The Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON) has filed an N16 Billion lawsuit against telecommunications giant, MTN, for copyright infringement. The lawsuit, which is the biggest copyright lawsuit ever in the continent of Africa, alleges copyright infringement by six of MTN’s brands. COSON is Nigeria’s sole government approved collective management for musical works and sound recordings, and is “resolute that the labour of Nigerian musicians and investors in the music industry who toil every day to make people happy will no longer be in vain.”
ICE, Europe’s music licensing body, has signed its first agreement with Google’s music streaming service, Google Play Music. ICE, a collaboration between PRS for Music in the UK, STIM in Sweden, and GEMA in Germany, represents around 250,000 rights-holders across Europe and hopes this agreement will help streamline licensing, resulting in growth and more profit for artists and rights-holders. Google Play Music’s Head of International Music Publishing Partner Operations, Victoria Campoamor says, “We look forward to building a constructive relationship with ICE and to the realisation of operational efficiencies from the new platform and its benefits to composers and publishers.”
Spotify has reported a dramatic increase in revenue, a slowdown in losses, and an increase in total users in 2015. 28 million of the streaming service’s 89 million users are on the subscription tier, a 75% increase, which is twice as many subscribers as Apple Music at its last report. Free listening only brought in about 10% of the platform’s total revenue, while the subscription tier brought in €1.7 billion, or 89.7% of total revenues. Spotify paid the record industry €1.63 billion, about 83% of its revenue, in royalties last year.
YouTube has built a new open-source implementation and validation tool that will deliver more accurate reporting of music content to music publishers and collection societies. The business’ customized adoption of the industry’s standard format for digital licensees to report sales and usage to music licensors will lower the cost of processing ever-growing streaming data. YouTube’s Global Head of Music Partnerships, Christophe Muller said, “YouTube is committed to helping the music industry by creating tools and resources and improving data flow in the digital age.”
The National Music Publishers’ Association has reached a deal with Dubset Media Holdings that will allow the NMPA’s independent members to collect publishing revenue from derivative works. This new streaming “sub-economy” is made possible through Dubset’s MixBANK, which cross-sections DJ mixes and remixes and identifies their constituent parts, determines the appropriate royalty splits, then services them to its clients, like Apple Music. Making participation in this new sub-economy available to individual songwriters and smaller publishers is a noteworthy advance, especially within the digital music economy.
The Independent Music Publishers Forum (IMPF) are fighting against market concentration and for higher streaming rates. The group, whose members include Downtown Music Publishing, Reservoir/Reverb Music, and SONGS Music Publishing, works to ensure that independent publishers have a voice in groups such as the ICMP, the global trade body representing music publishers’ interests. The group is focused now on creating a single, worldwide repository for all music publishing rights information as well as a redress in the balance of how much publishers get paid by streaming services.
Earlier this week, Digital Music News reported that Apple is preparing to terminate music download offerings on the iTunes store in the next two years. Apple, who typically does not respond to media inquiries, responded by saying that the news was not true, although Digital Music News’ sources stand by their accounts. One noted that Apple is likely receiving inquiries from labels and artists who are unhappy with the prospect of losing paid download sales in such a short time period.
Canada’s performing rights organization, SOCAN, has purchased music data company, MediaNet. MediaNet’s business-to-business music technology will allow SOCAN to offer 360-degree music rights administration to its four-million music creator and publisher members. The acquisition’s immediate benefit for SOCAN members is the increased matching on radio, TV, and other digital performances, with a level of data accuracy and transparency that few other music rights organizations can provide.
ASCAP has agreed to pay $1.75 million in response to an investigation by the Department of Justice regarding whether the performance rights organization was violating the old consent decree. One of the DOJ’s concerns was in regards to ASCAP giving advance payments to publishers in exchange for exclusive rights to license works. ASCAP says it had never enforced exclusivity and agreed to continue not to, in addition to agreeing to perform licensing negotiations without consultation with its board members which include big publishers like Universal Music.
Taylor Swift and Adele were the top earning artists in the publishing sector of the music industry in 2015. Billboard’s annual Moneymakers rankings list the top 10 earners in four major revenue stream sources: Sales, Streaming, Touring, and Publishing. Taylor Swift topped all four lists, with a total revenue of $73.5 million for the year, followed by Kenny Chesney, the Rolling Stones, and Billy Joel.
Songwriter rights activist, David Lowery, is appalled at Tunecore’s latest survey to its clients regarding the settlement reached between Spotify and the NMPA. The survey asks Tunecore’s songwriters whether they would like to opt in to the agreement, and if so, disqualifies them from joining any class action lawsuits against the streaming service. Lowery’s concerns stem from the fact that the agreement itself is not included, nor does the survey mention the possible statutory damages that songwriters are waiving by opting in.
Despite losses, Pandora posted revenue of $297.3 million for the first quarter of 2016, jumping 29% from the corresponding quarter the year before. The service attributed some of the losses to increased product costs due to higher rates from the Copyright Royalty Board and from signing direct publishing deals at higher rates than what the company would have paid if it employed the compulsory license. As part of the company’s focus on improving relations with music companies and artists, it is also moving to dramatically improve listeners’ experience, the company said.