New issue of Music & Copyright with US country report

The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.

US music industry stakeholders breath a collective sigh of relief as the DoJ decides not to amend the consent decrees
US performing rights organizations (PROs) ASCAP and BMI can breathe a sigh of relief that the completion of the latest review by the Department of Justice (DoJ) of the consent decrees under which the PROs operate has ended with a recommendation of no changes. The previous two-year review proposed an end to fractional licensing (issuing licenses for only the percentage of compositions administered). A ruling by BMI’s rate court put an end to that proposal. This time around, the DoJ simply acknowledged that change was necessary, but stepped back from making any firm suggestions. The COVID-19 pandemic meant face-to-face meetings with stakeholders was more difficult and is likely to have weighed heavily on the DoJ’s decision to maintain the status quo. However, the DoJ did say that the consent decrees should be reviewed every five years to assess whether the they were continuing to achieve their objective of protecting competition.

Second straight year of INR1bn+ collections for IPRS
India’s authors’ society IPRS has reported a third straight year of growth for royalty collections and a new record for total income. Following on from a year that saw IPRS celebrate its 50th year in business, the authors’ society registered sharp growth in domestic receipts with the total boosted by a jump in TV broadcasting income. Radio registered the highest collection growth rate, but collections from radio broadcasters remain stymied by a legal dispute dating back eight years. Public performance income was flat year-on-year. However, the current financial year is likely to see a big fall in public performance receipts because of the impact on the live industry and the hospitality and retail sectors from COVID-19.

A good year for livestreamed music with more to come in 2021
Livestreamed music looks to have made the most out of 2020. When COVID-19 restrictions first closed down clubs, music halls, and festivals, virtual broadcast performances seemed to offer little more than comfort to a sector in shock. However, over the course of the year, artists embraced the medium in number, while the livestreamed events themselves grew in scale and scope. At the close of 2020, a series of richer streamed experiences demonstrated not only how far the format had come, but also where it was heading. There’s also opportunity for emerging artists as new, affordable products have come to market to service their needs. Livestreaming is set to become a significant part of the live music portfolio even after the pandemic.

US country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed US music industry report. The US is the biggest music market in the world. Each year the country accounts for around one third of the total global recorded-music sales and approximately 40% of spending on tickets to live music events. Furthermore, the US is home to the single biggest live music promoter, Live Nation Entertainment, as well as the two leading authors’ rights organizations, ASCAP and BMI, and the biggest performance rights organization, SoundExchange. On the not so positive side, the country boasts the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world and the spread of the virus in the country has impacted on all music industry sectors. Live music has been the hardest hit with the concert sector effectively shuttered from the second quarter of last year. Given the popularity of music streaming, consumption stats for last year have proved something of a welcome distraction with the latest figures showing last year’s recorded-music consumption total beating the previous year’s record.

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New issue of Music & Copyright

The first issue of Music & Copyright for 2021 is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.

Ball starts rolling in the reform of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act
US Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property has published the first discussion draft of legislation aimed at reforming the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). According to the Senator, the Digital Copyright Act of 2021 (DCA) would modernize current US copyright law by amending key provisions for dealing with online copyright piracy, as well as improving the exemptions available to users for circumventing technological protection measures (TPMs). The discussion draft also increases attribution protections so that authors can be properly credited, and makes the Register of Copyrights a Presidential appointee as well as placing the Copyright Office (the Office) under the Department of Commerce.

Revenue growth for SAMRO despite impact of COVID-19 in final quarter
Africa’s largest authors’ society, the South African Music Rights Organization (SAMRO), has reported a positive year for music royalties and distributions for the 12-months ending June. Despite difficult trading conditions exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, total music rights receipts topped the ZAR500 million ($30.2 million) mark for the first time, while group revenue exceeded the previous financial year’s record. Distributions also hit new highs, although the total was boosted by backdated payments by the public broadcaster the SABC. Broadcasting receipts also benefitted from resumed SABC payments, while general licensing collections suffered from the impact of government-imposed lockdown measures put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19. Overseas collections fell in the financial year, although the size of the dip was exaggerated by exchange rate fluctuations and the timing of revenue receipts from foreign societies.

A flurry of deals suggests the time is right to make more of music rights
If anyone still doubted that music catalogs were set to remain a very hot property, the beginning of the New Year should have dispelled any skepticism. A leading producer, a veteran guitarist and even gold-plated Neil Young joined the music-rights sales fray through lucrative deals with an alternative investment fund. There will be further such multi-million-dollar transactions in 2021 as institutional investors seek good returns, but there’s also opportunity for those owning the rights to lower-profile songs that still manage to deliver decent royalty payments year after year. Royalty Exchange is one growing platform that caters to this particular segment of the market, and it offers rights owners the prospect of making the most of their IP assets to fund projects, or to provide financial relief for musicians hard hit by COVID-19.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with Chile country report

The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.

COVID-19 puts the brakes on recorded music sales, but growth is forecast for the next five years
Omdia has updated its forecasts for retail sales of recorded-music. In line with last year’s main conclusion, the recorded-music sector is firmly a growth market and Omdia expects sales in each of the years up to and including 2025 to rise. By the end of the forecast period, retail sales will have grown for more than 10 consecutive years. However, the global total is not expected to have topped the record high set in the late 1990s. Also, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sales of physical formats as well as performance rights collections will limit the growth rate for this year to low single-digit percentage points. Subscriptions are the single biggest recorded-music category and will generate more than half of global revenue for the first time this year. Furthermore, income from advertising overtook sales of downloads in 2019, but will fall short of overhauling spending on physical formats at the end of the forecast period.

Japan heading for biggest decline in recorded-music revenue for seven years
New figures published by the Japanese recorded-music trade association the RIAJ show digital music sales grew at a faster rate in the first nine months of this year compared with the prior year period. All the streaming revenue sources registered positive results in contrast to the buy-to-own formats which all suffered a decline. Audio subscriptions’ dominance of digital sales was enhanced, following on from the previous year’s crossing of the 50% milestone. The positive period for digital sales contrasted with the RIAJ’s most recently reported COVID-19 impacted results for the production of physical formats. Taken together, Japan’s record companies look to be heading for a sizable full year decline. Aside from COVID-19, questions remain over the longer-term fortunes for the recorded-music sector given the continued dominance of physical formats.

Optimism returning to the live sector at the end of a year to forget
The two music industry sectors of live and recorded have operated with differing fortunes over the last 20 years or so. The decline of recorded-music sales for much of the previous decade contrasted with growth in live sales. The uptake of streaming returned the good times to record companies and both recorded and live experienced a period of growth. However, while spending on recorded-music is continuing apace, live music has suffered the worst year in modern times with the global spread of COVID-19 putting paid to almost all concerts and in-person music performances from March. US trade magazine Pollstar was first to signal how the sector was suffering and was followed by Japan’s live trade group the All Japan Concert & Live Entertainment Promoters Conference (ACPC), which reported a dire first six months for live performance in the country. As a consequence of control measures to limit the spread of the virus, all of the live sectors’ publicly-listed players have experienced sharp falls in revenue this year. However, the rollout of a vaccine program has seen live company share prices rise with the year set to end on an optimistic note.

Chile country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Chile music industry report. Chile is South America’s fourth largest recorded-music market, behind Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina. Following an almost decade-long decline, record company earnings have registered impressive annual growth since 2012. Increasing consumer interest in streaming saw retail sales of digital music overtake physical formats in 2015 and the gap has widened in each of the four subsequent years. Such is now the dominance of subscriptions, the impact of Covid-19 on retail sales of recorded-music this year is expected to be more measured when compared with markets that have a bigger physical sector. UMG maintained its distributor lead over second-placed SME, but both companies saw their shares edge down. Collection society SCD registered year-on-year growth in authors’ and neighboring rights receipts. Chile’s live sector is expected to take a sizable hit from the impact of the global pandemic and is not expected to return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2022.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with Australia country report

The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.

The long ride to better streaming rates stops off at the UK parliament
Artist remuneration from streaming is a subject that can raise the blood pressure of many a music industry performer. Every so often an artist draws attention to their own plight by posting royalty statements on social media showing miserly payments from the leading music streaming services. Without a targeted price rise for a monthly subscription, the only way artists can receive better remuneration is for record companies to reduce their share of the revenue pot. Such a unilateral move is unlikely. However, the UK parliament is looking into the economics of streaming and in oral hearings at the end of November, some artists voiced the idea of creating a new source of equitable renumeration with certain streams resulting in payments bypassing the current royalty process and revenue going straight to artists.

YouTube set to lean more heavily on music to boost its advertising revenue
YouTube is looking to squeeze more money out of the vast amount of music consumption on its highly trafficked video platform. The company has unveiled a new advertising format along with targeted features that enable brands to align themselves with specific genres and artists. Given the size of YouTube’s audience, the move should generate significant revenue, though record companies need to ensure they get a satisfactory share of that from an infamously stingy company. YouTube’s other music asset, the YouTube Music subscription streaming service, is also gaining traction and has been consolidated with Google’s rival Play Music service. What YouTube Music needs to do now to make up ground on the likes of Spotify is to differentiate its offering—and it certainly has the ability to do that given the huge array of music content at its disposal.

How London is becoming the epicenter of music publishing as a premium financial asset class
New York-based investment fund Round Hill Music Royalty Partners confirmed in November the closure of its third private fund (Round Hill Music Royalty Fund III) and the raising of $291 million on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Round Hill’s decision to engage in an Initial Public Offering (IPO), rather than taking a fund’s standard approach of exiting its fund after 10 years, is indicative of the rise in value of music publishing rights as premium asset and the increasing importance of the UK in this area. Round Hill’s first fund comprised 120,000 songs and the value of its fund has increased from $209 million to $363 million in only eight years. Cliff Fluet, partner at law firm Lewis Silkin, has provided his thoughts on why financial investors are so interested in music publishing as a financial asset, along with the reasons why Round Hill chose the UK market to launch its IPO.

Australia country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Australia music industry report. Up to the end of last year, the Australian music industry was in the midst of a prolonged period of growth. Recorded-music sales had registered consecutive annual increases in trade sales with growing numbers of consumers happy to stream music rather than own it. Such had been the rise, digital now accounts for the vast majority of trade revenue. Authors’ rights collections were also feeling the streaming benefit while income from performance rights and ticket sales for live music events were topping record levels. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic reached Australia’s shores, much of the positivity and prospects for new records have ebbed away. There is a glimmer of hope with new vaccines set for national rollout in the next couple of months or so, but the damage caused to all the separate sectors will take time to properly heal.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with Italy country report

The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.

Global performance rights distributions set to fall for second consecutive year
Performance-rights distributions to record companies (producers) and performers fell short of registering another record-breaking year in 2019 as total payments slipped back below the $3 billion mark after reaching the milestone for the first time in 2018. Producers’ and performers’ rights have become an important source of income in recent years given the long demise of recorded-music trade revenue. The return to growth through increased consumer interest in streaming and subscriptions has somewhat overshadowed the importance of performance rights, but the revenue source remains a key earnings generator. However, unlike streaming and subscriptions, performance rights are set to suffer a downturn this year from the impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent measures introduced by governments to prevent the spread of the virus shuttering many license-holding businesses.

US Supreme Court asked to reconsider denial of Stairway to Heaven appeal
The legal team acting for the estate of songwriter Randy Wolfe has asked the US Supreme Court to reconsider its October decision not to become involved in the long-running copyright dispute over the track Stairway to Heaven. Earlier this year, the Ninth Circuit ruled that Led Zeppelin and its record company and music publishers should not face a new trial over accusations that the authorship of Stairway to Heaven borrowed from the track Taurus by the band Spirit. Wolfe, better known as Randy California, played guitar for Spirit and was the author of the track. In 2018, the Ninth Circuit decided that deficiencies in jury instructions at a district court hearing two years earlier meant the trial should be repeated. The district court found in favor of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and the music companies. Following oral arguments in front of a panel of judges, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the original district court decision. The Supreme Court’s pronouncement to not take up the case was thought to have brought an end to proceedings. However, the new application may breathe new life into the plagiarism claim.

Digital gains boost SOCAN collections to new record, but decline expected for 2020
At the beginning of this year, the Canadian performing-rights society SOCAN published preliminary financial results for 2019. The authors’ society said total collections comfortably topped the previous year’s record with growth largely down to a sharp rise in digital income. Also, the total was boosted by the first full year of reproduction rights collections following the authors’ society’s acquisition of SODRAC in mid-2018. SOCAN has now confirmed the preliminary figures in its annual business report. However, despite the new record, the results have been overshadowed by the likely impact on this year’s revenue from the global COVID-19 pandemic. In May, SOCAN presented a depressing picture of likely collections for 2020. That guidance has subsequently been revised, but collections are still set to fall for the first time since 2012.

Italy country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Italy music industry report. Italy’s recorded-music sector has experienced an erratic few years, largely due to the lingering dominance of physical formats. However, digital trade sales overtook physical formats in 2018 with a sharp rise in subscription sales more than offsetting falls in CD album sales and vinyl. The pattern of sales continued into 2019 but this year’s performance has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly physical sales, which tumbled in the first half of the year. UMG remains the clear leader in market share terms, ahead of SME and WMG with the largest major increasing its distributor share at the expense of the other two. Total income for the authors’ society SIAE edged up last year, with music collections returning to growth after a dip in 2018 (see Figure 1). However, like recorded-music sales, this year’s total will be heavily affected by the pandemic. Live sales in the country have effectively ground to a halt with no hope of any meaningful return before next year.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with France country report

The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.

CISAC reports record year for collections, but big fall expected in 2020
CISAC has published its latest annual report on global creators’ collections. A new record for combined revenue for creators of music, audiovisual works, visual arts, drama, and literature was set last year with collections topping the €10 billion ($11.9 billion) mark for the first time. However, the main focus of the review was on the impact of COVID-19 and how the global pandemic is likely to affect this year’s results. Royalties from concerts, venues, and public performances are expected to fall by as much as 80%, with revenue from broadcasting set to shrink as much as 20%. CISAC noted that the impact of the virus is expected to remain long into 2021 and beyond. Across all repertoires, collections in 2021 will remain below the level of those in 2019, with users continuing to face payment difficulties and bankruptcies. SACEM remained the leading collective management organization (CMO) in revenue terms, with PRS for Music the latest CMO to register more than $1 billion in revenue.

California court denies Pandora anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss Flo & Eddie pre-1972 recordings claim
A California district court has denied for a second time an anti-SLAPP motion lodged by Pandora in the ongoing case brought by the artists Flo & Eddie. The music service had hoped to get the case struck off by the court after the California Supreme Court had dismissed two questions referred by the Ninth Circuit appeal court because of the timing of the enactment of the Music Modernization Act (MMA). Pandora had appealed the district court’s first dismissal of its anti-SLAPP motion and while the questions were pending, the MMA came into being. Subsequently, the Supreme Court vacated the first anti-SLAPP order, and remanded the action back to the district court to consider Pandora’s renewed anti-SLAPP motion. However, the district court again denied the anti-SLAPP motion.

Investor interest in music publishing is turning catalogs into assets
Songs no longer go for a song. Financial vehicles have taken a strong interest in music publishing catalogs, so much so that music rights have become much sought after and, some would say, very expensive assets. How expensive depends on a number of different factors, such as the ability to deliver consistent returns from synchronization deals, mechanical royalties and performance rights. However, despite the price tag, asset management firms are finding it easy to raise money to invest in these catalogs, especially as publishing rights can provide sizable revenue streams at a time of ongoing low interest rates. Valuations have gone up and are set to rise further. This is certainly a seller’s market.

France country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed France music industry report. France ended last year as the seventh biggest economy in the world and the third in Europe, behind Germany and the UK. Of Europe’s big three, France experienced the highest GDP growth rate last year, at 1.5%. However, according to the IMF’s June update to its April-published biannual World Economic Outlook report, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy will see GDP in France shrink 12.5%, the fastest rate of decline of the three. For recorded-music sales, France lags the UK and Germany. Trade sales in the country have risen for four consecutive years and may rise for a fifth if the performance in the first half of the year is repeated for the second six months and streaming gains continue to offset declines in buy-to-own formats. Digital sales overtook physical in 2018 and accounted for slightly less than two thirds of last year’s total. UMG maintained its sizable distributor lead despite a slight fall in market share. SACEM registered a fifth consecutive annual growth in collections with income topping the previous year’s record. Collections for this year are set to fall sharply due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with Netherlands country report

The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.

Twist in termination rights case as SME countersues its accusers for secondary copyright infringement
The termination of copyright grants by artists against their music publishers and record companies became front page news recently after Kanye West took to Twitter to explain his disquiet over the relationship between artists and music companies. The rapper detailed how the system of contracts and rights ownership should work and what role publishers and record companies should have in his new order. At the same time, the termination case brought against Sony Music Entertainment (SME) has taken a new twist. Although SME is fighting claims by the accusing artists that the company is wrongfully ignoring their termination notices, SME has now made its own copyright infringement claims against the artists, accusing them of distributing the works in question without permission. SME has gone one step further and accused the artists of secondary copyright infringement.

APRA AMCOS results are the first to illustrate the impact of COVID-19 on authors’ rights
Australian authors’ society APRA AMCOS has reported a new record for rights collections. The latest figures are for the financial year ending June and although the results have inched royalty receipts closer to A$500 million ($358 million) milestone, the impact of the COVID-19 virus came into play for the final three months of the reporting period. As such, collections from public performance took a hit, along with income from TV and radio. However, combined collections from audio streaming, websites, user-generated content (UGC), and VOD services topped the A$200 million mark for the first time and just managed to offset declines elsewhere. APRA AMCOS noted that collections for the current financial year are likely to be down, particularly given that international receipts for the year to June were unaffected because of the time taken to process payments.

Three key trends to watch in the music industry’s new normal
In something of a major change of fortune, the recorded-music sector has fared much better in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic than the live industry. Despite the turnaround and success of music subscriptions, the recorded-music sector remains short of the revenue records set at the end of the last century. But growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Live music, on the other hand, had seen year-on-year growth for much of this century, but the virus pandemic has stopped the sector in its tracks. For both sectors, however, experimentation in new offerings and creativity will be key to growth, or in the live industry’s case, a return to growth. Sales of music subscriptions are slowing and so new bundle offerings with other entertainment services should attract consumers not taken with the single subscription. Live players are experimenting with in-game performance and livestreaming and the results have so far been very positive. Music & Copyright publisher Omdia has picked out three key trends that illustrate just how the selling and distribution of both recorded and live music is evolving as consumers adjust to what has become a new state of normal.

Netherlands country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Netherlands music industry report. After more than a decade of falling trade revenue from recorded-music sales, the Netherlands has experienced a sustained period of growth. In common with most developed markets in Europe, Dutch record company earnings were hit by the effects of online piracy as a result of the shift from physical formats to digital. However, for the last five years, trade revenue has been on the up and further growth is expected for this year and beyond. Digital accounted for more than 80% of the combined digital/physical trade revenue last year. Dutch authors’ societies BUMA and STEMRA registered an eighth consecutive year of annual growth in joint collections after three consecutive annual falls. Gains for BUMA more than offset the slight decline for STEMRA. Total receipts for producers’ and performers’ society SENA were flat last year although the total invoiced increased. The live industry experienced a positive 2019 with higher revenue from ticket sales. However, of all the different music industry sectors, live has been hit the hardest from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with Spain country report

The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.

Midyear assessment of recorded-music and music publishing sector fortunes

With all the world’s major recorded-music markets and one or two other smaller ones having published midyear trade figures, Music & Copyright‘s annual assessment of the results suggests global recorded-music trade earnings from the sale of physical and digital recorded-music and income from music access services will rise at the lowest rate for five years. Although sales of physical formats have taken a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, gains from streaming should just offset lower sales of buy-to-own formats. In contrast, the publishing sector will see a fall in revenue this year with rising digital income unable to fully counter declines in most other revenue sources. The positive news for publishers is that estimates for the sector published earlier this year by Music & Copyright have been improved slightly.

Digital dominates record year for MCSC collections and distributions

Royalty collections in China have increased for the 11th consecutive year. In September the Chinese authors’ society MCSC published its business report for 2019, confirming that total collections had topped the previous year’s record and exceeded CNY400 million ($58.7 million) for the first time. New records were also set for distributions and the membership total for the society. Digital is easily the biggest revenue source for MCSC with the recent licensing deal signed with Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) continuing to boost the collection total. Also registering a positive year was TV and radio with receipts benefitting from the signing of a memorandum of cooperation with the two broadcast sector’s copyright committees. Background music income was boosted by new agreements with a number of music users.

Short-term gloom turns to longer-term boom in latest PwC music industry forecasts

Professional services company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has published its annual assessment and forecasts for the recorded-music and live music industry sectors. In contrast to last year’s numbers which made for healthy reading for those involved in both music industry sectors, the latest forecasts have been greatly influenced by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Live music, which has previously proved to be a steady sector, is set to take a big hit with ticket sales and revenue from sponsorship falling by more than half this year. Although spending on recorded-music is still expected to rise, the growth rate for this year has been revised down from the previous set of forecasts. PwC is, however, confident that the live sector will bounce back in 2021 with revenue forecast to exceed pre-COVID-19 levels in 2022. North America is the largest music region and its share of total music revenue is set to edge up for most of the forecast period. Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Asia Pacific are set to lose share to the leader and Latin America.

Spain country report

In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Spain music industry report. Spain is one of Europe’s mid-tier music markets. The country’s recorded-music sector has been one of the region’s worst hit by digital piracy since the turn of the century. Although piracy levels are still high, spending on recorded-music has recovered somewhat. Last year saw sales rise sharply with spending on both physical and digital formats and services increasing. This year has been a different story with the physical sector suffering from efforts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Spending on recorded-music was still up year-on-year in the first half, but economic problems and a high unemployment rate are concerning for longer-term growth. UMG maintained its position as the biggest music company, while the authors society SGAE is making progress in reforming the way it operates. Spain’s live sector enjoyed its best year in terms of turnover with festival popularity at an all-time high. However, COVID-19 has all but wiped out live sales for 2020.

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New issue of Music & Copyright

The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.

Eddy Grant hits Donald Trump with copyright infringement claim over misuse of Electric Avenue
US president Donald Trump has upset a number of musicians by using their music as part of his reelection campaign without their permission. More than 50 big name artists sent an open letter to both the Republican and Democrat parties asking that they stop using their recordings for political purposes. However, the misuse has continued. Neil Young, a longtime critic of the president’s use of his work filed legal action in August at a New York federal court to try and prevent any more performances of his tracks at campaign rallies. Also in August, Eddy Grant filed a claim at the same court following the use of his biggest hit Electric Avenue in a video poking fun at the Democrat nominee Joe Biden. In a court filing, Grant, who is the owner of the master rights in the track, said the Trump team had not applied for a license to use any of his music and no permission to include the track in the video was granted.

Tough few years ahead for BUMA/STEMRA as record decline set to follow new high for collections
Dutch authors’ societies BUMA and STEMRA are expecting a difficult few years for rights collections with the COVID-19 crisis tearing a hole in the budget set at the beginning of this year. Restrictions placed on consumer movements and the shuttering of the live sector will see combined collections for the societies fall this year, perhaps to the lowest level for 10 years. Distributions are also expected to take a hit. The depressing assessment follows a record year for collections and distributions. Receipts for BUMA topped the previous year’s high and despite mechanicals shrinking around the world, STEMRA registered a flat year with rising digital and private copying receipts almost offsetting declines in broadcast and phono income.

How China will determine the shape of Africa’s music streaming sector
While Africa lags behind in the take-up of music-steaming services, there are signs that Africans do have appetite for such products. The continent has spawned a number of digital music startups, with entrepreneurial Nigeria now something of a powerhouse in the space. Boomplay, which has more than 70 million users and is growing its base apace, is leading the charge and can count on the support of leading Chinese technology companies. It’s not alone. Chinese giants Tencent and Huawei are also rolling out music streaming services in the region and, together with Boomplay backer NetEase, will ensure that Sub-Saharan streaming will have something of a Chinese flavor, at least in the back rooms. Clearly, low incomes and high levels of piracy are barriers to growth, but Africa’s new players would do well to learn from the Spotify play book if they want to make headway in paid-for music.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with Austria country report

The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.

Round Hill takes aim at TuneCore and Believe Digital with copyright infringement claim
Round Hill Music’s publishing division has filed a lawsuit at a New York district court against the independent music distributor TuneCore, its holding company Believe Digital Holdings and their parent company Believe SAS. Round Hill has accused the three companies of reproducing and distributing more than two hundred works owned or administered by the publisher without holding the correct license. Although the system of licensing mechanical rights in the US is changing following the passing of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) and the subsequent introduction of a blanket license, some publishers are not happy that digital music services that have distributed musical works without completing the formal licensing process are effectively being let off the legal hook and so are taking the services to court.

Music publishing shines for UMG in COVID-19 impacted financials
UMG has reported a fairly positive first half year set of financials despite the difficult conditions caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Subscriptions and streaming were again the stand-out revenue source but there was a distinct difference in performance between the first and second quarters. With much of the developed world imposing restrictions on consumer movement from mid-March onwards, revenue in the second quarter suffered a slowdown. Physical sales tumbled in the second three months and the growth rate for subscriptions and streaming fell to its lowest level since Vivendi started reporting access sales figures in 2015. Inevitably, revenue for merchandizing division Bravado and the live entertainment and ticketing unit Vivendi Village suffered a particularly difficult quarter.

Twitch nudges forward under lockdown to carve a stronger music niche
Twitch has had a bountiful COVID-19 pandemic, with usage growing apace. While the online platform is primarily a gamers environment, it has become increasingly popular with emerging artists in the past few years due to its streaming capabilities. Twitch now looks to have serious music ambitions and recently cut artist and record company deals, though its rising popularity has also raised issues over the use of unlicensed works. The company has been part of Amazon since 2014 and would do well to work more closely with its sister Amazon Music, especially as the latter seems to be duplicating services that Twitch has already developed with a good deal of success. Siloing could prove detrimental to both parties.

Austria country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Austria music industry report. Austria is one of Europe’s smaller music markets. Although well-developed, with a relatively high per-capita spending rate on music, the country could be described as one of Western Europe’s laggards when it comes to the transition from physical formats to digital. Like its larger neighbor Germany, which plays host to a large sector of consumers wedded to the CD album, physical formats accounted for the biggest share of spending on recorded-music in Austria until 2018. However, digital is now dominant (see Figure 1) with streaming the biggest revenue generator for local record companies. Authors’ rights collections in the country continue to rise and royalty payments to producers and performers remain positive. Consumer spending on tickets to live music events grew last year. However, all the music industry sectors are set to be negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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