New issue of Music & Copyright with South Africa country report

The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.

Lockdowns set to take their toll on the recorded-music and music publishing sectors
Like all other creative industries, the recorded-music and music publishing sectors are having to adjust to the impact on their businesses from the spread of COVID-19. Working conditions are unprecedented, and such is the fluidity of the situation, announced plans to support all those affected mark the start of what is certainly going to be a long road to recovery. There are some early indicators from a number of research and digital music services that show the initial impact on listening with some optimism that the initial fall in streams served may be short-term. However, the hit on many other music industry sectors will take time to filter through. Growth in music subscriptions over the last few years should allow the recorded-music sector to continue to grow, albeit at a much-reduced rate. But music publishing will take the biggest knock from the halting of live performance and the temporary closure of the retail and hospitality sectors.

Music livestreaming playing center stage as festivals and venues stay dark
Music livestreaming has long been touted as the next best thing to standing in front of a stage and enjoying a band’s latest song. However, while the technology is certainly up to the task of providing quality experiences, long-distance video performances have so far failed to gain real favor among audiences. But the global outbreak of COVID-19 has closed down the live sector and given livestreamed music the opportunity to shine. Right now, and certainly for a few months ahead, livestream operators can show a wider public just what they have been missing, while also enabling funds to be raised to combat the pandemic and allow independent artists to earn a living. However, providers need to ensure that the performances they offer are engaging enough to retain audiences in the COVID-19 aftermath, as well as giving artists the revenue they need to survive.

Madras High Court reaffirms movie producers’ music rights
A recent court ruling in India has illustrated the differences in the terms “author” and “owner” when dealing with musical works used in movies. A court in Madras heard a case brought by the music label the Indian Record Manufacturing Company (IRMC) against a composer of musical works for movies, who had claimed ownership of the copyrights to his compositions and had tried to assign them to a music company in Malaysia. While changes to Indian copyright law in 2012 provided greater certainty to authors of music used in movies regarding royalties and reuse, the Madras case showed that movie producers are still deemed copyright owners of movie music and so are able to assign those rights to other companies without the authors’ permission.

South Africa country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed South Africa music industry report. Despite its geographic location, South Africa more closely resembles a Western music market and has far more in common with countries in Europe and North America than it does with its neighbors. However, although this means the country has a more developed music market, per capita spending on recorded-music is very low. Moreover, the same problems encountered in the developed world in the shift from physical formats to digital and downloads to access, have been experienced in South Africa. But, even though the rise in high speed internet access has exacerbated problems associated with the unauthorized distribution of music, higher digital sales, rising smartphone penetration, and the rollout of several international streaming services suggests the market has a bright future.

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