First Friday Playlist: Muserk’s Colin Moriarty

This month’s “First Friday” Spotify playlist comes from Colin Moriarty – Rights Administrator:

Hi – my name is Colin Moriarty and I am a rights administrator at Muserk. I have been with the company for three years and am mostly responsible for the ingestion and quality assurance process as it relates to the data we receive from clients. In my free time I also write and release my own music under the artist name ‘ceemor’.
As much as I love instrumental tracks that give me space to think, sometimes I find myself overthinking. These songs are my antidote to that. I created this playlist because these songs give me energy, lift me out of bad moods, and bring me back to specific happy periods of my life. The playlist as a whole leans towards indie/hip-hop/and modern R&B.

First Friday Playlist: Muserk’s Hans Peter Roth

This month’s “First Friday” Spotify playlist comes from Hans Peter Roth, Partner – Head of Global Business Development:

As the sole Dane at Muserk, the theme choice for my First Friday Playlist was pretty obvious; a list of the danish songs that have been part of the soundtrack to my life.

That playlist would of course be more or less infinite. So I’ve tried to spread the songs out over each decade of my life while selecting the pop and rock tracks that immediately came to mind.

Looking at the list, I am not sure those were in fact the tracks I listened to back then. Some are. But others just stuck in the back of my mind and have grown on me and others have come back to me at a later time for different reasons.

1. Rugsted & Kreutzfeldt – Jeg Ved Det Godt – 1979

The duo originally only released three albums – all hugely successful. However, the two ended up focusing on writing and producing for other Danish artists, which resulted in a multitude of hits over the following decades.

“Jeg Ved Det Godt” is their biggest hit – a Danish evergreen if you will. A song about a man’s insecurity, jealousy and temper and how “I know it all, but it’s too late now!”

2. Sneakers – Se Selv – 1982

One of the biggest 80’s Danish bands with the very characteristic voice of Sanne Salomonsen on the foreground. However, the reason the song made the list is that the percussionist, Jacob Andersen, died recently. Jacob became an institution in Danish music, both as a studio and live band member, working with a multitude (all relevant!) Danish artist over four decades. Indeed, all those collaborations mean that according to the neighbouring rights society, GRAMEX, Jacob Andersen is the most played danish artist – ever!!

3. Kasper Winding – Sjæl i Flammer – 1987

The theme song from “Een Gang Strømer” – the show that kept the streets empty in Denmark in the late 80’ – features Kasper Winding and Lars Muhl on vocals. Kasper is one of the most innovative and productive Danish songwriters and has more than 3,000 copyrights to his name with danish PRO, KODA.

4. One Two – Den Bedste Tid – 1989

Huuuuuge hit – damn, I’ve danced to this song many a summer night.

However, I’ve included it mainly for the title “The Best Time” as a kudos to Muserk and the team – I’m having the time of my (work) life!

5. Sandmen – 5 Minutes Past Loneliness – 1992

I remember seeing Sandmen at my local High School when they were coming up in the 80’s – they broke through big time and were a huge part of the Danish rock scene in the 90’s.

6. Sort Sol – Let Your Fingers Do The Walking – 1993

One of the most innovative Danish bands with their roots in punk and later art-rock/post-punk. The feeling in this track still gets me every time

7 Dizzy Mizz Lizzy – Silverflame – 1994

The band helped respawn the Danish rock scene by winning “DK Camps in Rock” in 1993. The band was long looking for a fourth member to sing and play guitar, but in the end, shy composer and guitarist, Tim Christensen, took on the job. And good for them and us!

8. Kashmir – The Story of Jamie Fame Flame – 1994

Kashmir came in second in “DK Champs in Rock” after Dizzy Mizz Lizzy. So they lost out on the free studio time. This is, in my view, clearly audible on their first album, Travelogue, where production is not top shelf. This in turn means that the success of the album is very much attributable to the skill of the musicians.

9. Caroline Henderson – Kiss Me Kiss Me – 1995

Having first sung in Ray Dee Ohh, competing with OneTwo (above) over airtime, Caroline went solo and released Cinemtaztic combining pop, triphop and jazz and is produced by Kasper Winding (above)!

10. Alphabeat – Fascination – 2008

Alphabeat was huge in the 2000’s, but they have made it on to this list, because they reformed in 2019 with their first concert taking place that year at the Scandinacian pavilion at SXSW. In attendance was – in addition to HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark – much of the Muserk team. Great gig!

11. Saveus – Himalaya – 2017

After winning the first X-factor in Denmark in 2008, Martin Hedegaard disappeared, only to return out of nowhere in 2015 under the name “Saveus”. The band went on to opening the famous Orange Scene at Roskilde Festival in 2018, which became an instant koncert classic. Look for it on YouTube!

Honorable mentions:

Finally, I added some pop songs from Danish artists that you may have heard before,without knowing they were Danish!

Junior Senior – Move Your Feet – 2002
Lukas Graham – 7 Years – 2015
MØ – Final Song – 2016

Thanks for reading and listening!

 

First Friday Playlist: Muserk’s Kelly Swartz

This month’s “First Friday” Spotify playlist comes from Kelly Swartz:

Hi, I’m Kelly Swartz and I am the Chief Financial Officer for Muserk. I decided to come up with a playlist to celebrate Mothers, Moms and Mommas since Mother’s Day is Sunday May 9th (everyone be sure that is in your calendars!) I have three great kids ages 22, 19 and 15 and yes… I have a lot of stress in my life! Just kidding (sorta). I also have a wonderful Mom that I adore. The songs on my list are a mixture of genres but the theme is based on songs written about Moms or for Moms (or should be about Moms, hence Aretha’s RESPECT). l also threw in a Prince song because I just really like Prince!

Muserk’s “How to Work From Home (and Beyond)” Guide

By Madeline DeLuca

Just over a year ago, I started my position as a Rights Manager at Muserk. My first day on the job was the first official day the company had gone remote. I had the unique experience of learning how to do a new job through video calls, screen sharing, and good old-fashion trial and error. With a year under my belt, I can say with confidence that working from home has been a wonderful learning experience and has allowed me to pick up new skills I may not have had the opportunity to learn before this pandemic, many of which I will keep in my tool belt long after we can safely gather in an office again. 

With that in mind, I asked my fellow co-workers at Muserk to share with me their favorite tips and tricks that have been beneficial to them over the past year – the tricks that kept them focused, efficient, and engaged as they worked from home with the hum of their personal lives all around. I hope anyone reading this finds at least one piece of advice or information that makes their work from home experience a better one.

  1. Keep a physical notepad that is dedicated to work thoughts that don’t require immediate action. Just because you can work after hours late at night or early in the morning doesn’t mean you have to. Write down any tasks you think about after work hours and save them for the next day.
  2. Take walks during the day, especially when it is warm. It can help reduce stress. A benefit of working from home is you are able to take a nice midday stroll and get some fresh air. It can help you clear your head and focus better and push past the 3pm slump.
  3. Learn and use keyboard shortcuts. When working from home, it’s nice to be able to unplug from monitors and work elsewhere. Using keyboard shortcuts can allow you to navigate smoothly between tabs and workbooks.
  4. Try using the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro technique is a time management method that breaks down your working time into intervals with set breaks at the end of each interval. For those who find it hard to focus on the task at hand because of constant interruptions, this technique can help you be more efficient and keep to the task at hand while allowing you to take a break to handle any distractions that have crept in.
  5. Take advantage of Zoom. Now that we’re a year into using Zoom as a tool, and while we both curse and bless it, isn’t it nice to video conference with people we may have only spoken to on the phone in the past?  
  6. Set weekly and daily goals for productivity based on actual work progress instead of time. Everyone has goals that they want to achieve in a workday/week, and sometimes it feels overwhelming. Setting goals based on concrete tasks rather than time spent working can help you to feel accomplished and productive, even if you were interrupted all day by the sound of the dishwasher, the lawn mower, the washing machine, etc. 
  7. Have a morning routine and stick to it. It is so easy to roll out of bed, grab your laptop and start working, but from experience, this can be detrimental to your work-life balance. Wake up with enough time to make a cup of coffee, go on a walk, listen to a podcast, eat some breakfast, or read a book. Allow yourself some personal time to separate your day. Once you get in the groove, the days will feel much more enjoyable. Also, you can continue this routine when you return to the office, and I believe that transition will feel more seamless. 

I have incorporated each of these tips into my work routine in one form or another, and it has drastically improved my work from home experience. I personally cannot wait to be able to gather safely again (and to actually meet my coworkers in person – some for the first time), but in the meantime, I will enjoy working from my comfy couch, not having a daily commute, therefore getting to spend a few extra hours with my husband, and being able to do seemingly endless amounts of laundry during my lunch hour. 

First Friday Playlist: Muserk’s Justin Ahmanson

This month’s “First Friday” Spotify playlist comes from Justin Ahmanson:

Hi I’m Justin Ahmanson, and I’m a software developer here at Muserk. I’m also an active guitarist/singer-songwriter (or at least I was before the pandemic). With the anticipation of live music coming back soon, my playlist is testament to some of my favorite live performances by bands and artists that have influenced me over the years. Looking forward to seeing live music again!

First Friday Playlist: Muserk’s Colin Moriarty

As a company, Muserk wants to showcase the people that make us who we are.   The reason we all work so hard here at Muserk every day is, of course, because of the music and the artists that make it. Thus, every first Friday of the month, we’ll be spotlighting an employee and the music they love via a “First Fridays” Spotify playlist. First up is Colin Moriarty – Rights Administrator: 


Hi, my name is Colin Moriarty. I joined Muserk shortly after moving to Nashville in 2018 and continue to work as a rights administrator. In my spare time I enjoy playing guitar and making music. During quarantine I started to experiment producing lo-fi hip hop songs under the artist name ceemor. I’ve included my most recent single ‘face value’ in the playlist along with some of my other favorites from the genre. I’m happy to share a handful of songs that help me focus at work and relax in my free time. Normally I listen to hip-hop/R&B, but lately I’ve been enjoying instrumental tracks like this because they leave more room to think.

Thoughts from a Working Musician In Nashville

“Nashville has a long history of songwriting.”

This was something that I heard over and over when I moved here in the fall of 2017. At the time, I didn’t understand that this statement was actually an insight into how the music industry operates. To me, the word “songwriter” wasn’t much different from the word “artist” or “musician.” I had grown up playing songs by my favorite artists as well as writing and performing my own songs. It was all music to me. It wasn’t until later that I realized the music industry operates on some very clear distinctions – particularly in Nashville.

One of the first shows I went to in Nashville was at a down home type venue called Belcourt Taps. The show was an “in the round” style showcase where four different songwriters sat on stage side by side and took turns playing a song they had recently written. I had never encountered this type of show in Austin where I had moved from, but I got the sense it was standard practice here. To my surprise, one of the songwriters, in particular, was a very bad musician. His guitar playing was filled with missed notes and he struggled to sing in tune. But what was fascinating, was he didn’t seem to care at all. He was more interested in the audience, trying to gauge their reaction to his songs. I quickly realized that he had no interest in performing these songs on his own. His goal was to refine his songs down to their most entertaining form – that three-and-a-half-minute gem. It reminded me of how a comedian works on a joke over and over until he or she gets it just right. This was my first insight into how the music industry makes a clear distinction between artists and songwriters.

About a year later, I began working for Muserk as a software developer. Muserk is a global rights administrator that leverages technology to perform its duties with an exceptional level of speed and scale. I was intrigued by the opportunity to combine my tech career with my love of music. Furthermore, it was a chance to learn more about the business side of the music industry, something I thought would be useful in my own music endeavors.

As soon as I started, I was thrown into (sink or swim as the saying goes) the very complicated world of rights management. One of my first projects was developing what would later be known as M-Match — our proprietary AI technology used for finding works in the vast ocean of DSP data. Through this I then learned the intricacies of one way the music industry makes money.

The music industry makes money from two copyrights: one for the underlying work or composition and the other for a sound recording. In practice, there are two types of businesses that form around this: publishers (songwriter/work) and labels (artist/sound recording). So, if you have a song playing on Spotify, let’s say, a portion of the money that is generated from that song should find its way to the label/artist and a portion should find its way to the publisher/songwriter/s. You may think (as I did) that a company like Spotify would know all of this in advance and take care of it. That is not the case.

One of the big problems is that the label and publishing worlds don’t really talk to each other. So, a label will push a song to Spotify and not provide (and in some cases even know) any information about the underlying songwriters. Therefore, Spotify won’t know where to send the publisher/songwriter portion of the money. This is a fairly simplified but accurate account of what happens.

This is where Muserk shines. We spend most of our time matching songwriter related metadata to sound recordings so that we can collect and distribute the appropriate royalties. In the age of digital music this isn’t an easy task. We use all kinds of technology, processes, and insight to match as much data as possible. We’re constantly trying to innovate so that we can match works fast, accurately and at scale. I spend most of my time building this technology and creating ways to convey its results. I feel proud knowing that the work I do contributes to getting musicians paid what they’re owed.

As a musician, my time at Muserk thus far has opened my eyes to how the music world really works. I’ve learned that businesses dedicate themselves entirely to very small pieces of the industry. In Nashville, for instance, there are networks of people that are just trying to write the next hit song and could care less about recording or performing it. Concurrently, there are networks of people trying to be the next big artist and could care less about writing their own songs. For me, I’m still trying to figure out where I fit in. But having a broader understanding of the industry as a whole I know will help me navigate my own musical journey. And, of course, my metadata will be correct.

the next hit song and could care less about recording or performing it. Concurrently, there are networks of people trying to be the next big artist and could care less about writing their own songs. For me, I’m still trying to figure out where I fit in. But having a broader understanding of the industry as a whole I know will help me navigate my own musical journey. And, of course, my metadata will be correct.

Working Remotely

How Our Office Prepared Us To Be A Remote Team

As many startups do, Muserk began as a fully remote team. Once our business solidified, workflows increased and collaboration became increasingly more important. The logical next step was to get as many people as possible into one place. With team members all over the world, however, we couldn’t expect the entire company to move to Nashville.

In the throes of COVID-19 we were forced to move the team remote. We had gotten used to office life, and the team had grown significantly. Were those distant memories of a fully remote team lost? We couldn’t be sure how big of a challenge this would be to overcome. Luckily we still had members of the team outside of Nashville, and all along we had accidentally been preparing for this.

The office has always served as a hub for us. Once a quarter we assemble in Nashville for a week to share everything the company has been doing, and the division in each group’s effort is obvious. Each team is working on their own thing, and some of that knowledge doesn’t come across day to day. Because it doesn’t need to. Communication is key to facilitating a remote team, and, like any good team, we should even strive to over-communicate. That over-communication can quickly become a distraction, however, if it’s not effective.

Working in an office we’ve figured out what information streams matter to us, how to separate those, and how to tap into the ones we care about. In order to subscribe to all of the conversations happening at Muserk, and mute them when they get in the way, we make our chat channels as granular as possible. Discussions often happen in chat rather than in person, and we are in the habit of posting the results for those who were not there. We send casual meeting invites to those who may or may not care about the topic in case they want to be involved. Scheduled meetings auto-create video links within our calendars, and we join with tablets to use as whiteboards. When COVID-19 kept us from getting to the office, we worried about how it would hinder collaboration, and in hindsight we had been preparing all along. Without even knowing it we had fostered a remote-first culture that even our new hires, with no remote experience, were able to seamlessly adapt.

So has the office become unnecessary? Without it we wouldn’t have figured out who we are as a team. The lessons about communication may have required more effort, or taken longer to develop. We inadvertently learned a valuable lesson about disaster preparedness that we can carry on into the future. When we go back to the office, this moment will remain in the back of our minds. We may never be in this situation again, but if we are, the transition will be just as seamless.