New issue of Music & Copyright with Germany country report

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

Critics take aim at the European Commission’s guidance on Article 17 of the Copyright Directive
The European Commission (EC) has finally published its guidance for national governments across the EU on the application of Article 17 of the Copyright Directive. The timing of the publication (June 4) was unusual, given that the deadline for member states to transpose the Directive into national law came just three days later. Rights holders had long lobbied the EC to strengthen legislation to force online services to properly recompense artists for the use of their music. However, despite the Directive largely fulfilling those lobbying efforts, many industry groups and associations were critical of the guidance. Long-time detractors of Article 17 also took a pot shot at the guidance, particularly its potential to increase censorship and limit freedom of expression. Countries yet to incorporate the Directive’s provisions also came in for criticism.

Broadcast gains not enough to offset the public performance drop for Czech authors’ society OSA
Czech authors’ society OSA has reported a fall in royalty collections, ending six straight years of growth. Revenue for a number of performance-based sectors was affected by government efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, despite the decline, OSA maintained its position as a billion-koruna plus society. Broadcasting overtook public performance to become the biggest source of income for local authors and publishers. Broadcasting receipts were boosted by backdated payments, while public performance revenue fell sharply with collections from the likes of background music and live performance around half the total in 2019. Digital was the best performing subsector with increased streaming sales and subscriptions in the Czech Republic generating higher collections. However, as a share of total income, digital remains small. Although expenses were down year-on-year, the higher rate of decline for collections meant costs as a share of total revenue grew.

Services ramping up indie artist initiatives, but the odds remain stacked against DIY success
Leading streamers such as Spotify and Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) are beginning to do more to help up-and-coming artists with both services expanding initiatives to boost the careers of those taking the DIY route. Data science looks set to provide a helping hand in a world that sees millions of new tracks released every year, while new funding mechanisms also do their bit. However, indie acts are at a disadvantage given the streaming bias toward major artists and record companies, both in terms of playlisting opportunities and their share of royalty payouts. Music streamers really ought to tip the scales a little more in favor of DIY artists, even if only to make their playlists less narrow and vanilla.

Germany country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Germany music industry report. Retail sales of recorded-music in Germany increased for the second year in a row in 2020, having fallen in the previous two years. Continued interest in subscription and streaming sales more than offset declines in sales of physical formats and downloads. Notable in last year’s sales figures was that access service revenue topped the €1bn ($1.2bn) mark for the first time. Digital accounted for slightly more than 70% of the combined digital/physical total. Although sales of physical formats took a hit from the temporary closure of brick-and-mortar retail stores as part of measures introduced by the government to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of decline was eased by a good year for vinyl sales. International pop was again the most popular genre with an increased share of retail sales. Second-placed hip-hop and third-placed rock experienced a slight dip in share. Authors’ society GEMA’s collections and distributions fell because of COVID-19 pandemic-related issues. Although the overall decline in royalties was limited, the society warned that the pandemic will have a lasting effect on its business with distributions expected to be down for the next couple of years.

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