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.

Sony/ATV and Pandora sign second direct licensing deal
Music publisher Sony/ATV has signed a direct licensing deal with online radio service Pandora. Described by both companies as a “win-win,” the deal will see increased performance royalty rates payable by the digital music service to the publisher, while Pandora will benefit from greater rate certainty and the ability to add new flexibility to its product offering over time. The deal is the second direct agreement between the two: The first was signed in 2013 after Sony/ATV withdrew certain digital licensing rights licensing from the US performance rights organizations ASCAP and BMI. However, that deal was declared invalid by a rate court judge, who ruled that authors organizations’ partial withdrawals of licensing rights was not allowed under the consent decree and that blanket licenses offered by ASCAP and BMI music include all repertoire.

Report on Spotify’s revenue-neutral status raises more questions than it answers
A new report published by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has examined how the rise of music subscription service Spotify has affected sales of downloads and the popularity of unlicensed online music distribution. The report found that the use of Spotify does impact on download sales and goes some way to displacing music piracy. However, the report notes that losses from displaced sales are roughly outweighed by the gains in streaming revenue, meaning that Spotify is effectively revenue-neutral for the recorded music industry. Although the report’s conclusions are limited, given that Spotify was the only service used to measure the wider impact of streaming, it raises questions over the wider distribution of streaming revenue to the different rights holder groups and why, if streaming is revenue-neutral, are so many artists unhappy with their royalty payments.

Rightscorp and the high costs of copyright enforcement
US-based copyright enforcement company Rightscorp keeps making headlines, mostly for the wrong reasons. The firm may be able to count a handful of leading music publishers on its roster but it has yet to demonstrate that it can make its anti-piracy system work for its bottom line. In addition, Rightscorp has come under fire for alleged harassment of those it considers to be copyright infringers and is fighting a number of lawsuits. It is also in dispute with leading US ISPs Cox Communication and Comcast, the kinds of companies it needs to have on it is side if it is to be a commercial success. In short, Rightscorp seems to be having difficulties making friends right now.

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 profile. The Australian recorded music industry has endured a long period of falling sales. Although consumer interest in music subscriptions is strong, spending on music access services has not been able to offset declines elsewhere. The country looked to have turned the corner in 2012 with record company income from digital sales fully countering the drop in CD album sales. However, trade revenue contracted in 2013 and 2014 and prospects for future growth are not so good. In contrast to the recorded music sector, Australia’s live music industry has registered two years of rising ticket sales and attendance. Authors’ society APRA AMCOS is also experiencing its best years, with strong gains in digital income boosting total collections to record levels.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.

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