New issue of Music & Copyright with UK country report

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

Beach Boy David Marks the latest artist to call foul on international streaming royalty deductions.
US singer songwriter Lenny Williams has been denied class action certification in a case brought against WMG over the alleged underpayment of royalties earned from the streaming of his works overseas (outside of the US). Williams had wanted the case to be heard as a class action, but the Ninth Circuit affirmed an earlier California district court decision that class members’ contracts were potentially too dissimilar to be dealt with altogether. Also, many class members’ advances were likely to be still unrecouped and so the question of unfair deductions was largely irrelevant. Now, ex Beach Boy guitarist David Marks has filed a similar class action claim, this time against UMG at the same California district court, accusing the music company of also underpaying on international streaming royalties. The filing said UMG had withheld international streaming revenue, breached contractual obligations, and acted in a deceptive and fraudulent manner.

JASRAC reports record year for distributions but collections suffer the COVID-19 effect
Japanese authors’ society JASRAC has reported a mixed year for collections and distributions, with the former down for the first time in three years and the latter topping the prior year’s record. The impact of the COVID-19 virus and the subsequent restrictions on various industry sectors and consumer movements meant all performance-based receipts were down. Broadcasting was the least affected, but the total in the 12-months to end-March was buoyed by backdated payments. Mechanical collections suffered a downturn from lower sales of CDs. Games mechanicals and revenue from broadcast commercials also fell sharply. In contrast, digital collections were up with sizable increases in collections from music subscriptions and video streaming services.

EU/UNESCO report shines a light on the Zimbabwean music industry
A new report from the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe has provided some interesting insights into the workings of the Zimbabwean music industry. Apart from South Africa, accurate data for sales of recorded-music and rights collections in most African countries is in short supply. Although the report does not contain these elusive figures, it does provide details of consumption and an assessment of which digital music services are the most popular. The report also explains how the difficulties associated with selling music means most artists earn most of their revenue through live performance. Unsurprisingly, rights collections in Zimbabwe are low with many music users, particularly broadcasters either failing to engage with the local collection society or just refusing to pay royalties for the music used. The report does though suggest that the Zimbabwean music sector has the potential to grow, provided a sufficiently enabling environment is in place.

UK country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed UK music industry report. Like all other developed markets around the world that have suffered from the impact of the COVOD-19 global pandemic, certain sectors of the UK music industry have been badly affected. Live music has been on a hiatus since March last year and although the country is making rapid progress with its vaccine rollout, the prospects for the rest of this year are not good. Rights collections have also taken a knock with PRS for Music reporting its worst 12 months in terms of year-on-year performance. Three of the four main revenue streams suffered a decline with public performance the hardest hit. In contrast, recorded-music sales held up well with higher revenue from streaming and vinyl keeping the total above the £1bn ($1.4bn) mark. Unsurprisingly, performance rights and synchronization took a hit with measures to control the spread of the virus resulting in the closure of nightclubs and many retail stores, as well as film production and screenings suffering a negative impact. UMG maintained its distribution lead last year over second-placed SME. Both companies experienced a slight rise in market share.

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