New issue of Music & Copyright with India report

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

Spotify continues to bet big on podcasts, but no HiFi tier is a big hole that needs filling
Music streaming service Spotify has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks with service-exclusive podcaster Joe Rogan upsetting a small number of artists with both his own and some of his guests’ controversial views on the COVID-19 vaccine. No exodus of the service by disgruntled artists ensued, despite the best efforts of Neil Young. But for the first time, Spotify is under a bit of pressure. The share price has remained stubbornly low after the service revealed less than impressive guidance for the current quarter and that it would not issue any estimates for the full year. Although Spotify looks to have ridden out the Rogan problems and is continuing to spend millions of dollars on podcasting, the service’s music offering is missing a HiFi tier. Some 12 months ago, Spotify announced that a higher quality option was in the pipeline. But, despite all its main international rivals making high-definition standard, Spotify has a HiFi hole, and it doesn’t look like that hole will be filled anytime soon.

Another out-of-court settlement holds up clarification of the US rights termination process
US country music star Dwight Yoakam has settled his termination notice dispute with WMG. Some 12 months ago, Yoakam filed a lawsuit at a California district court requesting declaratory relief that termination notices sent to the major label were effective. Yoakam was attempting to take advantage of US copyright law that allows authors to reclaim the copyrights to their music under the so-called 35-year law. However, although the country music star submitted the notices as required, WMG and two of its subsidiary labels refused to accept the notices and acknowledge the return of the artist’s rights. Now, the two sides have submitted a short filing to the court confirming that they had reached an agreement in principle to settle the dispute. The out-of-court settlement is the latest in a long line of endings to many cases that have sought to establish the validity of the US rights termination process.

The music business looks to craft its place in the amorphous metaverse
Music in the metaverse has become a hot topic in recent months, with new ventures appearing almost on a weekly basis. It seems that artists will, in the near future, need to feel as comfortable creating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as they do going into the studio and recording a few tracks. A batch of startups—sometimes backed by musicians—look set to help artists navigate their way through an ecosystem that, at present, has little real shape or evident direction. But WMG is taking the plunge and seems determined to help fashion a music metaverse that serves it revenue streams. The other music majors would do well to follow suit if they’re to take advantage of what’s forecast to be a lucrative market.

India country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed India music industry report. India is the second most populous country in the world. The size of the population exceeded 1.4 billion for the first time last year and, according to the most recent United Nations projections, India will overtake global leader China before the end of this decade. However, despite accounting for almost 20% of the world’s population, India’s different music industry sectors have always underperformed. Recorded-music sales have been hindered by widespread music piracy and rights collections have suffered from adverse legal rulings and a lack of licensing, while the live sector struggles from infrastructure shortcomings, and more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite the problems, there are signs that the world’s biggest emerging market is starting to live up to its billing. In the last few years, retail sales of recorded-music have been on the up and rights collections have benefited greatly from a deal between authors’ society IPRS and Google for music use by YouTube. Live music remains the problem sector, with concert tours and festivals struggling to get off the ground due to the recent surge in case numbers.

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