Warner/Chappell has settled their lawsuit challenging its hold on ‘Happy Birthday,’ officially sending it into the public domain. Warner expected to have the song under copyright until 2030, which would have brought in $14-16.5 million in licensing fees for the publisher. Those who have licensed the song while it was under Warner/Chappell’s control have spent an estimated $50 million, and will be receiving a portion of the settlement fund.
Jeep’s ‘4x4ever’ Super Bowl ad was Shazamed 40,000 times, making it the most Shazamed spot of the night. The song, performed by Boys Like Girls bass player and Best of Friends lead singer Morgan Dorr, was commissioned specifically for the ad. Jeep deliberately chose not to use a big name artist for the spot, unlike all of the other music-driven ads of the night, to differentiate itself from its competition as well as reach its millennial target demographic.
Max Martin will become a laureate of the Polar Music Prize this year in Stockholm. The Swedish native has written on 21 Billboard Hot 100 hits since 1999, and has achieved the third-most Number One singles–behind Paul McCartney and John Lennon. The honor, given by members of the Stig Anderson Music Award Foundation, music industry representatives, and previous Laureates, will also be awarded to mezzo-soprano singer, Cecilia Bartoli.
The Recording Industry Association of America has introduced the methodology for counting audio and video streams into its Gold and Platinum Album Awards. As of this week, 1,500 on-demand audio and/or video song streams on services such as YouTube, Vevo, Apple Music, and Spotify will equal 10 track sales, or 1 album sale. Billboard’s Billboard 200 chart has used the same formula for including streams in its rankings since late 2014, but at this point is only considering streams from audio subscription services.
UK collection societies PRS For Music and PPL have joined forces to simplify music licensing. Businesses in the UK who play music are currently required to obtain two licenses–one from PRS for the use of the musical composition (on behalf of songwriters and publishers) and the other from PPL representing the use of the sound recording (on behalf of record companies and artists). This new joint venture will turn this into a single license, in an effort to “ensure that…licensing is ever more accurate and efficient.”
The Recording Academy has created a political action committee to influence legislation that will increase the amount of money paid to rights owners, performing artists, songwriters, and producers. The Grammy Fund For Music is aiming to raise $100,000 in its first year for members of Congress fighting for music-makers. Some well-known Grammy Fund “ambassadors” include Evan Bogart, Sheila E., Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, and Nile Rodgers.
Avicii thrives as Sweden’s top songwriter, followed by Tove Lo and Max Martin. According to Musikforlaggarna, the Swedish Music Publishers Association, Avicii was Sweden’s top songwriter in 2015, as a writer on 6 of the country’s top 100 songs. The second most popular song in Sweden last year was Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do,” co-penned by Tove Lo and Max Martin.
Sun Records has partnered with Musicbed to offer much of its older catalog for licensing, in an effort to reach a new generation of fans. Sync licenses earn a total of $900 million annually, but the most well-known songs are not always the ones that get synced. Sun hopes to “bring back some of the music that’s been sitting on the shelf for a long time” by making it easier to license through Musicbed’s platform.
After months of teasing, Spotify is launching video on the platform. For now, the video content will be free, and will feature pieces from VICE media, NBC, BBC, TeamCoco, Amy Poehler, and Tyler, the Creator. In addition to the video component, the service will be offering podcasts. VP of Product, Shiva Rajarman says that the company will be “betting more on curation. If it’s [a piece of video] that inspires you around science, we might have a few podcasts lined up to follow that.”
The North American CEO of global music subscription service Deezer explains the future of streaming. Tyler Goldman teases the introduction of original content programming to music streaming services, like other subscription giants like Netflix and Amazon Prime have. He also discusses the importance of non-music audio content–i.e., podcasts–to increase the value of streaming services to consumers.
YouTube RED prepares to launch in the UK, striking a licensing deal with PRS. PRS for Music was the first copyright society to sign a licensing agreement with YouTube in 2007. Robert Ashcroft, PRS for Music’s Chief Executive, says PRS “fully recognises the breadth of opportunity on the horizon for YouTube and is committed to achieving fair remuneration for rightsholders and a level licensing playing field.”
Sony/ATV Publishing Exec Brian Monaco talks Super Bowl synchs. According to Sony/ATV chairman and CEO Martin Bandier, we are in “a time that the synch area is more important than ever.” The fee for the use of an iconic song in a Super Bowl commercial can run up to $2 million on the publishing side alone, and Sony/ATV will have at least a dozen uses during this year’s game.
The music industry says goodbye to legendary artist, and financial pioneer, David Bowie. In 1997, Bowie sold the rights to his royalties from the 25 albums he recorded between 1969 and 1990 in notes dubbed “Bowie Bonds.” A key factor in structuring this deal was the fact that Bowie retained 100% of the copyrights to his musical compositions.
Downtown Music Publishing has signed a direct licensing deal with Pandora, joining the likes of Warner/Chappell, SONGS Music Publishing, BMG, and others. Downtown CEO Justin Kalifowitz notes that the deal “serves as a reminder that songwriter royalties are best negotiated in a free market.” The announcement comes following the Copyright Royalty Board’s approval of new US webcasting rates for non-interactive streams.
Nielsen’s Year-End report shows that while streaming–both audio and video–doubled since 2014, the majority of consumers don’t feel the need to pay for subscriptions to streaming services. Instead, most of the money music consumers spend on music is spent on live concerts. Radio is still the number one method of music discovery, with 61% of people reporting hearing songs for the first time on terrestrial or satellite radio.