|WEDNESDAY 23 MARCH 2022||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Global recorded music revenues grew 18.5% last year, with the industry at large generating $25.9 billion, the highest total amount since the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry began aggregating global figures in the mid-1990s (albeit only if you don't adjust for inflation)... [READ MORE]|
Global record industry revenues grew 18.5% to $25.9 billion in 2021
Although revenues from physical products, sync deals, and the broadcast and public performance of recorded music all went up in 2021, it was - of course - the streaming boom that powered much of that growth, with streaming revenues up 24.3%.
All of this comes from the IFPI's 'Global Music Report', published yesterday, which aggregates figures from markets all over the world. It confirmed that the key trends we've seen for several years now in the recorded music business all continue, and - crucially - those trends are happening pretty much everywhere. That being that streaming - and especially premium streaming - continues to grow, and with it the record industry grows, with double digit growth in many markets.
Revenues from premium streaming grew 21.9% in 2021 to $12.3 billion and now account for 47.3% of the industry's total income. Although revenues from ad-funded free streaming services are growing too, partly because platforms like Instagram and TikTok also sit under this category. Free streaming services generated $4.6 billion last year and now account for 17.7% of the total.
Streaming, of course, was not affected by the COVID pandemic and the resulting shutdowns, unlike the record industry's other revenue streams such as physical product, sync and especially broadcast and public performance. All three of those also grew last year - though part of that growth can be attributed to those revenue streams recovering from a COVID caused dip in 2020. For example, although revenues from broadcast and public performance were up 4%, the total income - $2.4 billion - is still down on the $2.6 billion generated in 2019.
However, with physical products - although the shutdown of the high-street during the peak of COVID did have a negative impact in 2020 - the 16.1% growth seen in 2021 wasn't just about making up for the pandemic caused declines. CD and vinyl together brought in $5 billion in 2021, exceeding physical revenues for both 2018 and 2019.
Part of that is down to the ongoing vinyl revival, of course, with vinyl revenues up 51.3% last year, but CD sales were also up for the first time in more than two decades, with the IFPI reporting a particularly strong engagement with that format in Asia, including South Korea as well as Japan, ie the market where physical still dominates.
Once all that is crunched, on a global basis streaming accounts for 65% of recorded music revenues (as noted, 47.3% premium streaming, 17.7% free streaming), while the rest is split between physical (19.2%), broadcast and public performance (9.4%), downloads (4.3%) and sync (2.1%).
As also noted, the growth is global. The IFPI splits the world into seven regions of which the fastest growing is Middle East and North Africa - which has now been separated from Sub-Saharan Africa for the purposes of the trade group's stats. It saw 35% growth last year, almost exclusively down to streaming which accounts for 95.3% of income in this region.
However, this is still very much an emerging region for the record industry, meaning that 35% growth resulted in a relatively modest $89.5 million. However, it's no secret that the record industry sees big opportunities in the longer term in this region, and also Sub-Saharan Africa, where there was 9.6% growth last year.
The other big growth region is Latin America where revenues were up 31.2%. Two markets still dominate in this region - Mexico and Brazil which account for 66.5% of the region's revenues - although there was decent growth in other Latin American markets too, again mainly powered by the streaming boom, with streaming accounting for 85.9% of income in this part of the world.
In Asia revenues grew 16.1%, although - as usual - Japan has an impact on that total. The transition from physical to digital has occurred much slower in the Japanese market - the second biggest recorded music market in the world, behind the US - meaning that the 'bad times' that occurred in the middle of that transition in all mature markets has taken place in Japan several years later.
That said, the Japanese market also saw growth last year of 9.3% compared to a 2% dip in 2020. But growth is slower there than in many other big Asian markets - so much so, if you take Japan out of the figures for this region total growth is actually 24.6%.
With so many emerging markets in Africa, Latin America and Asia becoming significant revenue generators for the record industry, one theme that came up during the panel discussion that accompanied the launch of the IFPI report yesterday was the need for record companies to be simultaneously global and local.
Of course, all the double digit growth figures and general positivity within the IFPI's report - coupled with optimism at the majors that there's potentially a whole new strand of digital growth incoming via NFTs and the metaverse - is inevitably going to be contrasted with the doom and gloom that has been a feature of the wider music community during the COVID pandemic.
All of which feeds into the ongoing economics of streaming debate and the narrative that while the corporates of the record industry are benefiting from the streaming boom - as the IFPI's report definitely confirms - artists and songwriters are not feeling the benefit.
That, of course, is an oversimplification, and plenty of artists are also enjoying the good times enabled by streaming. But plenty of legitimate concerns remain about how the streaming business works, how the digital pie is sliced, and the general lack of transparency around the record industry's deals with the digital platforms, especially the newer deals in the user-generated content and emerging metaverse space.
None of that was directly addressed during the IFPI's report launch, perhaps unsurprisingly, though there was plenty of discussion about the role record labels play in helping artists achieve their objectives and ambitions, which are increasingly global objectives and ambitions.
The implication being that labels continue to be vital business partners for ambitious artists, and that justifies labels often taking the biggest slice of the digital pie.
The panel of record industry execs chatting at the report launch did discuss the various initiatives at the majors, especially Sony, to offer more transparency and support for music-makers - including paying through royalties to unrecouped heritage artists, portals for accessing usage and royalty data, and schemes to support health and well-being.
However, a lot of the panel's conversation was more focused on how global success needs on-the-ground teams across the globe, which artists often look to labels to provide, they reckoned.
Basically the argument goes - while in the digital age any artist can get their music to a global audience through a few clicks on the website of a DIY distributor - achieving success in new markets requires infrastructure and expertise in those other countries.
Which is why the majors are setting up offices, buying up companies and forming alliances with the big independents in all the key emerging markets. And once the majors are there, they hope, they can also discover and sign local talent and use their existing infrastructure in Europe and North America to help those artists find a worldwide audience.
All of which makes sense. And the need for on-the-ground support in key markets is definitely a reason why an artist might choose to sign with a major - and why indies look for distributors and partners that can provide them a global network. Though none of that helps heritage artists stuck in old record deals wondering why they get a CD royalty on a stream and how the hell TikTok money is being shared out. But maybe that's a debate for another day.
Running with the 'go global by thinking local' talking point, IFPI boss Frances Moore told reporters, as she launched her organisation's new report: "Around the world, record companies are engaging at a very local level, to support music cultures and bring on the development of emerging music ecosystems – championing local music and creating the opportunities for it to reach a global audience. As more markets mature, they join with and contribute to the rich, globally interconnected music world".
"Consequently, today's music market is the most competitive in memory", she went on. "Fans are enjoying more music than ever and in so many different and new ways. This creates enormous opportunities for artists. Those who choose to partner with a record company do so to benefit from the support of agile, highly responsive global teams of experts dedicated to helping them achieve creative and commercial success and build their long-term careers".
Congress member calls for 2010 Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger to be overturned "for the good of consumers and America"
Pascrell is a long-time critic of the American ticketing market in general and the 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster in particular, and has previously proposed new regulations of said market via his BOSS Act.
Last year he was also one of five members of the US House Of Representatives to call on the newly elected Joe Biden government to review the operations of Live Nation and its Ticketmaster division, and more specifically the consent decree that the live giant entered into with the DoJ to alleviate competition law concerns created by the 2010 merger, an agreement which was extended for another five years in 2019.
There are critics of Live Nation/Ticketmaster in the US Senate too, of course, and two of them have also been very recently vocal about that criticism, with Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar also calling for the DoJ to again investigate the ticketing market and Ticketmaster's role in it. Their latest call for action in this domain was prompted by a recent segment about the ticketing business on John Oliver's 'Last Week Tonight' show'.
Pascrell's latest intervention, however, is in response to an inquiry launched by the FTC and DoJ earlier this year that is reviewing how big mergers and acquisitions are regulated in the US.
Launching that inquiry in January, FTC Chair Lina M Khan said: "This inquiry launched by the FTC and DoJ is designed to ensure that our merger guidelines accurately reflect modern market realities and equip us to forcefully enforce the law against unlawful deals. Hearing from a broad set of market participants, especially those who have experienced first-hand the effects of mergers and acquisitions, will be critical to our efforts".
In his letter to the two government agencies, Pascrell writes: "I welcome your invitation to offer public comment to the FTC and DoJ to modernise merger guidelines to better protect against anticompetitive deals. I write to suggest you streamline and simplify the ability of the FTC and DoJ to undo mergers that ultimately harm competitiveness and contribute to market concentration".
"Furthermore", he adds, "I urge you to closely assess one such disastrous merger, the 2010 marriage of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, and overturn it for the good of consumers and America".
After summarising why it's important that US law ensures that the country's marketplaces remain competitive, Pascrell continues: "With powers entrusted by the Congress, the FTC and DoJ hold the ultimate responsibility of approving or rejecting mergers that could negatively impact that balance of competition in favour of big business. Existing merger regulations are the main tool in the agencies' toolbox and so must be sharpened to be most effective".
"First written in 1968, today's current merger guidelines and their authors could not have predicted the size and growth of our modern economy", he goes on. "Nor could they have anticipated the tidal wave of consolidation across virtually all industries that has overwhelmed the United States in recent decades".
He then focuses on the notion that if a merger is initially approved but then turns out to be bad for the market, it should the undone. "A merger between companies is not written in stone", he says. "Consolidation cannot be accepted as a law of nature, immutable and unchangeable".
"Rather", he adds, "where a merger has harmed industry competition, stifled freedom of choice, and hurt workers, it should be undone. In strengthening merger rules, I urge you to update guidelines for reversing mergers where necessary in line with our modern national economy and capable of being implemented reactively".
Then the letter turns to Live Nation. "The union of Live Nation and Ticketmaster is a poster child of consolidation gone bad", he claims. "When Live Nation, the nation's biggest concert promoter, and Ticketmaster, the largest ticket provider, sought to combine, they assured regulators that their fusion would promote competition in the live events marketplace".
"Several members of Congress, including myself, vocally disagreed. We practically begged President Obama's administration to stop the deal. But President Obama's top antitrust regulator at the time said, 'there will be enough air and sunlight in the space for strong competitors to take root, grow, and thrive'. Consequently, the merger was waved through in 2010".
"Twelve years later", he argues, "there are no strong competitors taking root, growing or thriving, in the primary ticket market and live events market. In 2008, the two companies held more than 80% of the market share and today that figure is even larger".
Citing a Government Accountability Office study he requested in 2017, Pascrell writes: "The GAO cited a market rife with practices that are 'not fully transparent', and that Live Nation Entertainment, which claims more than half of ticket sales in the United States, engages in questionable gimmicks to conceal its extra costs. These include the ubiquitous service fees, processing fees, facility fees, and promoting fees that have become the bane of customers".
"Because Live Nation Entertainment controls a significant portion of both the primary and secondary ticketing markets, the extra fees give the company an enormous competitive edge. Ordinary Americans just trying to enjoy a little entertainment pay the price".
Also quoting President Biden's support for reforming merger rules, Pascrell says: "To protect consumers in the market, I ask the FTC and DoJ to investigate the Live Nation Entertainment-Ticketmaster monopoly"
He then concludes: "The FTC and DoJ's joint efforts have the potential to remake our country for the better and are a breath of fresh air after decades of inaction and neglect by our executive branch. Thank you for consideration to make it easier to undo bad mergers and to finally fix the live events market".
Shape Of You song-theft court case concludes
Sami Chokri reckons that Sheeran got a copy of his track 'Oh Why' through mutual friends or industry connections and then, when the star and his songwriting pals got together in late 2016 to write 'Shape Of You', he either consciously or subconsciously utilised a key element of the earlier song within his hit.
But Sheeran and his collaborators deny having ever heard 'Oh Why' before writing 'Shape Of You'. Meanwhile, they argue, the elements that are shared by the two songs are pretty commonplace in pop music, which means it's not entirely unlikely that two separate songwriters would separately write songs that sound similar in that way.
This week legal reps for the two sides - Ian Mill for Sheeran et al and Andrew Sutcliffe for Chokri - delivered their closing arguments, honing in on the two key aspects of any song-theft case. First, are 'Oh Why' and 'Shape Of You' sufficiently similar to suggest copying and constitute copyright infringement? And second, did Sheeran hear 'Oh Why' before writing his song?
For Sutcliffe, of course, the answer to both those questions is "fuck yeah!", to use the legal term. According to the BBC, in summing up he said that there was an "indisputable similarity between the works" and the chances that that had happened by coincidence were "minutely small".
He also noted that 'Shape Of You' had been written incredibly fast, suggesting that Sheeran already had key elements in his mind before the songwriting session, having previously listened to 'Oh Why'. As for Sheeran's testimony in court, Sutcliffe said the star had been "inconsistent" and "evasive".
Meanwhile the chances of Sheeran not being aware of his client and his music were "vanishingly small", Sutcliffe argued, because they had both appeared on the SBTV YouTube channel from 2010, they had friends in common, and Chokri had tweeted his fellow musician and allegedly met him.
Therefore, Sutcliffe concluded, it was reasonable to assume that Sheeran had indeed heard 'Oh Why' before writing 'Shape Of You' and picked up the earlier track's "extremely memorable" chorus.
Of course, the Sheeran side had already countered all those arguments during the court hearing itself and in Mill's summing up.
As noted, they insist that the elements shared are by 'Oh Why' and 'Shape Of You' are commonplace in pop music. Meanwhile Sheeran wrote 'Shape Of You' super fast simply because he's a genius.
Plus there's no actual tangible evidence a copy of 'Oh Why' had been directly handed to Sheeran prior to the 'Shape Of You' songwriting sessions. And given how much music SBTV has championed over the years, Chokri appearing on that channel doesn't automatically mean his music reached Sheeran's ears.
In the US, cases like this usually go before a jury at first instance, but not in the UK, where it is up to Zacaroli to make a judgement and, potentially, set a precedent in UK copyright law regarding modern day song-theft claims of this kind. It remains to be seen if he goes more 'Blurred Lines' or 'Stairway To Heaven' in making that ruling.
Ukraine fundraiser organises money-can't-buy prizes from Ed Sheeran, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Elbow, and more
Each prize is a special experience, with Sheeran offering three winners the chance to attend an Ipswich Town football club home game with him in his private hospitality box.
Elbow, Savoretti, Snow Patrol, Razorlight and Pixies are all offering the chance to meet them backstage at a show. Frank Turner will also allow his winner into the soundcheck at a show of their choice. Meanwhile, Ladysmith Black Mambazo will invite a fan to rehearse with them during the day of a show and then join them on stage to sing one song that evening.
"We wanted to make as much of a difference as possible, beyond giving money", says Crosstown Concerts co-founder Conal Dodds. "We contacted artists we know and got a great response and will be adding more unique experiences in the coming weeks".
Entry into each artist's prize draw will cost £5, and this first round of draws will close on 29 Mar. Click here to enter.
Mykki Blanco releases collaboration with REM's Michael Stipe
"'Family Ties' is the first song where I sonically found my voice and I mean that in a very literal way", says Blanco. "It's the first song in my entire career where I am singing, I don't rap".
"I wrote this song about the relationship between my ex-boyfriend and his father that has had bouts of mental illness", they go on. "When the person you love is going through a situation that you can't alter in any way, or help or be active in trying to correct, it not only hurts them but it hurts you. I think the core meaning of this song is compassion in the face of helplessness".
On getting Stipe to add vocals to the track, Blanco explains: "[Producer] Falty DL and I took a shot at the moon - I sent him the song because it felt as if in some alternate universe Michael Stipe had already created it. His willingness to perform and be a part of this meant the world to me. I hope to just keep making good art and attracting meaningful circumstances and people that make this life and making music worthwhile. This on so many levels was one of those moments".
Stipe himself adds: "Mykki has a gorgeous voice, resolute and strong. I'm THRILLED to have worked on 'Family Ties' - I love how the song turned out".
Fontaines DC release new single, announce tour dates
"Skinty fia" is an Irish phrase which translates to "the damnation of the deer" and is an expression of disappointment or annoyance. Frontman Grian Chatten says in the context of the album title and this song it expresses his feeling towards the "mutation" of Irish culture abroad.
The album is out on 22 Apr, and the band have just added a run of UK and Ireland shows to their already hefty world tour schedule to close out the year. Tickets are on sale now. Here are the new dates:
7 Nov: Hull, Bonus Arena
Reservoir has acquired the catalogue of film composer Henry Jackman, who has written scores for movies including 'X-Men: First Class', 'Wreck-It Ralph' and 'Big Hero 6'. "Thanks to this unique and forward-looking collaboration with Reservoir, I am now able to focus exclusively on pursuing whichever projects I find most creatively inspiring", he says. "For this, I am exceptionally grateful".
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
DIY distributor CD Baby has announced a new Artist Engagement And Education team, led by Kevin Breuner, who takes on the role of SVP Artist Engagement And Education. "We want to be a resourceful guide through an increasingly fractured and complicated landscape", says Breuner. "By investing in and uniting everything from our blogs, podcast, conference and community, we hope to empower musicians with practical know-how and, hopefully, inspire them to pursue their musical ambitions and achieve success on their terms".
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES
Apple-owned song identification platform Shazam has added concert discovery features to its app, allowing users to find shows near to their location or full dates for specific artists. "Shazam has a long history of innovation in music discovery and connecting artists and fans", says Oliver Schusser, Apple's VP Apple Music & Beats. "With the reemergence of live music, we're excited to give Shazam users access to concerts and bring even more discoverability to artists".
Lorde has released the video for 'Secrets From A Girl (Who's Seen It All)', from last year's 'Solar Power' album. "This song is me in communication with another version of me, trying to send along the wisdom I've started to gather along the way", she says. "When we were plotting the video, Joel brought up some old film/TV tropes about groupings of women. It inspired me to identify three distinct parts of myself [who appear in the video], and imagine what would happen if these parts were able to meet".
Denzel Curry and T-Pain have paired up for new single 'Troubles'. The track is taken from Curry's new album, 'Melt My Eyez See Your Future', which is out this week.
Central Cee has released the video for 'Ungrateful', from his mixtape '23'.
Banks has released new single 'I Still Love You'. "I've held this song tight for over six years", she says. "It felt like a secret I wanted to keep just for myself. But I finally feel not only ready but so excited to share this with the world. It's about loving someone you don't talk to anymore. Missing the little things about them". Her new album, 'Serpentina', is out on 8 Apr.
Joan As Police Woman has released new single 'Get My Bearings', featuring Damon Albarn. The track is taken from her collaborative album with Dave Okumu and the late Tony Allen, 'The Solution Is Restless'. "'Get My Bearings', a duet with Damon Albarn, was written shortly after Tony's death", she says. "It's an evocation of the incredibly thin membrane between life and death. The idea of 'mysticism' is the only way to describe it. My intellect cannot place death. It's what floats beyond where the music resides".
Dubstar have released new single 'I Can See You Outside'. Their new album, 'Two', is out on 6 May.
Little Dragon's Fredrik Wallin, aka FredAtLast, has released the video for new single 'One Day'. His new EP, 'Banner Of A Lost Belief', is out on 13 May.
GIGS & TOURS
Alec Benjamin has announced four UK and Ireland shows later this summer. He will play London's Kentish Town Forum on 30 Jul, Ritz in Manchester on 31 Jul, Dublin Academy on 2 Aug and SWG3 in Glasgow on 5 Aug. His second album, '(Un)Commentary', is out on 15 Apr.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Goldman Sachs CEO playing Lollapalooza
It may not be news to you that Solomon dabbles in DJing. You may well have heard that he played a few tunes at a COVID rule breaking party headlined by Chainsmokers that took place in July 2020 at affluent summer retreat The Hamptons, and which earned the event's promoters a $20,000 fine (for breaking the COVID rules, not booking Solomon to DJ). However, maybe you thought that was some sort of one-off - or a confusing joke even.
Actually, Solomon has been DJing since 2015, initially as a hobby and now with increasingly high profile bookings. He's even released several singles - most recently 'Heatwave' featuring Robbie Jay in February - scoring more than thirteen million plays from 3.8 million listeners on Spotify last year.
Until recently he went by the name DJ D-Sol. But now he's DJing under his real name, either because he realised DJ D-Sol was an absolutely terrible stage name, or because he's just become less worried about people knowing about his day job.
Unlike his banking career, his work in music is seemingly an entirely philanthropic effort. He donates everything he makes from DJing to charitable organisations that support people experiencing addiction. Meanwhile, his label Payback Records - launched in partnership with Warner's Atlantic Records in 2018 - also donates all of its income to charity.
Announcing his appearance at Lollapalooza on Instagram yesterday, he wrote: "Excited to play Lollapalooza for the first time this summer. Proceeds benefit various non-profits in partnership with Payback Records".
So, hey, maybe this is a new trend. Maybe one day there will be a festival featuring only wealthy CEOs who DJ on the side. Especially given that everyone seems to want festivals with very narrow booking policies.