Today is a big day for all of us at Music & Copyright as we have just published our 500th issue. When the first issue was put together back in September 1992, little did we think that Music & Copyright would still be as popular with subscribers as it is today. A lot has changed in the recorded-music and music publishing sectors over the last 22 years or so, but one thing has remained unmoved, and that is the importance of copyright.
Challenges to rights holders to maintain the value of copyright in an increasingly digital world have meant changes to the way rights are protected and administered. The launch of new digital-music services and means of distributing recorded-music has seen rights administration evolve at national, regional and global levels. However, central to this evolution has been ensuring that rights holders are rewarded for their creative work.
Looking back at some of the early editions of Music & Copyright, most of the names have either long since left the music industry or been swallowed up as part of industry consolidation. However, the headlines for several stories resonate closely with happenings today. For example, the first issue led with the headline European tape levy income may top US$600 million a year and described how the European Commission was examining proposals to protect private copying remuneration. Fast forward to last week and we see that the European Parliament voted in favor of new proposals to modernize the current private copying remuneration system. Other articles in the latest issue also resonate with days gone by with format changes impacting on sales figures and record company consolidation affecting financial results.
As we now look forward to the next 500 issues, I hope Music & Copyright is still delivering the right balance of news and views and that its own evolution has improved the news service. Certainly our feedback since I became editor five years ago (has it really been that long?) would suggest it has.
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The new issue of the newsletter begins with a look at the latest financials published by the US authors’ body ASCAP. Earlier this month ASCAP reported a return to growth for collections last year and an increase in the growth rate for distributions. Collections were up 0.3% in 2013, and distributions increased 2.7%. However, ongoing litigation with online-radio service Pandora resulted in a rise in ASCAP’s operating-expense ratio.
This issue also details the performance of SME and WMG in the last three months of 2013. Sales for SME were up 14.4% in the three month period, although the rate of increase was greatly boosted by the depreciation of the yen against the US dollar. Excluding exchange-rate fluctuations, sales were down 1% year-on-year. For WMG, total revenues increased 6.8%, excluding currency fluctuations. The acquisition of the Parlophone Label Group at the beginning of July boosted the recorded-music earnings. Without the extra income, revenues would have fallen about 3%. Publishing was WMG’s best-performing sector. Continue reading
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