New issue of Music & Copyright with Austria country report

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

Round Hill takes aim at TuneCore and Believe Digital with copyright infringement claim
Round Hill Music’s publishing division has filed a lawsuit at a New York district court against the independent music distributor TuneCore, its holding company Believe Digital Holdings and their parent company Believe SAS. Round Hill has accused the three companies of reproducing and distributing more than two hundred works owned or administered by the publisher without holding the correct license. Although the system of licensing mechanical rights in the US is changing following the passing of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) and the subsequent introduction of a blanket license, some publishers are not happy that digital music services that have distributed musical works without completing the formal licensing process are effectively being let off the legal hook and so are taking the services to court.

Music publishing shines for UMG in COVID-19 impacted financials
UMG has reported a fairly positive first half year set of financials despite the difficult conditions caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Subscriptions and streaming were again the stand-out revenue source but there was a distinct difference in performance between the first and second quarters. With much of the developed world imposing restrictions on consumer movement from mid-March onwards, revenue in the second quarter suffered a slowdown. Physical sales tumbled in the second three months and the growth rate for subscriptions and streaming fell to its lowest level since Vivendi started reporting access sales figures in 2015. Inevitably, revenue for merchandizing division Bravado and the live entertainment and ticketing unit Vivendi Village suffered a particularly difficult quarter.

Twitch nudges forward under lockdown to carve a stronger music niche
Twitch has had a bountiful COVID-19 pandemic, with usage growing apace. While the online platform is primarily a gamers environment, it has become increasingly popular with emerging artists in the past few years due to its streaming capabilities. Twitch now looks to have serious music ambitions and recently cut artist and record company deals, though its rising popularity has also raised issues over the use of unlicensed works. The company has been part of Amazon since 2014 and would do well to work more closely with its sister Amazon Music, especially as the latter seems to be duplicating services that Twitch has already developed with a good deal of success. Siloing could prove detrimental to both parties.

Austria country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Austria music industry report. Austria is one of Europe’s smaller music markets. Although well-developed, with a relatively high per-capita spending rate on music, the country could be described as one of Western Europe’s laggards when it comes to the transition from physical formats to digital. Like its larger neighbor Germany, which plays host to a large sector of consumers wedded to the CD album, physical formats accounted for the biggest share of spending on recorded-music in Austria until 2018. However, digital is now dominant (see Figure 1) with streaming the biggest revenue generator for local record companies. Authors’ rights collections in the country continue to rise and royalty payments to producers and performers remain positive. Consumer spending on tickets to live music events grew last year. However, all the music industry sectors are set to be negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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