New issue of Music & Copyright with Canada country report

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

Munich court rules in favor of YouTube in GEMA damages case
A court in Munich has ruled that the online video service YouTube is not responsible for copyright infringing content uploaded by the service’s users. The court found that the sole responsibility lies with individual uploaders and that no damages should be paid by YouTube for unlicensed content appearing on the service. German authors’ society GEMA said the decision meant YouTube was presently not financially accountable within the current legal framework when works protected by copyright are used on the platform. GEMA has been at odds with YouTube for a number of years with the two unable to agree rates for a licensing deal.

Stable year for physical music sales in Japan; Avex remains the market share leader
New figures published by the Japanese recorded music trade association the RIAJ show that the total production value of physical formats was unchanged in 2015 compared with 2014. Although the value of audio units slipped slightly, a rise in video units offset the decline. The production value of domestic artist releases increased year-on-year, but the value of international artist releases dropped sharply. According to chart compiler Oricon, Japanese record company Avex remained the leading music company, despite losing market share to local rivals.

CUR Media sets its sights on the “massive” US music streaming market
The latest entrant to the already crowded US music streaming sector is CUR Media’s CUR Music service. First launched as an Internet radio service a few years ago under a different name, the rebranded service rolled out in the US on iOS in January and will be available on Android and the Web in February. Although the service offers fewer tracks than the leading subscription services, the two advertising-free tiers offered cost less than its rivals. Cur Music’s emphasis is on radio and playlists, which puts it up against the likes of Pandora and iHeartRadio. The US has already seen a number of casualties in the streaming sector in the last year or so and with CUR Music seemingly late to the party, the service will do well to hold its own against established offerings that are making most of the running.

Canada country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Canada music industry profile. Canada experienced an improved recorded music sales performance in 2015. Just how much of an improved year 2015 was will be confirmed in the next couple of months when the IFPI publishes trade revenue figures for the country. According to Nielsen Music, unit sales of recorded music were down year-on-year, but a big jump in streaming is likely to have reduced the rate of contraction in trade revenue compared with 2014. UMG remains the clear market share leader, ahead of SME, and preliminary details published by authors’ society SOCAN show royalty collections were up for the third year in a row with the level of royalties identified, collected, and distributed all breaking previous records. Canada’s live music industry is also thought to have had a good 2015.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.

New issue of Music & Copyright with US country report

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

Spotify hit by second US copyright infringement lawsuit
Music subscription service Spotify is facing a second class action lawsuit accusing it of reproducing and distributing sound recordings without the necessary license. In December, the artist and rights advocate David Lowery filed a class action copyright lawsuit at the Central District Court of California claiming $150m in damages because the service had failed to identify or locate the owners of certain compositions for payment that it has distributed, and had not issued a notice of intent to employ a compulsory license. Now artist Melissa Ferrick has filed a second class action lawsuit at the same court, and is claiming $200m in damages. Both lawsuits note Spotify’s public acknowledgment that it does not have the correct licenses to distribute certain recordings after it said it had created a reserve fund for royalty payments that had been withheld from artists and that it was investing in the resources and technical expertise to build a comprehensive publishing administration system to solve the licensing problem.

New report details the supporting role of brands in online IP infringement
A new report detailing digital advertising and the scale of advertising-based funding of websites suspected of infringing intellectual property (IP) in the European Union has been published by the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights (the Observatory). The study monitored a number of different websites that offered a range of content and assessed the extent by which digital advertising supported IP-infringing websites. The study also analyzed the brands and sectors supporting the websites with their advertising and the advertising companies placing the ads. Among a number of conclusions, the Observatory said that, despite brands being able to control how agencies managed their campaigns, suspected IP-infringing websites were found to be a “brand-rich environment” with mainstream advertising accounting for almost half of all the ads collected in the study.

Rightscorp and clients hit with a $450,000 “robo-call” settlement bill
Copyright enforcement company Rightscorp and its two clients BMG Rights Management and Warner Bros. Entertainment have agreed to settle a class action lawsuit which accused them of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by using an automatic telephone dialer and sending pre-recorded calls to the mobile phones of a number of individuals without their prior consent. The calls, made by Rightscorp on behalf of the two companies, were to inform suspected copyright infringers of their actions and to obtain pretrial settlements. In addition to receiving damages, the class action members were absolved of any copyright infringement claims.

US country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed US music industry profile. The US is the biggest music market in the world. Not only does it account for around one-third of global recorded music sales, the country is home to the largest live music sector in the world and the single biggest live music promoter, Live Nation Entertainment. The US also has two of the biggest authors’ rights organizations, ASCAP and BMI, and has quickly become the world leader in performance rights collections for record companies and performers, despite the fact that the country’s collection agency SoundExchange only collects royalties from digital music services.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.

First issue of Music & Copyright for 2016

A very Happy New Year from all of us at Music & Copyright. What better way of starting 2016 with a new issue. Here are some of the highlights.

YouTube breathes easy as the PRS deal with SoundCloud means no safe harbor test
UK authors’ society PRS for Music and online music service SoundCloud have ended their legal dispute and reached an agreement for a multi-territory license to cover the service. PRS began legal action against SoundCloud in August, accusing the service of using its members’ music without paying the necessary royalties. At the time, SoundCloud claimed it did not need a license for its service as it was protected by safe harbor provisions in European Union (EU) law. The deal covers the use of music on SoundCloud dating back to the service’s launch, with PRS members being recompensed for past usage. However, the settling of the dispute means there will be no legal challenge to the safe harbor defense claim and it remains unclear whether services such as YouTube, that rely on safe harbor protection for the use of music, are operating within EU law.

PopArabia faces an uphill task in its MENA digital music rollout
In December, digital music rights company PopArabia added Warner Chappell to the list of music publishers it represents in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA). Not only does the deal mean PopArabia has licensing deals in place with all of the major music publishers, it places the company at the center of the region’s digital music space. Although PopArabia represents one of the best chances for digital music services to gain access to international music publisher content and a return on music used by local services, the region remains devoid of much needed copyright legislation. Rights holders in a number of countries in the region see little return on the use of their works and the prospect for change remains clouded by a lack of movement by governments on rights protection.

EC takes aim at content portability in Europe as part of the new copyright framework
The European Commission (EC) has taken what it describes as the first steps to broadening access to online content in Europe and has outlined its vision to modernizing copyright rules in Europe. As part of its Digital Single Market strategy announced in May, the EC has now published an agenda with the express aim of bringing copyright legislation in the region up to date. Proposals tabled by the previous digital commissioner are to form the basis of new copyright changes going forward as part of the current five-year Commission. The EC noted that the task of uniting industry stakeholders that have long held very different opinions regarding the extent of copyright reform in Europe is not an easy one and commented that achieving the correct balance across all the different stakeholder sectors may well prove to be just as difficult and contentious this time around as it did in the previous Commission mandate.

Regulators are now considering OTTs’ impact on communications markets
In recent years, communications markets have been profoundly affected by the increasing uptake of OTT services by consumers. OTTs’ impact has been significant in both mature and emerging markets, radically modifying the way end users access communications services and posing a challenge to traditional telcos’ revenues. As often happens in markets heavily influenced by technological development, regulation has struggled to keep up with the changes. Nearly everywhere, regulatory frameworks still define electronic communications providers as those players that own or have access to a network and convey signals; inevitably, such definitions exclude OTT players, which have so far benefited from minimal or no regulation. However, regulators are now showing their awareness of the impact these players have had and are starting to consider how to adjust to the evolved communications landscape. In particular, there has been extensive debate during 2015 at the EU level and in India, where public consultations have taken place and will inform policy-makers’ response in the near future. In Switzerland, too, the regulator, the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM), has recommended changes to the telecoms act.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.

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.

If you want to know more about Music & Copyright then follow the below links.

Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.

New issue of Music & Copyright with Australia country report

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

Sony/ATV and Pandora sign second direct licensing deal
Music publisher Sony/ATV has signed a direct licensing deal with online radio service Pandora. Described by both companies as a “win-win,” the deal will see increased performance royalty rates payable by the digital music service to the publisher, while Pandora will benefit from greater rate certainty and the ability to add new flexibility to its product offering over time. The deal is the second direct agreement between the two: The first was signed in 2013 after Sony/ATV withdrew certain digital licensing rights licensing from the US performance rights organizations ASCAP and BMI. However, that deal was declared invalid by a rate court judge, who ruled that authors organizations’ partial withdrawals of licensing rights was not allowed under the consent decree and that blanket licenses offered by ASCAP and BMI music include all repertoire.

Report on Spotify’s revenue-neutral status raises more questions than it answers
A new report published by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has examined how the rise of music subscription service Spotify has affected sales of downloads and the popularity of unlicensed online music distribution. The report found that the use of Spotify does impact on download sales and goes some way to displacing music piracy. However, the report notes that losses from displaced sales are roughly outweighed by the gains in streaming revenue, meaning that Spotify is effectively revenue-neutral for the recorded music industry. Although the report’s conclusions are limited, given that Spotify was the only service used to measure the wider impact of streaming, it raises questions over the wider distribution of streaming revenue to the different rights holder groups and why, if streaming is revenue-neutral, are so many artists unhappy with their royalty payments.

Rightscorp and the high costs of copyright enforcement
US-based copyright enforcement company Rightscorp keeps making headlines, mostly for the wrong reasons. The firm may be able to count a handful of leading music publishers on its roster but it has yet to demonstrate that it can make its anti-piracy system work for its bottom line. In addition, Rightscorp has come under fire for alleged harassment of those it considers to be copyright infringers and is fighting a number of lawsuits. It is also in dispute with leading US ISPs Cox Communication and Comcast, the kinds of companies it needs to have on it is side if it is to be a commercial success. In short, Rightscorp seems to be having difficulties making friends right now.

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 profile. The Australian recorded music industry has endured a long period of falling sales. Although consumer interest in music subscriptions is strong, spending on music access services has not been able to offset declines elsewhere. The country looked to have turned the corner in 2012 with record company income from digital sales fully countering the drop in CD album sales. However, trade revenue contracted in 2013 and 2014 and prospects for future growth are not so good. In contrast to the recorded music sector, Australia’s live music industry has registered two years of rising ticket sales and attendance. Authors’ society APRA AMCOS is also experiencing its best years, with strong gains in digital income boosting total collections to record levels.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.

Record companies the biggest winners in forecast consumer shift from ownership to access

Retail sales of recorded music will see little variation in total spending levels in the years to 2020 despite the rising interest in streaming, according to global analyst firm Ovum’s latest forecasts. Spending on digital formats and services will overtake physical formats this year and go on to account for almost three-quarters of all sales in just six years.

According to Ovum’s latest research, the retail value of all recorded music sales is expected to contract this year and next before edging up 0.1% in 2017. However, the slight return to growth is forecast to be short-lived and spending will fall in each of the three years to 2020. Music Practice Leader for Ovum, Simon Dyson and author of the report said “2015 is a big year for the music industry with global retail sales of recorded music crossing the digital tipping point.” Dyson added that “For the first time, digital spending will top physical sales, amounting to US$11.7bn this year (compared with US$10.3bn for physical) and reach US$15.7bn in 2020.” Music subscriptions will lead the digital charge and will dominate retail spending for the foreseeable future.

Global recorded music retail sales, 2010–20
Global-Music image
Source: Ovum

For each of the six years forecast, Ovum has estimated that the overall annual difference in the global retail sales figure will not change by more the one percentage point either way. The biggest annual movement is expected in 2020, with a year-on-year dip of 1%.

No anticipated growth in overall consumer spending on recorded music will make difficult reading for the record companies. Moreover, the estimated value of recorded music spending in 2020 is expected to be US$3bn lower than it was in 2010. But there is some comfort in the figures. According to Dyson, “the shift from ownership to access has meant manufacturing and distribution costs have been reduced and, with consumers steadily spending more on access services and less on downloads, costs are going to continue to shrink.”

Dyson says that “the gross income record companies expect to make from physical format sales this year is around US$5.2bn and this will fall to just under US$3bn in 2020. EBITDA is also forecast to decrease, from US$520m to US$300m.”

In contrast, for downloads there are no manufacturing costs and only minimal distribution expenses. The gross record company income from downloads is estimated at US$2.6bn in 2015 and US$1.4bn in 2020, while EBITDA in those years will be US$790m and US$420m, respectively.

The EBITDA share for subscriptions and advertising downloads will be slightly higher than downloads because of lower sales and marketing expenses. Gross record company receipts from subscriptions/streaming are estimated at US$2.4bn in 2015, rising to US$5.4bn in 2020, while EBITDA from subscriptions/streaming is forecast to grow, from US$820m to US$1.9bn.

Taken altogether, gross receipts for record companies from the combined sales of physical formats, downloads, and income from access services are forecast to slip, from US$10.2bn this year, to US$9.8bn in 2020. However, as consumer spending on subscriptions rises, EBITDA will grow, from US$2.1bn to US$2.6bn.

Streaming is riding close to the crest of the recorded music wave at the moment with a good number of trade associations reporting high growth figures and rising subscriber numbers. In some countries, access services are more than offsetting declines in sales of physical formats and music downloads. But, given that physical formats – and to a lesser extent single tracks and digital albums – still account for a sizable share of music retail sales, the streaming sector will be hard pushed to make up for the forecast declines in the buy-to-own formats. “Assuming consumers don’t make a sudden rush to access services, no decline in total sales in the coming years may well be the best result the recorded music industry can hope for,” concluded Dyson.

New issue of Music & Copyright with Netherlands country report

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

Subscriber growth, artist moans, and missing royalties cap an interesting week in streaming
Over the course of just a few days, developments in the music subscription sector have illustrated both the potential for growth for music access services and the problems faced in convincing some in the recorded music industry that their future is in safe hands. First, Apple announced some fairly impressive metrics for its four-month-old Apple Music service, and then came news that Spotify had pulled the catalog of indie label Victory Records from the service because of a dispute over publishing royalties. Claims from copyright administration service Audiam that millions of dollars of authors’ royalties was missing followed, along with a couple more artists complaining that their streaming royalties were unacceptably low.

Aurous teases the RIAA into a restraining order and copyright infringement lawsuit
Unlicensed music streaming service Aurous has quickly found itself in hot water after drawing the ire of the US trade body the RIAA. Three days after launch, the RIAA served Aurous with a copyright infringement lawsuit and gained a temporary restraining order. In the run-up to launch, the service’s creator Andrew Sampson publicly championed the technology behind Aurous, which allows users of the app to stream content via the BitTorrent network. Concerning for music companies is the fact that Aurous’ app does not use any external servers and so is almost impossible to shut down. A hearing at the end of October will determine whether the restraining order remains in place and when the copyright infringement claims will be heard in court.

Music artists and firms look to the blockchain to reform a “broken” system
Blockchain technology, on which leading crypto-currency Bitcoin is built, is being held up by reformers in the music industry as a means of creating a fairer distribution system for content creators. It could bring transparency to rights metadata, instant remuneration to artists, and new forms of monetization to music. The blockchain – as it is often referred to, in the singular – is a nascent technology that not many outside geeky developer circles know about or understand, but which has a huge disruptive potential and which, in recent months, has begun to make its presence felt in the music industry.

Netherlands country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Netherlands music industry profile. The Netherlands, like most European music markets, has suffered big falls in recorded music sales in the past decade or so. Download sales went some way to countering losses from falling CD sales but the rate of the demise of the once popular physical music format pulled total trade revenue down. That was until 2013. Although download sales went into reverse for the first time, a big rise in consumer interest in music subscriptions meant trade revenue from recorded music increased for the first time since 2009. Last year, trade income edged down slightly but streaming sales were again positive and hopes are the market will return to growth in 2015. Total authors’ rights increased in 2014 with both performance rights society BUMA and mechanical rights collections by STEMRA rising year-on-year. The live industry experienced a difficult year with ticket sales down on 2013 and the buoyant festival sector is showing signs that it is heading towards the saturation point.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.