made a better showing as to its prospective administrative and technological capabilities. The Register is thus designating MLCI, including its individual board members, with the Librarian’s approval."
The Copyright Office Ruling on the designation of the MLC was made by Register of Copyrights Karyn Temple and approved by Librarian of Congress Carla D. Hayden.
One of the key arguments that the AMLC made as to why it should receive the designation concerned its interpretation of the marketplace as worded in the MMA. The AMLC argues that the statute’s wording, "the greatest percentage of the licensor market for uses of such works in covered activities, as measured over the preceding 3 full calendar years," referred to the number of copyright owners. Meanwhile, the NMPA and its supporters argued that wording referred to market share by royalties.
Up until this ruling, the Copyright Office hadn’t ruled specifically which interpretation it favored, but it now says it agrees with the NMPA. But even if it had ruled in the AMLC's favor on that issue, that group still would have lost out on that requirement because the NMPA lined up more copyright owners than the AMLC, according to the Copyright Office. In specific, it noted that the AMLC did not provide market share data for its endorsing copyright owners while the MLC showed that it had the support of 85%-90% of the marketplace.
 Even by the numbers, MLC counted 132 musical copyright owners with well over 7 million musical works, and it was endorsed by over 2,400 songwriters, according to the Copyright Office ruling. Consequently, it said that the MLC is the entity that most nearly fulfills the market share requirement while also noting that "even under the metric for which the AMLC provides evidence—number of copyright owners, AMLC would not be the candidate that satisifies the endorsement provision…AMLC still would have substantially fewer endorsements than MLC", about 1000 endorsements versus about three times that for the MLC.
The Copyright Office noted that in the end the Recording Academy, which initially withheld endorsing either candidate, ultimately endorsed the MLC. "Thus, under both the proper metric of market share, and the alternative metric of number of copyright owners, MLCI is the candidate that satisfies the endorsement requirement," the ruling stated.
Finally, the Copyright Office questioned the AMLC's budgeting process and questioned whether the AMLC considered the full range of the MLC's necessary operational costs. For example, it said that AMLC projected licensing and legal activities to cost $600,000 to $730,000, but the Copyright Office wondered if the AMLC failed to consider that it would have to participate in CRB assessment proceedings and engage in other activities to enforce rights, including possibly commencing actions for damages and injunctive relief in federal court.
The Copyright Office also said it had concerns about the lack of specific information provided by the AMLC on its board membership selection process, saying the AMLC's submission described a somewhat ad hoc decision-making process in this area.
And it specifically said it was unsure that all the AMLC board members fulfilled the statutory requirements needed to be a board member. For example, while Clearbox president John Barker demonstrates relevant experience, if his company merely administers licenses on behalf of copyright owners but has not itself been assigned copyrights, he would not constitute a publisher representative within the meaning of the statute. While noting that Barker could have been replaced if needed, the Copyright Office said that issue did not factor into its overall assessment so it didn’t require resolution.
"While many of the proposed AMLC board members demonstrate commendable experience to perform the relevant duties, the Office appreciates MLCI’s more comprehensive approach to identifying and selecting potential members, who themselves each appear highly experienced and able to perform the required duties," the ruling stated. 
While the AMLC didn’t get the Copyright Office designation to run the mechanical licensing collective, its impact on the black box issue reverberates throughout the ruling. But in contrast to what the AMLC claimed, the Copyright Office said that the MMA makes sure that those royalties will be distributed appropriately. 
"With respect to the purported conflicts of interest of individual board members, although these claims raise serious issues, they ultimately have little impact on the Office’s evaluation of the candidates’ proposals," the Copyright Office ruling said. "Regarding MLCI’s board composition, the Office agrees that the unclaimed royalties oversight committee will help mitigate potential conflicts. As discussed below, the Office expects ongoing regulatory and other implementation efforts to further extenuate the risk of self-interest with respect to the distribution of unclaimed accrued royalties."
The Copyright Office said that the statute addresses these issues and protects smaller independent songwriters, including the part that says a songwriter should receive no less than 50% of payment. Secondly, the statute requires the MLC to undertake a number of duties with respect to unclaimed royalties. including maintaining a public online list of unmatched musical works through which ownership can be claimed. The MLC must engage in diligent, good-faith efforts to publicize, throughout the music industry the existence of the MLC and procedures to claim unclaimed royalties.
In general, the statute requires the MLC to ensure that its policies and practices are transparent and accountable, including issuing a detailed annual report describing how royalties are collected and distributed, and its efforts to locate and identify copyright owners of unmatched music.
Moreover, every five years, the MLC must retain an independent auditor to examine the books, records and its operations and prepare a report addressing "the implementation and efficacy of procedures" "for the receipt, handling, and distribution of royalty funds, including any amounts held as unclaimed royalties," and "to guard against fraud, abuse, waste, and the unreasonable use of funds," according to the ruling.
And the Copyright Office adds that the stature requires the MLC, the Copyright Office and the Digital Licensing Coordinator to publicize the unclaimed royalties and in general educate songwriters about the MLC.
Furthermore, it notes that Congress has asked the Copyright Office to study the issue of unclaimed royalties and provide a report by July 2021 that recommends the best practices to identify and locate copyright owners with unclaimed royalties, and the MLC must give substantial weight to these recommendations.
Finally, the MLC must be re-designated every five years, and if the Copyright Office believes that the MLC made unreasonable distributions of unclaimed royalties, that could be grounds for concern and may call into question whether the MLC has the capabilities to perform the required functions. In other words, the re-designation might not be forthcoming.
While the MLC received the designation, the group headed by NMPA, NSAI and SONA didn’t get everything it wanted. In particular, it wanted the Copyright Office to address whether the presidential signing decree was in according with the MMA. When signing the MMA into law, President Trump added a new requirement to the Copyright Office, ensuring it would have a continuing role in maintaining oversight in the subsequent selection of replacement board members. The NMPA had argued that the collective is not a government entity and thus its board of directors and committee members are not officers of the government so that neither the register nor the Librarian has the authority to accept, reject or appoint them. But the Copyright Office’s ruling is completely silent on this issue. 
In another matter, the Copyright Office weighed in completely noting that it took the comments from the Institute of Intellectual Property and Social Justice (IIPSJ) seriously. It pointed out that the MLC draft by-laws "contain a diversity provision that calls for a biannual report on the diversity of the board, including diversity as to gender/race/ethnicity, income, musical genre, geography and expertise/experience." It said it would work with the MLC to help it achieve these goals and said it believes the MLC can play a role in helping to advance these goals within the music industry.
Overall, the Copyright Office said the submissions suggest that both MLC and AMLC will have the basic administrative and technological capabilities to perform the required functions under the statute, but the former demonstrated a greater capacity to carry out several of these responsibilities. "MLC’s proposal as a whole reflects a more realistic understanding of the [collective’s] responsibilities under this new system and indicates that it is better positioned to undertake and execute the full range of administrative functions required of the [collective] within these critical first five years."
While the Copyright Office didn’t chose AMLC, it said its "goals and principles are laudable, and its submission includes a number of ideas that should be given further consideration." It added, "the Register expects that the designated MLC will endeavor to equally represent the interests of those who did not endorse it, and that interested sides will continue to come together to make the implementation of this historic new licensing scheme a success, building upon the cooperative spirit that facilitated the MMA's passage."

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Spotify playlist pitching review of Playlist Push



First want to give a quick shoutout to Ari's Take partner AWAL. They have a helpful blog post on when you get included on a Spotify playlist, how to make sure you don't get bumped off of it. Check it out here. 
Also, as a reminder, enrollment for Ari's Take Academy: How To Become a Successful Touring Artist closes Tuesday! Join us. 
I got an email from a long-time reader and very talented artist, Jessica Lá Rel who shared her experience with Playlist Push and had some very understandable concerns. 
But first, I want to update you on Playlist Push since my first report came out a few weeks back. For those of you just getting caught up to speed, I’ve been digging into all things Spotify the past couple years. Specifically, how to get included in playlists. I reviewed SubmitHub, which proved to be somewhat helpful at getting (small) blog coverage, but the playlists on the service were totally fake with no real engagement. I pointed this out in my review and since then, they completely changed the way they accept and rate the playlists you can submit to on the service. Props to SubmitHub for taking it seriously and changing course! 
I also wrote about how my album got removed for using a service I thought was a legit playlist pitching company, but was in fact using bots to increase streams (in addition to getting the song included on some playlists). 
I’ve spoken to many streaming experts ranging from owners of playlist pitching companies to big time distributors with playlist pitching departments to labels to managers to marketing agencies to Spotify employees. The biggest takeaways are that it’s the Wild Wild West out here in the digital streaming world and that what is true today may not be tomorrow. 
This all being said, after extensively looking into Playlist Push (testing two very different songs on the platform), interviewing the founder and a couple managers and artists who have used the service, I determined it was one of the few legitimate services out there to pitch your songs to user generated playlists. 
That being said, it is flawed. But the founder George knows they have work to do and are actively working to improve their service (and are listening to all the critiques and constructive criticism I’m tossing their way). After I posted my review, I became a “curator” on Playlist Push for my Low Volume Funk playlist so I could see it from the OTHER side of the equation. I have since updated the review to reveal my findings. 
To catch you up - as a curator of a 2,550 follower playlist (with about 400/monthly listeners) - it's not really a money-making venture unless you're doing SERIOUS volume. Currently I'm making $2/song. Considering I (or my team) listen to each song in its entirety and then try to write a thoughtful review, it's not really worth the time for me. But I understand other curators probably have more time or only listen to a snippet of the song and write short reviews. And as a curator grows within the platform they could be earning up to $20/song if their playlist is gigantic (500,000 followers or so). But, again, most are probably around the $2-$5/song mark.
The biggest frustration I’ve noticed having been a curator on the platform for just over a week is that most of the songs I’m being sent aren’t remotely close to the songs on my playlist. I selected the genres “Funk” “Soul” and “R&B” and the songs on the playlist all have organic instruments - not created ‘in-the-box.’ Most of the songs submitted to me, however, are hip hop or pop songs that are fully electronic (no real instruments). So, if an artist selects the “Soul,” “R&B” or “Funk” genres, I’ll get sent the song. I really wish there was a better genre selection tool that only sent songs that would actually fit on the playlist. I feel bad that these artists are wasting their money sending the songs to me. Some of the songs are great! They just don’t fit on the playlist. 
At least on SubmitHub, you can personally pick the playlists you’re submitting to. With this, you have to just trust that Playlist Push will send your songs to the appropriate curators. The founder, George, and I had a call today where I expressed this frustration (after passing along the below email from Jessica) and he did mention that they have a totally new genre selection process rolling out very soon. I’ll update the review once that is fully implemented.
Jessica’s email: 
I wanted to reach out to share with you a recent experience I’ve had. I’ve been following you for a long time. Back in the early days of Ari’s Take, to the webinars, the book, the online course, the live full day panel events, etc. I’ve considered you one of the most genuine voices I’ve come across in the industry thus far. I‘m loyal; I preach the gospel of Ari Herstand to other creatives. I buy your various packages and have been a subscriber for over 5 years now. I trust your feedback and insight not just because you do your homework and have lived experience, but also because you have built a brand around trust by providing resources to independent artists all over. You have focused on those that often get neglected or taken advantage of in such a brutal industry.
But recently I had an experience that brought me to a crossroads with that trust. I usually don’t write emails this long, so I apologize in advance for the length.
I had some difficulty using the new Spotify For Artists feature when they first announced their beta product in July. I released 2 eps and a culminating album between May and October. So it was nice to hear your perspective on ways to approach Spotify playlists beyond the beta feature. After reading your review of Playlist Push, I checked them out. The approach made sense to me: genre based outreach and a genre/playlist potential based payout structure. I spoke with customer service throughout the process to determine which kinds of campaigns to set up. I had previously conducted a survey with fans to determine which songs would make for the best Spotify playlist campaigns. So I set up 3 campaigns. 1 for a song on the 2nd EP that would run until the release of the album. And then the last two to run concurrently as soon as the album dropped. 
The first campaign for a song called Home Above Water did not perform well via Playlist Push. At first, I just took it as a sign that the music wasn’t there yet. But then I looked at the reviews of the song and realized that there was a major problem. The song was registered as Soul, but the reviews were coming from folks who curate lists for “depressing hip hop”, EDM, electro pop, Reggae, etc. Everyone kept saying “it doesn’t fit this kind of playlist”, and I’m thinking, “of course! This song is definitely not EDM, hip hop, pop or reggae. Think Eryn Allen Kane, Chance the Rapper’s more inspirational songs/Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment, Grace Weber, etc.
I spoke with customer service about it. They seemed to understand. I requested to cancel the upcoming campaigns and get a refund for the first. Steve then offered to do one more campaign, and if it also doesn’t satisfy me then he would refund me for all three campaigns. He offered a full refund on all three songs. I was hesitant to continue, but he insisted that the next song would have more options because it fit R&B and Soul. So together there would be more targeted playlists to submit to.
Within the first day, the second song Lighthouse landed on a Reggaeton playlist. So I knew I was heading down the same road. I reached out the second day of the campaign but didn’t hear anything for 1.5 weeks. By that time, it had been placed on 5 playlists: Reggaeton, Boy Bands, Hip Hop, a pop playlist, and finally your Low Volume Funk playlist. So at this point of the 5 playlists, the one that comes remotely close to my actual genre is curated by the same person who encouraged me to check out the platform in the first place. I felt debilitated in a number of ways. 
In the end, I argued quite a bit with customer service. They reneged on their refund offer, claimed a full refund from them was not possible and was unfair, and that no one complains about getting on 5 playlists. I tried to explain to them that it’s not about the quantity of playlists or listeners but the quality of listeners. Getting on a reggae playlist does not help me get my music to fans and potential fans where they actually are. If anything, it makes them less prone to engage with my music because they are listening to a reggae playlist with the intent of listening to actual reggae, not cinematic soul. Everything I do is in an effort to reach potential superfans.
I ended up walking away with a partial refund and plenty of condescending remarks from Steve... but more than that I lost a lot of trust. In an industry with little mentorship for independent artists, you were the closest thing to a reliable resource I had, and to find out that the agency you recommended was pretty much a scam (like the others you discuss in the blog) that would take my money and throw my music at any Playlist that bites- and then to find out that you’re getting paid on both ends (for referring them and then for curating), didn’t necessarily help. 

So first off, I want to give Jessica major props for sending me this very heartfelt email. And for being so candid. Not everyone speaks up when they are experiencing frustrations or roadblocks, but the only way to make things better is by approaching them head on. I know it must have been frustrating to spend a good amount of money on a campaign and then be disappointed by it. I've done it time and time and time again. I'm sure you have too. 
I want to hear your successes and your pitfalls. All of them. The good, the bad, the ugly. We’re all in this crazy industry together! And I am a student first. I want to learn so I can teach. Nothing brings me more joy than being able to pass along valuable information that I learn and to see you use it successfully. 
I do want to be perfectly clear about my involvement with Playlist Push (and any company I review). I never accept an affiliate code or advertising partnership until AFTER I write my review so my review is completely unbiased. I never let the companies read my review before it’s posted. And I only accept affiliate codes or ad partnerships with companies I believe in. Some companies I reviewed negatively have attempted to throw money at me to change my review. But I turn them down at every corner because all I have is my reputation and the trust I have built with the community.
No, I cannot be bought off. I will not take money from companies or people I don’t believe in.
After my extensive review of Playlist Push, it seems like a valuable service. I stand by it (today). Will that ever change? Maybe. But like any ad partner I’ve ever had, when I get complaints from readers I take them immediately straight to the top. If they aren’t resolved to our satisfaction immediately, I end our relationship and I write about what happened. However, the good ones out there take their customer complaints very seriously and resolve the issues quickly. 
I understand the responsibility I have being one of the few working artists out there with so much access to people in the industry and I take this responsibility very seriously. I’m always looking out for artists and I answer to no one but you. 
Whatever you’re experiencing, the good, the bad and the inspirational. Lemme hear it! I can’t promise I will be able to get back to you, but I do promise to read it, think and digest. 
Much love,
~Ari

PS - if you dig funk/soul follow my Low Volume Funk Spotify playlist and hit me with some song suggestions.

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"How To Make It in the New Music Business might well be the best 'how to' book of its kind." - Music Connection Magazine 

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Sony/ATV Music Publishing Songwriting Camps Yield Over 300 Syncs as Program Expands to Miami & Atlanta


By  

Sony/ATV Nashville President/CEO Troy Tomlinson, Sony/ATV songwriter Blake Healy and Brian Monaco President, Global Chief Marketing Officer
Five years after starting its songwriting camps, Sony/ATV Music Publishing’s efforts have resulted in more than 300 sync licenses of original songs created for brands including Adidas, Bose, Comcast, Dunkin’ Donuts, Google, NFL, Miller and Nissan, as well as dozens of movies, TV shows, trailers and video games. 
Now the program is expanding. In February, Sony/ATV will hold its first songwriting camp in Miami, followed by its Atlanta debut next summer. The camp will return to Los Angeles for its annual event, with plans to also revisit Toronto for the first time since 2017 and Nashville, which held its inaugural camp last month.
“The sync writing camps are a great example of how Sony/ATV proactively seeks out new opportunities for its songwriters by going far beyond what a music publisher typically does,” said Sony/ATV President, Global Chief Marketing Officer Brian Monaco in a statement “They give us a unique position in the marketplace and have created hundreds of new sync placements for our writers.”
The camps usually host 20 Sony/ATV songwriters who collaborate in small groups over several days to create new songs and master recordings, sometimes for a specific brand. Sony/ATV’s sync department then pitches the songs to potential licensees.
Songwriters from all levels participate, including at the upper echelon, often tapping into new creative reserves. Ross Copperman, BMI’s 2016 and 2017 country songwriter of the year took part in the Nashville camp and afterward enthused to Monaco in an email, “It was so inspiring and refreshing and I'm so grateful for the new people I've met and go to work with. I would love to do this more often wherever and whenever. I will make it happen. These few days have fed my soul in a big way.”
Among the notable songs are “Get Loud For Me,” written by Mike Sabath and Gizzle and recorded by Gizzle, which has been used in an NFL/Bose commercial and an Adidas campaign, as well as tallied nearly 4 million streams on Spotify. “Do It Like This,” written by Daphne WillisAustin Massirman and Sabath, has appeared in commercials for Comcast and Xfinity, and will be featured in a forthcoming campaign for Royal Caribbean Cruises as well. Other camp tunes have powered commercials for Apple, Orbit Gum and Labatt Blue and trailers for Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie and video games Need For Speed Payback and Outcast: Second Contact.