Music subscription service complaints
In October, an international coalition of creators published a report calling for fairer rules and greater transparency in the distribution of digital-music royalties. The central tenet of the report was that music has been undervalued by digital music platforms with rights holders on the losing side of digital sales splits. One of the report’s recommendations was that rights holders should receive a higher share of gross revenue from streaming services than they currently do. With access services poised to become the predominant model for music consumption, the report said the remuneration paid out needs to be rebalanced in favor of rights holders and the current level of remuneration is inadequate given the dependency of these services on music content. Although the calls by the creator groups for a fairer share of the dividends from streaming are understandable given the wide publicity that some artists have received regarding streaming royalties, the report is mistaken in citing access services as the broken link in the value chain. Streaming is providing benefits to rights holders far beyond simple music consumption and paid subscription services are proving to be a particularly profitable means of music distribution for record companies and publishers.
Big quarter for SoundExchange
Performance-rights paid to record companies and performers in the US have become a very meaningful income stream in the last few years with growth in collections and distributions rising rapidly. SoundExchange, the non-profit performance-rights organization, administers performance-rights paid by statutory licensed digital broadcasters and streaming services. Since 2003, when it became an independent body, total distributions to rights holders have surpassed the $2.5bn mark with growth anticipated for the next few years at least. Continue reading
Music is unquestionably important to most people’s lives, regardless of where they are in the world. Although not everyone spends money on recorded music or buys tickets to a gig or festival, a very high percentage of people listen to music on the radio at home or in their car. Restaurants, shops, and bars use music to create a particular ambience to encourage people to either relax or feel enlivened to improve their customers’ experience.
Music is essential and important
Just how important music is to consumers was one of the many questions included in a consumer survey conducted by Music & Copyright publisher Ovum in July. Over a three-week period, 15,000+ consumers across 15 countries were asked a number of questions about their media use. In terms of importance, music was considered essential by 42% of respondents, and important by a further 43%.
Although listening to music was less important than browsing the Internet and reading the news, it was considered more essential that interacting on social media and watching TV. Only 16% of respondents said listening to music was unimportant. Continue reading
The world of online advertising is a pretty complex business. Media agencies buy advertising space on behalf of clients through ad exchanges with automated processes matching advertisers’ criteria to inventory offered by online publishers. This enables advertisers to gain placements and reach their target audience across a much broader selection of websites. From the loading of a web page to an ad being displayed, an auction has taken place and the winner’s ad is presented, all in just a few milliseconds. However, the process can sometimes result in ads showing up on sites they shouldn’t. Some brands take steps to avoid this and others act quickly when notified. But some don’t, and that is a big problem for content rights holders.
Big brand ads funding pirate music sites
Ovum has just published Music & Copyright’s fourth annual survey of ads on pirate music sites. This time around, the survey focused on the popular site Hulkshare and a search for the Rita Ora track Will Never Let You Down. Big name brands with ads found on the site included Lloyds Bank, Eurostar, Ford and Scottish Power. However, most troubling from UK rights holders’ point of view was the presence of so many ads for ISPs and mobile operators. Even an ad from a UK government department made it onto the site. Continue reading
New research published by the Ovum news service Music & Copyright reveals that the two most popular music genres in terms of retail sales in the world are pop and rock. According to the annual genre study conducted by Music & Copyright, consumer spending on the two genres accounted for 56.7% of total spending in 2013. Retail sales of pop music stood at $6.8bn, and retail sales of rock music totaled $5.8bn (see Figure 1).
Although the two genres dominate global recorded-music sales, there were differences in their performance last year. Sales of pop music slid 7.6%, while the rock-music decline was 3.1%. Dance music and rap/hip-hop were the only two genres to see growth in retail sales: Dance sales increased 4%, to $1.3bn, while rap/hip-hop sales rose 1.4%, to $1.2bn. Jazz was the biggest loser for the second consecutive year, with sales down 10.1%.
Despite its fall in sales, pop remained the world’s most popular genre, accounting for 30.6% of global retail sales (see Figure 2), although this share was down, from 31.7% in 2012. Rock’s share increased, from 25.7% to 26.1%. Dance music scored the biggest share increase, rising from 5.5% to 6%.
Music & Copyright’s annual survey of the recorded-music and music-publishing sectors has revealed which companies have benefited most from the breakup of EMI. UMG increased its dominance of the recorded-music sector in 2013, while WMG closed the gap on the second-largest company, SME. Sony/ATV is the clear leader in terms of corporate publishing control.
The last two years have seen significant consolidation in the recorded-music and music-publishing sectors, after the breakup of EMI Music Group and the subsequent sales of EMI’s record and publishing divisions. Although UMG’s acquisition of EMI Recorded Music and the purchase of EMI Music Publishing by a Sony-led consortium received the various national and regional regulatory seals of approval in 2012, enforced divestments meant that the consolidation process was completed only last year. The result is a music industry dominated by three corporate groups: UMG has extended its market-share lead in terms of revenues from recorded-music sales, and Sony/ATV is the clear music-publishing leader.
Prior to the latest round of consolidation, UMG was the biggest recorded-music company in the world. The addition of the EMI assets in October 2012 boosted the company’s market share that year, but 2013 was the first full year the acquired EMI companies were included in UMG’s results. However, given that divestments were completed only in 2013, market-share figures for 2014 will be the first to truly reflect the new recorded-music landscape. Continue reading
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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Earlier this week Sweden’s local music trade association Grammofonleverantorernas Forening (GLF) proudly reported that total trade revenues from recorded-music sales increased 5.1% last year, to SEK991.2 million (US$152.2 million), from SEK943.6 million in 2012. The rate of growth was lower than the 13.8% year-on-year increase in 2012, but higher than the 0.5% upswing in 2011. Streaming was the big winner, with record company earnings from services such as Spotify and WiMP rising to SEK705.9 million, from SEK541.6 million in 2012. Based on the latest GLF figures, streaming accounted for slightly more than 71% of total trade revenues in 2013, up from 57.4% in 2012 and just 1.5% in 2008.
In a statement, the GLF CEO Ludvig Werner said three straight years of growth had pushed trade revenues to their highest level since 2004. However, he cautioned that record company earnings are still just 60% of the peak year of 2000.
With all the headlines about Sweden’s streaming boom, it is easy to forget how big the Swedish recorded-music market once was and how far it has fallen. Moreover, there are plenty of questions over how high streaming sales can actually go, particularly given the slowdown in the growth rate of streaming earnings (30.3% in 2013, down from 55.4% in 2012).
In just six years, sales of CDs in Sweden have more than halved, yet there is little published evidence detailing whether those CD buyers have switched to digital or are simply buying less recorded-music. In the early years of digital, falling trade revenues were a clear indicator that consumers were either switching to unauthorized services, or abandoning the recorded-music industry altogether. Download sales have never really taken hold in Sweden and so the big unknown is whether music subscription services have attracted consumers that stopped buying recorded-music, or whether the services are simply causing a redistribution of trade revenues from CDs and downloads.
Rising earnings suggests the growth has come from more than simple cannibalization, but it would be easy to gloss over the possibility that fewer Swedes are spending money on recorded-music, and that those consumers that are spending, are spending more. If that is the case then there will be a limit on how big the streaming boom will take Sweden’s recorded-music sector. No one is expecting streaming sales to keep on rising, but if streaming can’t return record company earnings to 2000 levels, then what can?
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