New issue of Music & Copyright

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

Digital gains continue to boost rights collections for KOMCA
South Korean authors’ society KOMCA has reported an increase in collections. However, in contrast with 2018, when all the main revenue sources registered growth, 2019 was mixed. Given South Korea’s advanced recorded-music market, much of KOMCA’s gains in recent years have come from digital sources, and last year was no exception. Digital is now the biggest revenue source for local authors and publishers, having overtaken performance in 2015. Streaming receipts registered healthy growth, boosted by the continued uptake in music subscriptions. Audiovisual income rose sharply due to the increased use of short-form video services. Performance collections, which are mostly generated by karaoke, suffered a small decrease. A solid year for live concerts almost fully offset the dip in karaoke income. Broadcast collections are split evenly between cable TV, IPTV, and terrestrial TV, but all three suffered a decrease in collections. The deregulation of the broadcast sector is bringing big changes, with mergers and acquisitions reshaping the landscape.

How Amazon Music got to grips with the world of music streaming
Amazon Music has, in a relatively short space time, become one of the world’s leading music streaming companies. The outfit has done this by leveraging the huge reach of Amazon’s online retail business, and by tailoring its services to attract a range of customers often beyond the core youthful demographic. Amazon Music now has designs on further growth, and may be able to achieve its goals, at least in part, via Amazon’s fast-expanding Echo speaker business that is clearly a perfect partner for music streaming. Amazon Music has also recognized the importance of creative talent and is making efforts to get closer to artists and to support them. However, Amazon Music’s expansion could be hamstrung by the COVID-19 epidemic that is pushing the world toward a serious recession. It needs to respond to the threat with typical Amazon commercial nous.

Examining the impact of Brexit on the UK music industry
The UK is the world’s third-biggest music market and has been one of the main forums within Europe in debating the hotly contested Article 13 (now 17) of the EU Copyright Directive 2019. The Copyright Directive has been among the most heavily publicized and lobbied pieces of intellectual property legislation in recent memory, seeking as it does to create a digital single market in Europe. Article 17 was passed into European law in 2018, its effect being to close the perceived value gap between remuneration for content creators versus the profits enjoyed by the tech giants, by making digital service providers (DSPs) liable for infringing material on their platforms. Following strong lobbying by the DSPs, the more restrictive effects of Article 17 were somewhat watered down, but the article still imparts a substantially heavier burden on DSPs in relation to infringing content than they previously faced. The final text of Article 17 was approved in March 2019, and the directive is now in force, with a two-year implementation period (though EU member states are not obliged to implement it until June 2021). The Brexit vote, and the subsequent Parliamentary approval of the Withdrawal Agreement in January 2020, led to concern that the Copyright Directive would not be adopted into UK law. This fear was given credence by a statement made by Chris Skidmore, at the time the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research, and Innovation, who confirmed that the UK “ha[d] no plans” to implement the directive. The government has since sought to distance itself from these comments, and indeed, in the context of the Withdrawal Agreement, it is highly likely that the UK will not implement the exact text of the directive per se. It remains to be seen, however, whether the UK will implement local legislation in the spirit of the directive, providing UK creators with similar rights to those now enjoyed by their European counterparts, or whether it will consider a US-style approach, which could be interpreted as more DSP-friendly. Either way, the impact on UK artists and songwriters could be substantial.

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