EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Mia Koo

Mia Koo has recently released her new album ‘Paragon‘ which has already garnered over an impressive 4 million streams in a little over two months. The singer/songwriter has been in the industry since she was just 13-years-old, and got her first major break when she was given songwriting credit on Plain White T’s hit track ‘Our Time Now’. Since then she has written for labels such as Sony, Interscope, and Capitol Records.

And now she is looking to take a stand against the streaming royalty wars of today and make a much needed impact via a government funded bill that would embed a blanket royalty rate across all streaming channels that is fair for all artists.



Here we speak exclusively to Mia about new music, and her plans to tackle streaming sites such as Spotify about their royalty rates:

Can you talk us through the main inspiration behind your new music?
My new double album ‘Paragon’ has been composed over my 5 year period of being here in LA
[I’m] originally from NY. Some new, some old. Out of Thousands of songs written, these have been
chosen on my new double album from working as a Songwriter/Musician/Producer out here in
LA. But some of my new music I have been composing lately have been songs mainly about personal experiences. From dealing with injustices and inequality in being a minority woman in music- to realizing the law is not always on one’s side, and that is something that can not be.
Learning about the pain and suffering life can bring and also the strength to carry happily on,
which makes life living again is a concept explored in the new album.  

If you could collaborate with anyone who would you choose?
It’s funny being a songwriter actually when you work with some of your idols, in many cases you
realize they’re actually quite awful people some of the people at the top of the food chain in Music.
So I am sort of afraid of this. But since Mozart is dead I would definitely jam with him, Debussy,
Bach, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, and Prince. 

Can fans expect a tour from you soon?
I am in school now and working as a session musician in the studio mostly, although I hope to
play some shows soon. I would love to do a local house party tour or something fun like that. I
just saw that in the Demi Lovato Movie, which she does- and I have been wanting to do that forever! 

Along with releasing new tracks you’re also looking at disrupting Spotify, why is that?
It’s not as much as a disruption but a remedy. As the amendments I am proposing in the Bill I
am drafting would actually save them a lot of Law Suits and money in the end. The main reason
Spotify keeps getting sued is because they don’t want to pay a Mechanical License fee or Mechanical Royalties as they don’t see it as a physical, tangible unit. So there is no Mechanical
License needed according to Spotify, which misconstrues it’s definition being a license sold for
monetary value, whether it is physical or not it is still of value and being monetized. Ultimately, I
have a few amendments mainly to Section 115 where I would like to add Mechanical Licensing’s
definition and function in streaming to the Copyright Law, making it illegal to not obtain a Mechanical License even if a Compulsory License is obtained as well. The Copyright Royalty Board is paying 10.5 % to licensors – about .0022 for paying subscribers and .0017 for non-subscription listeners per stream. The CRB says that the rates will go up between 2017 and 2020 in accordance with the consumer price index – which frankly is not sustainable for copyright shareholders to live on in this economy, especially if companies like Spotify are trying to take away our licensing rights by trying to regulate the industry moving away from fractional licensing (getting the correct licenses through the copyright shareholders/songwriters) and imposing an impossible and evil 100% Music Licensing system. Taking away our Licensing rights as Copyright Shareholders. So this in turn will keep them from saying they don’t have to license from the songwriter, and just through the songwriter’s PRO. They will have to obtain a Compulsory License and a Mechanical License and pay the according Royalties including Mechanical Royalties. 

How do you feel that streaming is impacting the industry overall?
If things continue the way they are, Streaming will continue to suck dry the real talented musicians
and gifted songwriters who’s bread and butter is their craft- which they can no longer afford
to create. Leading them to get 3 part time jobs to work while they make their Music career
try to have monetary value like back in the CD days. We will continue to have 20 different songwriters on 1 song and split that .0017 by 20 and will luckily get $100 a month on Sound Exchange and $1000 a quarter if you’re over millions of streams.  I think that any unregulated technology that is used in a monetary value monopolistic type corporation especially should show respect for our economy and look towards growth of the economy as a whole, but it appears this is what certain streaming companies like Spotify in particular are fighting against these concepts, and don’t care about artists rights ultimately. 

Do you feel the industry has been negatively affected by allowing streams to count towards
the chart?
I was not even aware that streaming affects the count towards the chart. But I think that charts
are sort of popularity contests anyway- but of course PR, so very important for flourishing business.
Encouraging people to use streaming as the main platform while they do nothing about
increasing these streaming statutory rates doesn’t make sense.  

Do you think more needs to be done to protect artist’s rights?
I think people should unionize and talk about it, discuss these issues with the fellow musicians,
legislators, lobbyists, and law makers. Make Facebook groups and share your opinions with your
friends and music communities. Lobby for bills, and amendments to outdated legislation. Everyone’s opinion and effort counts in this. This is not only music, but video streaming has become an issue as well.  

How do you think the government can help to make streaming fairer for everyone?
The Government can approve and ratify a Bill amending Section 115 and adding Mechanical
Licensing and Royalties their use and definition to the section, and support artists rights and
funding for music education. Also to ask the Copyright Royalty Board to make a substantial sustainable increase for both parties in the statutory streaming rates. Demand for fair streaming
royalty share rates for copyright shareholders and independent publishers. The Government
can have the CRB increase it’s statutory streaming rate to a fair minimum rate that does not
leave artists literally starving. Get rid of The DMCA Free Safe Harbor Act and any other Cease
and Desist type provisions applicable to streaming and illegally obtaining licensors rights, posting
their content online for monetary value, then pulling their music or video offline- which most
times are re-uploaded in seconds by the same company without repercussion or liability.   

What do you hope to achieve over the next ten years?
I hope to be an Intellectual Property Litigator by then and have increased the streaming statutory
rate to a much larger and sustainable rate for musicians and songwriters and Amend section
115, and the list goes on with that. I want to help towards saving music from this whole streaming
ordeal, amongst other injustices in our world and landscape, economy and inspire women to
be strong, smart, powerful, and independent women. Let women know it’s okay to be smart. It’s
okay to not be perfect. You don’t have to live up to anyone’s standard’s but your own. And it’s
okay to stand up to men, you don’t have to be submissive and weak. You can be strong.
I also hope to be making of course lots of new, amazing, meaningful and inspiring music for you
all to hear.

Make sure you follow Mia on Twitter @miakoo to keep up to date with all her latest music and tour news!

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Written by Laura Klonowski

Qualified music journalist! Writing single/album/live reviews, feature articles, interviews, and news pieces.
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