BMI prevailed over Pandora in a rate court ruling stating that the Internet radio service’s blanket license does not include compositions controlled by publishers that have withdrawn digital rights from BMI. In other words, unless Pandora removes songs from massive publishers including UMPG, BMG and Kobalt or negotiates direct deals by January 1, it will be in copyright violation.
This BMI/Pandora ruling has the exact opposite consequences of September’s ASCAP/Pandora ruling. The DOJ’s Ethan Glass had said prior to the BMI rate court’s conclusion that if the two rulings applied different sets of rules to each PRO, the competitive imbalance would be of concern to the DOJ. This week’s rate court ruling is surely a big win for publishers and songwriters, but the contradictory rulings have opened the door to a potentially greater victory – a plausible amendment to ASCAP and BMI’s consent decrees, which impede their ability to negotiate fair market rates.
The U.S. Copyright Office announced it is convening a number of leadership roundtables with music creators. As Congress prepares for its most thorough review of copyright law in decades, U.S. Copyright Office Director Maria Pallante, who has the responsibility to advise Congress, will meet with creators, “the first beneficiaries of the copyright system”. The first roundtable will be held in New York on January 14 and according to Pallante, “music issues are front and center.”
Nominations for the 56th Grammy Nominations were announced on Sunday. Nominees for Song of the Year include Just Give Me A Reason, Locked Out Of Heaven, Roar, Royals and Same Love. You can find the songwriters and publishers nominated for their respective songs here.
Winners of this year’s American Country Awards were announced Tuesday Night. Songwriters Mark Irwin, Josh Kear, Brad Warren and Brett Warren took home Song of the Year honors for Highway Don’t Care. You can find the full list of winners here.
Nominations for the 2014 Golden Globes Awards were announced Thursday morning. The nominees for Best Original Score – Motion Picture are Steven Price (Gravity), John Williams (The Book Thief), Hans Zimmer (12 Years a Slave), Alex Ebert (All is Lost) and Alex Heffes (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom). The nominees for Best Original Song – Motion Picture are Atlas (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), Let It Go (Frozen), Ordinary Love (Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom), Please Mr. Kennedy (Inside Llewyn Davis) and Sweeter Than Fiction (One Chance).
Bart Baker’s parody video of Lorde’s ‘Royals’ was taken down by YouTube, presumably at SONGS Music Publishing’s request. George Strompolos, CEO of Fullscreen, Bart Baker’s MCN, took to Twitter to ask SONGS CEO Matt Pincus about the takedown. The two executives clearly disagreed on whether the video should be considered a parody and therefore protected under copyright law as fair use. Bart Baker filed a successful counterclaim and his video has been restored. Apparently creators’ concerns about legal fair-use parodies being removed along with infringing content has complicated publishers’ ongoing concerns about claiming and monetizing UGC on YouTube.
Billboard released its annual list of influential Women In Music. Among the honorees are key executives at each of America’s PROs: Lynne Lummel SVP of Distribution and Repertory at ASCAP, Catherine Brewton VP of Writer/Publisher Relations at BMI and Ellen Bligh Truley VP of Corporate Relations at SESAC. You can find the full list of honorees here.
Pandora has officially abandoned the Internet Radio Fairness Act – a piece of legislation that would have effectively reduced the royalty rates it pays to songwriters and publishers, as well as performers and labels. Pandora founder Tim Westergren attributed the strategic move to “the low probability that Congress will address this issue in the near term”, but strong resistance and bad press from initiatives like ASCAP’s #StandWithSongwriters petition and open letter signed by prominent artists opposing the bill was certainly a factor.
Pandora is most likely just redirecting its efforts to lower royalty rates to other means. The most immediate and obvious target is to lobby the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) – the three-judge panel that sets statutory rates for webcasters. With different members on the CRB than Pandora’s last attempt, the company may like its odds better than passing a bill in Congress. Another possibility would be to seek direct deals with publishers and labels – a strategy that has already been adopted by Pandora’s largest competitor, iTunes Radio. Pandora seems to be lukewarm to this idea at best, as Co-Founder Tim Westergren told investors in September, “Direct deals are not something that we’re allergic to.”
Beats Music, the premium subscription music streaming service from Dr. Dre’s Beats Electronics, is set to launch in January 2014. Beats Music CEO Ian Rogers announced the launch and addressed the long-anticipated service’s delayed launch with a quote from Orson Welles, “It took Beethoven four years to write that symphony, some things can’t be rushed.” As debate around royalty rates for fellow music streaming services Spotify, Pandora and iTunes Radio continues, Beats Music’s royalty rates remain unknown. While they will likely be similar to Spotify’s, their purely subscription-based rather than freemium model could lead to more artist-friendly rates.
The NMPA has agreed to temporarily shelve its takedown actions toward popular lyric annotation site Rap Genius. Last week, the NMPA sent take-down notices to Rap Genius and 49 other unlicensed lyric sites. However, in light of the site’s announcement of a licensing arrangement with Sony/ATV, both sides have agreed to meet for a productive and mutually beneficial agreement, rather than taking legal action.
Sony’s Playstation 4, which hit American and Canadian stores last Friday, sold over 1 million consoles in 24 hours. Each PS4 has the capability to let gamers replace a game’s music with their own music streamed from the console’s preloaded on-demand Music Unlimited streaming service. Fortunately for songwriters and publishers, these streams will generate performance and mechanical royalties, unlike traditionally work-for-hire or licensed (usually waiving the performance right) music.
According to this study released by the International Intellectual Property Alliance, copyright industries added $1 trillion to the 2012 US economy, 6.5 percent of the total U.S. GDP. While this broad umbrella of industries includes much more than music and music publishing – film, software, books, etc – it does reinforce the important role copyright businesses play in the US and global economy.
Sony/ATV has sealed a “creative collaboration” deal with Pulse Films. This deal will provide Sony’s artists with opportunities in film, television, advertising and branded content. UMPG inked a worldwide publishing deal with Julian Bunetta, one of the writers behind One Direction’s “Best Song Ever” and “Story of My Life”, for past and future compositions. In two separate deals, Warner/Chappell signed worldwide publishing agreements with Slash and Megadeath’s Dave Mustaine.
The NMPA sent take-down notices to 50 unlicensed lyric sites, most notably Rap Genius, on Monday. The other 49 sites can be found here. NMPA President David Israelite described the take-down notices as a precursor to filing copyright infringement lawsuits, but stressed that the NMPA intends to facilitate licensing deals, so these businesses, songwriters and publishers can be business partners, not adversaries. The unlicensed lyric site conversation intensified back in late August when UGA’s David Lowery released his Undesirable Lyric Website Study.
Rap Genius responded on Thursday by announcing its first licensing deal with Sony/ATV. It appears as if this is the first of many deals Rap Genius will make with writers and publishers, rather than rolling the dice with with a Fair Use defense. Whether other lyric sites will see this as precedent and follow suit remains to be seen.
The bidding war for New Zealand’s singer-songwriter sensation has come to an end. Songs Music Publishing inked a $2.5 million deal with Ella Yellich O’Connor, the 17-year old star better known as Lorde. Kobalt, Sony/ATV, Universal Music Publishing Group, Spirit and a few other publishers were reportedly also aggressively pursuing the young star.
UMPG signed an exclusive worldwide music publishing agreement with Miley Cyrus to administer her songwriting interests in ‘Bangerz’ and extended its publishing deal with Kieth Urban to include his latest album ‘Fuse’. Kobalt will provide admin and creative services in a new partnership with Martin Kierszenbaum, the co-founder of Cherrytree Records, to launch Cherrytree Music Publishing.