The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.
Donald Glover sued for copyright infringement over Grammy Award-winning track This is America
The long list of plagiarism accusations against high-profile artists grew a little longer in May with the claim by US rapper Emelike Nwosuocha, who performs under the stage name Kidd Wes, that Donald Glover, better known under his musical stage name, Childish Gambino, copied Nwosuocha’s track Made in America, with his multimillion-dollar selling track This is America. Nwosuocha recorded and released his track in 2016 and registered it with the US Copyright Office the following year. Glover’s track was released in 2018 and has subsequently been certified three-times platinum in the US, Australia, and Canada, as well as gold in the UK and France. Proving plagiarism in the US requires two key elements. To begin with, there must be substantial similarity between the two works in question. Also, it must be proved that an accused has either heard or be presumed to have heard the original work prior to the writing of the infringing track. Nwosuocha’s court filing presents evidence for both elements with expert testimony from a University of Miami musicologist. The rapper is claiming either damages based on the profits generated by Glover’s track, or statutory damages to be determined at a trial.
Revenue for Dutch neighboring rights society SENA hit by the global pandemic
Dutch producers’ (record companies) and performers’ collection society SENA has reported a fall in total licensing receipts. General licensing was the hardest hit revenue stream with restrictions placed on the hospitality and retail sectors in the Netherlands as part of the government’s efforts to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus taking their toll. Invoiced receipts fell at a faster rate than received receipts because some income collected last year was invoiced in 2019. Broadcasting revenue edged up year-on-year. Despite commercial TV and radio broadcasters suffering advertising shortfalls, the broadcast collection total benefitted from delayed payments from the previous year. International collections were down because of the impact of the virus and delayed payments from sister organizations that did not fall within the reporting year.
Side hustles look set to take music streaming to the next level
Fortune never really seemed to flow for streamer Tidal. Now the service has been sold on, it looks set for a more technologically advanced future than ex-owner Jay-Z had in mind when he bought the service six years ago. Given that standalone music streamers have long found it hard to turn a profit, that may not be a bad thing—pivoting remains a cool thing to do right now. While providers like Apple Music and Spotify are not about to seriously change their primary model, there’s a lot of activity away from the core music proposition. Podcasting has now become a must-have and the investments keep on flowing into the segment, though much more needs to be done to monetize spoken-word audio. Another side hustle is live video streaming where music streamers have a real opportunity to make their mark if they move quickly.
Finland country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Finland music industry report. Finland is one of Europe’s smaller countries. Despite having a land area rivalling the region’s leaders, the population of Finland ended last year at slightly more than 5.5 million. In recorded-music terms, Finland sits just outside of the global top 20. However, despite its modest ranking, the country is a market leader with regards to progress in the digital transition from ownership to access. Subscription services already generate more than 80% of combined digital/physical trade income and this share is expected to continue rising as sales of the once-dominant CD album drop away and downloads disappear. UMG continued to enhance its position as the biggest recorded-music distributor. Last year the company registered its fifth consecutive annual market share gain. WMG held on to second spot despite losing share, while third-placed SME’s share was unchanged year-on-year. Royalty earnings collected by authors’ society TEOSTO suffered a decline because of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Live music has never had it so bad with a number of major festivals cancelling for the second year in a row.
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