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
Informa 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
Last year the European Commission introduced new proposals for a directive on the collective management of copyright and multiterritory licensing of music. The proposals, which target collection-society transparency and the efficient working of digital-distribution businesses in Europe, are working their way through a series of committees. After that, they must be agreed upon by the European Parliament and European Council of Ministers.
What the directive will not do is interfere with the way music publishers administer their rights. All of the major publishers and a number of independents have withdrawn the rights to certain repertoire for licensing on a multiterritorial basis. Some see these moves as a step towards the creation of a new form of fragmentation, one based on repertoire, rather than national borders. Publishers have long claimed that withdrawing certain repertoire rights streamlines the licensing process. However, music ownership can involve multiple publishers and therefore digital services that want to provide an all-encompassing offering still need to sign more licensing deals than the number of countries they operate in. 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
The accuracy of data regarding the reported use of music is key in determining the level of royalties paid to authors, publishers, performers and producers. Improvements in technology to identify what music has been played and performed at all manner of venues and establishments has resulted in higher collections and greater confidence that royalties are reaching the correct recipients. But is there a point where collection costs outweigh the benefits? And if so, are the smaller, less commercial artists the ones in danger of missing out? 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
As the issue of multiterritory licensing comes under the spotlight in Europe, differences in rates charged and rights splits will become more evident. Will an EU directive that breaks down national borders be followed by a bigger push for deeper collection-society harmonization across the region?
With publication of the European Commission’s new multiterritory licensing proposals, Brussels’ efforts to harmonize the EU’s digital-music landscape are looking to build on legislation harmonizing authors’ and publishers’ rights that are managed by collection societies. Continue reading