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AMRA announces global deal with YouTube

By | Published on Monday 26 October 2015


AMRA, the US-based collecting society bought and relaunched by Kobalt earlier this year, has announced another (almost) global deal, this time with YouTube.

Kobalt, like the other big four music publishers, often negotiates deals directly with multi-territory digital services for its Anglo-American catalogue. However, these services need to exploit both the mechanical right and performing right elements of the song copyright, and, by convention (outside the US), publishers only control the mechanical rights in their songs, while collecting societies control the performing rights. So, the big five publishers have to work with the societies on these deals, and usually do so by forming a joint venture with one collective management organisation in particular.

Previously Kobalt worked with Swedish society STIM, but switched to AMRA after acquiring the organisation earlier this year. That said, despite its new owner, AMRA is still an autonomous body with its own governance, it remains connected to the network of collecting societies worldwide, and it seeks to work with songwriters and publishers beyond the Kobalt family.

Since relaunching, AMRA has made a big deal about its desire to provide digital services with global licenses, or something pretty close. And while a number of collecting societies are now licensing digital platforms on a multi-territory basis – especially in Europe – AMRA is most vocal on the need for worldwide licensing in the digital space, to ensure maximum efficiency in collecting and processing the many, many micro-payments most streaming set-ups pay.

Or, in the words of AMRA CEO Tomas Ericsson: “Despite the fact that the major DSPs today are all global companies, the music industry traditionally collects its revenue at the local and regional levels. This ‘local’ and ‘regional’ approach creates glaring inefficiencies for all sides: the digital platforms are challenged to clear licenses locally, while the rights holders face an increasingly complex and fragmented collections process, causing needless delays and often inaccurate reporting”.

AMRA announced a global alliance with Apple Music back in August, while today’s new arrangement with the sometimes controversial (in music circles) YouTube covers everywhere but the US and Canada.

Kobalt boss Willard Ahdritz says: “Many creators are missing out on digital revenue without even knowing it. Our relationship with YouTube has always been about creating the most efficient and transparent path for income flow to artists and songwriters. As the largest video platform in the world, YouTube plays a major role in every creator’s career – AMRA’s global deal will help ensure that Kobalt clients are paid as quickly and accurately as possible, as well as help stimulate growth for the whole industry”.

Meanwhile, speaking for YouTube, and providing a new ‘revenues paid stat’ in the process, the Google firm’s Global Director Of Music Partnerships, Christophe Muller, said: “YouTube provides a global platform for anyone – from vloggers to politicians, global brands to small businesses and of course, musicians too – to connect with a global audience. We’ve generated over $2 billion in revenue for the music industry in the last few years alone, and we’ve long worked with Kobalt to help creators get paid. Our deal with AMRA takes this work another step forward to ensure that artists, songwriters, and publishers get the maximum value from YouTube”.