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Spotify Profit Payouts: What's the fairest way to recompense artists?
Posted By : Alex Powell
|
Posted Date : September 4th, 2018
The following blog comes from the CEO of the UK-based Music Managers Forum, Annabella Coldrick (pictured). She dissects the different ways that major and independent labels are distributing proceeds from Spotify share sales - and ponders what it all might mean for the lump sum coming from Facebook.

For the artist and management community, the most controversial element of Spotify's transition to a publicly traded company was how (and if) the three majors and Merlin-member labels would share the proceeds from sale of their equity holdings.

These stakes were agreed as far back as 2008. At the time, music streaming was in the earliest stage of adoption (Spotify gets a mere two mentions in the IFPI's 2009 Digital Music Report) and, although there were sensible rationale for the largest rights holders to demand equity, a lack of transparency surrounded these arrangements and the basis on which they were agreed.

We now inhabit a different world. Streaming has evolved into the record industry's dominant revenue stream (IFPI reported a 41.1% increase in streaming revenue in 2017) and Spotify the dominant global service.

The Music Managers Forum has consistently argued that, if the combined value of all repertoire/market share was used as a means to secure equity stakes, then morally it should be shared with all artists regardless of previous commercial arrangements.

In other words, the ideal scenario would be to treat these divestments as a one-off payment - from which all artists would gain. This is not, of course, a process without challenges. Essentially, we're talking about making the unattributed attributable. There's a lot to untangle.

At the MMF we understand that equity payouts are not that easy to calculate, particularly if artists and labels have changed business partners over the term the equity was held. In practice, it will likely be impossible to make distributions to everyone's agreement.

We also think it's important to manage expectations. Although the overall sums are large, when divided between thousands of artists they are unlikely to constitute a retirement fund.

However, if these deals were made on a broad-brush basis of 'market share' then, arguably, they should be returned to the widest cross-section of artists - regardless of whether they're still signed to a label, or whether they're signed to a label distributed by another label. That would seem fair to those whose music was traded for equity in the first place.

Since April, a clearer picture is now emerging of what's likely to happen. Or at least a little clearer.

So, what do we know?

Sony wrote to artist and managers in June saying they would also be sharing net proceeds of the $750m equity they have divested so far (half their holding) minus the actual costs related to acquisition and sale on a royalty basis, using an illustration of their US standard 16% royalty with deducted producer royalties.

They also employed an allocation methodology equally weighing the overall revenue and Spotify revenue to give recognition to artists on their current roster and in catalogue at the time the equity was obtained. This resulted in an allocation to nearly 100,000 eligible artists and participants with payouts beginning August 2018, and will continue as further equity is sold.

The positive news is SME won't treat this payout against recoupment and will share with all currently distributed labels (e.g. through the Orchard) who should then pass onto the artists they work with.

However, they will not pay out to labels they are no longer in business with, so will retain 100% this income. Artists signed to these labels will not receive anything.

Warner has sold their entire stake of Spotify equity for $404m and will be sharing $126m of the proceeds with artists according to their contractual terms. That means some will receive significantly more than 25%, and some a lot less - based on individual royalty rates.

Warners' calculations are based on actual consumption on Spotify over the term of the deal from October 2008-March 2018 (from not all catalogue).

WMG wrote to artists representatives in August with more detail, stating the proceeds will be credited to artists' account for the period to June 2018 as 'equity proceeds'.

However, as the share is against recoupment, much of this will go to the bottom line and remain with the label. They also are sharing payments with distributed labels, but only if this is part of the contract - so if an artist is signed to a distributed label through ADA they are likely to get nothing.

It is also unclear what then happens to the money that's not being distributed out of the artists' section of the pot when catalogues have moved on and if this is included in the $126m artist payout or not.

Universal also publicly committed to share payments in March 2018, announcing that 'consistent with UMG's approach to artist compensation, artists would share in the proceeds of a [Spotify] equity sale.' No further information has come into the public domain and it is understood none of their shares have yet been cashed in.

Merlin announced in May that it had sold 100% of its equity (estimated at over $100m). All labels that are part of the Merlin deal are seeing the equity paid across based on actual consumption on Spotify over the length of the deal.

Merlin labels can decide their own policy within the scope of WIN's Fair Digital Deals Declaration.

Beggars, Secretly and Domino have pledged to share as a minimum 50/50 of the equity proceeds with artists against recoupment - or more where the contractual split is higher.

AWAL/Kobalt are treating the equity as income like any other and paying across as a revenue share (whilst retaining 15%) based on actual consumption on Spotify during the term of their Merlin deal.

With all of these, we understand income will start to come through this autumn.

So yes, the process is complex - but it's also important, and for two important long-term reasons.

Firstly, trust.

Relationships between labels and artists, historically rather fractious, are now in the process of being realigned. Artists and managers are increasingly business partners with labels, not simply at the end of a supply chain where they sign over copyright for life. That was the old world; we're now in the new.

The majority of labels are becoming closer to service companies, while many managers now run their artist's own labels. We are frequently much closer due to these shared interests - but that also needs a shift in communication. Nobody wants to fall back into bad habits. As business partners, artists and managers should not learn of new deals via the trade press. They need information in advance.

And secondly, Facebook.

It would be easy to see Spotify as a one-off; as the last deal of its type before streaming altered the balance of the recorded business, but other unattributable deals are still being agreed. Facebook is the biggest, with over $1bn being paid for the use of music for the next two years.

Many labels are privately committing to share with artists, but again using different methodology - some using YouTube consumption, or YouTube+Spotify, as a proxy to payout in theory from this autumn.

Managers are not involved in these discussions about how this will work (even with the indies) and if we're lucky will get an email at the time statements go out explaining how the calculations have been made. Again, the policy is being decided on old-world principles of record labels being rights owners and artists and their team as content suppliers with no stake in the shape of the industry.

In the new world, we're increasingly rights partners. Artists and managers should be treated as such, with far more engagement as to how these decisions are taken and a greater understanding of what they mean
www.musicbusinessworldwide.com

 

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Our News   /   January 11th, 2019

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Looks like Spotify Is Preparing to Launch in India on January 31st

Industry News   /   January 22nd, 2019

Looks like Spotify Is Preparing to Launch in India on January 31st

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Industry News   /   January 17th, 2019

Article 13 in disarray as European copyright directive stalls.

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Label News   /   January 11th, 2019

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Industry News   /   January 7th, 2019

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Technics to reveal a new 1200 Turntable this month.

Industry News   /   January 6th, 2019

Technics to reveal a new 1200 Turntable this month.

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Royalty Worx January Sale Up To 30% Discount

Our News   /   January 1st, 2019

Royalty Worx January Sale Up To 30% Discount

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Label Worx announces new in-house label, HOT-Q

Our News   /   December 19th, 2018

Label Worx announces new in-house label, HOT-Q

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Beatport's Staff Picks 2018

Label News   /   December 19th, 2018

Beatport's Staff Picks 2018

With approximately 25,000 new releases added to Beatport each week, they receive a lot of quality music. This year the staff have picked their favourite tracks from each genre and we're pleased to announce that a lot of the labels we work with have been selected for these charts. We would like to send a huge congratulations to all the labels involved, especially the label clients that we work with. Although we have labels spanning across all 31 genres on Beatport, here are some of the highlights from some of Beatports more popular genres.

Label Worx 2018 Roundup

Our News   /   December 12th, 2018

Label Worx 2018 Roundup

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We are humbled that such a range of labels and artists have entrusted us with their music, and are constantly working to hone our service. Thanks to each and every one of you! So in the time honored fashion of looking back before launching ourselves headlong into the festive madness, here are a few highlights from 2018. We've always tried to stay on top of innovation, especially when it comes to saving our clients time and money, and so a lot of time has been devoted to developing and launching additional products. One hugely successful example of this has been the Release Copy Tool, which has allowed labels to duplicate a release to reupload streaming edits of tracks, which is a huge time saver. We've had huge focus on streaming over the last few years, and this is another step in the right direction when it comes to allowing labels to efficiently exploit their catalogues. Similarly focused on time-saving is the introduction of our Traxsource Stats. This enables labels to check your release features, chart positions & DJ chart inclusions on Traxsource, all from one handy place without the rigmarole of trawling through the site: a labor every label owner has had to endure at some point. We've also continued to develop further system integrations with both Facebook and Instagram. We now have a system that allows brands and influencers to use releases distributed through us on Instagram Stories. Outside of Label Worx, it's been a hugely encouraging year for both Spektrum Talent and Lime Blue Music. With Spektrum, 2018 has seen us book and promote sold-out debut US tours for several of our artists, significantly increasing their global profile. We now represent Sam Divine, GAWP, Gene Farris, Jody Wisternoff, Junior Sanchez, Rene Amesz and more world-class talents, handling all logistical and promotional aspects for the artist and leaving them in a creative frame of mind to further develop their sound and brand. Perhaps most important of all, our latest innovation, Lime Blue Music, focuses on one of the least understood - but arguably most lucrative - aspects of music accounting: neighboring rights. Lime Blue Music specializes in the worldwide management, collection and distribution of neighboring rights, one of the fastest growing revenue streams in music. So if your recordings have been broadcast on radio, TV, in a public place such as a bar, restaurant nightclub, festival, or on new media somewhere in the world, then there is revenue waiting for you, and we can help you get it. Clients include Fedde Le Grand, Tritonal, Fatman Scoop, Chillhop Music, Tommie Sunshine, Glasgow Underground and Toolroom, all of whom we have helped explore and exploit a previously untapped revenue stream. With all this going on it's hardly surprising that we've had to expand, and recently welcomed Reece Sheppard to our Label Management team. Reece has already proved himself to have a keen eye for impeccable data management as well as a phenomenal knowledge of all things from house and techno, to jungle & D&B, and has fitted into the team instantly. Even more recently, Simon Burkumshaw has also joined our senior team. Simon previously worked as A&R for Defected and label manager for Madtech & Madhouse records. He continues to run his own brand and event's, Sense Traxx, and we're proud to welcome him aboard. We're a tight family at Label Worx, so to have found these two amazing human beings who fit the bill both professionally and personally, sets us up brilliantly for the New Year. So that was 2018 in a fairly tightly-packed nutshell. We've had an absolute hoot working with each and every one of you, and even though it's been emotional, and at times downright exhausting, we wouldn't change it for the world. 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Wise words from Connor - Plan ahead in 2019.

Label News   /   December 10th, 2018

Wise words from Connor - Plan ahead in 2019.

Our Senior Operations & Content Manager, Connor Devine shares his best tips for 2019 and how you can plan ahead and be prepared for next year. You should always be working to a goal with your label, what you determine the goal to be will be individual to you, however having a goal helps you stay focused and stop time wasting. The last few months of the year is a perfect time for you to assess the year gone and plan for your year ahead. You have already done the legwork for your holiday releases and January and February generally quiet down which essentially gives you a month or two to regroup and get ready to smash the year ahead.

Rotor Video - Exclusive Label Worx Offer

Industry News   /   December 10th, 2018

Rotor Video - Exclusive Label Worx Offer

Rotor is an intelligent video creation tool for musicians and labels, built by a team who've developed video tech for YouTube, produced award-winning music videos and managed major record labels. Their tools are currently being used by over 100,000 independent artists and labels like Warner, Sony and Universal. They've just updated their tech to include new audio analysis engines that make it easier to create better videos, along with adding 3000 unique video clips to their library for you to use. Every month, they'll be adding more clips, more styles and more tools.

Mixcloud launches 'Select'. A 'Fan to Creator' subscription service.

Industry News   /   December 4th, 2018

Mixcloud launches 'Select'. A 'Fan to Creator' subscription service.

Mixcloud offers over 15 million radio shows, DJ mixes and podcasts produced and uploaded by over 1.3 million tastemakers and curators According to Mixcloud, Select uses a 'flexible channel-based' subscription model that allows creators to set their own price, starting at 2.99 per month in local currencies US Dollar, Sterling Pound and Euro. Creators receive a share of profits from their subscriptions, while the artists, labels and publishers played in their shows receive royalty revenue. Mixcloud's proprietary content ID system identifies individual tracks and associated rights holders. The platform has recently announced direct licensing deals with the likes of Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, Merlin, Warner/Chappell Music Publishing and ICE (a joint initiative between PRS, GEMA, and STIM). The first phase of Select has gone live today (December 4) with 47 Mixcloud creators, ranging from DJs including Afrojack, Nicole Moudaber, Lefto and John Digweed to Mixcloud stars such as DJ Blighty and Low Light Mixes. Channels created by independent radio stations Brooklyn Radio, Soho Radio and Red Light Radio, record labels Defected Records and Axtone Records and curators Clash Magazine and Stamp the Wax are also available. Mixcloud says that it will be rolling out additional features, such as exclusive content and direct messaging with subscribers. Nikhil Shah, Co-Founder at Mixcloud said: 'There's a lot of creative energy that goes into crafting a DJ mix, radio show or podcast in order to inspire listeners, and until now, these creators have been left out of the revenue mix. 'We've been working hard to design a model alongside the industry that recognizes the value these creators bring to the music ecosystem, and today we're excited to share this with the world.' Nico Perez, Co-Founder at Mixcloud added: 'Mixcloud Select is our pioneering move toward building a fair and sustainable ecosystem that works for audio creators, artists and listeners. 'We want to enable fans to get closer to the culture and communities they care about while ensuring that everyone involved in the creative process is recognized and rewarded accordingly. 'Through building the Mixcloud community, we've identified a strong trend around loyalty and depth of engagement between listeners and their favourite audio creators. These fans can now take the next step by directly supporting creators' livelihoods. 'In turn, this leads to increased discovery and more income for artists, who are at the core of Mixcloud. We're excited to continue bringing creators and fans closer.'

Label Worx Recommends Universal Audio Hardware & Plugins.

Our News   /   December 3rd, 2018

Label Worx Recommends Universal Audio Hardware & Plugins.

Founded in 1958 by Bill Putnam Sr., Universal Audio has been synonymous with innovative recording products since its inception. A favourite engineer of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles and more, UA was re-founded in 1999 with two main goals: to faithfully reproduce classic analogue recording equipment in the tradition of their father; and to design new digital recording tools in with the sound and spirit of vintage analogue technology. As a result, UA has become a go-to manufacturer of both analogue hardware & premium quality plugins used in electronic music production, with their range boasting some of the most authentic analogue emulation plug-ins in the industry. As Label Worx's in-house engineers, Matt Abbott and Alex Powell are long-time devotees of Universal Audio's extensive range of production kit. Here, they share their thoughts on what makes them the stand-out choice for producers, regardless of experience. Who are Universal Audio? Universal Audio are legendary. They have been producing some of the finest compressors, pre amps and other bits of amazing gear since the 60's. Most professional studios have pieces of their equipment as they have made so many timeless classics like the 1176 compressor. In the last 10 years they have shifted a lot of their focus in to making DSP based plugins that run from hardware processors. We have built the Label Worx studio around the UAD platform ever since we shifted from Creamware years ago. What makes them stand-out? UAD plugins are arguably some of the most accurate reproductions of very expensive, vintage & new hardware. A lot of other companies have attempted to capture the flavour from old gear and not quite got it as good as Universal Audio with their UAD plugins. The fact that their plugins run seamlessly from hardware DSP processors also frees up memory on your machine. Even using the latest Mac Pro with nothing but onboard plugins can be tasking on the CPU. The UAD system allows you to free up a lot of the power on your machine, while giving you the best sounding plugins you can buy. What UA kit do you currently use? Currently and for the last three or four years, our whole mastering chain is built up with UAD plugins with the Apollo audio interface & a UAD Satellite at the heart of it all. We use a mixture of the more clinical, precision plugins with some vintage classics to add the colour and tone of analogue mastering while maintaining a noise free signal path, using only UAD plugins. What are some of your favourite plugins? Pultec EQ's - These are the best sounding models we have ever heard. We use this in the mixdown stage to add colour to the track. There is something super silky about the Pultec EQ which makes this our favourite EQ for adding weight to something. The Pultec also works differently than any other EQ. You can boost & cut the same frequency which gives you this insane laminated sound. If you're not using it, you should be. Ocean Ways Studios - This is absolutely insane for bringing vocals to life: perfect modelling of the recording setup with mic emulation at Ocean Ways Studios. You can use this as a reverb or just for adding spatial texture to a vocal. Flat, dull vocals all of a sudden have this incredible space and depth. We actually tried this out by accident and now it is one of our favourite plugins. Oxford Dynamic EQ - For when multiband compression is just not right, multiband EQ with a threshold. Perfect for tidying up and taming tracks or parts that are a little messy. It is a super clinical EQ that can also add a great level of lamination to your sounds. We use this in mixdowns and mastering. Everything SSL or Neve - To put it simply, anything Neve or SSL is the bomb. Both very different colours to work with but as powerful as each other. From compression to EQ. .These are the most powerful tools you can use in a mixdown (in our opinion). EL-8 Labs Distressor - We previously used a real pair of these on a some projects a few years back and couldn't get over how good they are if used as a parallel compressor on drums, bass and even a full mix, providing you have a super clean mixdown. UAD have made the only perfect software replica we have ever heard and we're so pleased we can now use this in our setup, without paying a fortune for a real pair. Hand on heart we think this is the best modelled UAD plugin they have ever created. Which tracks have you worked on that use UA gear? All of our Label Worx Mixdowns & Masters are done using UAD plugins and hardware. We have mixed records down that have been released on Sony, Warner, Universal and some of the world's biggest dance music labels including Do Not Sleep, Toolroom, CUFF, Revealed, Spinnin and a whole lot more. Every order that leaves our studio is jam packed with UAD goodness. Who would you recommend UA to? Beginners, experienced pros, etc? I would recommend UAD plugins and hardware to everyone. Get on board and learn each plugin you buy inside out. Each plugin comes with a comprehensive manual that gives you a little history on the plugin and the best ways to use it, how to set it up and yield the best results. I never read such intuitive instruction to ever come with a plugin. UAD plugins are the closest thing you can get to having a studio worth hundreds of thousands of pounds but at a fraction of the price. Some of the worlds best mix engineers use UAD because they are so close to the real thing, and you can't take racks of gear on the road with you. Interested in finding out more about Universal Audio products? Head to https://www.uaudio.com

Black Friday Offers

Our News   /   November 22nd, 2018

Black Friday Offers

We're happy to announce our Black Friday offers! These offers will be available over this weekend only and are available to Label Worx customers new & old. We've got offers on Royalty Worx, Demo Worx and Mixdown & Master orders.

CUFF - Amine Edge on Royalty Worx.

Label News   /   November 19th, 2018

CUFF - Amine Edge on Royalty Worx.

Royalty calculations are perhaps one of the most misunderstood aspects of running a label, but it's one of those tedious tasks that need to be done. As a label owner, especially if you're doing everything yourself, your focus is understandably on signing and promoting music, and if your anything like the vast majority of labels, finding the time to get your head around all the many aspects of royalty accounting can be nigh-on impossible. If you're one of the many labels that don't have a royalty accounting system in place, Royalty Worx is exactly what you need. It allows you to generate statements branded to your label and pay artists quickly and easily, all at a super-affordable price that even the most fledgeling labels should find attractive. With Royalty Worx already built specifically for dance and electronic music, we've launched a new service, Royalty Worx Accelerate. This takes all of the admin work completely off your hands - including statement imports, currency conversions, third-party licensing, physical sales imports, statement generation and invoice management - leaving you more time to do what you love about running a record label. One of our biggest Royalty Worx Accelerate clients are Amine Edge & DANCE's CUFF label. Hailing from Southern France, Amine Edge & DANCE have built their own musical empire, drawing inspiration from early house, Phili Soul, hip-hop and everything in between. The men from Marseille have set about developing their own signature sound and have over the last few years made an indelible mark on the dance music landscape as a result of their raw talent and versatility as producers. Their label, CUFF, has now been going strong for 4 years and has released more than 60 singles and EPs from artists including Shiba San, Chris Lorenzo, Nathan Barato and of course Amine Edge and Dance themselves. CUFF is one of the many label's that use Label Worx's industry-leading distribution and royalty accounting services; something that Amine says has been invaluable in the label's development. 'We've been with Label Worx for about three years now, and it's been one of the best decisions we made from a business perspective' says Amine. 'As a label boss and a busy worldwide touring DJ I never have enough time for the organisational side of running a label, so having Label Worx on board has saved me a huge amount of time, which is absolutely invaluable. 'Before we started working with them I never really had a handle on all the different revenue streams, but the Label Worx service really streamlines the process. Their inside software is very smart and lets you deliver really professional statements for our artists. ' 'Not only is the service affordable, it also streamlines the process of collecting royalties from different avenues of catalogue exploitation. I think there will be a lot of artists missing out on a lot of potential revenue, and Label Worx can definitely help labels get on top of it. But for me, the most important thing is that the Label Worx crew is not only a system that is extremely efficient, but it's also run by a group of people who are incredibly passionate about music. It really feels as if they care: they helped us at CUFF in so many ways, so I really can't thank them enough!'

Neighbouring Rights - What is it all about?

Industry News   /   November 19th, 2018

Neighbouring Rights - What is it all about?

The music industry is forever evolving, whether that be technological, social or legislation based, opportunities to exploit new and existing revenue streams constantly present themselves. Over the last few years, you are probably hearing more and more about Neighbouring Rights and with good reason. Neighbouring Rights is one of the fastest growing revenue streams in the music industry today. In 2016 alone, revenue from Neighbouring Rights topped $2.1 billion which was up 4.4% from the year before and is still growing strong. Neighbouring Rights are in no way the new kid on the block, in fact, they have been around since the Rome Convention was signed in 1961 and in the USA when the WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty was signed in 1996. We won't bore you with the details here but feel free to dig into this at your leisure. So what are Neighbouring Rights? Well, these are rights related to the public performance and broadcast of sound recordings. Not to be confused with publishing or 'mechanical' rights though, there is an important distinction here. Mechanical rights are rights associated with the reproduction of recorded music whereas Neighbouring Rights relate to the public performance and broadcast of music. Why now though? This revenue stream has been around for years, why only now are we exploiting Neighbouring Rights? Well, there are multiple reasons, mainly the fact that many countries that signed the Rome Convention haven't had the infrastructure in place to pay rights holders. Advancements in technology combined with communication and cooperation between countries growing have also helped pave the way to build that infrastructure. And with certain revenue streams such as CD and Downloads declining, the industries hand has been forced to adapt. Now for the burning question on everyone's lips', who is owed royalties? These royalties are generally split 50/50 between the performing artists and the master rights holders (who in most cases are the record labels). So, if you are a performing artist or a record label who has had your music broadcast on radio, TV, in a public place such as a bar or restaurant or on new media somewhere in the world, then there will be money owed to you. That's great, isn't it? There's money available that we didn't even know was there. Now where's my money and how do I get it? There are a few companies out there that will be able to claim Neighbouring Rights royalties on your behalf and they will usually take a small fee for doing so. On the flip side, you can try going to each territory directly, but who has time for that and most of the time you will be banging your head against a brick wall of bureaucracy. Companies like our sister company 'Lime Blue' have systems, contacts and direct agreements in place with over 60 countries worldwide that will save you buckets of time.

We're pleased to Welcome Simon to the Label Worx team.

Our News   /   November 14th, 2018

We're pleased to Welcome Simon to the Label Worx team.

We are pleased to welcome Simon Birkumshaw as our Head Of Label Acquisitions & A&R. Simon previously worked at Defected as A&R, Champion Records, Madtech & Madhouse as Label Manager and currently runs his own label and events in London under the brand 'Sense Traxx'. Simon will be working alongside our senior team to acquire new business for Label Worx and to manage existing and new relationships with stores and other outlets for your music. Welcome to the team, Simon!

 

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