The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.
PRS for Music begins legal action against SoundCloud
UK authors’ society PRS for Music has begun legal action against the online audio streaming service SoundCloud. In a notice to its members, Karen Buse, executive director, membership and international at PRS, said the decision came after “careful consideration” and followed “five years of unsuccessful negotiations” to agree a license. No license means PRS members are not being paid for music streamed by the service. SoundCloud responded to the lawsuit by claiming that it does not need a license for its existing service and said it has deals in place with thousands of rights holders including record labels, publishers, and independent artists. The service described PRS’s actions as regrettable given that commercial negotiations with the authors’ society were ongoing.
Live music competition heats up in Germany as Live Nation muscles in
In August, the global events giant Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) formed Live Nation Concerts Germany (LNCG) with the local concert promoter Marek Lieberberg to promote concerts and festivals in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland from the beginning of next year. LNE said at the time that Lieberberg was the fifth largest promoter in the world and that the deal would add more than 700 shows and 2 million fans to LNE’s current platform of 23,000 shows for 60 million fans across more than 40 countries. Under the terms of the deal, Marek Lieberberg will be chief executive officer of the new division with Andre Lieberberg serving as president. However, LNE has already failed once to crack the German live music sector and there are no guarantees the company will succeed this time around.
Crunch time for SFX as company faces possible bankruptcy and break-up
Live music promoter SFX Entertainment is facing the real prospect of being broken up and sold after chairman and CEO Robert F.X. Sillerman failed in his move to take the company private. Sillerman has embarked on a second attempt to take back the company that went public at the end of 2013 but, with a new deadline of the beginning of October – a month that will also see Sillerman face up to legal claims from ex-business acquaintances that they were partly behind the founding of SFX – the future of the company looks bleak. Revenue keeps rising but so do losses and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the future of company has driven up talk of bankruptcy and driven down the share price.
Physical formats are still the backbone of Japan’s recorded music sector
The Japanese music trade association, the RIAJ, has reported positive physical and digital recorded music trade figures for the first half of this year. Production levels of physical formats and record company earnings from digital sales and services increased year-on-year between January and June raising speculation that the total trade sales for the full year may return to growth after two consecutive years of decline. Although local record companies will welcome a rise in revenue, physical formats still account for around three-quarters of total trade income. Digital sales have proved resilient in the last year or so after some big annual falls, but should sales of CDs start going the same way as they have in many developed markets in the West, Japan’s recorded music sector may face some very tough times again.
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For anyone interested in the recorded-music industry and where it is headed, it is difficult to escape the many articles and reports speculating on how music will be served to consumers in the coming years. For those living in Norway or Sweden the answer is already very clear with music subscription services leading the charge to a growth in sales after countless years of decline. Such has been the rise in music subscriptions in the two countries, streaming now forms part of sales charts published each week. IFPI Norway added streaming to album charts from the beginning of November. Previously, the album chart had only included physical sales and downloads. Sweden added streaming to its national album chart in October. IFPI Norway said by including streaming figures the album and singles charts reflected “the total consumption of music in Norway.” Streaming has been included in the Norwegian singles chart since the spring of 2011.
Adding streaming usage to a sales chart is a natural progression in the collation of music sales and recognition of how accessing recorded-music has changed. Excluding streaming from sales charts, particularly in a country where the majority of trade revenues now come from subscription services, would make those charts incomplete, unrepresentative and irrelevant. Continue reading
Depending on where a musician sits in the music industry value chain, a top-10 list of what’s most important to an unsigned artist will differ greatly to one compiled by a million-album seller. Scratching a living out of music is something tens of thousands of musicians do every day. Although the Internet has opened up the promotion and distribution of music to anyone with a computer, it has also made selling music a lot more difficult as almost every single release in a digital-music store is available for free somewhere online. Continue reading
In the past 20 years or so, all sectors of the music industry have been through massive change. Format transitions, company consolidation and greater scrutiny of copyright and licensing have changed the industry beyond all recognition. But have the changes made for industry improvements, and more important, have the main players learned from their mistakes? The recent discovery of the first issues of Music & Copyright has allowed for a unique look at just how much certain things have changed, and how much they haven’t.
The newsletter’s 20-year anniversary came and went in September, but thanks to a long-standing subscriber, copies of the first 24 issues published have been found and make for interesting reading. Despite containing names that have either long since left the music industry or been swallowed up as part of industry consolidation, the headlines for a number of news stories resonate closely with happenings today. Continue reading
As the issue of multiterritory licensing comes under the spotlight in Europe, differences in rates charged and rights splits will become more evident. Will an EU directive that breaks down national borders be followed by a bigger push for deeper collection-society harmonization across the region?
With publication of the European Commission’s new multiterritory licensing proposals, Brussels’ efforts to harmonize the EU’s digital-music landscape are looking to build on legislation harmonizing authors’ and publishers’ rights that are managed by collection societies. Continue reading
The European Commission (EC) is planning to publish draft legislation proposals early next year that will include new rules for the cross-border licensing of digital music. For several years representatives of the EC have expressed a mixture of mild irritation and outright annoyance over the licensing process for digital-music services in Europe. The number of such services has grown rapidly in the region, but several service providers continue to bemoan the time-consuming process involved in securing rights to operate in several countries. New business models specializing in digital-music delivery have brought change to collection societies, but according to some service providers, rights remain fragmented, and some providers have questioned whether the major publishers’ Pan-European initiatives have simply added a new layer of fragmentation and complexity to the licensing process, with Europe’s largest collection societies the only ones seeing any benefit. Continue reading
Last month the Pan-Nordic mechanical-rights-collection society Nordisk Copyright Bureau (NCB) reported a fall in the total amounts collected and distributed to its owner societies for last year. Despite the decline, NCB described 2010 as an important year and one that removed much of the uncertainty over the collection society’s future. Perhaps more important though, is the fact that NCB and its owner societies have shown that collection societies, if left to their own devices, can develop a very workable multiterritory online licensing system. Continue reading