The latest issue of Music & Copyright is now available for subscribers to download. Here are some of the highlights.
EC green-lights GEMA, PRS, and STIM pan-European online music licensing hub
The European Commission has given its approval to a joint online music-licensing venture between the three European collection societies GEMA, PRS for Music, and STIM. In January, the EC began an-depth investigation to determine if the venture was in line with European Union regulations on mergers. The investigation was launched after a preliminary investigation suggested that the combination of music repertoires currently controlled by the three collection societies could result in higher prices and worsened commercial conditions for digital service providers in the European Economic Area. In a joint statement, GEMA, PRS for Music, and STIM said the new hub will transform pan-European music licensing by enabling ease of access for digital music services to music rights as well as provide faster and more accurate payments of royalties to writers and their music publishers.
Both BUMA and STEMRA report collection growth in 2014
Dutch authors’ societies BUMA and STEMRA have reported a third consecutive year of growth in joint collections after three consecutive annual falls. Combined income for the two collection societies increased 5.3% last year, with gains reported in both performance and mechanical rights. Strong growth in streaming in the Netherlands resulted in an almost doubling of digital collections for BUMA. However, streaming remains a tiny source of revenue for authors and publishers in the country.
US Copyright Office opens up the debate on the future of orphan works
The US Copyright Office (USCO) has begun a new review of how best to deal with orphan works and mass digitization under the country’s copyright law. Earlier this year, the USCO asked for comments from stakeholders and held a number of public roundtables in Washington D.C. The culmination of viewpoints, as well as an analysis of issues impacting orphan works and mass digitization efforts along with a series of recommendations, has been published in a new report. The USCO has requested written comments on its recommendations be submitted by early August.
After the indie and Swift storm, Apple Music is all set to deliver the music streaming tipping point
Apple’s foray into music streaming has been a long time coming but Apple Music is set to hit the ground running. However, those who expected cool Apple to innovate in the streaming space need to “think different” as the company has designed a service which is pretty much a grab bag of features already out in the market. While that may be a disappointment for some, it is not necessarily a bad move. All Apple needs to do is provide a good, dependable music streaming service akin to Spotify’s and its marketing clout and the huge global penetration rate of its consumer electronics devices should ensure that becomes market leader. However, Apple Music is not about to wipe out the competition and the service’s launch will serve to lift most streamers’ boats.
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 profile. The French music industry experienced a contracted 2014 with recorded music sales and royalty collections both suffering a decline after a positive 2013. Despite the rise in music subscription and streaming revenue, continued falls in CD album and music download sales dragged down overall recorded music trade income. French authors’ society SACEM also suffered a reversal of fortune with the ongoing decrease in mechanicals overshadowing digital and broadcasting gains. France’s live music industry is highly competitive with national and international promoters battling for big name representation. High fees charged by leading artists make it difficult for promoters to return a profit and the increased concentration on bigger shows and festivals is causing a real headache for the country’s smaller events.
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Music is unquestionably important to most people’s lives, regardless of where they are in the world. Although not everyone spends money on recorded music or buys tickets to a gig or festival, a very high percentage of people listen to music on the radio at home or in their car. Restaurants, shops, and bars use music to create a particular ambience to encourage people to either relax or feel enlivened to improve their customers’ experience.
Music is essential and important
Just how important music is to consumers was one of the many questions included in a consumer survey conducted by Music & Copyright publisher Ovum in July. Over a three-week period, 15,000+ consumers across 15 countries were asked a number of questions about their media use. In terms of importance, music was considered essential by 42% of respondents, and important by a further 43%.
Although listening to music was less important than browsing the Internet and reading the news, it was considered more essential that interacting on social media and watching TV. Only 16% of respondents said listening to music was unimportant. Continue reading
Earlier this week Sweden’s local music trade association Grammofonleverantorernas Forening (GLF) proudly reported that total trade revenues from recorded-music sales increased 5.1% last year, to SEK991.2 million (US$152.2 million), from SEK943.6 million in 2012. The rate of growth was lower than the 13.8% year-on-year increase in 2012, but higher than the 0.5% upswing in 2011. Streaming was the big winner, with record company earnings from services such as Spotify and WiMP rising to SEK705.9 million, from SEK541.6 million in 2012. Based on the latest GLF figures, streaming accounted for slightly more than 71% of total trade revenues in 2013, up from 57.4% in 2012 and just 1.5% in 2008.
In a statement, the GLF CEO Ludvig Werner said three straight years of growth had pushed trade revenues to their highest level since 2004. However, he cautioned that record company earnings are still just 60% of the peak year of 2000.
With all the headlines about Sweden’s streaming boom, it is easy to forget how big the Swedish recorded-music market once was and how far it has fallen. Moreover, there are plenty of questions over how high streaming sales can actually go, particularly given the slowdown in the growth rate of streaming earnings (30.3% in 2013, down from 55.4% in 2012).
In just six years, sales of CDs in Sweden have more than halved, yet there is little published evidence detailing whether those CD buyers have switched to digital or are simply buying less recorded-music. In the early years of digital, falling trade revenues were a clear indicator that consumers were either switching to unauthorized services, or abandoning the recorded-music industry altogether. Download sales have never really taken hold in Sweden and so the big unknown is whether music subscription services have attracted consumers that stopped buying recorded-music, or whether the services are simply causing a redistribution of trade revenues from CDs and downloads.
Rising earnings suggests the growth has come from more than simple cannibalization, but it would be easy to gloss over the possibility that fewer Swedes are spending money on recorded-music, and that those consumers that are spending, are spending more. If that is the case then there will be a limit on how big the streaming boom will take Sweden’s recorded-music sector. No one is expecting streaming sales to keep on rising, but if streaming can’t return record company earnings to 2000 levels, then what can?
Music & Copyright
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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
In the past few months the publication of detailed national digital-music sales figures has illustrated great differences between countries’ digital-music-buying habits. Published analysis of digital-music sales patterns has drawn a variety of conclusions regarding whether subscription streaming services are cannibalizing download sales. However, as subscribing to music starts to become mainstream and download sales begin leveling off, or falling, more and more people are asking whether streaming is to blame. 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
At the end of last month the music industry once again descended on Cannes for the annual institution that is MIDEM. Opinions from the trade floor and the many conferences and panel sessions left visitors in no doubt that there has been a major shift in opinion from across the music industry that streaming and subscription services have really started to take off. Continue reading