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.

Much of MEA’s digital music fortunes lie with carriers and RBTs
Music revenue in the Middle East and North Africa is largely in decline, while revenues in Sub-Saharan Africa are growing at a relatively vigorous pace. But, overall, the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region generates negligible digital music revenue other than that derived from mobile – a reality that is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. In essence, virtually all digital music revenue produced throughout most of the region comes from ring-back tones (RBTs), and the lion’s share of that revenue is ending up in the hands of mobile operators, which have a monopoly over the delivery of RBTs. Unfettered piracy; limited access to broadband; high data charges; low smartphone penetration; consumers’ inability or unwillingness to pay for music; insufficient spending on digital advertising; inexistent or inadequate royalty-collection systems; and, in a fair number of countries, political unrest and war, are all factors conspiring against the success of digital music services – both a-la-carte and all-you-can-eat.

Vivendi hits back over Spinal Tap fraudulent accounting claims
Vivendi has filed a motion with a California district court to dismiss claims made by the co-creators of cult movie This Is Spinal Tap. Late last year, the co-creators accused Vivendi and its movie studio subsidiary, Studiocanal, of engaging in anticompetitive and unfair business practices as well as fraudulent accounting, and sought compensatory and punitive damages of $400m. Vivendi and Studiocanal claimed their motion to dismiss was brought because the co-creators had failed to state a claim upon which any damages could be granted and because they had not provided any evidence of fraud as required under federal rule of civil procedure. The two defendants also refuted the termination rights claims, since the music in the movie was made as a work-for-hire.

Premium subscriptions now one-third of total Belgian music sales
Belgium’s recorded-music sector has registered a second consecutive year of growth in retail spending. According to new figures published by the Belgian Entertainment Association (BEA), total consumer spending on recorded music grew 6.9% year-on-year in 2016, around the same rate as in 2015. The improved performance was almost all down to a big rise in spending on subscription services countering falls elsewhere. Vinyl sales also increased, although the format accounts for a minor share of total spending. Despite the growing interest in streaming, Belgian music consumers continue to support the CD album, with the format accounting for the biggest share of retail spending. The second year of overall growth is positive news for Belgian record companies, given the numerous years of decline the industry has seen. It should, though, be remembered that record company earnings from recorded-music sales in the country are still less than half what they were at the turn of the century.

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, with close to 1.4 billion people. It is also home to the second-biggest economy. Despite a slight slowdown in economic growth last year, the latest figures from China’s statistics bureau suggest the country is on course to meet the government’s aim of doubling GDP and per capita earnings between 2010 and 2020. In line with this optimistic outlook, China’s music industry is starting to show signs that it is living up to its long-held potential. In the past there have been several false starts. More recently, though, glimmers of optimism look set to turn into real sales. The latest IFPI figures show that trade revenue was up sharply in 2015, with a number of digital formats and services the growth drivers. Ovum estimates that growth continued last year and that more is set to come. China’s digital infrastructure is highly developed, and with smartphone penetration on the rise, all the requirements for further digital growth are firmly in place. However, some creative sectors continue to suffer against a backdrop of unlicensed services and restrictive practices. Royalty collections have grown consistently for the last seven or so years, but given the size of the population and level of music use, rights holders’ earnings measured at a per capita rate are still very small.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.