New issue of Music & Copyright with Austria country report

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

Soul Assassins accuses Peloton of “outrageous and willful” copyright infringement
Fitness service Peloton has been hit by a copyright infringement lawsuit from music publisher Soul Assassins. According to the California federal court filing, the fitness service is accused of using a number of unlicensed tracks in its exercise videos without permission. A few years ago, Peloton faced similar claims from several music publishers in the US. Although the service initially denied any wrongdoing and countersued the publishers, an out-of-court settlement was subsequently agreed, and Peloton paid undisclosed damages. Soul Assassin’s filing is short in comparison with most other copyright infringement claims, with limited specifics of the accusations. Moreover, the publisher has not made it clear whether it attempted to have the disputed tracks removed from the service or sign any licensing deal.

Online takes the lead for SACEM as total rights collections return to growth
In June, French authors’ society SACEM reported a return to growth for member collections, with the total exceeding the €1bn ($1.18bn) mark for only the third time. Now, the society has published its annual report shedding greater light on the results. After five straight years of rising income, total rights receipts were down in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic badly affected several revenue streams. Although growth returned last year, SACEM said the effects of the crisis are still impacting its business. Online was the biggest positive, with collections rising sharply. Such was the size of the rise, digital income overtook broadcasting to become the society’s biggest revenue source. Broadcasting and general licensing receipts were down for the second year in a row. However, private copying income was up, along with mechanical rights.

Record companies turned movie makers need to tell a good story
A raft of music-based documentaries is coming out across a multitude of platforms, both on established and developed services such as Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, and Paramount+. Streamer Amazon Music has seen an opportunity here and is able to leverage the powerful distribution channel that is Amazon Prime Video. The major music companies have also been busy positioning themselves in this space, teaming up with TV and movie production outfits. However, they must guard against producing content that merely relies on seen-before footage and editing-room expertise. The documentaries need to have savvy angles, not to mention a rattling narrative, to attract decent audiences.

Austria country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Austria music industry report. Although well-developed, with a relatively high per-capita spending rate on music, Austria could be described as one of Western Europe’s laggards when it comes to the transition from physical formats to digital. Like its bigger neighbor to the north, Germany, which plays host to a large sector of consumers that have long been wedded to the CD album, physical formats accounted for the biggest share of spending on recorded-music in Austria until 2018. However, digital has quickly increased in dominance with streaming now easily the biggest revenue generator for local record companies. Authors’ rights collections in the country suffered a second year of decline, although growth is expected to return this year. Performance rights receipts for producers and performers edged up but remain short of prepandemic levels.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with Austria country report

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

Court rules no share of UMPG’s Bob Dylan acquisition proceeds should go to coauthor estate
A New York court has ruled that the estate of songwriter Jacques Levy is not entitled to a share of the proceeds from the acquisition of Bob Dylan’s catalog by music publishing major UMPG in December. Levy coauthored a number of tracks with Dylan that were featured on one of the music star’s earlier albums. Although Levy has received royalties for the sale of the tracks, the late author’s wife filed a lawsuit against Dylan and UMPG claiming that the agreement establishing Levy’s royalty rate also covered any sale of the works. However, the court decided otherwise, ruling that the agreement was clear that the contribution by Levy was made as an employee for hire and not a joint author.

Strong quarter and half year results for UMG ahead of September listing
UMG has registered a positive set of results for the second quarter and first half of its 2021 financial year. Subscriptions and streaming were again the stand out revenue stream with the growth rate in the three months the highest for the last seven quarters. Although now a minor source of income for the music company, sales of physical formats grew sharply, while licensing receipts also increased along with merchandize sales. North America remained the dominant source of recorded-music revenue, ahead of Europe and Asia, but it was the rest of the world region that scored the biggest income rise. Music publishing revenue was down in the quarter and half year at reported exchange rates but up at a constant rate measure. Vivendi’s live entertainment and ticketing unit Vivendi Village saw revenue double in the quarter with strong growth reported in the US.

Now is the time to take Twitch-style tipping to another level
Tipping has offered a lifeline to many artists during the COVID-19 pandemic, with live streaming video gaming service Twitch proving popular among musicians. Capability is now being enhanced on social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook as the bigger technology companies see remuneration through tips as a way of ensuring creators stay loyal. However, the tipping ecosystem is beginning to look a little behind the times and is ripe for innovation, especially as the mechanism has demonstrated just how loyal audiences can be to artists. Tippers should be better rewarded for this loyalty, perhaps with exclusives, while musicians deserve a larger cut of the tipping proceeds than they currently get.

Austria country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Austria music industry report. Austria is one of Europe’s smaller music markets. Although well-developed, with a relatively high per-capita spending rate on music, the country could be described as one of Western Europe’s laggards when it comes to the transition from physical formats to digital. Like its bigger neighbor to the north, Germany, which plays host to a large sector of consumers that have long been wedded to the CD album, physical formats accounted for the biggest share of spending on recorded-music in Austria until 2018. However, digital has quickly increased in dominance with streaming the biggest revenue generator for local record companies. Authors’ rights collections in the country suffered a decline last year because of the impact of the COVID-19 virus. Also affected was performance rights revenue for producers and performers. Hardest hit by the virus was the live sector with ticket sales dropping sharply.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with Austria country report

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

Round Hill takes aim at TuneCore and Believe Digital with copyright infringement claim
Round Hill Music’s publishing division has filed a lawsuit at a New York district court against the independent music distributor TuneCore, its holding company Believe Digital Holdings and their parent company Believe SAS. Round Hill has accused the three companies of reproducing and distributing more than two hundred works owned or administered by the publisher without holding the correct license. Although the system of licensing mechanical rights in the US is changing following the passing of the Music Modernization Act (MMA) and the subsequent introduction of a blanket license, some publishers are not happy that digital music services that have distributed musical works without completing the formal licensing process are effectively being let off the legal hook and so are taking the services to court.

Music publishing shines for UMG in COVID-19 impacted financials
UMG has reported a fairly positive first half year set of financials despite the difficult conditions caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Subscriptions and streaming were again the stand-out revenue source but there was a distinct difference in performance between the first and second quarters. With much of the developed world imposing restrictions on consumer movement from mid-March onwards, revenue in the second quarter suffered a slowdown. Physical sales tumbled in the second three months and the growth rate for subscriptions and streaming fell to its lowest level since Vivendi started reporting access sales figures in 2015. Inevitably, revenue for merchandizing division Bravado and the live entertainment and ticketing unit Vivendi Village suffered a particularly difficult quarter.

Twitch nudges forward under lockdown to carve a stronger music niche
Twitch has had a bountiful COVID-19 pandemic, with usage growing apace. While the online platform is primarily a gamers environment, it has become increasingly popular with emerging artists in the past few years due to its streaming capabilities. Twitch now looks to have serious music ambitions and recently cut artist and record company deals, though its rising popularity has also raised issues over the use of unlicensed works. The company has been part of Amazon since 2014 and would do well to work more closely with its sister Amazon Music, especially as the latter seems to be duplicating services that Twitch has already developed with a good deal of success. Siloing could prove detrimental to both parties.

Austria country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Austria music industry report. Austria is one of Europe’s smaller music markets. Although well-developed, with a relatively high per-capita spending rate on music, the country could be described as one of Western Europe’s laggards when it comes to the transition from physical formats to digital. Like its larger neighbor Germany, which plays host to a large sector of consumers wedded to the CD album, physical formats accounted for the biggest share of spending on recorded-music in Austria until 2018. However, digital is now dominant (see Figure 1) with streaming the biggest revenue generator for local record companies. Authors’ rights collections in the country continue to rise and royalty payments to producers and performers remain positive. Consumer spending on tickets to live music events grew last year. However, all the music industry sectors are set to be negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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New issue of Music & Copyright with France country report

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

It’s time for the music industry to tackle the gender imbalance
Gender equality is a hot topic at the moment. There’s pressure in the music industry to increase female participation in the performance, management, and technical sides of the business, with women severely underrepresented across the board. There are a growing number of initiatives – mostly from the public sector – to tackle the gender imbalance, but many music companies simply aren’t yet doing enough to promote women, leaving themselves open to criticism. There are signs that the situation is improving. Live Nation rolled out an initiative earlier this year to support early-stage female-led live music companies, and Smirnoff has attempted to increase the number of female artists headlining at its sponsored festivals.

AKM sees collection growth, but Austro Mechana records annual decline
Austrian authors’ society AKM is on an unbroken streak of collection growth that dates back more than 10 years. The collection society has reported an increase in all of its main domestic income sources. Moreover, overseas revenue was also up year on year. Although digital registered the highest growth rate for AKM, the revenue stream is still a minor revenue source for Austrian rights holders. AKM subsidiary Austro Mechana (AUME) also experienced a rise in digital income, on the back of rising consumer use of streaming services. However, retroactive private copying collection in the previous year had an impact on last year’s overall performance by AUME.

Audio and video streaming gains boost US and Canada music consumption
The recorded-music sectors in US and Canada are continuing to feel the benefit of rising consumer use of streaming services. Consumption figures for the first six months of this year for both countries show streaming gains have more than offset declines in the sales of physical and digital formats. Although sales of vinyl LPs were up year on year, the results for the six-month period confirm the ascendancy of streaming. Not only have access services put both markets firmly on a stable footing, the shift from ownership to access has had varying degrees of impact on the sales of the different genres. R&B/hip-hop has benefited most, and after overtaking rock last year to become the most popular genre in the US, R&B/hip-hop widened the gap further on the previous leader.

France country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed France music industry report. Recorded-music sales in France look to have turned the corner after several almost unbroken years of decline. Earlier this year, the local trade association SNEP reported a second straight year of growth for trade earnings. The rise marked only the third time in the last 10 years that trade sales have registered an uptick. Royalty receipts have been relatively stable. French authors’ society SACEM reported a third consecutive year of collection growth in 2017 after a slight year-on-year decline in 2014.

If you would like more information about the newsletter or set up a subscription then send us an email

New issue of Music & Copyright with Austria country report

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

Rich pickings for Pandora as Rdio becomes the latest music subscription service tragedy
US online radio service Pandora has acquired $75m in technology assets from the now bankrupt music subscription service Rdio. The deal is part of an expansion of services by Pandora which are set to roll out in both the US and internationally towards the end of next year. Rdio was available in 85 countries and the closure of the service brings an end to its five-year battle to keep pace with the sector’s leaders, Spotify and Deezer. With news of Rdio debts exceeding $200m, including monies owed to both large and small record companies and music publishers, the demise of the service highlights both the financial difficulties faced by the smaller companies and the likelihood that the future of music subscriptions will be controlled by a small number of well-funded services.

Digital growth for Japan as subscription sales keep on rising
New figures published by the Japanese recorded-music trade association, the RIAJ, show that digital music sales grew in the first nine months of this year at a faster rate than in the same period of 2014. The RIAJ reported strong subscription sales and growth in album downloads. Single tracks are falling out of favor with Japanese consumers and might follow ring tones and ring-back tones into terminal decline. Digital sales are now showing real signs of resilience after some big annual falls. Coupled with steady sales of physical formats, this suggests that Japan is heading for its first year of sales growth in recorded music since 2012.

Music crowdfunding needs a dose of innovation to make its mark
Fan finance has been around long enough through the likes of PledgeMusic and Kickstarter to have established itself as a proven means of raising communal funds to enable artists to head to the studio or promote their new albums independently. However, crowdfunding has fallen short of early expectations of becoming a major music funding channel and continues to operate largely at the margins of entertainment finance. The sector, the domain of tech start-ups, has pretty much developed around a single target-driven model and needs an injection of innovation to really make its mark.

Austria country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Austria music industry profile. Austria is one of Europe’s smaller music markets. Although well-developed, with a relatively high per-capita spending rate on music, the country is one of Western Europe’s laggards when it comes to the transition from physical formats to digital. Like its larger neighbor Germany, whose music buyers remain firmly attached to the CD album, physical formats dominate spending on recorded music in Austria. There are, however, signs that music subscription services are gaining increased traction with consumers. Authors’ rights collections in the country continue to rise and royalty payments to producers and performers remain steady. Austria’s live music sector is performing well. Skalar Entertainment is the country’s leading promoter.

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