|TUESDAY 23 MARCH 2021||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: After all the various discussions as part of Parliament's review into the digital music market over how a stream should be defined, government officials at the latest hearing yesterday stressed several times that, in their opinion, modern streaming platforms were exactly the kind of services that the so called making available right was conceived to cover... [READ MORE]|
|Expand your knowledge about the inner workings of the music business, best practice across the music industry, and all the latest trends and developments, with CMU's weekly webinars.
Taking place every Tuesday afternoon at 2.30pm London time, these one hour online training sessions are delivered by CMU's Chris Cooke.
Each webinar presents timely and easy-to-understand insights about a different music business topic, with plenty of opportunity to ask questions.
Attendees can also access online resources - including downloadable slides - and a recording of the webinar available for a month after the live session.
BOOK NOW at special rates - access to each individual webinar is just £25, plus there are additional discounts if you book into multiple sessions.
Major label dominance and making available back in the spotlight at final Parliamentary session on streaming
Ministers also discussed how many more options artists have for getting their music to market today, although culture minister Caroline Dineage said there might still be a role for the Competition & Markets Authority to review the dominance of certain major players.
Two ministers and two government officers took part in the final oral hearing as part of the economics of steaming inquiry instigated by the culture select committee: culture minister Caroline Dinenage and business minister Amanda Solloway were joined by Robert Specterman-Green from the Department For Digital, Culture, Media And Sport, and the CEO of the UK's Intellectual Property Office, Tim Moss.
When asked about the dominance of the majors in the recorded music market, Dinenage echoed arguments presented by both major and indie labels during the inquiry to the effect that - while the three major music rights companies are dominant in terms of market share - for new artists starting out there are many other options for getting recordings to an audience other than signing to a major.
That includes launching your own single artist label and buying in distribution and marketing, increasing the risk for the artist in the short term, but also the rewards - if it works - in the longer term.
All of which is true, of course. Though, possibly one of the weaknesses with this inquiry has been that it hasn't always fully distinguished between the challenges faced by new artists versus heritage artists versus session musicians versus songwriters.
Everyone is keen to stress that supporting new and future talent is the top priority, and we all know that launching a music career in such a crowded marketplace is no easy task. Although when it comes to inequities caused by industry deals and infrastructure, that often impacts on heritage acts, session musicians and songwriters much more. And increased choices for new artists releasing music doesn't necessarily address those inequities.
And, while new artists do have much more choice when it comes to business partners, some argue that the majors still exploit their market dominance in a way that gives them unfair competitive advantage. Whether that's in terms of having preferential access to streaming audiences, or being able to block new rivals with game-changing alternative business models from gaining traction, or reinforcing the status quo when it comes to how streaming money is split between recording rights and song rights.
MPs raised various competition concerns during yesterday's oral hearing, leading to Dineage observing that more investigation might be needed in that domain, possibly involving the CMA.
As for the ongoing debate over how to define a stream - is it like a CD sale, or a CD rental, or a broadcast? - Dinenage acknowledged that, from a user-experience point of view, it can be all three, depending on how any one subscriber uses a service. But when the debate turned to how a stream should be defined in copyright law terms, both Specterman-Green from DCMS and Moss from the IPO were pretty adamant that, as the labels argue, streaming exploits the making available element of the copyright, rather than the rental or communication controls.
Moss told MPs that the making available element of the copyright, first conceived in the 1990s, was "introduced to deal with things exactly like streaming. It is embedded in international agreements and is designed for the streaming environment". And, in that regard, he added, the IPO believes that the current copyright regime is fit for purpose.
The reason for the endless "is it rental, is it communication, is it making available?" debate during this inquiry, of course, is performer equitable remuneration.
Any performer who appears on a recording has a statutory right to payment at industry standard rates through the collective licensing system when the rental or communication elements of the copyright is exploited. But not making available. In the latter scenario - and therefore with streaming - only the copyright owner receives payment, which it shares with performers subject to contract.
Therefore, for main artists - aka featured artists - their cut depends on what their record or distribution deal says - and new payments may be subject to the recoupment of advances and other expenditure. And for session musicians, there are usually no payments beyond the original session fee. Many artists argue that ER should, in fact, be paid on streaming.
Responding to the DCMS and IPO position that the labels are correct to define a stream as exploiting the making available element of the copyright, committee member Kevin Brennan MP took an alternative approach to the ER debate.
Parliament had granted performers those automatic rights to payment from the performance and communication of their recordings because it was felt that it was important that all musicians were fairly remunerated for those uses of their music. A big part of that remuneration comes from radio. But the streaming services are competing with radio, meaning radio revenues are likely to peak.
Shouldn't government be more concerned that, once that happens, those remuneration rights Parliament granted musicians will become less valuable? Shouldn't copyright law be reformed now to deal with that? Ministers and officials said that they would look into the matter further, but didn't promise any major overhaul of UK copyright rules anytime soon.
With government, as well as industry, now having been questioned by MPs, the culture select committee will start work on its recommendations for addressing the challenges and issues with the economics of streaming.
It remains to be seen to what extent those recommendations are bold proposals for immediate legal reforms rather than calls for more industry collaboration or further investigation. In terms of how the government then responds to that report, it seems likely to embrace more of the latter than the former.
The Musicians' Union and Ivors Academy - whose #fixstreaming campaign was an impetus for the inquiry - saw both positives and negatives in how government reps answered MPs questions yesterday. They welcomed the indication of government support for a CMA inquiry into the dominance of the majors, but were disappointed by the insistence streaming was all about making available, and the lack of commitment to review the impact of streams on the ER rights of performers.
The two groups said in a joint statement: "At the latest hearing into the economics of music streaming, Minister Of State For Digital And Culture, Caroline Dinenage, supported a referral of music streaming to the Competition And Markets Authority, one of the key asks of the #fixstreaming campaign. A position welcomed by both the Musicians' Union and The Ivors Academy".
"It is clear that major labels' dominance of the music streaming marketplace, together with their record profits, have not gone unnoticed by MPs on the select committee. As well as leaving artists with very little bargaining power, it has also caused an undervaluing of the publishing and songwriting side of the music business".
They also noted that Dinenage talked about aspects of streaming being akin to radio, which, they said, "supports the MU's aim to secure a guaranteed income stream for performers on music streaming, similar to that which exists on radio broadcasts".
However, noting the subsequent making available and ER debate at yesterday's hearing, they went on, "disappointingly, both Amanda Solloway MP and Tim Moss failed to commit to an update of copyright law to reflect changes in the digital marketplace. They did make a commitment to look into the matter further though and referred to an opportunity to build on the UK's current copyright regime".
Ivors Academy CEO Graham Davies added: "The UK leads the world with the quality of our songwriters, composers and artists, but outdated industry structures suppress their incomes. The inquiry has shown that there is strong support for reform to keep the dominant multinational labels in check, provide transparency where there is little, and provide our musicians with sustainable incomes. We welcome the culture minister's support for a referral to the Competition And Markets Authority, and the committee's interest in creating an equitable, fair and transparent streaming economy".
Meanwhile, MU Deputy General Secretary Naomi Pohl said: "Given the evidence they have heard during this inquiry, we are extremely hopeful that the MPs on the select committee will make a case for improving music streaming economics for musicians and songwriters. Caroline Dinenage has helpfully highlighted the similarities between aspects of music streaming and radio, which reinforces our plea for it to attract a similar division of royalties between label and artist as we see for radio play".
"With just a small tweak to UK copyright law, we could introduce a guaranteed payment to all musicians whether featured or non-featured, recouped or unrecouped", she continued. "We hope the IPO will engage with us going forward to look at how this could be achieved and what a positive impact this could have on performers' livelihoods".
With the inquiry now reaching its conclusion, Annabella Coldrick from the Music Managers Forum - which has been actively researching all these issues and informing all these debates for more than five years now with its 'Digital Dollar' project - said she hoped MPs would come forward with some "strong reformist recommendations".
"Having collected such a breadth of evidence", she said yesterday, "we hope that MPs on the DCMS select committee will come forward with some strong reformist recommendations on how streaming can function more equitably for music makers".
"In today's wrap-up evidence session it was also heartening that the culture minister appeared to acknowledge the need for further investigation into the functioning of the recorded music market, potentially with involvement from the Competition & Markets Authority, and a full review of UK copyright law learning from the implementation of the new directive in the EU".
"We are particularly pleased the minister sees the value of bringing the industry together", she added, "and we hope she would want to be part of any future roundtable discussions to ensure the tough issues are addressed in the digital music market. We will undoubtedly need that continued engagement from government in order to deliver much-needed change".
You can follow all our coverage of the inquiry into the economics of streaming via this CMU timeline here.
Warner announces expanded deal with Tencent
Under the deal Warner's music will continue to stream on Tencent's various platforms within China, including QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music, and karaoke service WeSing. But that's not very expansive, is it? Or strategic. More of the same really. Yeah, the official announcement talks about Tencent's "connected devices" such as "in-car audio systems", and Warner's tunes being available via all that, but still, we were promised expansive and strategic.
"The companies also agreed to launch a new joint venture record label", adds the announcement, adding that that label will be "leveraging Warner Music's global resources and experience in supporting artists' careers, as well as TME's massive influence in mainland China's music and entertainment market". OK, maybe that's expansive and strategic. I mean, a bit boring, but it expands Warner's alliance with Tencent in a strategic way. So, boxes ticked. Job done.
"Our collaboration with TME has already delivered tremendous results for local and international artists, and now we're opening up even more opportunities together", reckons Warner's President of International Simon Robson. "Alongside our increased investment in A&R and marketing in Greater China, this renewed and expanded partnership means we can help make our artists impossible to ignore in one of the world's fastest-expanding music markets".
"With our joint exploration of the emerging music market for designated connected devices in mainland China, we will further optimise value in recorded music distribution", adds Tencent's VP of Content Cooperation TC Pan.
"Through the new joint venture and other forms of deeper collaboration with Warner Music, we will seamlessly integrate the premium A&R capability of an international recording company with our vibrant and massive online music ecosystem, to discover unique musical talent and content, and bring unparalleled music experiences to fans as we showcase 'new generation' artists to the global music market".
Lovely stuff. Well done, one and all.
Linda Ronstadt sells recording rights to Iconic Artists Group
"I'm very pleased about this partnership", says Ronstadt. "It's extremely gratifying to be in the company of Irving Azoff, his team, and his family of great artists, many of whom have been my friends and colleagues for years. It feels like home".
Azoff adds: "In 1972 when I arrived in Los Angeles to pursue my dreams in the music business, as fate would have it, I soon thereafter became best friends and manager to Glenn Frey and Don Henley. Without Linda Ronstadt and [her manager] John Boylan, there would have never been an Eagles".
"We were friends and family and grew up together, and what a ride it has been", he goes on. "The countless tours together with the Eagles and Linda and their collaborations are the backbone of the history of Southern California music".
"For Linda and John to entrust us with the honour of furthering her work is one of the most satisfying moments of my career", he goes on. "Linda's talent is unparalleled, but her courage and commitment to make important music of many genres is her legacy. We will preserve that legacy for her at all costs. Thank you, Linda and John. We won't let you down".
Wider music copyright market grew by 7% to $31.6 billion in 2019
Assessing the worth and monitoring the growth of the wider music rights market requires some effort. The big two reports on music right revenues are the aforementioned IFPI stats pack, which does a pretty good job of documenting revenues that flow through record labels, music distributors and the record industry's collecting societies, and the big annual CISAC report, which gathers data for all the monies collected by song right collecting societies.
However, there are plenty of revenues that sit outside those reports. Although collective licensing is widely used on the songs side of the music rights business, there are revenues that flow directly to music publishers that don't appear in CISAC's figures.
That includes initial fees generated by most sync deals outside of TV and - for at least Anglo-American repertoire - an increasingly significant portion of digital income. Not all production music income flows through the societies these days either. And even on the recordings side, not all direct-to-fan income that is generated by the exploitation of recorded music is necessarily counted in the official figures.
Page has endeavoured to capture as much of that missing revenue as possible in his annual study, which he began when he was Chief Economist at Spotify, and which he has continued since departing the streaming firm. This year he has published his study on the website that supports his upcoming new book 'Tarzan Economics'.
As well as the top level stats - and a good explanation of how he goes about getting a complete picture view of the music copyright industry - Page also discusses the increased value of music copyrights, the ever increasing dominance of streaming revenues, the relative performance of songs versus recordings, and where future growth may come from.
Whereas in 2019 streaming started to account for more than half of recorded music revenues, that hasn't quite happened in the wider market yet, although only just. According to Page's stats, streaming accounted for 47% of overall revenues. "With strong signs that 2020 will be another record-breaking year, we can expect that streaming will make up the majority of copyright's value" in his next study, he predicts, noting that's "an important watermark".
The increased dominance of streaming across the board helps explain another trend that Page records, which is that recordings are accounting for a bigger portion of the overall market today compared to when he first did this study in 2014.
The split today is recordings 62%, songs 38%. In 2014 it was recordings 55% and songs 45%. Which might further the argument on the songwriter side that the current slicing of the digital pie means they are not properly benefiting from the streaming boom. Although Page also points out that 2014 was the global record industry's lowest ebb after fifteen years of decline.
"One can look at this two ways", Page writes about the recordings versus songs split. "[Songwriters] and publishers might feel aggrieved by labels getting the lion's share of the revenues from streaming, whereas labels may point to 2014 as the lowest-point in their volatile two decades of digital disruption".
As for future growth, Page considers what opportunities remain in more mature music markets - where conventional streaming is arguably approaching market saturation - as well as the role of emerging markets in further boosting revenues on a global basis.
In the former domain, he notes that the challenge now is to generate income from those consumers less keen to spend money on accessing content. He illustrates this by making a distinction between the average iOS user and the average Android user.
"iOS was built for commerce and its high price drives self-selection, capturing those smartphone users who are willing to pay for content", he writes. "Android is more of a mixed bag with many more low-end users who are far less inclined to pay".
Referencing an earlier analogy in his report to drilling for oil - and how you reach a point when more oil has been drilled than there is left to drill for - he goes on: "[If we apply that analogy] to the challenge of subscriber acquisition, the iPhone is Saudi Arabia, Android is Southern Siberia – both have oil, but the latter is harder to extract".
"This means the next decade will be very different from the last", he concludes. "It will be about acquiring subscribers on Android to get the next cohort of 100 million US subscribers paying a recurring fee for music. That's not going to be easy, so buckle up".
Fraser T Smith produces new tracks with emerging artists for Amazon
"The Amazon Music 'Produced By' format is such a revolutionary gift, to be able to show people the process of making the record whilst making the best EP I could possibly make", says Smith. "Bringing these artists together for this project has been an exciting and cathartic process. I chose four artists who are going to make a huge dent in 2021".
"Working with Fraser was so natural and raw", adds Crookes. "I love writing songs that care deeply about lyricism, storytelling and melody, so to be able to do that with someone that was so ready to safely construct the environment around my songwriting process was a pleasure. Thank you Fraser - we need more people like you in this industry".
Amazon is also preparing to release a documentary about Smith and his creative process. For now, you can listen to the new tracks here.
Richard Antwi Scholarship returns
Launched in 2017 in memory of lawyer, manager and music entrepreneur Antwi, who died aged 38 the previous year, the scheme is now funded by Sony Music, Universal Music, Warner Music, Sony Music Publishing, XL Records, Beggars Group, Young Turks, law firms Clintons and Hoare Associates, and Modest! Management.
Awarded to students who have an offer of a place on the Westminster course, it provides full tuition fees and a bursary of £10,200 to cover living costs, plus mentorship and assistance with finding work placements.
Rapper Wretch 32, who worked with Antwi and continues to support the scholarship, says: "My brother Rich always had time for everyone, he taught me the true values of staying true to your roots. Striving for excellence, whilst giving back. Legacy was always at the forefront of his genius of a mind. Although my brother's left me in the physical, he has been, and will always be, by my side in spirit. It's an honour to be a part of the scholarship and still be an anchor to the captain of the ship Richard Antwi".
Phillip Antwi, Richard's brother and one of the team behind the scholarship, adds: "We're really excited about the reopening of applications, which not only lifts our spirits, but offers much needed opportunity to talented individuals in the current climate".
"There is a real sense of achievement in seeing what the past scholars have gone on to do", he goes on, "and we're looking forward to seeing what great things new scholars will achieve. My brother, Richard, was passionate about helping others reach their potential and the Richard Antwi Scholarship is an embodiment of his much-used phrase 'how can I help?'. We hope to see the scholarship grow and continue to honour his legacy in this way".
Previous recipients of the scholarship are Jojo Mukeza, Estée Blu and Daniel Beckley, all of whom are now working in the music industry.
Virtual open days for the 2021/2022 Music Business Management MA course are to be held on 24 Mar, 8 May and 12 Jun. More information here.
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
Warner Music has named Alfonso Perez-Soto as President of Emerging Markets. "I'm super proud to take on this new role and truly excited by its scope", he says. "I want to unlock huge opportunities for artists from the diverse tapestry of countries that we classify as emerging markets. I'll work round the clock to build a global stage for them to stand on, connecting them with fans in their home countries and far beyond. We want to be the partner of choice for every ambitious artist and label from Gdansk to Cape Town, from Dakar to Dhaka".
The BBC's CBeebies channel has already exposed the nation's toddlers to Squarepusher, now it's bringing in metal hero Devin Townsend. He revealed on Twitter than he's composed the soundtrack to new series 'Colours'. "It was a big learning curve and lots of work, but the people who produced it were very cool", he added.
Lana Del Rey has announced that her new album, 'Rock Candy Sweet', will be out on 1 Jun. Following 'Chemtrails Over The Country Club', which came out last week, and last year's 'Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass', it'll be her third album in nine months.
Eliza Shaddad has released new single 'Blossom'.
Guitarists Marisa Anderson and William Tyler have announced their first album together, 'Lost Futures'. It'll be out on 27 Aug. Here's the title track.
George Riley has released new single 'Cleanse Me'.
GIGS & TOURS
HRVY has announced that he will livestream a show from the Royal Albert Hall on 25 Apr. "I can't wait to play my first show in over a year", he says. "It's going to be so good getting all the band and dancers back together again and play at such an incredible venue as the Royal Albert Hall for my first digital live show". Tickets go on sale on 28 Mar.
Wolf Alice have announced that they will tour the UK and Ireland in January next year. Tickets are on sale now.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Classic Meat Loaf hit to be turned into TV game show
Meat Loaf himself is involved in the show as an executive producer, according to Deadline. It's being made by production company Nobody's Hero and has the truncated title 'I'd Do Anything For Love'. But what's the premise, huh?
Well, the show will see couples try to complete a series of physical tasks to win a cash prize (and show the limits of their love). Each task will be inspired by a classic song. While the tasks are carried out, the song that inspired it will be performed live in the studio by the original artist. Or a newer artist, if the original performer is unavailable. You know, dead or whatever.
Now, tell me you wouldn't watch at least one episode of that. Mildly convoluted it may be, but if you aren't even slightly interested in seeing what a classic rock mash up of 'Mr & Mrs' and 'The Krypton Factor' would be like, then I don't think we can be friends anymore.
"For the most part, we want to create shows that are funny, clever and buzzworthy, but two out of three ain't bad", say Christopher Potts and Jonty Nash of Nobody's Hero.
"You took the words right out of my mouth", adds Meat Loaf.
For younger readers, those quotes both used other Meat Loaf song titles, because they just can't stop themselves. I think 'Funny, Clever And Buzzworthy' was on his third album.