Are Harry Fox Agency and Music Reports competitors?

Yes, that image is of a hairy fox… but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Are you wondering how Harry Fox Agency (HFA) and Music Reports compare and which, if any, you should use? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Do they even do the same things?

HFA is a huge company and has their fingers in all sorts of things. That’s what makes it so confusing when you read about HFA online. They appear in so many different types of searches and contexts.

So, I thought it would be helpful to first give you a list of things that HFA does that Music Reports doesn’t do, as it relates to services that you and I care about as artists.

  • HFA offers a cover licensing solution called SongFile for independent artists and record labels. This system allows people to easily obtain mechanical licenses and pay their mechanical royalties.
  • HFA offers eSynch, a service that allows independent artists and record labels to acquire sync licenses so that they can put their cover songs in videos. It falls under the SongFile umbrella, but it is a different service. Note: this doesn’t apply to YouTube videos.
  • HFA owns and and operates Rumblefish, a big service in its own right that among other things allows you to monetize your music on YouTube using a Content ID system.
    • Competitors: AdRev, Audiam, and TuneCore.
    • If you’re curious, CD Baby uses Rumblefish to monetize music in YouTube videos… so they’re not really competitors, per se.
    • On a personal note, I used to use CD Baby for my Content ID solution, but then I switched over to AdRev because I have a lot more control and insight for each song/video, and AdRev offers a much higher royalty percent than most all others (I believe TuneCore also has a very high rate equal to AdRev).

And to make it more confusing, HFA is now owned by SESAC, which is an invite-only PRO like BMI and ASCAP in the US!

How are they the same?

Wow, no wonder us little indie artists get confused when talking about HFA! And that doesn’t even include B2B and other services they provide for broadcasters and other companies.

So in what ways are HFA and Music Reports similar regarding services that indie musicians care about? Well, they both track and manage music rights, licensing, and do royalty accounting.

What that means for you as an independent musician is that they are the ones in the US that collect your mechanical royalties on your behalf. Similarly, they are the ones likely sending you the bulk of your compulsory mechanical license notices (“Notice of Intention” / “NOI”). Check out my other page where I go into detail about how to earn and collect mechanical royalties.

Should you use HFA or Music Reports, or both?

DecisionIn my boring article about the life of a mechanical royalty and how it ends up in your pocket, I explained how music services and platforms can choose which backend reporting service to send their mechanical royalties to. For example, Spotify uses HFA to process and manage their mechanical licenses and royalties; Pandora (the “on-demand” streaming part of their service), Amazon Music Unlimited, and Deezer are a few that use Music Reports to do the same thing for their mechanical royalties.

That article I just referred to also goes into detail about how international mechanical royalties can end up being collected by HFA, or stuck in corresponding collection agencies around the world. Unlike HFA, Music Reports does NOT have similar reciprocal agreements with other countries, which means they only collect mechanical royalties from the US..

So what should you do?

Use both!

Regarding HFA and Music Reports, what this means for you is that your money is split up between those two companies. And this is where things start to get interesting. Here’s what I mean. NOTE: If you are a solo independent artist who writes your own music, then “publisher” means you below. Oh, and I’m liberally copying this text from my other page because I’m too lazy to rewrite it.

  • Harry Fox Agency (HFA)
    • Fees: They take a % of the mechanical royalties as a processing fee.
    • Getting the money: Unless the publisher creates an account directly with HFA, the mechanical royalties will sit there and remain uncollected (and I assume eventually be lost for good… but from personal experience, I can tell you I was able to collect mechanical royalties from Spotify through HFA that occurred 6 years before I signed up for HFA)! As an independent artist, your choice is to try to act like a bonafide publisher and sign up directly with HFA, or to use a service like CD Baby Pro or TuneCore Music Publishing Administration. Otherwise, you won’t see any of those mechanical royalties!
    • Major services that report to HFA: Spotify
  • Music Reports
    • Fees: None. They pass on 100% of the mechanical royalties directly to publishers.
    • Getting the money: They search out and pay publishers by mail without publishers needing to first register or create an account with them. They do, of course, also offer an online portal for publishers in order to download reports and such. Once they start getting reports and money for a publisher, they’ll contact that publisher by mail with their first check as well as with information about how to sign up online to use their reporting tools (I highly recommend doing that!).
    • Major services that report to Music Reports: Pandora (the new interactive streaming part), Amazon Music Unlimited, TIDAL, Groove, Deezer, and SoundCloud

You did a great job and deserve a cute animal picture!

HedgehogGood job getting this far! You deserve a picture of a cute animal… here you go!

Hopefully this helps you understand how HFA and Music Reports are related and how you go about getting your money from them. If you’re interested in learning about how HFA and Music Reports relate to the rest of the music industry, check out my music business overview page.

If you have any helpful insights or experiences that you think other musicians would like to hear about regarding HFA or Music Reports, let us know in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply