Demystifying Pan-European digital music rights – new report

The number of digital-music services in Europe is growing every year and consumers across the continent are being presented with an array of different ways to listen to music. Digital-music delivery and consumption has undergone a rapid transition. However, such has been the speed of the sector’s evolution, new business models specializing in digital-music delivery across Europe have forced those organizations charged with issuing licenses to rethink the way they operate.

Music publishers and collection-societies in Europe have taken to the task in different ways (see below table for major music publisher initiative details). But, in contrast to a few years ago, when digital-music services were required to negotiate countless licensing deals, agreements between music publishers and collection-societies have reduced the necessity for endless rounds of licensing negotiations.

New research by Informa Telecoms & Media has mapped out the complex area of Pan-European digital-music rights and their administration. The report, Demystifying Pan-European digital-music rights neatly illustrates what repertoire is controlled by what collection-society or licensing hub in all of the 27 European Union Member States.

The report explains precisely what the digital music licensing process is all about. It details the changing landscape in Pan-European digital-music licensing and the importance of reaggregation. In addition, the report breaks down what authors and publishers earn from digital sales and illustrates clearly what collection societies and licensing hubs a service provider must do business with to set up a digital-music service.

The report sets out three types of repertoire – domestic, Anglo-American and Spanish/Latin. Separate pages for each country lists the publishers that have withdrawn certain repertoires from the national collection-society network and placed the licensing rights in the hands of one or a number of different national collection-societies of licensing bodies. Courtesy of the global authors’ societies body CISAC, the report also contains contact details for all 27 EU Member States’ authors’ societies.

Publishing a document about Pan-European licensing which includes separate details for each country may seem odd. Surely the whole idea of breaking down borders spells the end of the national licensing? To a certain extent it does, but national licensing remains a big part of the way authors’ and publishers’ rights are licensed today. Moreover, the role of the national collection society is extremely important and extends beyond licensing, rights collections and distributions. All collection societies are involved, to differing degrees, in cultural activities and the promotion of local repertoire. Whatever happens with regards to the future of Pan-European licensing, these activities will form part of all future collection societies’ functions.

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