Global music royalty collections were up for the second year in a row to $7.9 billion in 2015. At constant currency, that represented a 3.5% increased on 2014 according to the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC). CISAC is comprised of 239 member societies that represent four million creators worldwide, including US mechanical collection society Harry Fox Agency for the first time, which greatly contributed to the 13.2% rise year-on-year in the Canada/USA region.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has vetoed a $50 million tax-credit bill designed to boost music production jobs in the state. The bipartisan legislation called the Empire State Music Production Tax Credit would have provided a 25 percent tax credit for eligible music-production-related costs downstate and a 35 percent credit for those costs upstate. New York Is Music, a coalition of more than 200 music-related organizations is disappointed by the veto, but optimistic in the tax credit’s future.
Founding member of Wu-Tang Clan U-God is reportedly suing the group over unpaid royalties. U-God claims in his suit that he hasn’t received his share of royalty payments for six years, in addition to his share of merchandising and the top secret double album purchased by Martin Shkreli for $2 million. He is requesting at least $2.5 million which covers numerous breaches of contract as well as a complete accounting of Wu-Tang’s revenue streams.
The United States Department of Justice is appealing the ruling that concluded that fractional licensing is allowed under the BMI consent decree. Federal Judge Louis Stanton ruled in September against the DOJ’s decision to uphold the consent decree and enforce 100% licensing for the two performing rights organizations, ASCAP and BMI. The appeal does not come as a surprise to the PROs, publishers, or songwriters; BMI president/CEO Mike O’Neill said, “it is unfortunate that the DOJ continues to fight for an interpretation of BMI’s consent decree that is at odds with hundreds of thousands of songwriters and composers.”
A Berlin court ruled this week that top German collection society GEMA can no longer distribute a share of authors’ royalties to its music publishers. The ruling could have considerable economic repercussions on publishers, as it requires them to return all such payments made since 2010; payments distributed by GEMA to publishers normally account for 20% or more of revenues. The decision is a result of a claim brought by two musicians and GEMA members who argued that they were entitled to claim both the author and publishing shares as the rights of utilization had been contributed to GEMA solely by the copyright holders.
Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur has signed on as a sponsor to the Songwriter Equity Act of 2015. If passed, the bill, introduced by Congressman Doug Collins, will protect the rights and royalties of music creators. The bill continues to gain support on Capitol Hill, as Kaptur joins cosponsor New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. You can show your support of the bill by contacting your Congressional Representative and Senators via BMI’s online tool at www.bmi.com/advocacy.
Taylor Swift makes her return to the Hot Country Songs top 10 as writer on Little Big Town’s “Better Man.” The group revealed Swift to be the mystery writer of the song the day before the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards, where they won Group of the Year; their performance of the song on the broadcast along with the premiere of its official video the day before boosted the track’s sales by 138 percent. “Better Man” grants Swift her 20th Hot Country Songs top 10 as a writer.
A study by consultancy firm PMP Conseil revealed that an exemption in the U.S. Copyright Act that allows some small businesses not to pay public performance fees could be costing rightsholders more than $150 million a year. The research was funded by GESAC, the organizations of European composers groups, in an effort to push to U.S. to change its copyright laws. The issues stems from 1998, when Congress passed the Fairness in Music Licensing Act which allows restaurants and bars of less than 3,750 square feet to play music without a license, provided they meet certain conditions.
More than 20 US music industry organizations have called the US government to support copyright proposals in Europe which will potentially reduce the “value gap” created by payouts from YouTube. The letter, jointly written by groups ranging from ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC to SoundExchange, the RIAA, and Azoff MSG Entertainment, calls on the US Ambassador to the European Union to back Article 13 of the recent EC Copyright Directive. The letter compares the levels of per0user payouts to the music business from Spotify and YouTube.
Sony Music Entertainment has filed a joint agreement along with US publishers and songwriter organizations with the Copyright Royalty Board concerning proposed new statutory mechanical royalty rates. SME has agreed to will withdraw its input from the section of the proceedings regarding on-demand streams, quelling the bad blood between the major and publishers who had accused it of following a label-led agenda to reduce songwriters’ potential share of streaming payouts. The joint statement from SME, the NMPA, and the NSAI notes, “Sony Music and the music publishing community value their relationship.”
German collection society GEMA has finally reached a licensing agreement with YouTube, finally making previously unlicensed music videos playable in the region. One of the biggest stand-offs in digital music history began in April 2009 after YouTube’s 17-month deal with GEMA came to a close and GEMA attempted to negotiate a higher per-stream fee for its licensed videos. YouTube says the agreement “reflects a long-held commitment that composers, songwriters, and publishers should be paid fairly, while ensuring fans can enjoy their favorite songs and discover new music on YouTube.”
One-stop pan-European online rights hub ICE has signed a multi-territory license with SoundCloud. This agreement will enable right holders across Europe to receive royalties from SoundCloud’s services, including the recently launched subscription offering, SoundCloud Go. This deal follows a licensing agreement between SoundCloud and UK collecting society PRS for Music last year that ended a lawsuit against the service over unpaid royalties.
The Songwriters Hall announced the list of nominees for the 2017 Songwriters Hall of Fame, including Max Martin, Madonna, and Jay Z. If inducted, Jay Z would become the first rapper to enter the prestigious music organization. Five songwriters or songwriting groups will be officially inducted at a gala in New York in June of 2017. Other performing nominees include Cat Stevens, Sly Stone, Chicago, and Gloria Estefan.
The Recording Academy’s third-annual Grammy’s in My District event brought over 2,000 creators to 315 Congressional district offices. Musicians and artists such as Cyndi Lauper, Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, and Terence Blanchard are leading the charge to attend meetings at the offices of local elected officials to air their concerns and issues directly into lawmakers’ ears. Daryl Friedman, the Academy’s chief industry, government, and member relations officer, said, “you have Congress in the process of a six-year copyright review where they’re looking at all aspects of the Copyright Act, and they’re coming up on the final two years of that review. That sets the stage now for action.”
A U.S. appeals court ruled that the record companies and music publishers of the former EMI Group can pursue additional copyright infringement claims against MP3tunes. The now defunct online music storage firm’s founder Michael Robertson was ordered to pay $12.2 million after a federal jury found him liable for copyright infringement in 2014. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York rejected his appeal.