The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.
Ninth Circuit set to decide whether royalties are payable in California on pre-1972 recordings
The almost never-ending legal battle between artists Flo & Eddie and the satellite radio broadcaster SiriusXM is currently the subject of a Ninth Circuit appeal. Almost seven years ago, a California district court ruled that SiriusXM should pay royalties for the broadcast of pre-1972. SiriusXM appealed the decision, but only after agreeing an out-of-court settlement with the two artists. The size of the damages payment by SiriusXM to the artists was dependent on the outcome of the appeal in California, as well as two other appeals to district court rulings in New York and Florida. In its Ninth Circuit challenge, SiriusXM claimed that California has historically recognized a performance right in sound recordings under state copyright law and so no royalties are due for the broadcast of legacy recordings. However, Flo & Eddie claim that California state law grants authors exclusive ownership of sound recordings and so royalties on pre-1972 works are due.
Science backs a return to controlled live music performance
The live music industry is approaching the one-year anniversary of the shuttering of its business. Single performances, tours, and music festivals were ruled no-go activities as part of a global move to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Venues have been left empty and music promoters have seen revenue almost dry up. There is though some optimism that all is not lost. In addition to national vaccination programs rolling out around the world, a number of experiments and studies have shown that under certain controlled conditions, the spread of the virus and the rate of new infections can be minimized. Already governments are looking at ways of opening up events to paying visitors and although numbers for the first set of live concerts and festivals will be reduced, there is a real possibility that performing in front of a live audience will return sooner rather than later.
TikTok ups the tempo to become a key music force
TikTok continues to take the music business by storm. The company had a very strong 2020 when it more than proved its ability to both promote hit songs and break new artists. It’s little wonder, then, that TikTok has been able to sign a raft of licensing deals over the past 12 months, agreements that will see the video platform collaborating with rights holders, artists, and record companies around the globe over the course of this year and beyond. Expect to see longer-form content becoming more prevalent this year, with live-streamed performances the obvious way to go during the pandemic. In addition, TikTok is proving a great platform for identifying emerging artists while clubs and arenas are mothballed. But record companies need to ensure that they are not edged out in this space by new rivals.
China country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed China music industry report. China is the world’s most populous country with slightly more than 1.4 billion people. Although the population is set to keep rising for the next 10 years or so, the impact of the one child policy will come in to play from 2030 onwards when the population is expected to edge downwards. China also has the world’s second biggest economy, behind the US. For the final quarter of last year, GDP increased 6.5% compared with the prior year period. China’s relatively buoyant economy is reflected in several sectors of the country’s music industry. Often described as an emerging market, retail sales in China show the country is more than living up to its long-held potential. China’s digital infrastructure is highly developed and with smartphone penetration on the rise, all the requirements for digital growth are firmly in place. Royalty collections have grown consistently for the last nine or so years. However, given the size of the population and level of music use, rights holders’ earnings measured at a per capita rate are tiny.
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