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 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.

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.

New issue of Music & Copyright with Sweden country report

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

Mid-year trade results hint at a flat year for global recorded music sales
Almost all of the world’s biggest recorded music markets have published their mid-year sales figures. An assessment that the total global trade revenue from the sale of physical and digital recorded music and income from music access services will return to growth suggests the industry is heading for a stable year. Although music subscription services are continuing to experience gains in most of the leading markets, it remains on a knife edge as to whether the rise in record company earnings from access services this year will fully offset the lower income being generated by download and CD album sales. There have been some very positive mid-year results from countries that have suffered steady annual declines in recorded music sales for several years. But such is the ongoing dominance of a small number of markets, a return to global growth remains in the hands of the few.

SIAE reports slight growth in music repertoire collections in 2014
Italian authors’ society SIAE has reported a return to growth for royalty collections in 2014. Following a difficult 2013 when music collections fell and overall royalty income suffered a decline, SIAE said authors’ earnings from music repertoire edged up in 2014 with growth also reported for collections from dramatic works as well as opera. Although income from movies, literary works, and visual arts suffered a decline, the overall collection total for SIAE was positive. Digital music collections rose for the second consecutive year, but, as a share of total income, the collection source is still very low.

Rights holders use carrot and stick approach for music sampling
The art of music sampling had its heyday prior to the music industry’s sharp reversal of fortune. However, rights holders are increasingly eager to monetize the practice. Chasing unauthorized samplers through the courts is one way to do this, although EMI Production Music is choosing to give users of uncleared samples the opportunity to come clean, while also offering a spot of forgiveness for past sampling transgressions. But EMI’s initiative is a short-term promotional exercise above everything, and the threat of litigation will remain the primary mode of licensing enforcement — and revenue collection — going forward. However, those artists looking to legitimately use samples in their compositions are not finding it easy to clear rights and publishers really need to simplify their systems to accommodate them.

Sweden country report
In addition to the usual set of music industry statistics and news briefs, the latest issue of Music & Copyright includes a detailed Sweden music industry profile. Sweden has quickly 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. There have been signs of a slowdown in music subscription take-up, but earlier this year the local IFPI branch said it was confident there was still considerable room for growth. The IFPI made its comments after mid-year figures hinted at a return to growth in total trade revenue after a slight dip in 2014. One of the major beneficiaries from the digital growth has been STIM, the authors’ society, with collections last year rising to record levels on the back of authors’ growing digital earnings.

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Music & Copyright is published by Ovum.

New issue of Music & Copyright with France country report

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 & Copyright is published by Ovum.

Music subscription services face a difficult balancing act between price and value

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

Has streaming really brought the good times back to Sweden’s recorded-music sector?

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.

Sweden sales 2000-2013

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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