It’s clear that streaming is the present and future of music consumption. Chance The Rapper’s ‘Coloring Book’ was the first streaming-only album to win a Grammy this past weekend, Prince’s Warner Bros. catalog was streamed almost 5 million times in two days (up 6,323% from the previous two days) after being released onto more streaming platforms, and more and more services are popping up to compete with streaming giants like Spotify and Apple Music. According to a report published by Parks Associates, there is a dark horse in the streaming market: Amazon Prime Music. The company’s senior analyst says, “Nearly one-half of streaming music subscribers, the equivalent of 15% of all broadband households, indicate they have a subscription to Amazon Prime Music.” In the Middle East, streaming service Anghami–which co-founder Eddy Maroun says was created when he figured out that piracy was the only option for music consumers in the region–has 33 million users.
So the question is no longer whether streaming is going to survive the music industry, it’s how the music industry is going to survive streaming. The monetization of music, and specifically monetization of composition copyrights and compensation for songwriters, is under turmoil in the digital age. Streaming services are finally starting to embrace the industry where they derive the value for their businesses, with Spotify hiring former manager Troy Carter, and more recently, Amazon hiring Alex Luke, former Executive Vice President of A&R at EMI Music, to serve as Global Head of Programming & Content Strategy. Partnering with digital service providers is the only way for rightsholders of music to make streaming work for both consumers and creators of music alike.
Arguably the best part of the Super Bowl each year is the slew of new commercials advertisers put together for the largest single television broadcast event in the US. Market Track, parent company to advertising tracking firm Competitrack, found that 62 brands advertised in 77 unique commercials throughout the four quarters and halftime. Combined, the ads made up for nearly 46 minutes of air time. Estimated ad spend was $460 million, with 21 brands spending at least $10 million each on TV spots. 92% of advertisers integrated their ads with social media either before or during the game.
So where does music come in? More than 30 commercials featured during Super Bowl LI used music, 26 of which licensed music for the uses (rather than having custom music composed). Not including TV show promos or movie trailers, the major publishers provided music for 17 ads. That means there was a huge uptick from previous years in independently published music. Billboard reported that 12 commercials acquired music licenses in one-off deals directly from self-published artists or boutique firms. Kevin Patrick, manager for Matt and Kim, whose song “It’s Alright” appeared in a Buick spot, said, “The extensive exposure we get from synch licensing through commercials has an intensively greater reach than we’ve gotten elsewhere. So synch has been a big focus for us.”
Check out Synchtank’s 10 favorite music placements from Super Bowl LI, and tell us which ads were your favorite!
Songtrust has partnered with DotBlockchain Music for the second phase of its creation of a “decentralized global database of music rights, combining the publishing and the performance information into a unit of music that the industry can use.” The problem that Dotblockchain aims to solve involves the separation of copyrights creative material from the creators and owners themselves, which results in those owners not getting paid for the use of their work. Because rights are often held across different companies and organizations that don’t often communicate with each other, the solution is a central location where a songwriter, publisher, record label, and a performer are all clearly identified.
Songtrust joins SOCAN, the Canadian-based performance rights organization, and SOCAN’s rights administration subsidiary MediaNet, indie music distributor CD Baby, and digital rights service FUGA, resulting in a collective starting point of 65 million songs with which to begin building out a practical model.
Read more about DotBlockchain Music and its partnership with Songtrust here.
US performing rights organization SESAC is now officially backed by Blackstone, one of the most powerful private equity companies in the world. SESAC says that Blackstone’s money will help the company to become a truly global rights management powerhouse across performance, mechanicals, sync, and ever master rights. SESAC, like other US PROs BMI and GMR, is also currently preparing to fight the US Radio Music License Committee to pay out higher composer royalties.
French rights management organization SACEM has pledged to build an online platform that aims to better track online music usage and return more revenue to rights owners. The platform, names URights, is being built via a 10-year partnership with global tech firm IBM, and will be available for use to other rights organizations and partners worldwide. SACEM wants to better track the use of audiovisual content hosted on services like YouTube, in particular.
Performance rights for Prince’s catalog will be represented by Irving Azoff’s Global Music Rights. Prince and his team had been administering his publishing catalog since the artist left ASCAP in 2014, and the estate, represented by Bremer Trust, concluded that GMR’s philosophy of providing an elite group of writers with heightened customer service and control was most consistent with Prince’s values. Azoff said, “Prince was an iconoclast, who never settled for second best, and now his Estate has ensured that the public performance rights are protected in a way befitting their significance.”
2017 will bring with it a number of court cases that will affect music publishers, songwriters, and copyright as a whole. First, the Radio Music Licensing Commission and performing rights organization Global Music Rights are suing each other over licensing fees to be paid to publishers and songwriters for radio play. Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke are appealing the verdict that they infringed on Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up” in their song, “Blurred Lines,” a decision which many in the music industry have spoken out against as it discourages creativity. And ASCAP and BMI are battling the US Department of Justice over its ruling that the PROs are required to abide by 100% licensing.
The music industry pays tribute to artist George Michael who passed away on Christmas Day. The British singer/songwriter sold approximately 100 million albums in his career with Wham! and as a solo artist, including Faith (1987) and Listen Without Prejudice Volume 1 (1990), mostly via CBS/Sony labels. Jon Platt, CEO & Chairman of Michael’s long-term publisher, Warner/Chappell, called Michael “the epitome of the consummate pop star…who enthralled the world, always keeping us guessing where his music would take us next.”
BMI has filed an action in Federal Rate Court to set interim fees for radio stations during negotiations with the Radio Music License Committee. The RMLC has proposed an interim rate well below that of its previous deal with BMI based on what BMI calls “incomplete and incorrect information regarding BMI’s radio performances” and that “significantly undervalues the work of BMI’s songwriters.” BMI is asking the Court to maintain its most recent rate while new terms for a five-year deal beginning this year are discussed.