Dissecting The Digital Dollar

Helping artists and managers navigate the streaming business

Dissecting The Digital Dollar is a series of reports, guides and tools produced by CMU Insights for the UK’s Music Managers Forum designed to help artists and managers better understand the streaming business, and the impact the shift to streaming has had on the wider recorded music industry. This work has now been complied in to the ‘Digital Dollar’ book, available from Amazon.


The growth of music streaming over the last decade has dramatically changed the business of recorded music. Instead of sharing in the proceeds of a physical or digital sale, music-makers and rights holders are now participating in new commercial models based on revenue share and micro-payments.

‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ explains how the streaming business works, how the music industry has licensed the digital platforms and how digital royalties flow through the system. To help you understand this complex licensing model, it also provides a beginner’s guide to music copyright, record and publishing contracts, and the collective licensing system.

When first published as a report by the UK’s Music Managers Forum in 2015, ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ also raised a number of issues which were subsequently discussed at a series of roundtables in 2016 involving artists, songwriters, labels, publishers, lawyers, accountants and managers.

The Third Edition of the book, published in July 2020, includes an updated version of the original report – covering recent market trends and copyright reforms – as well as a summary of the roundtable discussions, and four Digital Dollar guides providing further insight on label deals, transparency, fan data and song royalty chains.

Some comments on ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’…

TIM CLARK co-founder at ie: music
“The MMF’s ‘Dissecting The Digital’ project has been running a full five years and remains the most comprehensive overview of the streaming market and the place of artists and music-makers within it. As well as helping managers be informed to make better deals so their artists can benefit from fair shares of streaming income, it also outlines key areas where reforms are urgently needed. It is my most thumbed work of reference!”

LISA WARD evp artist strategy at Red Light Management
“The streaming ecosystem can often feel impenetrable in its complexity, but ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ offers an easy-to-read step-by-step guide to navigate how licensing works and where revenues flow. The book also highlights many of the dysfunctions in this market that are long overdue reform, particularly the often arcane distribution of songwriter royalties”.

DAVE CRONEN music industry specialist at Academy of Contemporary Music
“Teaching students and new entrants to the industry about streaming and its continuing impact on the music business is a challenge. This is an ever-evolving area, filled with nuance, complexity and opinion! What ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ does so well is to strip back those complexities and lift the lid on how money flows through the system. It’s a thought-provoking read and I strongly recommend it to anyone with an interest in music’s future and a full understanding of a key income stream”.

ROBERT HORSFALL partner at Sound Advice LLP
“Thank you and well done to the MMF and CMU Insights for publishing these must read guides for managers and artists, and their business advisers. Their desire for transparency in the digital era sits alongside my desire for a simplification of industry contracts. True partnerships call for both, so as to engender trust and to enable the financial health of the creative community”.

CLIFF FLUET partner at Lewis Silkin
“‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ is so much more than a beginners guide – it goes deep into the intricacies of digital music, rights and revenues, and is an indispensable guide to the music industry in the streaming era”.

ERIK NIELSEN artist manager and music business lecturer at BIMM
“‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ is an invaluable guide for professionals at any level in the music industry. It cuts through the fog to explain in plain English how the modern streaming and digital economy and ecosystem works, from the services themselves to labels and distributors, and the types of deals involved. Most importantly, it highlights traps, hidden costs, and other complex processes and challenges that even seasoned managers and artists can overlook – and need to be aware of!”

CARLOTTA DE NINNI ceo at The Creative Passport
“‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ is a must-read publication. It enlightens you on the complexities and the challenges of digital licensing. Everyone working – or wanting to work – in our beloved music industry should know it by heart”.

RICHARD LIGHTMAN producer, composer, musician and sound designer
“With the success of music streaming services, the music business has become a confusing and challenging place for artists, producers and their managers. ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ opens up the mysteries of digital streaming royalties, how the income streams are apportioned and how to follow the money. This is a must have for any musician or music business operative. A real eye-opener!”

DAVE WIBBERLEY artist manager and head of management at LIPA
“As an artist manager, ‘Dissecting The Digital Dollar’ has given me a much better understanding of the complexities and inherent unfairness in much of the digital streaming business, particularly as it impacts upon songwriters and their royalties”.


In addition to the main ‘Digital Dollar’ book, MMF has also published a series of free ‘Digital Dollar’ guides to help managers navigate and understand the music business in the digital age.

Check out these guides in the CMU Library below…

Deals Guide | CLICK HERE
A guide to the different kinds of label deals now available

Transparency Guide | CLICK HERE
A guide to making the streaming business more transparent

Fan Data Guide | CLICK HERE
A guide to managing and utlising fan data

Song Royalties Guide | CLICK HERE
A guide to how streaming services pay songwriters

Song Royalties Manifesto | CLICK HERE
A proposed new system for paying streaming royalties to songwriters