The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.
Reassessing the impact of COVID-19 on the music industry
Over the last 12-months of so, all sectors of the music industry have been forced to adjust to the impact on their businesses from the COVID-19 pandemic. Trading conditions have been unprecedented, and the overall situation remains fluid given the continued prevalence of the virus in some parts of the world. The live sector is yet to start on the road to recovery. Some trials and experiments to test the safety of live performance have been conducted, but the industry remains on hold. In contrast, the recorded-music sector has suffered far less, with streaming gains more than offsetting all other losses, and the continued renaissance of vinyl providing a buffer to the ongoing demise of the CD. Revenue from performance rights has fallen and there is more bad news to come on that front in the current year. Revenue for music publishers was mostly positive last year, but the timeline in processing distributions means the sector is only just experiencing a downturn.
PRS for Music details the impact of COVID-19 on collections
UK authors’ society PRS for Music has reported its financial results for 2020, a year dominated by the COVID-19 virus and one that will long be remembered as the worst in terms of year-on-year performance. Three of the four main revenue streams suffered a decline with public performance the hardest hit. The shuttering of the live sector in the UK at the end of March last year resulted in a massive fall in live collections, while restrictions on the hospitality and nightlife sectors led to similar rates of decline for pubs and clubs, and hotels and restaurants. Digital was the only sector to experience growth with collections from streaming, VOD, and downloads all rising. International income suffered a more modest decline. However, a number of major overseas societies will not distribute 2020 collections until 2021, and so a further dip in international receipts is expected. While distributions to its members increased to a new record, PRS is expecting the collection dip last year to take its toll on distributions in the current year.
How record companies are making the music play beyond the core
The horizons of the recorded-music business now seem to know few bounds. Organizations operating in the gaming and esports sectors have already established themselves as clear and vibrant partners, with music and artists set for further integration into games titles and live events. Podcasting is another obvious area for development, with the music scene and its protagonists always able to provide ripe material for compelling storytelling, while the sound tracking of strong narratives is something of a no-brainer. Perhaps an extreme development is UMG’s rollout of its hotels initiative in three locations in the US. Even so, with all these kinds of ventures, record companies need to ensure that the fit is good, both in terms of the sector they intend to move and shake in and the consumers who inhabit them.
Canada country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Canada music industry report. Canada is one of the world’s bigger music markets. Although an ever-present in the top 10, the country has slipped a couple of places in recent years with South Korea and China registering higher gains in trade sales. Last year, however, Canada maintained its position as the eighth biggest recorded-music market, extending its lead slightly over ninth-placed Australia. Recorded-music consumption levels were up last year, along with trade sales. Streaming again registered healthy growth, albeit at a slowing rate. Notable in last year’s results was that trade revenue of vinyl overtook CDs with the former scoring a big increase in sales that more than offset lower sales of the latter. Inevitably with the impact on music users in the country from COVID-19, performance rights revenue fell sharply. For the second straight year, UMG and SME enhanced their market share lead over WMG and the independents. SOCAN is yet to publish collection results for 2020. However, based on member guidance, Omdia estimates receipts were down year-on-year, with online the only positive. Canada’s live sector has been badly hit by the pandemic with ticket sales falling to the lowest level for more than 20 years.
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