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Insights Blog: Five news stories we’ll explain at our digital masterclass

By | Published on Wednesday 6 September 2017

Music Applications

Originally published to accompany the CMU Insights masterclass and primer course on digital licensing and the streaming business.

A new season of CMU Insights training courses kicks off later this month with our masterclass ‘Digital Deals, Dollars And Trends – Explained!’ This half-day session provides a concise but comprehensive guide to the streaming business, explaining how streaming services are licensed, how streaming royalties are paid, which streaming services dominate, and what challenges remain.

Attendees will leave the masterclass with a good understanding of digital licensing and the streaming market, and will also be much more informed about a number of the digital music stories that we keep coming back to in the CMU Daily. Including these five…

1. The streaming boom and who’s actually benefiting. It seems like pretty much every week now there is a news story confirming that the income being generated for the music industry by streaming continues to grow at a rapid pace. This trend is routinely confirmed by the financial reports of the big record companies, by the stats packs put out by the record industry trade bodies, and by an assortment of research reports. But at the same time we hear about the precarious position of many of the streaming music companies, plus some in the artist and songwriter community continue to bemoan the royalties they are personally receiving. We will explain where the streaming money is being generated, how it is being shared, which stakeholders are the biggest winners, and why.

2. Spotify’s ongoing issue with mechanical royalties in the US. Spotify is facing yet more litigation over unpaid mechanical royalties in America, despite already committing tens of millions of dollars to previous settlements on this issue. Responding to the latest lawsuit last week, Spotify dropped a bombshell new argument – that mechanical royalties aren’t even due on streams. If you ever wondered what mechanical royalties are; or if and when mechanicals apply in digital; or what all this means for the way streaming royalties are paid to songwriters; or why mechanicals are such a mess Stateside; we will explain all of these things in the masterclass.

3. The fake songs controversy. All the talk about there being fake songs on Spotify was basically fake news. Though it did highlight the fact that the current streaming model means that some tracks are cheaper to stream than others, and certain kinds of production music will be a lot cheaper indeed. Even if Spotify isn’t prioritising cheaper tracks in its playlists today, it could in the future. We will explain in detail how this streaming model works, how it came about, and what the future ramifications may be.

4. A possible shift to user-centric royalty distribution. So called user-centric royalty distribution – an alternative way of sharing out the streaming income between different labels and artists – was a topic of discussion earlier this year after it emerged Deezer was considering moving to this different approach. Rumours then also circulated that Apple was likewise investigating this option. But what the hell does it all mean? Well, first you need to understand how royalties are currently distributed, and then you can understand the pros and cons of the user-centric system. We’ll explain it all in the masterclass.

5. The continued dissing of YouTube. We all know the music industry has been putting extra effort into dissing YouTube in the last year, and that that all has something to do with the pesky copyright safe harbours that are currently being reviewed in the US and Europe. But what’s it all about really? We’ll explain how the safe harbour works, and where opt-out rather than opt-in streaming services fit into the wider digital music mix, as part of our masterclass later this month.

For more details on the CMU Insights seminars and masterclasses click here. For more information on our in-house training services click here.