Business News Labels & Publishers

IMPF and IMPEL announce ‘charter of co-operation’ – set out ten priorities

By | Published on Monday 17 May 2021

Digital Music

The Independent Music Publishers International Forum last week announced a ‘charter of co-operation’ with IMPEL, the organisation that represents a consortium of indie music publishers in the digital licensing space. The partnership will mainly see the two groups collaborate on research and knowledge exchange, utilising IMPEL’s digital licensing expertise and IMPF’s lobbying and campaigning skills.

The two organisations have also published a set of ten beliefs and principles. These are mainly requests and demands of the digital music services and the wider music industry regarding the utilisation and valuation of song rights, with a brief accompanying mention of the need for “operational excellence”, which may be alluding to role of publishers themselves in tackling the data issues and royalty chain complexities which make the payment of song royalties so inefficient.

That list of requests and demands comes, of course, as the songwriter community increasingly calls for a re-slicing of the digital pie to their advantage – ie a rethink about how much of the monies made by the streaming services each month is allocated to the song rights.

Some songwriters have accused the majors – as both labels and publishers – of skewing the market, because industry conventions mean they get to keep a much bigger share of recording income compared to song income. Some indie publishers are also involved in recordings as well as songs, though many have much more significant song catalogues, and therefore are less likely to favour the status quo.

However, when it comes to the digital pie debate, the IMPF/IMPEL demands don’t target the record industry’s share of digital income directly, simply stating instead that “streaming services should be contributing more revenue to songwriters and publishers”.

Announcing the partnership, IMPEL Chair Simon Platz – also MD of the Bucks Music Group – stated: “This is a moment for the independents to really roll up our sleeves and get to work. We have a lot to offer the digital services but we believe that they have a lot more to offer us. Engagement and proactivity are key here”.

Meanwhile, IMPF President Annette Barrett, also MD & Global Strategic Liaison at Reservoir Media, added: “The more likeminded organisations can work together the better we can serve our constituents. Strengthening the collaboration between IMPF and IMPEL is part of the process to bring about better remuneration for the songwriters, composers and music publishers we represent”.

If you’re interested, here are those ten beliefs and principles…

1. Music is not fungible; it is unique.

2. Independent music publishers are the creative and economic stewards of songs, and developers of songwriters in the earliest stages of their professional careers. They are indispensable to the music ecosystem and, therefore, to streaming services.

3. The value of a publisher’s repertoire should be measured by its contribution to a digital platforms’ success.

4. What publishers do is not quantifiable by market share alone; in a world of personalised playlists, recommendations and programming strategies, songs hold a higher value as the conduit to the user.

5. Value should be attributed to the way songs resonate with listeners, reduce churn and attract advertisers and brands.

6. Commercial licensing models should suit both the platform and the rightsholders.

7. Digital services should provide publishers with the information needed to achieve a fair bargain.

8. Collaboration with digital services is essential for a common and better understanding of the real and measurable value that songs bring, and to create innovative ways to elevate the song and the art of songwriting on streaming services.

9. Together, we need to focus on a vision of operational excellence.

10. Ultimately, streaming services should be contributing more revenue to songwriters and publishers.