The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.
Big gains for SoundExchange and PPL boost producers’ and performers’ rights to new level
Performance-rights distributions to record companies (producers) and performers registered another record-breaking year in 2018, with total payments topping the $3bn milestone for the first time. Producers’ and performers’ rights have become an important source of income in recent years given the long decline of recorded-music trade revenue. The return to growth through increased consumer interest in streaming and subscriptions has somewhat overshadowed the importance of performance rights, but the revenue source is a key earnings generator, with growth in distributions last year matching the rate of increase in combined physical/digital trade sales. Measured at both reported and constant exchange rates, global performance rights distributions were up year on year. The US enhanced its position as the biggest country for performance rights, while Europe remains the biggest region.
Claims involving Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and Juice WRLD made October a busy month for plagiarism watchers
Copyright infringement claims against high-profile artists and performers are part and parcel of today’s recorded-music industry. Not only are millions of dollars at stake should a claim be successful, but the reputations of artists renowned for their songwriting can also take a hit. Proving one artist or songwriter has copied another’s work requires two key elements. To begin with, there must be substantial similarity between the two works in question. Also, it must be proved that an accused has either heard or be presumed to have heard the original work prior to the writing of the infringing track. October proved to be a busy month for plagiarism cases, with some of the world’s biggest artists involved in claims made against them, their writing teams, and their record companies and publishers.
Streamers’ HD offerings hinge on getting audiences to care about higher-quality music services
“Immersive music” is now a thing. Dolby Laboratories and Sony Corp. have moved into the quality music space with new formats for audiences. Both say that their respective services deliver more engaging experiences, and both are leaning on the latest Echo smart speaker from Amazon to stake claims in the living room. However, high-definition (HD) music-streaming products, with their higher price points, have yet to take off after years in the marketplace. Using a smart speaker to cut through could prove a savvy move when mobile networks can’t yet be relied upon to provide good service. But what is key to the success of HD music is persuading prospective subscribers that, first, they need such services, and second, that they ought to be paying more for them.
Spain country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Spain music industry report. Spain is one of Europe’s midtier music markets. The country’s recorded-music sector has been one of the region’s worst hit by digital piracy since the turn of the century. Although piracy levels are still high, spending on recorded music has recovered somewhat, but the transition from ownership to access has not all been smooth sailing. Last year saw a modest increase in retail sales, with higher spending on digital formats and services just offsetting a decline in sales of physical formats. This year has so far been a different story, with total sales benefiting from both digital and physical growth. The steady improvement in Spain’s economic fortunes have had a positive effect on the country’s different music industry sectors. However, the unemployment rate remains high, particularly among younger consumers, who are traditionally the biggest music consumers. The troubles for local authors’ society SGAE are continuing, even though the society registered higher collections and distributions. Spain’s live sector enjoyed its best ever year in terms of turnover, with festival popularity at an all-time high.
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