The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.
Amid rife piracy, RBTs are helping prop up MEA’s legal music sector
If it were not for ring-back tones (RBTs), music revenue would be in decline in many parts of Africa and the Middle East (MEA). Other digital music services – namely, sites and apps offering downloads and streaming on an a-la-carte or all-you-can-eat basis – are making negligible revenue in much of the region. On their own, digital services do little to compensate for plummeting physical sales. Beyond recorded music, concert ticket sales and sponsorships (i.e., live music) help to shore up revenue – but, other than in a small handful of countries, not at sufficient scale or pace to make a huge difference. Digital services are hobbled by a long list of barriers, yet numerous homegrown services have sprouted up in many parts of the region, and are exploring different ways of scratching out a living. RBTs are immune to digital piracy and get around the region’s low penetration of online payments by being added to users’ mobile bills. However, most of the revenue they generate is pocketed by mobile telecoms operators, and they cannot be relied on as a cash cow forever.
Digital takes the domestic lead for Swedish authors and publishers
Swedish authors’ society STIM has reported record financials for 2017, with total collections exceeding SEK2bn ($227.7m) for the first time. Distributions to its members also topped the previous year’s high. Online and new media service collections were again the standout revenue source, with the growth rate the highest of all STIM’s main revenue sources. Moreover, online now accounts for almost 40% of total domestic collections. Income from overseas remains the biggest revenue source for Swedish authors and publishers, with last year’s growth more than reversing the previous year’s decline. Royalties from festivals and live music concerts increased for the second consecutive year. STIM said the growth was largely down to big-name artists playing more arena dates and an increase in ticket prices.
Opinions divided over the US ACCESS to Recordings Act
US Senator Ron Wyden has thrown something of a curveball at the moves by legislators to speed up the passage of a new copyright law that would put an end to the discrepancy between pre- and post-1972 sound recordings in the US. Currently, pre-1972 sound recordings are governed by state laws and receive different protection than post-1972 recordings, which are under federal copyright protection. The unanimous passing of the Music Modernization Act through the House of Representatives and its subsequent introduction in the Senate gave rights holders hope that the issue of pre-1972 recordings would soon be at an end. However, the introduction of Senator Wyden’s new bill is likely to put the brakes on rights-holder celebrations. Unsurprisingly, opinions over Wyden’s bill have been divided, with some accusing the senator of putting legacy artists’ retirement security at risk.
UK country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed UK music industry report. The UK’s recorded-music industry is going through a positive period. Three straight years of decline ended in 2013 with a rise in trade earnings. Although revenue has slipped back in the two subsequent years, the country has registered two consecutive years of growth. Going one better, the retail value of recorded-music sales has risen for three straight years with subscription sales and streaming growth more than offsetting lower spending on physical formats and downloads. UMG is the clear leader in market share terms, with SME in second place. Royalty collections in the UK are on the rise with both PRS for Music and PPL continuing to register record receipts. Live music continues to be the most robust leisure sector in the UK, and tours and festival appearances still the most secure way for artists to generate revenue. However, concerns over the ongoing decline in the number of grassroots music venues has prompted the government to launch an inquiry into the live music business, with a specific focus on small music venues.
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