Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New Royalty System for Music and Books

DashBook version 4.4 has just been released!

Although there are many refinements in this version due to our great customer suggestions, one of the largest changes is the segregation of the book and music businesses, which will be especially helpful for those new to DashBook.

Now, when one chooses that they are in the Music Business from the DashBook setup wizard, our royalty software program will configure itself so that the terms "author" and "ISBN" are no longer used.  Music businesses will be able to see "artists" and "ISRC", etc.  Even though DashBook has handled music calculations well for over a year, this terminology improvement will make DashBook fit more like a glove so that record labels, publishers, and distributors can easily handle their royalties and licenses.

Likewise, for those in the Book Business, DashBook will no longer present questions about track length and mechanical royalties which could have been a bit confusing.

Additionally, we have added a field for License Number on the royalty arrangement screen so that you can tag your calculation with the information needed to communicate with other companies.

These changes make DashBook conform to your business better, so that you do not have to change the way you think in order to use DashBook.  If you have any further suggestions, please let us know.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Publishers improve royalty systems

When we first started working on the design of DashBook, our software for handling royalties, we had great help from a book publisher who was dissatisfied with the systems out there.  They had old interface styles with data crammed in screens, one was a web-based system that barely did anything, and others were very expensive yet you couldn't test them out by yourself.

Since we released DashBook a few years ago, we have had a wonderful welcome from the community of book publishers, and have been prodded by the music industry to make great enhancements in our system for them.

We can always come up with more ways to make our royalty accounting system better.  There will be more ways to make it faster to use, have it handle more things automatically, and even still there may be some odd calculation style that can be added.

But what we value the most is our user feedback.  Sometimes we have been staring at our screens too long to notice obvious improvements that someone who just downloads our free trial will point out. That's wonderful!

We are very happy that our customers and reviewers let us know how we can best change DashBook to suit their needs.  DashBook has grown to be the best value out there in all price ranges due to our simply listening and reacting to the comments and suggestions we receive.

If you would like an alternative to generic accounting systems like QuickBooks, so that you can take advantage of easy specialized royalty calculations, importing of your sales data, and professional reports that are easily emailed or copied to folders on the internet, you owe it to yourself to check out DashBook!  The program that your industry has grown.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Help other publishers

Publishing is not a zero-sum game.  If a customer were to only purchase one product (book, song, etc.) in their lifetime, then yes, that customer would no longer be available for any other publisher or vendor.  But it doesn't work that way, of course.

We all know that consumers consume, and some of them do it quite often and in mass quantities.  However, what they consume and how they consume it is fickle.  There was a time when consuming media meant a newspaper or a book.  Times have shifted toward multi-media information from the internet, electronically printed books, audio books, movies, etc.  So help generate a feeding frenzy for what you have now.

What this means is that as a publisher of a particular media type or genre, it behooves you to embrace your competitors!  If everyone but you abandons a field, you are alone, so you surely do not want your customers leaving your area of interest.

Seek out your competitors and start communicating.  Perhaps you could team up to develop a convention or even a #tweetchat.  When you brainstorm with your competitors new comrades, you will come up with many ways to target this common market that can be mutually beneficial.

Don't think that you have to "go it alone," as that is not the best way of doing it.

I'd love to hear your experiences of working with other publishers.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Share royalty reports using Box.net and Google Docs

We will soon be releasing a new version of DashBook that extends our use of the internet, and gives another alternative to printing and mailing physical reports in addition to our current ability to email reports.

Our next version will allow you to batch upload reports to folders on Box.net and Google Docs.  How might you use this?  Let's say you have a folder for each royalty holder, and have shared that folder with her or him.  After you've finished importing your sales reports so that DashBook can calculate your royalties, you can simply go to the royalty report you prefer and choose to Batch Upload the reports.  Each royalty recipient's report will be generated and copied up to their particular shared folder on the internet without requiring any further action on your part.

If you upload to Box.net, all collaborators will be notified (default setting) when a new file is uploaded to the folder you share with them, so you won't even need to directly let them know that they have a new royalty report.  It is all automatic!

This is just the latest of many features in DashBook that keep you productive so that you do not have to spend days working on royalty accounting.  Leave all of the grunt work to DashBook!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Complex royalties like physical vs. digital with stages

In our ongoing quest to make DashBook the best that it can be, we have released DashBook v4.1 that continues to extend the ease at which one can manage complex royalty contracts.

Version 4 added Generic Royalties, so that one can create only a single or handful of royalty calculation styles and apply them across many products (books, tracks, CDs, films, apps, etc.) and the entities needing to be paid (artists, authors, publishers, etc.).  With a few more extensions, v4.1 is even more powerful!

v4.1 now has the ability to use Generic Royalties to describe sales channels (different percents based on how a product was sold) and breakpoints (different percents based on the staging or thresholds of sales).

As an example, it is very popular in the music business to pay different royalties on the same work based on what happened, such as the physical sale of a CD, the purchase and digital download of a single track or song, the streaming of a song, or a performance.  DashBook has been able to handle this since its inception, but now it is even easier.

In prior versions, if you had certain sale thresholds (breakpoints) to meet, like a different percent for the first thousand units, that style was incompatible with a different royalty based on sales channels.  Now you can easily have both at the same time.

From the product screen, you can simply reference that a particular royalty holder (author) uses a particular royalty agreement.  Now you can restrict that royalty agreement to a particular sales channel, and that royalty agreement can already be making breakpoint decisions based upon sales levels.  So you'll be able to reference a royalty agreement paying on mechanicals for only physical sales, and another agreement staging the percentage paid but only on digital -- well, whatever your contract requires.

I know that what I am talking about will not be easily absorbed by most readers, but believe me, this is huge.  Contact us at DashBook, and we will help you setup your royalty system so that it handles everything you need, while making it very easy to maintain and extend.

It looks like we need more instructional videos!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Royalty calculator for iPhone

Given how robust our DashBook desktop royalty solution is, perhaps the iPhone program is more aptly called a Royalty Estimator.

In any event, a few weeks ago we released our first iPhone app, entitled Royalty Calculator.  This app runs natively on the iPhone and gives quick answers to the simple questions of, "How much royalty would a sale of so much be?"  If you are in the music industry, you would be pleased to see that this app will calculate your U.S. mechanical rights for you based on your song or track length.

For all industries, the percentage calculator will instantly show you the royalty either before or after discounts.

This app can be good for publishers of books, music, etc. in estimating the royalties they might owe.  It is also an excellent tool for the author, musician, etc. in determining how much they might make.

Right now and for the foreseeable future, this iPhone app is FREE!  This link will show you screen examples, as well as provide a link to download Royalty Calculator to your iPhone/iPod or iTunes account:

If you prefer a program that remembers special royalty deals for each author or artist, of course DashBook will do that job handily.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Royalties for iPhone Developers

I have just learned that Michel Kripalani of Oceanhouse Media will be giving a talk this Friday at MacWorld 2010 on the subject of "Building an iPhone Publishing House."  What makes this session particularly interesting to me is that he will be discussing the securing of intellectual property such as content to quickly bring value to one's App, and after his exhaustive research of software to handle tracking such license payment requirements, Oceanhouse Media chose DashBook!

When Michel first approached us about using DashBook, we had only recently introduced our version 3 that supported importing sales reports to use as the data for royalty calculations.  However, we did not yet have an import for Apple's iTunes sales reports.  With Michel's input and the use of DashBook's extensible import mapping architecture, we were able to quickly send him an import map that allowed his trial version to import his sales from each of the seven regional reports that Apple generated.  Needless to say, he was impressed with our rapid response.  Of course, already having an import that could convert currencies, along with the existing royalty calculation abilities that supported multiple payees per product helped, too!

After Oceanhouse Media purchased a license to DashBook and began using it, they continued to offer great suggestions to refine DashBook for the market of iPhone and iPod (and now iPad) developers.  One of his requests was the ability to easily specify the deposit fees that were charged, and automatically spread those costs across the apps sold in that period and region.  Fortunately, DashBook already had an option to reduce the amount received by various costs, so he was able to bend it to his will.  However, DashBook v4 will soon be released which will provide a simple entry during import to a cost item whose name will makes sense - "Payment Fees."

We are very happy to work with companies such as Oceanhouse Media who seek perfection in their operations.  DashBook is a powerful system built on a flexible architecture, and our team is committed to providing the best system there is.

Thanks to everyone!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Your new royalty accounting system

We are excited about our upcoming version 4 release of DashBook!  As publishers stop paying high monthly fees for their old royalty accounting systems and switch to the powerful and more affordable DashBook, we have been getting an increasing interest in moving all of their pre-existing information to DashBook.

Way back in DashBook version 1, we included the ability to import contacts from your Outlook database, and we also imported complete information from older systems that small publishers used, like AnyBook.  We continued enhancements to include the ability to import contact information from csv files and the old PUB123/JAYA123 systems with our version 2 update, I believe.

In version 3, we broke into whole new territory with our creation of Sales Report Import.  By including a user-extensible system that came preloaded with the ability to easily import sales reports from Lightning Source, Fictionwise, Apple iTunes, MidPoint Trade, and many other book sellers and distributors, DashBook opened up to a new level of customer who loved this automation.  Gone were the days of typing in orders!

Well, version 4 will be extending that slightly by adding import for Ingram reports (and yes, we handle just about all book distributors and a growing list of music sellers and distributors), but the big extension is the ability to import nearly anything.  This was a requirement to migrate historic data from large older systems like Bookworks, Acumen, and Cat's Pajamas.

If you can get your data into text reports, DashBook will be able to move this information into a new DashBook database so that you can efficiently transition from your prior system, even if it is just spreadsheets, to DashBook.  And of course, DashBook still uses an open database system that does not lock up your data from your own reporting tools or desire to move away from DashBook at your whim.  (of course, we'd rather keep growing and improving DashBook to better serve you!)

If you have existing inventory, sales, royalty, or other information for your books, music, etc., let us help you get started in using DashBook today.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Music royalties for publishers and artists (percentage of sale price)

Two blog entries ago, I wrote an article about using DashBook for U.S. mechanical rights interest calculations. With a little setup, DashBook makes this calculation automatic as you continue to sell, even if the rates change.

This time, I'll briefly discuss a very similar feature now -- the ability to specify a royalty on a track as a percentage of the sale amount. By setting up the royalty agreement as a percentage of the sale price, typically of net sales, DashBook will calculate the royalties using this percentage each time that this track is directly sold.

But what if the album is sold?

Well, DashBook now has the ability to use the price of the album (gross or net) divided by the number of tracks on that album -- automatically!

To see how to enter album products that contain tracks, I recommend that previous post.

There is one more thing about handling music or other royalties that I don't recall writing about:  advances and recoupments.  That'll be the subject of a future article, but feel free to email us if you'd like to know more about it now.

And don't forget that you can download a free trial of DashBook here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Amazon Kindle vs Apple for eBooks. Is an Apple eReader app coming?

The big news today is that Amazon will be offering 70% net royalties for Kindle sales soon. (press release) This announcement is just one day after the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is working with HarperCollins to bring their eBooks to the iTunes store (WSJ article)

Since Amazon is currently only paying 30%, it looks like they are concerned about Apple. Amazon has other competition paying up to 80%, but that didn't cause them to blink. I suspect that they've known for a while that they would have to raise the rate, and had this plan in the drawer awaiting the need.

But what is Apple going to do? Obviously they will be selling eBooks through their iTunes store for buying and reading on iPod and iPhone devices. Most people expect Apple to introduce a tablet device on the 27th, with assumptions that this device will be running the same operating system as the iPod/iPhone. However, there is a strong possibility that they will be upgrading this from the current version 3.1.2.

Would Apple include an eReader from Apple or HarperCollins? Since the introduction of OS version 3 last year, users could purchase content while within the application. Amazon's Kindle app has yet to take advantage of this feature. But if Apple preloads an eReader onto every new device plus all current devices via an update, they could easily overtake Amazon's sales for books read on the Apple handheld platform.

Apple enjoys selling music, apps (some of which are eBooks), and videos on their iTunes network, but they get no rewards from current book sales from Amazon, even though these books may be read using the iPhone Kindle reader. When Apple provides books on iTunes, they'll take a cut from those sales. Surely they'll want to funnel as much buying to their own iTunes eBooks as possible, and having their own eReader would do just that.