The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.
Subscription services face the challenge of maintaining user growth
Music company revenue from music subscriptions is set to rise this year, as take-up of the likes of Apple Music, Deezer, and Spotify shows little sign of abating. The number of users of subscription services is growing annually, with markets previously lost to piracy starting to come on board. It is, however, inevitable that revenue from subscriptions will slow and services will need to look at new ways to tempt current users to pay more, or to attract streaming holdouts to pay something. Mixed in with these considerations is the issue of price. The cost of an entry-level subscription has remained unchanged in the leading markets, meaning that in real terms, access is gradually getting cheaper. Leading service Spotify has signaled that it is willing to experiment with pricing in Northern European markets, but with music companies at the heart of pricing, a multimarket price increase must be getting nearer.
Congress tries again to force radio broadcasters in the US to pay to play
New legislation aimed at forcing AM/FM radio broadcasters in the US to pay performance royalties to producers and performers has been introduced in Congress. The Ask Musicians for Music (AM-FM) Act would line up terrestrial broadcasters alongside noninteractive online services that do pay a performance right. The US is unique in the industrialized world for not having a radio broadcast performance right for producers and performers. However, despite the anomaly, the US is the biggest country for performance rights, with distributions from collective management organization SoundExchange last year exceeding $950m. Previous efforts at legislating on the matter have failed, and the strength of the radio lobby, along with US politicians’ unwillingness to upset station owners, means the proponents of the latest attempt face an uphill battle.
Evolution of music piracy raises challenges for industry groups
Illicit file-sharing activity continues to trouble the recorded music sector, but stream-ripping has emerged as the leading means of obtaining copyright-infringing music content online. Record companies have little option but to seek legal remedy against perpetrators, to strong-arm third party enablers such as Google and ISPs, and to lobby government to regulate against pirates in efforts to ameliorate the problem. However, new and innovative pirating services will continue to appear and will require responses. It might well be time to take a look at core legislation that has served to protect online platforms from liability for the past two decades.
Australia country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Australia music industry report. The Australian economy is suffering from a period of slow economic growth. Retail sales are depressed despite three interest rate cuts, which have reduced the rate to a record low of 0.75%. Moreover, GDP was up just 1.4% in the year to end-June, the slowest rate since the global financial crash 10 years ago. In contrast to the economic gloom, recorded-music sales are on the up, with rising consumer interest in subscriptions boosting trade sales to four straight years of growth. UMG enhanced its sizable market share lead last year at the expense of SME. The latest figures published by APRA AMCOS show royalty collections in Australia are continuing to rise, with digital the biggest collection source, generating more than public performance and TV broadcasting combined. Revenue from ticket sales to live events last year topped A$2bn ($1.6bn) for the first time.
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