The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.
Prince’s estate files copyright infringement claim against Roc Nation
The estate of the artist Prince has filed a lawsuit at the US District Court for the District of Minnesota against Roc Nation, accusing the company of copyright infringement. According to the lawsuit, Roc Nation-owned and -controlled music subscription service Tidal has been streaming the late artist’s recorded-music catalog without the necessary license. Prior to his death in April, Prince had pulled his music from all streaming services and was a fierce critic of access services. However, an exclusive deal was agreed with Tidal in August 2015 to stream Prince’s final album, HitNRun: Phase 1. In June, Tidal added a number of Prince albums to its service, claiming to have signed a deal with the artist. Although the estate said it recognized the initial agreement for HitNRun: Phase 1, it said it was unaware of any further deal between Prince and Tidal.
Court rules GEMA should not distribute collections to publishers
A court in Germany has ruled that GEMA does not have the authority to distribute royalty collections to music publishers. A case was brought by two author members of GEMA, who successfully argued that they should receive both the publishers’ share and the authors’ share of collections, since it is the authors alone who introduce usage rights to GEMA. Although the full reasoning behind the court’s decision has not yet been published, the result echoed an April ruling by a different German court in a case brought by an author of scientific works against collection society VG Wort. In that case, the court ruled that WG Wort could pay out of license fees for statutory remuneration to publishers in exceptional cases only.
Podcast take-up is growing, but monetization remains a challenge
In the US, 89 million people have listened to a podcast, and 17% of the population are regular listeners, a proportion that has grown substantially in recent years. But while podcasts are popular, they generate strikingly little revenue. Audiences are fractured, and advertisers are skeptical of the medium. Nonetheless, nearly all newspapers, broadcasters, and other media organizations produce podcasts in some form. For them, podcasts are a low-cost means of building their multimedia offerings and developing their brands. Similarly, some specialist podcast producers use the medium for self-promotion, while others simply carve out a modest living talking about a subject they love. More effective monetization may be around the corner as technology improves and as growing podcast audiences attract more interest from advertisers. But while podcasts have considerable room for growth in profitability, they will remain challenging to monetize in the short term.
Poland country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Poland music industry report. Poland’s two main music industry sectors, recorded and live, have both experienced positive times of late. Local trade association ZPAV signaled in September that strong midyear recorded-music sales in the country will result in a third straight year of growth. Higher trade earnings from physical formats and streaming were behind this year’s recorded-music gains. Although Poland has no live music trade association, local promoters have reported positive results for 2016 and are expecting a similarly good 2017. In contrast to recorded and live, royalty collections in the country have suffered two years of declines, with rising earnings from public performance more than offset by lower broadcasting collections.
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