New issue of Music & Copyright with Canada country report

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

US songwriters edging closer to an end to the 15-year physical mechanical rates freeze
UMG, SME, and WMG along with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) and the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) have submitted a joint motion to the US Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) agreeing on the mechanical rates payable on the sale of physical recorded-music products, permanent downloads, ringtones, and music bundles (subpart B configurations) for the five years between 2023 and 2027. Earlier this year, the CRB judges had withdrawn their backing of a previous agreement between the music companies and rights holder groups following criticism that the freezing of current rates was unfair. The CRB judges called on industry stakeholders to either come together and forge a new agreement or face long, drawn-out, expensive litigation. Although the new motion will see rates increase 32%, plenty of other issues aside from the rate rise remain unresolved.

Annual revenue for SME tops the JPY1tn mark for the first time
Sony Corp. has reported a good end to the 2021 financial year for its music division SME. Recorded-music and music publishing sales were up year-on-year in 4Q21 with gains for the two segments more than offsetting a dip in revenue for visual media and platform. For the full year, improved recorded-music and publishing income boosted SME sales past the JPY1tn ($7.7bn) mark for the first time. Streaming drove the recorded-music total in the quarter and full year with higher sales more than offsetting declines in sales of physical formats and downloads. Streaming was also the publishing mainstay although “other” publishing revenue registered a much more positive year than in the prior 12 months. Income for the third division, visual media and platform, was down in the quarter and full year with the prior year periods boosted by the massive success of the anime movie Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba–Mugen Train.

Deezer comes to market as it takes on music rivals with streaming allies
Deezer has been in the music streaming business a long time but is regarded as something of a second-tier provider in comparison with the likes of Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. The company is now set to get a stock exchange listing along with large sums of money to help it grow. It’s too late for Deezer to make it big across a broad swathe of markets, so it needs to cherry-pick and decide where there’s real opportunity to make a mark. To date, it has shown it can do this when it joins forces with a strong local partner, and there’s no reason to believe that this strategy can’t deliver going forward. Also, Deezer has already shown commitment to the fast-growing livestreaming sector and it’s here where the brand has the chance to cut through and perhaps become a major operator.

Canada country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Canada music industry report. Canada is one of the world’s bigger music markets. Although an ever-present in the top 10, the country has slipped a couple of places in recent years, with South Korea and China registering higher gains in trade sales. Last year, however, Canada maintained its position as the eighth-biggest recorded-music market, extending its lead slightly over ninth-placed Australia for the second year in a row. Recorded-music consumption levels were up in 2021, along with trade sales. Streaming registered healthy growth, along with sales of vinyl. Performance rights were down for the second year in a row as the sector continues to suffer the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the third consecutive year, UMG and SME enhanced their market share lead over WMG and the independents. SOCAN is yet to publish full collection results for 2021. However, preliminary estimates by the authors’ society show revenue from licensed music set a new record, beating the previous high set in 2019. After suffering a major downturn, Canada’s live sector has started on the long road to recovery. Estimates suggest it will take several years for ticket sales to return to prepandemic levels.

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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.

Streaming gains forecast to take recorded-music sales to new highs
Omdia has updated its forecasts for retail sales of recorded-music. In line with previous estimates, the recorded-music sector is firmly a growth market and Omdia expects sales in each of the years up to and including 2026 to rise. By the end of the forecast period, retail sales will have grown for 12 consecutive years. However, although the global total will top the record high set in the late 1990s, a straight comparison is not strictly accurate given that recent results include performance rights and synchronization and 20+ years of inflation have not been accounted for. Including annual price rises, global sales are still short of setting a record. Subscriptions are the single biggest recorded-music category and will generate close to 70% of global revenue by the end of the forecast period. Furthermore, income from advertising will overtake spending on physical formats in 2024. China will replace France in the top five market listing this year and go on to supplant Germany in 2026.

Global, recorded-music retail sales by individual source, 2021–26 Source: Omdia

CJEU rules Article 17 of the copyright directive is in line with fundamental rights
The EU Court of Justice (CJEU) has rejected claims by the Polish government that Article 17 of the European Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market was not compatible with freedom of expression and information detailed in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (the Charter). The Polish government had claimed that making it necessary for service providers to carry out automatic filtering of content uploaded by users and therefore to introduce preventative control mechanisms in order to prevent future uploads of protective works, undermined the essence of freedom of expression and information. The government also said the Article 17 of the Directive did not comply with the requirement that limitations imposed on that right be proportional and necessary. However, the court has decided that the obligation on online content-sharing service providers (OCSSPs), to review uploaded content before it is made available, is accompanied by the necessary safeguards to ensure that that obligation is compatible with freedom of expression and information.

The recorded music business sees value in the metaverse, podcasting, film, and more
The metaverse and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are exerting a strong pull on the recorded-music business, whose denizens are placing bets on cutting-edge Web3 technologies and initiatives becoming major money spinners. Right now, artist avatars, digital collectibles, virtual landgrabs, and even blockchain-based memories, are proving irresistible investments. Back in the real world, record companies are busy developing their podcasting capabilities, while extending into film and TV productions and expanding their health and fitness activities. However, although all these may well have strong potential as revenue drivers, music companies need to ensure that they leverage their core competences to get the maximum out of any new ventures.

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SME and WMG the biggest market share winners in 2021

This year marks the 10th anniversary of UMG’s acquisition of EMI Recorded-Music. Although some label selloffs and advances by one or two of the bigger independents have shifted the landscape slightly, the structure of the global recorded-music sector has been unchanged since 2012. UMG, SME, and WMG have collectively accounted for around 70% of total trade revenue with the independent sector the remaining 30%. The shares are based on revenue received by each company/grouping. According to Music & Copyright’s annual survey of the music industry, UMG remained the top company for combined physical and digital recorded-music trade revenue last year, although the company’s share was down slightly, to 32% from 32.1% in 2020 (see Figure 1). For digital revenue only, UMG’s share slipped, to 33.3% from 34.1%, while its physical share increased, to 26.8% from 25.8%.

Figure 1: Record companies, physical- and digital-revenue market shares, 2020 and 2021
Source: Music & Copyright

SME enhanced its position as the second-largest record company. Its combined digital/physical market share was up, to 21.7% from 20.6%. SME’s digital share grew, to 22.6% from 20.5%. However, the company’s physical share was down, to 18.5% from 21.3%. SME’s share of all recorded-music trade revenue, which includes licensing and other revenue as well as income from physical and digital music sales, increased, to 21.9% from 20.8% (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: Record companies, total recorded-music-revenue market shares, 2020 and 2021
Source: Music & Copyright

The smaller of the three majors, WMG, experienced a rise in share for both digital and physical sales. According to Music & Copyright, WMG’s digital share improved last year, to 18.2% from 17.6% in 2020. The company’s share for physical sales was up, to 11.4% from 10.5%. Of the three majors, WMG has the biggest difference between its digital and physical shares (6.8 percentage points compared with 6.5 points for UMG and 4.1 points for SME).
Collectively, the independents held the biggest share of physical formats. Moreover, the share increased last year, to 43.2% from 42.4% in 2020. However, the independents’ digital share was down, to 25.9% from 27.9%. The results meant the combined digital/physical revenue share for independent companies decreased, from 31.6% to 29.6%.

Sony increases its music publishing lead
In line with the way in which Music & Copyright determines global recorded-music market shares, music publishing shares are also based on revenue received by each company. Music & Copyright has calculated that global music publishing revenue jumped 17.6% last year, to $6.9bn from $5.9bn in 2020. The growth rate was notably higher than the 5.2% rise in 2020 and the 2.2% improvement in 2019. Sony maintained its leading position ahead of UMPG with the gap between the two widening, to 1.7 percentage points. Sony’s share, which is made up of revenue from Sony/ATV, EMI Music Publishing, and Sony Music Publishing Japan, grew, to 24.9% from 24.5% (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Music-publishing companies, revenue market shares, 2020 and 2021
Source: Music & Copyright

UMPG’s publishing share edged up last year, to 23.2% from 23% in 2020. Third placed Warner Chappell Music (WCN) registered the biggest rise of the three majors with its share increasing, to 11.8% from 11.2%. Although the collective share of independent music publishers maintained a healthy lead, the share slipped just over one percentage point, to 40.1% from 41.3%.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with Brazil report

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

SME and WMG put the market share squeeze on UMG and the independent sector
Music & Copyright’s annual survey of the recorded-music and music publishing sectors has revealed the changes in global market share for the three major music groups and the independent sector. Although UMG remained the global leader, second-placed SME closed the gap. UMG’s recorded-music share was down for the first time in more than five years with both SME and WMG registering year-on-year share gains. WMG was the only recorded-music major to register growth in its digital and physical shares. For publishing, Sony extended its lead over second-placed UMPG. All three major music publishers recorded a rise in share. The collective independent sector suffered a dip in share for both recorded-music and music publishing. However, for total music revenue, the independent sector is still the leader.

Streaming and vinyl are the big positives in national trade groups’ recorded-music figures
In March, the IFPI published global recorded-music trade results for last year. Total sales, which were made up of physical and digital formats and services, performance rights, and synchronization revenue, grew 18.5% to $25.9bn from $21.9bn in 2020. The rise, which compared with an uptick of 7.2% in 2020, marked the seventh consecutive year of growth. Since the global results were released, several national trade associations and retail groups have published local market figures. Although the level of detail differs between countries, all the results show a year-on-year rise in trade/retail sales, with streaming and vinyl the biggest growth providers. Unusually, most countries registered a growth in sales of physical formats, with revenue from vinyl and CDs rising year-on-year. Similarly, for the countries that included details of performance rights and synchronization, revenue was positive after some sharp declines in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

How avatar artists are gaming those virtual performances
An ever-increasing number of artists are transforming themselves into avatars able to perform in fast-developing digital worlds. This gives them the ability to express themselves in a wide range of fantastical experiences that appeal to younger audiences already immersed in, and engaged with, virtual worlds following years of online gaming. Record company majors are looking to get onboard this trend and are planning to convert their artist rosters into hordes of musical avatars. And while virtual concerts are a great way of reaching huge numbers of viewers and of exposing often young audiences to new artists and new music, they also represent a huge opportunity to sell a large amount of digital merchandise that can deliver serious value-add to performances.

Brazil country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Brazil music industry report. Following two consecutive years of contraction, recorded-music trade sales in Brazil have now risen for five years in a row. Despite COVID-19 affecting performance rights and synchronization in 2020, streaming gains more than offset the declines. Last year saw the two affected sectors return to growth, with streaming sales boosted by subscription uptake and growth in advertising. Last year, umbrella rights organization ECAD reported an increase in collections after the pandemic took a bite out of public performance revenue in 2020. However, distributions were down for the second year in a row.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with Indonesia report

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

Streaming and physical gains boost recorded-music trade sales to a seventh straight annual increase
International music trade body the IFPI has reported a particularly positive set of results for the global recorded-music sector. Following on from a year greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, total revenue increased at the highest rate this century, with all formats apart from downloads and other nonstreaming sources registering growth. Streaming was the main growth provider, and revenue from access services accounted for two-thirds of global trade sales. For the first time in 20 years, trade sales of physical formats increased year on year. The IFPI noted that the rise was partly driven by a recovery in physical retail, which had been heavily impacted in 2020 by the pandemic. Although sales of CDs were up for the first time this millennium, vinyl was the star performer, with the growth rate for the age-old format exceeding all others. Performance rights and synchronization revenue returned to growth.

Ninth circuit affirms no damages order in Katy Perry Dark Horse plagiarism case
US performer Katy Perry, her coauthors, and the music companies behind the 2013-released hit single Dark Horse are definitely not liable for damages following a unanimous three-judge ruling at the Ninth Circuit. The appeal court was asked to review a previous decision by a California district court that said the Perry single did not plagiarize the Marcus Gray-created track Joyful Noise. Perry and her coauthors, associated record companies, and publishers had been hit with a sizable damages ruling following a trial, but the vacation of the award by the district court and confirmation of the ruling by the Ninth Circuit effectively brings an end to the case. The lawsuit centered on an eight-note ostinato—a short musical phrase or rhythmic pattern repeated in a musical composition. Gray had argued that the ostinato in his track had been used by Perry and her coauthors. Although the two eight-note sections sounded similar, the courts ultimately decided that the ostinato did not qualify for protection.

Anodyne music streamers need to get in tune with Amazon’s exclusives bent
Music streaming services, it’s fair to say, are pretty similar. They mostly operate with identical catalogs and, at least in developed markets, cost the same monthly fee. Some streamers do dabble with exclusive music-based content, but there’s little real effort to stand out here. Amazon Music is doing things differently. It’s busy “exclusivizing” music-related movies, livestreaming, and merchandizing. The company is also cleverly drawing in the parent company’s various services—Prime Video, Twitch, Amazon Studios—to enhance the content. Apple could clearly do more on this front and bundle, say, its exclusive music documentaries into Apple Music. The rest have so far only experimented and really ought to take a leaf out of Amazon Music’s book.

Indonesia country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Indonesia music industry report. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, behind China, India, and the US: the country ended 2021 with 274.5 million inhabitants. Despite its large population, Indonesia has always massively underperformed as a recorded-music market, with the legal sector long struggling to gain a foothold because of persistently high piracy rates. However, music streaming’s success around the world is influencing Indonesia, with a mixture of services now available offering access to several million local and international recordings. The collection of royalties is also changing. In 2019, the government and the different collective management organizations agreed on a one-stop-shop administration, with a single agency given the authority to collect and distribute royalties from commercial music users. The live sector has suffered a couple of bad years because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures introduced to control the spread of the virus. Although some live performances resumed last year, ticket sales are not expected to return to pre–COVID-19 levels until 2022 at the earliest.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with China country report

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

US Copyright Office denies Steven Thaler’s registration of an AI-produced artwork for a third time
The US Copyright Office (the Office) has for a third time refused a request from artificial intelligence (AI) pioneer Steven Thaler to register a piece of two-dimensional art that Thaler said was created solely by an AI machine. In a statement, the Office said that after reviewing the application, deposit copy, and relevant correspondence, along with Thaler’s arguments, the review board denied the registration. The Office explained that one of the main criteria for any copyright registration is human authorship. As Thaler stated that the artwork was created without his input, the application was turned down. Although Thaler’s registration attempt was about a piece of two-dimensional artwork and nothing to do with recorded-music, the use of AI to create music is gathering pace and so the denial by the Office to accept a work made using AI only is equally as relevant to proponents of AI-created music as it is to any other creative work.

Trade groups in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria all report annual rise in music retail sales
The three German-speaking countries of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria have all registered a positive year for recorded-music sales. The German trade body BVMI said that total revenue was up 10% last year, with subscriptions and streaming boosting the overall total. Spending on vinyl was also up year-on-year and performance rights and synchronization revenue returned to growth after a tough 2020. IFPI Switzerland reported a similarly positive performance with retail sales in the country rising 10.5%. Like Germany, subscriptions and streaming was the main growth provider with vinyl also registering an increase. The Austrian IFPI branch said total recorded-music revenue last year was up 11%. Streaming sales topped the €100m ($118.3m) mark for the first time and a rise in spending on vinyl partially offset the fall in CD sales.

Now is the time for music stakeholders to reap the full benefits of NFTs
Until fairly recently, no one in the music business was giving much thought to non-fungible tokens (NFTs), but now record companies and artists alike can’t seem to get enough of these tradeable digital assets. There is money to be made in a market where prices are ballooning—Snoop Dogg and Grimes are just two artists to have cashed in—and headline acts and their management really ought to be engaging with NFTs while the financial appetite for this type of asset lasts. But these tokens are more than mere collectibles. They offer a way for music companies and artists to both boost engagement with audiences and increase revenue from fans who are looking for experiences beyond the recorded track and the stage performance.

China country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed China music industry report. China is the world’s most populous country, ending last year with more than 1.4 billion people. Although the population is set to keep rising for the next 10 years or so, the impact of the one-child policy will come in to play from 2030 onward, when the population is expected to edge downward. China also has the world’s second-biggest economy, behind the US. For the final quarter of last year, GDP increased 4% compared with the prior year period. For 2021 as a whole, GDP was up 8.1%, a big rise on the 2.2% expansion in 2020. China’s relatively buoyant economy is reflected in several sectors of the country’s music industry. Often described as an emerging market, retail sales show the country is more than living up to its long-held potential. China’s digital infrastructure is highly developed and with smartphone penetration continuing to rise, all the requirements for digital growth are firmly in place. Royalty collections have grown consistently for the last 10 or so years. However, given the size of the population and level of music use, rights holders’ earnings measured at a per capita rate are much smaller than they should be.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with India report

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

Spotify continues to bet big on podcasts, but no HiFi tier is a big hole that needs filling
Music streaming service Spotify has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks with service-exclusive podcaster Joe Rogan upsetting a small number of artists with both his own and some of his guests’ controversial views on the COVID-19 vaccine. No exodus of the service by disgruntled artists ensued, despite the best efforts of Neil Young. But for the first time, Spotify is under a bit of pressure. The share price has remained stubbornly low after the service revealed less than impressive guidance for the current quarter and that it would not issue any estimates for the full year. Although Spotify looks to have ridden out the Rogan problems and is continuing to spend millions of dollars on podcasting, the service’s music offering is missing a HiFi tier. Some 12 months ago, Spotify announced that a higher quality option was in the pipeline. But, despite all its main international rivals making high-definition standard, Spotify has a HiFi hole, and it doesn’t look like that hole will be filled anytime soon.

Another out-of-court settlement holds up clarification of the US rights termination process
US country music star Dwight Yoakam has settled his termination notice dispute with WMG. Some 12 months ago, Yoakam filed a lawsuit at a California district court requesting declaratory relief that termination notices sent to the major label were effective. Yoakam was attempting to take advantage of US copyright law that allows authors to reclaim the copyrights to their music under the so-called 35-year law. However, although the country music star submitted the notices as required, WMG and two of its subsidiary labels refused to accept the notices and acknowledge the return of the artist’s rights. Now, the two sides have submitted a short filing to the court confirming that they had reached an agreement in principle to settle the dispute. The out-of-court settlement is the latest in a long line of endings to many cases that have sought to establish the validity of the US rights termination process.

The music business looks to craft its place in the amorphous metaverse
Music in the metaverse has become a hot topic in recent months, with new ventures appearing almost on a weekly basis. It seems that artists will, in the near future, need to feel as comfortable creating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as they do going into the studio and recording a few tracks. A batch of startups—sometimes backed by musicians—look set to help artists navigate their way through an ecosystem that, at present, has little real shape or evident direction. But WMG is taking the plunge and seems determined to help fashion a music metaverse that serves it revenue streams. The other music majors would do well to follow suit if they’re to take advantage of what’s forecast to be a lucrative market.

India country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed India music industry report. India is the second most populous country in the world. The size of the population exceeded 1.4 billion for the first time last year and, according to the most recent United Nations projections, India will overtake global leader China before the end of this decade. However, despite accounting for almost 20% of the world’s population, India’s different music industry sectors have always underperformed. Recorded-music sales have been hindered by widespread music piracy and rights collections have suffered from adverse legal rulings and a lack of licensing, while the live sector struggles from infrastructure shortcomings, and more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite the problems, there are signs that the world’s biggest emerging market is starting to live up to its billing. In the last few years, retail sales of recorded-music have been on the up and rights collections have benefited greatly from a deal between authors’ society IPRS and Google for music use by YouTube. Live music remains the problem sector, with concert tours and festivals struggling to get off the ground due to the recent surge in case numbers.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with US report

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

New CMA study to shine an investigative spotlight on the UK streaming market
The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the nonministerial government department in charge of competition issues in the country, has published details of a study it has launched to examine the workings of the music streaming market. Under the CMA spotlight will be the roles played by record labels and music streaming services and how well the market is working for consumers. As part of its assessment, the CMA will consider whether innovation is being stifled and if any companies hold excessive power. While focusing on potential harm to consumers, the CMA will also assess whether any lack of competition between music companies could impact on musicians, performers, and authors. Industry stakeholders have been invited to submit comments on a number of key issues by mid-February. The market study report will be published by the end of January next year at the latest.

Spotify backs Joe Rogan after Neil Young labels the service a damaging force for misinformation
Following a Joe Rogan podcast that aired controversial opinions on COVID-19 and the rollout of vaccinations, rock veteran Neil Young called on Spotify, exclusive host of the podcast, to pull Rogan from the service. Although the music streaming service decided to reinforce its platform rules and add a content advisory label to any podcast episodes that include a discussion about COVID-19, Young was not satisfied and so pulled his music from the platform. Although a small number of other artists have followed suit in support, no snowball effect has taken place. Moreover, none of the most popular artists on the service have commented publicly on the fallout or offered support to the dissenters. Spotify’s share price took a knock from the furor for much of January but rallied at the end of the month after the service published its platform rules and Rogan posted a video on Instagram explaining his reasons behind the content included in the podcast.

Music streamer Anghami eying opportunities outside of MENA
Anghami has done a good job developing music streaming services in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), in the process becoming the largest provider in the region. The company has just completed its stock exchange listing in New York, raising capital to feed ambitions that include developing a new record company together with SME and building a string of new music venues and recording studios across MENA, as well as internationally. Anghami now needs to boost revenue, and to achieve that it has go beyond the string of partnerships it has in place with mobile operators that has helped it build a strong streaming position. Given the low level of credit card use in the region, maybe the company could join forces with a fintech to help develop an innovative—and lucrative—payments solution.

Detailed 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 US boasts the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, and the spread of the virus in the country since early 2020 has impacted, to varying degrees, all music industry sectors. Live music has been the hardest hit with the concert sector shuttered for most of 2020 and large parts of 2021. Given the popularity of music streaming, consumption stats for the last couple of years have proved something of a welcome distraction, with the latest figures showing last year’s recorded-music consumption total topping the previous year’s record.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with South Africa report

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

Maintaining an artist’s legacy in a sellers’ market for music catalogs
Each year, the music world loses some of its greatest talent. Artists that passed away last year included Dusty Hill of ZZ Top, Don Everly of the Everly Brothers, and Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones, to name but a few. In most cases with the death of an artist or performer, provision is made for both what to do with works for which copyright is held by the deceased, and for who benefits from the works while they are in copyright. However, in some cases, heirs can be forced to make tough decisions involving the balancing of an artist or performer’s memory with the necessary business of commercial exploitation. The importance of such decisions has been heightened in recent years because of the interest from both within and outside the music industry in ownership of catalogs. History has shown that there is big money to be made after a popular artist or performer dies but making sure a legacy created over many years is not tarnished by quick decisions can prove difficult.

Jump in digital receipts for IPRS offsets the drop in public performance and broadcast income
India’s authors’ society IPRS has reported a slight dip in royalty collections after three straight years of growth. Despite COVID-19 taking a bite out of public performance income, with the live music sector shuttered and restrictions placed on the hospitality and commercial sectors, sharp growth in webcasting and streaming revenue both at home and overseas almost completely made up for the losses. No collections from TV broadcasters were recorded in the latest financial results, with IPRS stating in its annual report that payment discussions with the broadcasters had been deferred because of the pandemic. Also, little movement has been made on the long-running dispute over radio royalties, with the Delhi High Court ruling at the beginning of last year that only master rights holders were entitled to receive royalties from FM stations.

Radio needs to tune in to emerging opportunities to stay ahead of the streaming game
Music radio is still going strong despite a global pandemic and the ongoing growth of audio streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music. However, radio has been morphing for some time due to both satellite and online, and the medium is set to metamorphose some more going forward. There’s a real need to find partners able to provide value-add through exclusive content and to develop brand-led opportunities. In addition, it’s time to shift some listening away from what is considered as a very noisy advertising environment. Music streamers have demonstrated amply that a section of the audience is very willing to pay for premium music services. Now is the time to roll a chunk of radio programing up into subscription offerings.

South Africa country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed South Africa music industry report. Despite its geographic location, South Africa more closely resembles a Western music market and has far more in common with countries in Europe and North America than it does with its neighbors. However, although this means South Africa has a more developed music market, per capita spending on recorded-music is extremely low. Moreover, the same problems encountered in the developed world, in the shift from physical formats to digital and downloads to access, have been experienced in the country. However, even though the rise in high-speed internet access has exacerbated problems associated with the unauthorized distribution of music, higher digital sales, rising smartphone penetration, and the rollout of several international streaming services suggest the market has a bright future.

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New issue of Music & Copyright

A very Happy New Year to readers of this blog and followers of Music & Copyright.

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

Physical still matters to the merchandise business, but goods are turning meta
Music merchandising remains big business, both for leading artists and for up-and-coming musicians. The former are able to charge high prices for limited edition items such as clothing and accessories, while many emerging artists have really needed to shift merchandise so stay afloat as lockdown measures continue to shutter music venues. Right now, there’s lots of innovation around nonphysical products as vendors look to develop digital music-related merchandise. UMG is emerging as a serious player in this fast-moving space. The company may well have a leading role to play in entertainment in the developing metaverse if its move to launch a virtual band selling virtual merchandise is any kind of guide.

Taylor Swift requests California judge reconsider trial ruling in Shake It Off plagiarism case
Taylor Swift is attempting for a third time to have a lyrics plagiarism case brought against her in California dismissed. The authors and copyright owners of the 3LW track Playas Gon’ Play claimed in 2017 that the Swift track Shake It Off contained lyrical similarities to Playas Gon’ Play and sued for copyright infringement. Although a district court ruled that the disputed lyrics in the 3LW track were too short and not eligible for copyright protection, an appeal at the Ninth Circuit sent the case back to the district court for further deliberation. Swift’s legal team then filed another motion for summary judgment, but the court denied the request to have the legal action thrown out. The judge in the case said that a jury may find enough similarities to show copyright infringement had occurred. Now, a third filing has been submitted to the district court, this time asking for the judge to reconsider his decision to press on with a trial.

The rise of OTT video and the potential impact on broadcast collections
Over the top (OTT) streaming of audio and video is a delivery system that has quickly become the leading mechanism of distribution and consumption. In contrast to traditional broadcast means, OTT is, as its name suggests, a process that uses the open internet rather than a service provider’s own infrastructure. Multiple services, including those from pure-play providers, such as Netflix and Amazon, are now available across the world. Moreover, revenue from OTT services now exceeds pay TV and growing numbers of consumers are finding the flexibility and convenience of OTT offerings preferable to traditional broadcast services. Pay-TV services’ entry into the OTT sector was as much about attracting subscribers that have so far not engaged with their full paid-for offering as it is about competing with the current pure-play services. However, with the competition for viewing intensifying, collective management organizations (CMOs) may well be feeling apprehensive about the impact of OTT video services on broadcast royalties, particularly given that the income source has, for many years, been their biggest revenue generator.

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