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The latest issue of the newsletter begins by examining the news that UK music trade association the BPI sent its 50 millionth takedown request to Google earlier this month as part of an ongoing battle to limit the distribution of unauthorized recorded music online. At the same time, Google and Microsoft announced that they were making it more difficult for Internet users to search for images of child abuse, following criticism from the UK’s prime minister, David Cameron, in July that the two search giants were not doing enough to prevent access to illegal images.
Inevitably after any announcement concerning the limiting of access to a particular type of content, there are calls to introduce similar measures to control access to unauthorized music and media content. Certainly child abuse is a far more serious crime than copyright infringement, and rights holders would not argue to the contrary. But what the latest Google/Microsoft initiative shows is that technology exists that can be used to tighten controls over content distribution. The big question is when those controls should be used, if at all.
Some good news from France – trade revenues from recorded-music sales increased 7.2% year-on-year in the first nine months of this year, according to trade association SNEP. A big jump in CD sales and rising interest in subscriptions boosted sales. Digital-album sales also increased, but single-track downloads fell, with trade revenues from the format down 16% year-on-year in 3Q13.
Not so good news in Japan – digital-music sales in the country are set to fall for the fourth consecutive year in 2013. New figures published by the trade body the RIAJ show that mobile music formats are continuing to suffer big drops in sales. Internet sales are growing but not fast enough to head off another annual decline. However, there is a glimmer of hope for next year, with quarterly Internet gains slowing the overall rate of digital contraction.
In addition to financial results for UMG, published earlier this month by parent company Vivendi, the latest issue also has a special focus on music apps. The rapid take-up of smartphones and tablets has led to a proliferation of apps. But apart from a few high-profile applications from leading artists, the music industry has scarcely embraced the medium, let alone figured out how to make money off of it.
Belgium comes under the Music & Copyright spotlight this time around. Belgium experienced a lower fall in trade revenues from recorded-music sales last year than in 2011 with digital sales increasing for the second consecutive year after a blip in 2010. However, digital remains a long way from compensating for the drop in CD sales. On the positive side, Belgium’s live sector continues to perform well despite a fragile economy, and royalty collections returned to growth in 2012 after a big fall in 2011.
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In the past few months the publication of detailed national digital-music sales figures has illustrated great differences between countries’ digital-music-buying habits. Published analysis of digital-music sales patterns has drawn a variety of conclusions regarding whether subscription streaming services are cannibalizing download sales. However, as subscribing to music starts to become mainstream and download sales begin leveling off, or falling, more and more people are asking whether streaming is to blame. Continue reading
Celebrating a rise in global recorded-music trade revenues is something most in the music industry under the age of 30 have never done. After a flattening in trade revenues in 1999, every subsequent year through 2011 saw revenues drop. Last year, however, the industry experienced slight growth, bringing an end to a 12-year contraction streak.
The IFPI cautioned against getting too carried away with the result, and digging into the different national-trade-association results suggests it was right to do so. Moreover, although a 9% rise in digital sales was the driving force behind the return to overall growth, the differences in the performance and transformation of the leading markets effectively make any evaluation of the global recorded-music industry almost irrelevant. Continue reading
In the past 20 years or so, all sectors of the music industry have been through massive change. Format transitions, company consolidation and greater scrutiny of copyright and licensing have changed the industry beyond all recognition. But have the changes made for industry improvements, and more important, have the main players learned from their mistakes? The recent discovery of the first issues of Music & Copyright has allowed for a unique look at just how much certain things have changed, and how much they haven’t.
The newsletter’s 20-year anniversary came and went in September, but thanks to a long-standing subscriber, copies of the first 24 issues published have been found and make for interesting reading. Despite containing names that have either long since left the music industry or been swallowed up as part of industry consolidation, the headlines for a number of news stories resonate closely with happenings today. Continue reading
Toward the end of last year, Deezer and iTunes extended their footprints to include several countries that are often considered emerging markets. The growth of broadband Internet use around the world, providing access to a wealth of unauthorized recorded music, has made life difficult for new digital-service rollouts. But with the balance of economic power expected to shift away from the current leaders, is now the time for the emerging markets to start living up to their name? Continue reading
Over the past decade or so, the assessment of the recorded-music industry has shifted from retail sales to trade value. The complexities and the growing number of business models involved in the delivery of digital music, coupled with unknown retail markups, make quantifying the retail value of recorded-music sales speculative at best. But the enduring appeal of ring tones and ring-back tones in some less-developed countries suggests that the size of the global retail pie has not changed; there are just more players taking a slice. Continue reading
For a number of years, the MP3 audio codec dominated digital-music downloading. MP3 was initially synonymous with illegal downloading, but in 2007 the major record companies dropped their opposition to selling music in unprotected formats. Although Apple chose to stick with the AAC codec, most others opted for MP3. Until recently little has changed in terms of quality. But with broadband speeds and household penetration continuing to rise, is now the time for the music industry to up its focus on quality? Continue reading
Music & Copyright’s annual survey of the recorded-music and music-publishing industries has revealed that Universal Music Group (UMG) remained the world’s biggest record company and Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) the largest music-publishing company in 2011. The positioning of each of the four major record-label and music-publishing companies was unchanged last year. Although this lack of change could suggest that 2011 offered up “more of the same” in the recorded-music and music-publishing sectors, such an assumption would be wide of the mark. Continue reading
Earlier this month, US District Judge Richard Sullivan ruled against EMI’s Capitol Records’ request for a preliminary injunction against the digital-music reseller ReDigi. Capitol had wanted the service closed down but Judge Sullivan denied the record company’s demand and insisted that the service should stay online and the case go to trial. The judge’s action has been widely reported as a victory for ReDigi and to some extent it is. Not every day can a start-up company say it has fended off one of the world’s biggest record companies. But in the longer term, having the case go to a full trial can only be a good thing for the music industry. Should Judge Sullivan have ruled without a trial that ReDigi was infringing copyright then the issue of legality would rumble on and proponents of digital resale would simply claim they have been trodden on by a big corporation wanting to protect its business. Continue reading
Of all the countries that have reported midyear sales figures, it is the US that has provided the most optimism. For the first six months of this year, album-unit sales rose 1% compared with same period of 2010, according to Nielsen SoundScan. This represented the first time that album sales had increased since 2004. Including track-equivalent albums (10 digital tracks equal one album), the growth figure was higher, at 3.7%. Digital-album sales were reported by Nielsen SoundScan to have increased 10% year-on-year, with digital-track sales rising 11%. Recent figures from Nielsen SoundScan, for the year to Aug. 21, published in the trade magazine Billboard, suggest that the situation has improved slightly, with album sales up 2.4% compared with the same period in 2010 and album sales including track equivalents rising 4.8%. Continue reading