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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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Earlier this month Music & Copyright conducted its third annual survey of unauthorized music download sites. Like last year and the year before, advertising for a large number of blue-chip companies and media-content services was found on several of the sites surveyed. Most of the companies contacted by Music & Copyright were fairly oblivious to the fact that their ads appeared alongside promotions for “Russian wives” and “Asian babes.” None of the companies placed the ads on the websites, but were displayed through the use of blind advertising networks.
The current issue of Music & Copyright gives all the details on which companies were the worst offenders and which were doing their best to control advertising overspill. But what was interesting this time around was the realization of the problem rights holders face when trying to have content removed from unauthorized music download sites and the support these sites receive from the big social networks. Continue reading
Talking to rights holders in the run up to the CISAC World Creators Summit in Washington, it seems that few agree that any country has the right balance between certain technology companies’ use of music and the abuse of copyright. Google has been on the receiving end of several legal actions by a number of rights holders that have claimed its online video service YouTube has either not acted quickly enough to remove content when asked, or is using content that it has no license for. Ever-troubling for rights holders is the fact that it is their responsibility to check whether music is being used correctly and not the responsibility of the digital-music service. Continue reading
Depending on where a musician sits in the music industry value chain, a top-10 list of what’s most important to an unsigned artist will differ greatly to one compiled by a million-album seller. Scratching a living out of music is something tens of thousands of musicians do every day. Although the Internet has opened up the promotion and distribution of music to anyone with a computer, it has also made selling music a lot more difficult as almost every single release in a digital-music store is available for free somewhere online. 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
Few regions in the world have escaped the spread of digital-music services. Even in the least developed territories, basic digital services, such as ring tones and ring-back tones, have been rolled out in an effort to tempt customers to go digital. But even though many of the Gulf States have highly developed technology infrastructures, digital-music services have been slow to take hold. Moreover, the lack of collection societies to administer rights collections has left the region as something of a rights wasteland. Could overseas involvement kick-start the rights-administration process? 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
The number of digital-music services in Europe is growing every year and consumers across the continent are being presented with an array of different ways to listen to music. Digital-music delivery and consumption has undergone a rapid transition. However, such has been the speed of the sector’s evolution, new business models specializing in digital-music delivery across Europe have forced those organizations charged with issuing licenses to rethink the way they operate.
Music publishers and collection-societies in Europe have taken to the task in different ways (see below table for major music publisher initiative details). But, in contrast to a few years ago, when digital-music services were required to negotiate countless licensing deals, agreements between music publishers and collection-societies have reduced the necessity for endless rounds of licensing negotiations. Continue reading
Last month the European Composer & Songwriter Alliance (ECSA) held a press conference at the Silken Berlaymont Hotel in Brussels to brief news reporters about a stance it was taking against European broadcasters on behalf of music composers. ECSA accused Europe’s leading broadcasters of forcing composers to give up their rights in return for TV commissions. Big names in broadcasting, such as RTL, ITV, BskyB, TF1, ZDF and Rai, were all accused of operating a system called coercive commissioning – in return for awarding a composer with a commission, the composer must assign all rights in the music to the broadcaster or TV production company. Put simply, no rights, no commission. Continue reading