Nielsen Co. has purchased Tribune Media Co.’s Gracenote video, music, and sports for $560 million (in cash). Metadata giant Gracenote, acquired by Tribune Media in 2014, provides reference information for more than 200 million music tracks. John Batter, Gracenote’s CEO, said, “Nielsen is a natural home for Gracenote. Both companies have entertainment data at their core and have spent years delivering services to the world’s top media brands. Bringing together our data for driving discovery and tune-in with Nielsen’s deep insights about what people are watching, listening to and buying makes a formidable combination.”
Unsigned artists are begging Facebook to reach an agreement with music publishers on the use of copyrighted content on the social media platform. In October, covers of popular songs began being pulled down from Facebook following a spate of copyright infringement notifications from music rights-holders, and the takedowns have only gotten more vigorous since then. In the meantime, artists who have had great success posting covers on Facebook–like UK-based, unsigned artist Samantha Harvey, who has 1.97 million “likes” on her official Facebook page–have been encouraging their fans to migrate to YouTube.
Mechanical licensing and administration service Loudr has distributed over $1 million in royalties to music publishers worldwide over the last few years. Since the sale of their digital distribution business earlier this year, Loudr has focused on solving the problem of how to identify music publishers, songwriters, and other rightsholders and issue royalty payments and statements for the use of their compositions. Loudr CEO Chris Crawford said, “Loudr’s goal is to provide infrastructure to address rights and royalties in the real world. Since we’re well past the brick-and-mortar era of music distribution, it’s important to make sure that the systems for paying creators and rights holders keeps up with the pace of digital music.”
The global music copyright business was worth $24.37 billion in 2015, growing by nearly a billion dollars from the year before, according to a report put together by Spotify Director of Economics, Will Page, and Music Business Worldwide. The biggest contributors to 2015’s overall music copyright figure was CISAC’s performing rights collections, claiming 28% of the total. Publishing accounted for just over half of the global value of music copyright at 57.3%, while labels accounted for the remaining 43.7%.
Australia right management organizations APRA AMCOS and PPCA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a single public performance licensing system. The new system, called OneMusic Australia, will be a one-stop show for its clients to more simply obtain, manage, report on, and pay for the music licenses they require to run their businesses. OneMusic Australia, announced three years after the introduction of OneMusic NZ, will be rolled out across the market in the second half of 2018, and will cover both recording and musical work rights.
Canadian mechanical collection society CMRRA announced a reduction in their online licensing administration fee, from 10.% to 6%. The one year fee reduction, which will apply to CMRRA’s licensing and royalty administration services related to music download and streaming services, is a result of the society’s recent recoupment of its significant investment in pursuing the certification of online music tariffs. The investment in tariffs by CMRRA has resulted in higher online royalty rates for its music publisher clients.
YouTube has reached a settlement with the National Music Publishers’ Association over unpaid songwriting royalties. Similar to the NMPA’s recent deal with Spotify, this estimated $40 million settlement addresses the large numbers of songs with missing or incorrect data about their songwriters and the music publishers that represent them, leaving potentially millions of dollars unpaid. Tamara Krivnak, YouTube’s head of music partnerships for the Americas said, “The revenue earned by the music industry on YouTube continues to grow significantly year over year, and we’re committed to making sure that publishers are paid for the usage of their works on our platform.”
The nominations for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, to be held in February 2017 in Los Angeles, were announced this week. As in previous years, the most nominated artists have also been the most talked about over the past year, with Beyonce, Adele, Drake, Rihanna, and Kanye West as likely frontrunners. The nominees show that the music industry’s commercial and critical center lies with pop, hip-hop, and R&B music, though Sturgill Simpson’s presence in the coveted Album of the Year category indicates that the Grammys is acknowledging music that moves the cultural needle.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and committee member John Conyers (D-Mich.) have released a proposal to reform copyright in the US. The proposal would give the U.S. Copyright Office more autonomy, although it would stay in the Legislative Branch of government. Most importantly, it would subject the Register of Copyrights to the same Congressional nomination process as other government officials; the current process for selecting the Register became a matter of considerable concern this October, when the former Register, Maria Pallante, was unceremoniously sidelined by the Librarian of Congress and subsequently resigned.
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.