Tagged: Copyright

New issue of Music & Copyright

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

IFPI reports second consecutive year of recorded-music income growth
International music trade body the IFPI has reported the second straight year of growth in trade earnings from recorded music. Moreover, the growth rate was the highest this century, with income from streaming more than offsetting declines in income from physical formats and downloads. Significantly, digital accounted for half of the trade revenue total, with streaming making up close to two-thirds of the digital total. The IFPI noted that digital accounted for more than half of trade earnings in 25 markets, with five of those markets crossing the digital tipping point last year. However, the global trade body reiterated previous concerns about the fact that although music is being consumed at record levels, artists and record labels are still not receiving fair remuneration.

ASCAP, GEMA, and PRS for Music all report record financials
Three of the world’s biggest collective management organizations (CMOs), ASCAP, GEMA, and PRS for Music, all registered increases in collections in 2016. US CMO ASCAP reported a new record for royalty collections, with revenue exceeding $1bn for the third straight year. Distributions also edged closer to the $1bn mark. Collections by German CMO GEMA also topped previous records and exceeded the €1bn level for the first time. The CMO said that one of the main drivers of growth was its agreement with YouTube and subsequent retroactive licensing payments. UK CMO PRS reported a record year for performance royalty collections, with almost all the main income sources registering a year-on-year rise. Digital income was boosted by streaming gains, and international royalties – the biggest income source for PRS – registered a big rise, though the growth rate was inflated by exchange rates. Distributions topped £500m for the first time.

Voice set to take command of music listening
Voice recognition is set to become a key battleground for music as smart speakers gain traction among consumers. The appeal of using audio commands to make listening choices and do away with screens and multistep functionality is clear, though it is also evident that the technology needs to be significantly improved to make voice the primary method for navigating extensive digital music libraries. The trailblazer right now is Amazon and its proprietary Alexa platform, which has already found its way into millions of homes via the online retail giant’s Echo home speakers. Amazon has established a lead here and is committed to putting serious resources into voice recognition going forward.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.

New issue of Music & Copyright with Russia country report

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

UK High Court orders ISPs to block servers of illegal streaming services
The handing out of blocking orders to an ISP by a court is nothing new in several developed countries. Rights holders have for several years applied to courts to force ISPs to prevent their subscribers from accessing websites or torrent trackers that host or provide access to unlicensed music and media content. However, in line with the shift in legal content distribution to access from ownership, illegal services offering streams of copyrighted content are now common. Website blocking orders are unable to prevent these streams from reaching consumers. In the UK, the first legal order to block access to unlicensed streaming service servers has been granted, effectively paving the way for rights holders to extend the use of blocking orders far beyond their current reach.

Georgia court clears iHeartMedia in pre-1972 master rights claim
The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that iHeartMedia does not have to pay mechanical reproduction royalties for the broadcast of sound recordings fixed in copyright before Feb. 15, 1972. The class action claim was brought by Arthur and Barbara Sheridan, master-rights owners of several 1950s and 1960s recordings performed by influential musicians of the era such as the Flamingos, Little Walter, and the Moonglows. The Sheridans had claimed that iHeartMedia never received authorization to stream their owned recordings. However, the Georgia court ruled that the streaming services provided by iHeartRadio qualify as a related use to a radio broadcast transmission due to their substantial similarity and the fact that streaming of sound recordings and broadcast by AM/FM radio are essentially the same in nature. As AM/FM radio broadcasters have the right to transfer sound recordings as part of radio broadcast transmissions, the court sided with iHeartMedia.

Music begins to get serious about music tech startups
The music industry is pouring resources into technology startups, at the same time as venture capital money looks for opportunities in the music-tech space. More music companies are joining forces with investors to seek out and advance tech-based business concepts inside accelerator/incubator programs, with a view to being part of the “next big thing.” In addition, leading firms with startup mentalities in their own DNA are on the lookout for early-stage developments, with a view to boosting their operations in highly competitive sectors.

Russia country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Russia music industry report. Russia’s two main music industry sectors, recorded and live, have endured contrasting fortunes for much of this century. Recorded-music sales have always struggled to reach anything close to their potential, while the live sector has gone from strength to strength. The last few years have seen a reversal of fortune, with recorded-music sales benefitting from increased consumer interest in streaming and the live sector suffering a downturn, largely because of the devaluation of the ruble.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.

New issue of Music & Copyright with China country report

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

Much of MEA’s digital music fortunes lie with carriers and RBTs
Music revenue in the Middle East and North Africa is largely in decline, while revenues in Sub-Saharan Africa are growing at a relatively vigorous pace. But, overall, the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region generates negligible digital music revenue other than that derived from mobile – a reality that is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. In essence, virtually all digital music revenue produced throughout most of the region comes from ring-back tones (RBTs), and the lion’s share of that revenue is ending up in the hands of mobile operators, which have a monopoly over the delivery of RBTs. Unfettered piracy; limited access to broadband; high data charges; low smartphone penetration; consumers’ inability or unwillingness to pay for music; insufficient spending on digital advertising; inexistent or inadequate royalty-collection systems; and, in a fair number of countries, political unrest and war, are all factors conspiring against the success of digital music services – both a-la-carte and all-you-can-eat.

Vivendi hits back over Spinal Tap fraudulent accounting claims
Vivendi has filed a motion with a California district court to dismiss claims made by the co-creators of cult movie This Is Spinal Tap. Late last year, the co-creators accused Vivendi and its movie studio subsidiary, Studiocanal, of engaging in anticompetitive and unfair business practices as well as fraudulent accounting, and sought compensatory and punitive damages of $400m. Vivendi and Studiocanal claimed their motion to dismiss was brought because the co-creators had failed to state a claim upon which any damages could be granted and because they had not provided any evidence of fraud as required under federal rule of civil procedure. The two defendants also refuted the termination rights claims, since the music in the movie was made as a work-for-hire.

Premium subscriptions now one-third of total Belgian music sales
Belgium’s recorded-music sector has registered a second consecutive year of growth in retail spending. According to new figures published by the Belgian Entertainment Association (BEA), total consumer spending on recorded music grew 6.9% year-on-year in 2016, around the same rate as in 2015. The improved performance was almost all down to a big rise in spending on subscription services countering falls elsewhere. Vinyl sales also increased, although the format accounts for a minor share of total spending. Despite the growing interest in streaming, Belgian music consumers continue to support the CD album, with the format accounting for the biggest share of retail spending. The second year of overall growth is positive news for Belgian record companies, given the numerous years of decline the industry has seen. It should, though, be remembered that record company earnings from recorded-music sales in the country are still less than half what they were at the turn of the century.

China country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed China music industry report. China is the world’s most populous country, with close to 1.4 billion people. It is also home to the second-biggest economy. Despite a slight slowdown in economic growth last year, the latest figures from China’s statistics bureau suggest the country is on course to meet the government’s aim of doubling GDP and per capita earnings between 2010 and 2020. In line with this optimistic outlook, China’s music industry is starting to show signs that it is living up to its long-held potential. In the past there have been several false starts. More recently, though, glimmers of optimism look set to turn into real sales. The latest IFPI figures show that trade revenue was up sharply in 2015, with a number of digital formats and services the growth drivers. Ovum estimates that growth continued last year and that more is set to come. China’s digital infrastructure is highly developed, and with smartphone penetration on the rise, all the requirements for further digital growth are firmly in place. However, some creative sectors continue to suffer against a backdrop of unlicensed services and restrictive practices. Royalty collections have grown consistently for the last seven or so years, but given the size of the population and level of music use, rights holders’ earnings measured at a per capita rate are still very small.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.

New issue of Music & Copyright

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

EU negotiators agree on new rules for cross-border online content service use
European Union (EU) negotiators have agreed on a series of new rules allowing citizens of member states to maintain access to online content services when they travel out of their home country around the EU. Services covered by the new cross-border rules include films, sports events, e-books, video games, and music. The agreement marks the first related to the modernization of EU copyright rules as proposed by the European Commission as part of its Digital Single Market strategy announced in May 2015. The next step will see the agreement formally confirmed by the Council of the EU and the European Parliament. Once adopted, the new rules will become applicable in all member states by beginning of 2018.

Sixteen countries singled out by the IIPA in latest copyright enforcement report
The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has released its annual report detailing the impact that piracy and limitations on market access are having on US copyright holders in the worst-offending countries around the world. Eight countries were placed on the priority watch list with a further eight countries placed on the watch list. In line with last year’s change on previous annual reports, the latest IIPA release focuses on markets where the organization believes that active engagement by the US government could generate positive results for creators and the industries that support them. The IIPA said that in several key foreign markets, meeting the challenges identified in its report would create US jobs, promote exports, and contribute substantially to healthy economic growth in the US and overseas.

Major labels file copyright lawsuit against mixtape service Spinrilla
Mixtape site Spinrilla and its founder are being sued by the major record companies for alleged copyright infringement of their works. The labels filed a lawsuit in an Atlanta district court claiming that Spinrilla has profited from widespread copyright infringement for at least three years. The site and accompanying mobile apps allow users to freely stream and download content as well as make playlists and share music. The labels are claiming Spinrilla has committed direct and secondary copyright infringement and are claiming the maximum statutory damages or actual damages, including Spinrilla’s profits from its infringement.

Spain’s recorded-music sector sees third consecutive year of growth
After a long period of year-on-year contractions in trade earnings from recorded-music sales, Spanish trade body Promusicae has reported a third successive year of growth. Although combined revenue from physical and digital formats and on-demand access services only edged up last year, and although the growth rate was lower than the previous two years, the sector’s performance was notable for a number of reasons. Digital income overtook earnings from physical formats for the first time, and access services generated more than half of the overall recorded-music revenue total. The vinyl revival continued, and earnings from mobile personalization rose sharply. Despite the continued good news, it is sobering to remember that total trade revenue is still a quarter of the size it was at the turn of the century.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.

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.

Sprint-backed Tidal set to challenge the US music-streaming leaders
Music subscription service Tidal has sold a third stake in the company to US mobile operator Sprint. In what is being seen as a win/win for the two companies, Tidal will gain access to new finance, Sprint’s customer base, and a dedicated artist marketing fund, while Sprint will be able to offer its users a music streaming service brimming with exclusives and rare recordings and video footage. Questions have been raised over the price paid by Sprint for its stake. However, if the service boosts the mobile operator’s performance indicators, other operators in the country might follow suit and look more closely at one of the other smaller music services.

Honoring dead artists and managing commercial exploitation is tricky to get right
Unfortunately for many music fans around the world, last year was notable for the number of high-profile artists and performers that passed away. Famous names including David Bowie, Glen Frey, Leonard Cohen, Prince, and George Michael all died in 2016, leaving copyrights to some of the world’s biggest and best-selling musical works to others. In most cases, there are provisions for both what to do with those works and who benefits from them while they are in copyright. However, in some cases, heirs can be forced to make tough decisions to balance preserving an artist or performer’s legacy and the necessary business of commercial exploitation. History has shown there is big money to be made after a popular artist dies, but making sure a legacy created over a number of years is not tarnished by quick decisions can prove difficult.

Japan heading for a full-year fall in recorded-music sales
New figures published by the Japanese recorded-music trade association, the RIAJ, show that the total production value of physical formats and the number of units produced were down in 2016 compared with 2015. Both audio and video formats suffered a production dip; however, the rate of decline was fairly modest compared with some of the sizeable falls experienced in a number of other developed markets. No full-year figures for digital trade earnings have been released yet, but based on digital revenue in the first nine months of 2016, the world’s second-biggest recorded-music market looks set to register a slight overall decline.

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 report. Canada’s music industry registered an improved performance in 2016. Recorded-music sales in unit terms grew, on the back of a big jump in streaming. Whether that rise converts to revenue growth will be confirmed in the next couple of months, when the IFPI publishes trade revenue figures for the country. UMG remains the clear market share leader, ahead of SME. However, both majors experienced a dip in market share in 2016, with WMG and the indie sector making gains. Preliminary details published by authors’ society SOCAN show that royalty collections were up for the fourth year in a row, with the level of royalties collected and distributed all breaking previous records. Canada’s live music industry is also thought to have had a good 2016.

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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.

Music industry and consumer support for higher-quality audio streams grows
The idea of making high-resolution (hi-res) or high-definition (HD) music appealing to more than just audiophiles is a step closer following the announcement by a number of recorded-music industry stakeholders at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that they are to boost their output of high-quality music. Music subscription service Tidal has also enhanced its commitment to high-quality streaming with improvements to the quality of its high-fidelity tier. A number of research reports suggested last year that increased sound quality was growing in importance for consumers who have become accustomed to music streaming. However, with the two biggest digital music service providers in the world, Spotify and Apple, yet to make any significant high-quality music moves, there remain serious questions over the likely success of the renewed push for the delivery of better-quality sound.

Lower collections for IPRS as Delhi court introduces interim rights-licensing process
India’s authors’ society, IPRS, has reported a drop in collections for the financial year ending March 2016. With the exception of the minor income source TV broadcasting, all revenue streams suffered a fall. IPRS commented that unfavorable court rulings and litigation were the main reasons for the income reduction. IPRS has also been instructed by a Delhi court not to issue any new licenses for the next three months. The interim order, which also affects licenses issued by the performance rights organizations (PROs) Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) and Novex Communications, was made on the grounds that the PROs are unregistered and so are operating in contravention of India’s copyright act.

Live music set to register another record year for ticket sales
Assessing the performance of the live-music sector from one year to the next at anything beyond a national level is speculative at best. Unlike its recorded-music counterpart, which is well organized under the auspices of the IFPI, the live industry has no all-encompassing trade association. Moreover, despite the emergence in recent years of a small number of corporate promoters, the live industry is not controlled by a few players, unlike the recorded-music sector, which is dominated by the three majors. However, some guidance can be gained from the results of the corporate live leaders. Based on their financial details for the first nine months of last year, the live music industry is likely to have registered a positive 2016. Although the individual performances of each company differed, the combined earnings for the featured promoters showed positive overall growth. Moreover, share price gains over the last 12 months for four of the six companies pointed to ongoing city approval for the live entertainment sector.

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 report. 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 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 the country’s collection agency, SoundExchange, collects royalties only from digital music services.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.

New issue of Music & Copyright with Poland country report

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

Prince’s estate files copyright infringement claim against Roc Nation
The estate of the artist Prince has filed a lawsuit at the US District Court for the District of Minnesota against Roc Nation, accusing the company of copyright infringement. According to the lawsuit, Roc Nation-owned and -controlled music subscription service Tidal has been streaming the late artist’s recorded-music catalog without the necessary license. Prior to his death in April, Prince had pulled his music from all streaming services and was a fierce critic of access services. However, an exclusive deal was agreed with Tidal in August 2015 to stream Prince’s final album, HitNRun: Phase 1. In June, Tidal added a number of Prince albums to its service, claiming to have signed a deal with the artist. Although the estate said it recognized the initial agreement for HitNRun: Phase 1, it said it was unaware of any further deal between Prince and Tidal.

Court rules GEMA should not distribute collections to publishers
A court in Germany has ruled that GEMA does not have the authority to distribute royalty collections to music publishers. A case was brought by two author members of GEMA, who successfully argued that they should receive both the publishers’ share and the authors’ share of collections, since it is the authors alone who introduce usage rights to GEMA. Although the full reasoning behind the court’s decision has not yet been published, the result echoed an April ruling by a different German court in a case brought by an author of scientific works against collection society VG Wort. In that case, the court ruled that WG Wort could pay out of license fees for statutory remuneration to publishers in exceptional cases only.

Podcast take-up is growing, but monetization remains a challenge
In the US, 89 million people have listened to a podcast, and 17% of the population are regular listeners, a proportion that has grown substantially in recent years. But while podcasts are popular, they generate strikingly little revenue. Audiences are fractured, and advertisers are skeptical of the medium. Nonetheless, nearly all newspapers, broadcasters, and other media organizations produce podcasts in some form. For them, podcasts are a low-cost means of building their multimedia offerings and developing their brands. Similarly, some specialist podcast producers use the medium for self-promotion, while others simply carve out a modest living talking about a subject they love. More effective monetization may be around the corner as technology improves and as growing podcast audiences attract more interest from advertisers. But while podcasts have considerable room for growth in profitability, they will remain challenging to monetize in the short term.

Poland country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Poland music industry report. Poland’s two main music industry sectors, recorded and live, have both experienced positive times of late. Local trade association ZPAV signaled in September that strong midyear recorded-music sales in the country will result in a third straight year of growth. Higher trade earnings from physical formats and streaming were behind this year’s recorded-music gains. Although Poland has no live music trade association, local promoters have reported positive results for 2016 and are expecting a similarly good 2017. In contrast to recorded and live, royalty collections in the country have suffered two years of declines, with rising earnings from public performance more than offset by lower broadcasting collections.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.