Australasian collection society APRA AMCOS reported record revenue of a third of a billion Australian dollars for the financial year 2015-2016. The main driver for the revenue gains for both societies was over A$20 million ($15 million) in digital revenue from downloads, subscriptions and ad-funded streaming services, video-on-demand, websites, and user-generated services. CEO Brett Cottle said, “the sheer volume of music being consumed is growing exponentially, which means that the fruits of this growth are being spread over a vastly increased pool of songwriters.”
Google and Amazon are under fire for utilizing a loophole in US Copyright law to exploit songwriters’ work without compensation. These services have been sending notices of intent to use songwriters’ works to the U.S. Copyright Office if they’re unable to find the songwriter’s contact information, allowing them to continue to use the songs without paying royalties until the songwriter is found. Songwriters are sometimes never found, and the services are legally allowed to continue to use their work for free due to compulsory licenses mandated by the US government.
Core Rights has partnered with SOCAN and Re:Sound to form Canada’s first country-wide digital marketplace for licensing music rights, with the help of a strategic alliance with Soundstr. Nashville-based Core Rights creates digital marketplaces that power licensing needs across countries and markets, integrating into existing PROs and other rights management functions to manage e-commerce, transactions, and digital contracts. This new platform will allow digital agents representing business owners, rights holders, and music suppliers to meet to create a one-stop shop for customers.
Bob Dylan becomes the first musician ever in history to earn the Nobel Prize in Literature. The 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature is being awarded to Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” according to the Swedish Academy. Although Dylan has enjoyed perennial favor as an outside shot for the award, musicians have historically not been considered to win this type of prize. This unexpected award also makes Dylan the first American to claim the prize since novelist Toni Morrison in 1993.
Unofficial, user-created content is now available on Spotify and Apple Music. Thanks to agreements with Dubset, a music rights management service, Spotify and Apple Music now allow unofficial mixes to appear on their platforms, placing them more directly as competitors with SoundCloud. By scanning an entire mix and matching every part of the track to official songs, Dubset makes sure original rights holders are identified and distributes the proper royalty shares.
BMI is supporting the next Song Arts Academy’s songwriting workshop in New York City. Song Arts Academy, a learning space for songwriters, is holding its next songwriting workshop throughout the month of November in Manhattan. The workshop is based on the model of BMI’s songwriter workshops, and is designed to help emerging songwriters polish their work and give them them insight into what drives a song to be a hit. Past participants include The Voice and American Idol contestants, as well as hundreds of songwriters in the tri-state area.
Legendary British songwriter Rod Temperton has passed away at age 66. Often referred to as “The Invisible Man,” Temperton’s catalog includes many of Michael Jackson’s classic hit, such as “Thriller,” “Off the Wall,” and “Rock With You,” as well as songs performed by Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, and Quincy Jones. Jon Platt, Chairman & CEO of Warner/Chappell where Temperton signed his catalog in July announced his passing on October 5 saying, “His family is devastated and request total privacy at this, the saddest of sad times.”
The Sony Corp. has finalized its acquisition of the Michael Jackson estate’s share of Sony/ATV Publishing, giving it sole ownership of the company. The acquisition does not include the Jackson estate’s interest in other music assets, such as all of Jackson’s master recordings as well as Mijac Music, the publishing company that owns all of the songs written by Jackson as well as some of his favorite songwriters. Sony/ATV chairman/CEO Martin Bandier stated that the deal “marks the start of an exciting new chapter in our proud history and we cannot wait to get started as a 100% Sony-owned company.”
The Music Week Sync Awards have announced the finalists in the 19 categories for this year’s event. Scheduled to take place on October 20 at the Bloomsbury Ballroom in London, the awards will showcase the best and most successful sync placements across film, TV, videos games, and online, and will be voted on by a series of judging panels comprising of professionals from across the industry. Nominees include major labels and publishers as well as independent and up-and-coming talent.
The Open Music Initiative has announced that it will be using Intel blockchain technology to simplify how creators and rightsholders are identified and paid. The technology, Sawtooth Lake, will serve as OMI’s reference platform open source ledger for tracking, managing, and protecting use of intellectual property and to facilitate transparency and seamless payment flows within the industry. OMI co-founder and technology lead Dan Harple said, “Capitalizing on blockchain technology via Sawtooth Lake will help us address the music industry’s most vexing challenge — protecting creative rights, intellectual property and the livelihood of the artists, entertainers and music owners who enrich our lives.”
YouTube has named founder and current CEO of 300 Lyor Cohen its new Global Head of Music. While he will remain 300’s largest individual investor, Cohen will step down from his day-to-day responsibilities as CEO in December of this year. At YouTube, Cohen will have the large task of repairing the company’s relationship with the music industry, and “accelerating growth in a fair way for everyone,” said Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl.
Spotify is in advanced talked to acquire rival music service SoundCloud, just months after SoundCloud launched its own paid streaming service. While Spotify is the market leader in the growing paid streaming business, SoundCloud has a much larger catalog than any other streaming service–about 125 million tracks. Acquiring SoundCloud could help Spotify bolster its own catalog and offer emerging artists an easier way onto the service, as well as make the case for ad-supported streaming.
BMI’s rate-court Judge has ruled against the Department of Justice’s 100% licensing decision. Judge Louis Stanton stated that “the consent decree neither bars fractional licensing nor requires full-work licensing,” exactly the opposite of what the DOJ argued in its controversial ruling earlier this summer. NMPA president & CEO David Israelite lauded the decision, saying, “Thanks to the courage of Mike O’Neill, BMI, and the entire songwriting and music publishing community, the DOJ’s disastrous views on 100% licensing have been rejected by a federal Judge. This is a huge win for songwriters and a huge win for the rule of copyright law.”
In an effort to create a more efficient and transparent music marketplace, ASCAP has launched a Digital Team, comprised of the Digital Product & User Experience Group and the newly created Data Strategy & Business Intelligence group. The team’s first launch is the redesigned public repertory search, ACE, and plans to re-launch a modernized, intuitive ASCAP.com and Member Access experience. ASCAP says it will harness its “rich data and other assets to [improve] ASCAP’s music licensing, royalty collection, and distribution processes.”
Facebook is searching for a Director of Global Music Licensing Partnerships, a move that industry executives view as a sign that the social network has decided to be more engaged with the music community. Responsibilities of the role include leading music licensing strategy negotiations with global rightsholders and being a source of deep insights about the music ecosystem. Songtrust’s own Joe Conyers stated, “This is the response to Facebook realising it needs to improve its relationship with the industry. They face the eventually of our entire industry realising how much money we are losing from the cannibalisation of Youtube via Facebook Video. If they want to be a real player in video, they need to fairly treat copyright holders.”