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Song right societies collected €7.5 billion last year, says CISAC report

By | Published on Wednesday 23 November 2016


CISAC, the organisation that brings together all the song right collecting societies around the world, has published its annual Global Collections Report, bringing together all sorts of data and figures for 2015. Together, monies collected by all those collecting societies topped €7.5 billion last year, up 8.5% year-on-year.

CISAC also counts amongst its membership some collecting societies that represent other groups of creators from the audio-visual and visual art communities, meaning that the total figure recorded in the report is €8.6 billion.

Regionally speaking, Europe still accounts for 58.4% of those monies, though income is growing in other areas too, with societies in the Asia-Pacific region logging a 5.6% growth in revenue, while in Africa collections were up 14.9%.

Digital services – including download stores and both ad-funded and paid-for streaming platforms – only account for 7.2% of the royalties recorded in the report – which, while up 21.4% year-on-year, is still a small slice. Though in the digital music domain, the collecting societies aren’t collecting all the money due to the music publishing sector.

The big five music publishers – Sony/ATV, Universal, Warner/Chappell, BMG and Kobalt – often license their Anglo-American repertoire to multi-territory digital services directly, albeit in partnership with the Anglo-American societies (the publishers controlling the ‘mechanical rights’ in the songs, the societies the ‘performing rights’, and digital services needing to exploit both).

This means that digital income recorded by the collecting societies – and therefore CISAC – doesn’t include all the money flowing to the big five’s all-important Anglo-American repertoire. Though, acknowledging this, the new CISAC report also includes more general analysis of the digital sector in six markets, which takes the big five publisher’s direct income into account.

That, unsurprisingly, concludes that subscription streaming is the key digital revenue stream in the US, UK, France and Sweden, though downloads still continue to dominate in Germany and Canada, both countries where streaming services arrived somewhat later to market. And, of course, “ad-supported services pay creators significantly less than other business models for online music, in all key markets”.

Is that last quote there actually code for “bloody YouTube”? Pretty much. Says CISAC Director General Gadi Oron: “2015 saw an overall increase of 21.4% in our members’ collections from digital platforms and this is strongly encouraging. Yet, the share of digital income out of total royalties collected by our members is fairly low, at 7.2% only”.

“The main root of the problem remains legal loopholes and outdated laws which prevents our members from obtaining fair royalties from digital platforms in many countries”, Oron reckons. “The huge difference between collections from subscription services and ad-supported platforms is not only alarming, but also clear evidence that regulatory solutions are desperately needed”.

He means safe harbour reform of course. “Some major online services generate huge profits from the use of creative content, but refuse to share them with the creators of that content” he concludes. “What we are witnessing is a transfer of value from those who create to those who disseminate; an unfair situation which requires urgent attention from governments and legislators”.

Hey governments and legislators, urgently attend will you? As previously reported, proposed reforms of the European safe harbours exploited by YouTube to operate an opt-out streaming service are currently working their way through the motions following the publishing of a new draft European Copyright Directive earlier this year.