Why reports on the evolution of the music industry should focus on earnings and not on format wars

For anyone interested in the recorded-music industry and where it is headed, it is difficult to escape the many articles and reports speculating on how music will be served to consumers in the coming years. For those living in Norway or Sweden the answer is already very clear with music subscription services leading the charge to a growth in sales after countless years of decline. Such has been the rise in music subscriptions in the two countries, streaming now forms part of sales charts published each week. IFPI Norway added streaming to album charts from the beginning of November. Previously, the album chart had only included physical sales and downloads. Sweden added streaming to its national album chart in October. IFPI Norway said by including streaming figures the album and singles charts reflected “the total consumption of music in Norway.” Streaming has been included in the Norwegian singles chart since the spring of 2011.

Adding streaming usage to a sales chart is a natural progression in the collation of music sales and recognition of how accessing recorded-music has changed. Excluding streaming from sales charts, particularly in a country where the majority of trade revenues now come from subscription services, would make those charts incomplete, unrepresentative and irrelevant. Continue reading

Imagine if subscribing to music services became as popular as pay-TV

Global musicMusic-subscription services are in the headlines for one reason or another on an almost daily basis. The leading services are either hailed as the savior of the recorded-music industry or are criticized for not paying artists enough for the use of their music. Arguments and differences of opinion will most likely rumble on for years to come until the next big thing emerges promising a brighter future for all.

What should be remembered is that despite the rapid rise to dominance in some northern European countries, the subscription model is still in the early stages of development. Plenty of artists initially held off from making their music available to download stores, but virtually all of the big-name holdouts have now relented. It is also worth noting that subscription services have only just scratched the surface of what they can offer. Take the latest deal between the Norwegian music-streaming service WiMP and the Olav Thon Group (OTG) announced this week. WiMP is to provide unlimited music for users of the OTG’s hotels and restaurants across Scandinavia. If that sort of deal became common elsewhere in the world then subscription revenues would start to look pretty healthy and the doomsayers just might change their minds over the benefits of streaming. Continue reading

Should this website be allowed to have a Facebook profile?

FacebookEarlier 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

Demystifying Pan-European digital-music rights, second edition

Report coverInforma Telecoms & Media today announced the publication of the second edition of its highly successful report Demystifying Pan-European digital-music rights. The report neatly illustrates what repertoire is controlled by what collection society or licensing hub in 30 of Europe’s most vibrant recorded-music markets. Continue reading

Rock and dance burst the pop music bubble

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New research published today by the Informa Telecoms & Media news service Music & Copyright reveals that global retail sales of rock music increased 2.9% last year, to US$6 million, from US$5.8 million in 2011. Pop may still be the world’s most popular type of music, but retail sales of the genre were down 1%, to US$7.4 million, from US$7.5 million. Continue reading

The impact of streaming on download sales and why there is no simple answer to the question of cannibalization

sub vs dldIn 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

Calls for a new look at the DMCA safe harbor protection as music companies head back to court in battle against MP3tunes

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