New issue of Music & Copyright with Sweden country report

The final issue of Music & Copyright for 2016 is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.

GMR hits back at RMLC with antitrust complaint
US performance rights organization Global Music Rights (GMR) has filed an antitrust complaint at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC), accusing it of collusive tactics to depress the royalty rates paid by radio stations to songwriters and of operating an unlawful cartel intended to stifle competition among radio stations. The lawsuit follows a similar filing in November by the RMLC against GMR which accused the performance rights organization (PRO) of attempting to charge the US commercial radio industry monopoly prices to publicly perform musical works in the GMR repertory. In response, the RMLC described the GMR lawsuit as nothing more than a ploy designed to pressure the RMLC into paying higher royalty rates for GMR content than it currently pays other US PROs. It also accused GMR of ignoring the long-established court-set royalty rate system.

OTT video service growth and the challenge to broadcast royalty collections
Over-the-top (OTT) broadcasting of audio and video is a delivery system that has rapidly grown in popularity, from the perspective of both distribution and consumption. With its divergence from traditional means of broadcast – in that content is delivered using the open Internet rather than a service provider’s own infrastructure – it is not an understatement to say OTT has revolutionized broadcasting. Multiple services, including those from pure-play providers, such as Netflix and Amazon, and those from national pay-TV operators, are available across the world, many offering compelling libraries that include content from linear pay-TV services. Revenue from OTT services is rising, and growing numbers of consumers are finding the flexibility and convenience of OTT offerings preferable to traditional broadcast services. Pay-TV services’ entry into the OTT sector is as much about attracting subscribers who have yet to engage with a full paid-for offering as it is about competing with the current pure-play services. However, with the competition for broadcast eyeballs intensifying, collective rights management organizations could be forgiven for feeling a little apprehension that broadcast royalties are going to come under pressure, particularly given that the income source has for so many years been their biggest revenue generator.

Pricing, bundles, and new hardware set to drive digital music subscription growth
The recorded-music sector is rapidly becoming reliant on service providers rather than music sellers. The term “music retail” is fading from common parlance, and those years-old brands that for so long formed the epicenter of young consumers’ music lives have all but been replaced by the faceless but logo-heavy new kids on the block. It is often said that no one likes change, but the opportunities now available to many music industry service providers and secondary facilitators mean the latest changes have been for the better. Ovum has picked out three key trends that both primary and secondary music industry players should take note of if they want to benefit from what is now being seen as an industry on the up.

Sweden country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, Music & Copyright also includes a detailed Sweden music industry report. Over a relatively short period of time, Sweden has become the world leader in terms of music access, with home-grown service Spotify dominating not only record-company earnings from digital music, but also total Swedish recorded-music trade revenue. While there has been an inevitable slowdown in the take-up of music subscriptions, the local IFPI branch said earlier this year that it was confident there was still room for growth and noted that interest in music in the country remained high. One of the ongoing beneficiaries of the digital growth has been authors’ society STIM, whose collections last year rose to record levels on the back of authors’ growing digital earnings. The live sector also registered a good year, with ticket sales to concerts and festivals registering healthy growth.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.


New issue of Music & Copyright with Japan country report

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

ECJ clarifies the copyright infringement rules concerning hyperlinks
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that the posting of a hyperlink on a website to works protected by copyright and published without the author’s consent on another website does not necessarily constitute a communication to the public, so long as the person that posts the link does not seek financial gain and acts without knowledge that the works have been published illegally. The Dutch Supreme Court had asked the ECJ for clarity in a case brought by Sanoma Media, the local publisher of Playboy magazine, against GS Media, owner of the online news service GeenStijl. Sanoma had accused GeenStijl of repeatedly posting links to websites hosting unauthorized Playboy photos of the Dutch TV presenter Britt Dekker. Although the case centered on photos, the ruling could have major implications for a wide range of media services and search engines.

MCSC reports another record year for royalty collections in China
Royalty collections in China are on something of a roll at the moment with total income for authors and publishers last year rising sharply. In September the local authors’ society MCSC published its business report for 2015, confirming that total collections had increased for the seventh consecutive year. In addition to a record total, collections grew at the fastest rate since 2011, with domestic and foreign income both registering growth. Despite only a slight rise in digital income, the collection source was the biggest single income stream for Chinese authors and publishers. The growth predicted in the uptake of digital music services in the next few years should provide a significant boost for digital collections. Although MCSC welcomed the positive results, the authors’ society noted that it been forced to take out a high number of copyright infringement lawsuits against various music users. MCSC did note an improvement in the legal environment and copyright law enforcement.

Flexible pricing is key to longer term music subscription growth
Music subscriptions have quickly become the mainstay of the recorded music sector. The leading streaming services are boosting record company earnings and returning global trade revenue to growth after many years of decline. The number of subscribers to the likes of Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal is continuing to rise, and consumer interest in music access rather than ownership is showing no signs of slowing. Perhaps surprisingly, the business model behind music subscriptions has changed little in the short time that the now-familiar brands have been operating. In most developed markets, there is a standard price across different streaming services and little difference in the amount of songs they offer. Free access is probably the biggest distinguishing factor, with some services maintaining an advertising-supported tier while others limit free access to a trial period. There is, however, a likelihood that some changes will have to be made to maintain the momentum. Because offering exclusives is currently a contentious move, streaming services may have to consider adjusting their prices to ensure future success.

Japan country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Japan music industry report. Japan is the second largest recorded music market in the world. According to the IFPI, the country ended 2015 behind the US in terms of overall trade revenue but was comfortably the global leader for trade income from sales of physical formats. One of only two Asian countries in the global top 10 (South Korea is the other), Japan is unique in several ways, with trade revenue from sales of physical formats still accounting for more than 80% of total record company income. After several years of decline, digital earnings have started rising again and subscription services are growing rapidly. The dominance of major record companies is being challenged by a number of local independent companies. Japan boasts one of the world’s largest authors’ societies in terms of royalties collected. It also has a buoyant live sector.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.

New issue of Music & Copyright with Indonesia country report

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

Just how big is recorded music streaming going to be?
In a fairly short space of time, music streaming has become the most important distribution means for the recorded music sector. Earlier this year the IFPI reported that streaming gains were behind the first substantial growth in global trade earnings for almost 20 years. Add to this the fact that all the major labels have confirmed in the last few weeks that streaming was the top recorded music revenue source in the first quarter of this year. We look at the latest developments in the music subscription sector and explains why streaming is now so important for the recorded music industry. It also predicts just how high the total number of paying subscribers could reach by 2020.

Subscription gains fail to offset physical format decline in Japan
The Japanese music trade association, the RIAJ, has reported physical and digital recorded music trade figures for the first three months of this year. Production levels of physical formats suffered a modest decline in the period compared with the same period of 2015. In contrast, total record company earnings from digital sales and services increased year on year in the quarter. However, the rate of growth in digital sales was not sufficient to fully offset the physical format declines. Although record companies in Japan will welcome the rise in digital revenue, physical formats still account for more than 80% of total trade earnings in the country. There is a real fear that any acceleration in the contraction rate of physical format sales could spell a tough few years for the Japanese recorded music sector.

Streaming and manufacturing initiatives set to bolster the vinyl renaissance
Vinyl remains in resurgence as consumers continue to show an appetite for the traditional analog format. But demand is stretching the industry to the limit and established vinyl pressers are struggling to keep pace, hamstrung by antiquated equipment, with record companies relying on old engineering from central Europe to feed the pipeline. There are, however, plenty of signs of innovation on the manufacturing side as fresh blood is drawn to the business. The age-old format might also be in line for an HD upgrade.

Indonesia country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Indonesia music industry profile. Indonesia has the third-largest population in Asia after China and India. Like the two leaders, it has for many years been thought of as a music market that offers great potential. But as a marketplace for creative content, it has been badly hit by the widespread availability of pirate recordings, and unauthorized CD albums are on sale throughout the country for a fraction of the price of legitimate copies. More recently, digital piracy has grown in line with Internet access. Indonesia is no different from a number of other Asian territories where music piracy is widespread. However, unlike many countries in the region, Indonesia has made notable improvements on intellectual property rights protection. Mobile personalization is currently the biggest revenue generator for record companies in the country. But several of the international music subscription services have set up shop in Indonesia and there is real hope for the future of recorded music sales. Indonesia’s digital infrastructure is also developing well with smartphone penetration on the rise. Essentially, all of the requirements for further digital growth are firmly in place.

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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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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

Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.