Apple has proposed a streaming royalty rate with the Copyright Royalty Board as part of a preceding to set statutory rates for downloads and interactive streaming services. The proposed rate, intended to simplify the way on-demand streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify pay songwriters and publishers, is 9.1 cents for every 100 streams of a song. The New York Times speculates that the proposal was meant to target its competitor, Spotify, as it would significantly raise the rates the service currently pays, and its “freemium” model.
SOCAN, the organization representing the Canadian performing rights of more than 4 million songwriters and publishers, has purchased Audiam. The acquisition, coming on the heels of SOCAN’s purchase of MediaNet, gives SOCAN a comprehensive database and metadata of all musical works and commercially released sound recordings, and the technology to connect the two, issue licenses, and properly pay rights-holders. The acquisitions also means that SOCAN has expanded into the collection of mechanical licensing and royalty distribution in the US and Canada.
Russia’s largest social network, VKontakte, is preparing to launch a paid subscription music service in the next six months. The social network has made licensing agreements with all three major labels, just two years after the three labels filed a joint lawsuit against the network for copyright infringement. The network, which has more than 88 million registered users in Russia and 148 million worldwide, will offer its users the ability to listen to audio recordings for free, but plans to add premium functions only for paid subscribers.
The European Commission will decide this month whether Sony/ATV may finalize its purchase of the Michael Jackson estate’s stake in its joint venture. Music companies and digital services have been invited to complete a survey pertaining to how to $750m buyout could alter or damage the music business in the future. Sources say that some estimates put Sony’s “control share” of 2015’s Top 100 chart in excess of 60% in at least two European countries, making them a significantly bigger player in these markets than even Universal Music Group.
The AIMP, CMPA, and A2IM have issued a joint response to the Department of Justice’s 100% licensing position. The three organizations, representing independent music publishers and labels in the US and Canada, joined forces to show unity in their condemnation of the recent decision by the DOJ. The statement concludes with, “The vast majority of music publishers, songwriters, labels, and recording artists are small- and medium-sized enterprises, and it is essential for them to be able to control the use of their copyrights in order to sustain their businesses and careers. If we value music, we need to value those who create it.”
PRS for Music has published its 2015 financial results, showing revenue up 4.7% and net distributable income up 4% year-on-year. The geographic breakdown shows that the majority of PRS’ revenue came from the UK, followed by Europe and North America. In addition to agreeing on a deficit recovery plan intended to fully fund its two defined benefit pension schemes by the end of 2024, the filing confirms that negotiations with MCPS remain underway to review the two bodies’ service-agreement terms.
The U.S. Department of Justice has chosen not to amend the 1941 consent decree and is moving ahead with the interpretation that PROs must use 100-percent licensing. The two-year process to amend the consent decree would have made it so music publishers had the right to withdraw digital licensing from the blanket licenses offered by ASCAP and BMI. Music publishers are also displeased at the decision to engage 100-percent licensing, as it may lead to reduced royalty rates, less collaboration between songwriters, and chaos for licensing in general.
In the UK, publishers are bringing in more than twice as much in sync revenue than record labels, at about £52m in 2014. While recorded music typically brings in at least six times the amount from streaming than compositions, the value of sync revenue and direct licensing has proven to be much more lucrative for publishers. Jane Dyball, CEO of the UK’s Music Publishers Association attributes the success of publishing in sync to its commitment to developing talent, with publishers spending £162m on A&R in 2014, just £16m behind record labels.
In the first half of 2016, for the first time in the history of the US music industry, more music streams took place on audio platforms than on video platforms. Nielsen Music’s mid-year report confirms that audio platforms saw 113.6 billion streams (up 97.4% from last year) in the last six months, with video platforms only at 95.3 billion streams. Streaming in general is up 58.7% from 2015, will on demand audio and video music streams at 208.9 million so far this year.
The NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment had its first-ever “NYC Music Industry Convening” to brainstorm how the city can support the music industry and its creators. The meeting occurred a week after the New York State Legislature voted to approve the Empire State Production Tax Credit which will give tax breaks for expenses related to recording musical projects within the state. The Office’s Commissioner Julie Menin said, “everyone [is] excited that music is now housed within a City agency that…is…both focused on bringing new opportunities to New York City and being supportive of the music industry.”
Music Reports Inc. is working with the US Copyright Office to make compulsory licensing more streamlined, efficient, and digital. MRI seems to have become the first to digitally file notices of intent (NOIs) for compulsory licenses, rather than the time-consuming and costly process of filing NOIs manually, by paper, and $2 a song. The Copyright Office has revamped the way it accepts NOIs and changed the pricing structure, so that they can be filed on excel spreadsheets for only 10 cents a track. MRI has also made it easy to match songs to their respective master and publisher owners with its Songdex database which has metadata on over 70 million tracks.
Google has partnered with LyricFind to add lyrics from over 4,000 publishers to its search results and and within GooglePlay Music. LyricFind, which collects rpyalties for songwriters and rightsholders, will provide licensing for lyrics displayed in the search results and in the music app on behalf of publishers from 100 countries, including the majors. LyricFind CEO Darryl Ballantyne says, “We’re happy to expand the depth and quality of lyrics available on Google’s services. We’re working together to make lyrics available to a larger audience in a faster and more efficient way.”
Over 500 creators and 20 organizations have signed a letter to US Congress calling for reform of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The biggest grievance is with the DMCA’s “safe harbor” protections, which allow platforms such as YouTube to avoid legal liability for copyright infringement taking place on its platform. Chairman and CEO of Azoff MSG Entertainment, Irving Azoff, organized the letter, and said “the entire industry is united and committed to pursuing a fair resolution. We are fighting for the future.”
58 members of European Parliament have penned a letter urging the European Commission to clarify the status of YouTube under copyright law. The letter discusses the “non-comparable increase in revenues from the increase in consumption” from platforms that host UGC and content aggregation services. Meanwhile, the International Artist Organisation (IAO) has also written to the EC, asking to ensure it’s not just the major labels’ interests that are served in any possible safe harbor reforms.
Vimeo has won an appeals court decision on copyright disputes against Capitol Records and others. The 2nd Circuit ruled that though sound recordings created before 1972 are protected by state law, federal law can still provide immunity on infringement of copyright to digital services. It also overturned the decision to deny Vimeo a safe harbor defence because certain employees were allegedly aware of such infringement, the opinion stating that “protecting service providers from the expense of monitoring was an important part of the compromise embodied in the safe harbor.”