|FRIDAY 10 MARCH 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Recorded music revenues in the biggest music market in the world - that being the US, of course - grew 6% to $15.9 billion last year, according to new stats published by the Recording Industry Association Of America yesterday... [READ MORE]|
US recorded music revenues up 6% to $15.9 billion in 2022
That figure is the sector's retail revenues for 2022. Wholesale revenues - so the monies that actually make it into the record industry - were up 5% to $10 billion.
All that growth is, of course, powered by streaming, which now accounts for 84% of the US market's recorded music revenues. As elsewhere, most of that comes from paid-for streaming services, which brought in 77% of streaming income and nearly two-thirds of total revenues.
In terms of streaming market growth last year, total streaming income was up 7% to $13.3 billion. Revenues from premium streaming were up 8% to $10.2 billion, while ad-supported streams brought in $1.8 billion, a 6% increase.
The RIAA also separates out what it calls 'limited tier subscriptions' in its annual stats report, which includes things like the music element of Amazon Prime and the music industry's deals with the fitness platforms. That category saw growth of 18% to $1.1 billion.
But don't be thinking that it was only in the streaming domain that recorded music revenues were growing last year. Oh no.
The vinyl revival continues in the US as in the UK, of course. But, on that side of the Atlantic, ongoing vinyl growth is sufficiently impressive that - despite CD sales sliding again - physical product revenues overall were up 4% to £1.7 billion.
So, that's all good, isn't it? Well, it's good for the record labels. But is it good for the wider music community?
Oh yes, reckons the RIAA, very much aware of the ongoing debate around how streaming monies are shared out between record labels, music publishers, the digital platforms, and the all important artists and songwriters. An argument is often made, of course, that it's the labels that are benefiting the most.
In a blog post accompanying yesterday's stats pack, Mitch Glazier cites a BPI study in the UK and Will Page's annual review of the wider music rights sector to argue that artists and songwriters are definitely also benefiting a plenty from all this growth.
"Artists' share of music revenues have risen faster than labels'", he claims, "and a recent UK study found that label investment in artists has doubled over the last five years, while A&R spending on new talent has grown two and a half times faster than company revenues".
"Songwriters and publishers have seen tremendous growth as US collectives like ASCAP and BMI reported record payments reflecting an increase in the writer/publisher share of music revenues of 50% since the CD era", he adds.
Those mainly loss making digital services are doing well too, he reckons, musing that "the digital services also have had unprecedented success as earnings at just one major service rose 22% last year pushing it to over 400 million active listeners worldwide".
"And 2022 is already shaping up as one of the strongest years ever for live music", he then says, "roaring back after the long struggle against the pandemic".
So, there you go. Will anyone outside of the RIAA membership be convinced by any of that? Of course not. But hey, here are some lovely stats for you all to enjoy.
Quad9 vows to continue fighting web-blocking order after latest loss in court
Having got internet service providers to block access to piracy sites in multiple countries, the music and movie industries have more recently been trying to get companies like VPNs and DNS resolvers to also instigate some blockades.
Mainly because where an ISP has blocked a website, a user can often circumvent that blockade by using a VPN or an alternative DNS resolver.
Those companies - like the ISPs back in the day - are keen to avoid having web-blocking responsibilities, arguing that - while they don't approve of piracy - copyright owners are overly expanding the list of companies that should help them enforce their rights online.
One such company is Quad9, which has been targeted by legal action filed by Sony Music in Germany. So far the German courts have sided with Sony on this, concluding that Quad9 should indeed implement some web-blocks.
But the DNS resolver has been busy appealing those rulings, most recently in the Leipzig Regional Court. However, earlier this month that court upheld the earlier rulings.
According to Torrentfreak, the judge overseeing the case - citing the actual piracy service Sony has an issue with - concluded that: "The defendant is liable as a perpetrator because it makes its DNS resolver available to internet users and, through this, it refers to the canna.to service with the infringing download offers relating to the music album in dispute".
But Quad9 plans to continue with its legal battle. It wrote in a blog post earlier this week: "Quad9 is shocked that the court ruled in favour of Sony Music, but they are not disheartened and will continue fighting for the freedom of access to information by citizens around the globe".
The DNS resolver confirmed it would be complying with the web-blocking court order in the short term, but that it will continue to pursue its appeal through the courts, believing that the judgements so far in this case set a dangerous precedent. We shall see how that goes.
Marathon Music group launches new label Pace
The new venture is a partnership with Women In Jazz co-founder and manager Lou Paley in collaboration with former Sony Music exec Fred Bolza, who also heads up the New Soil label within the Marathon Music Group.
Says Paley: "I am extremely excited to partner with Marathon Music Group to deliver the vision for Pace. I have always been passionate about developing the careers of artists and I'm confident the artists at Pace will be set up for long term success by tapping into Marathon's team, knowledge and global footprint".
Marathon boss Paul Rene Albertini CEO adds: "Louise is an inspiring and growing music executive; Marathon is proud to officialise our partnership by launching this exciting new venture together. We have no doubt this will be a journey filled with amazing artists and music".
The label's first artist signings are JGrrey and Bodur, who will release new music with Pace and Marathon later this year.
Latest label-led White Label Auction for BRIT Trust announced
In among that lot will be records by The Cure, Bryan Ferry, Sam Cooke, The Specials, The Mighty Diamonds, Gregory Isaacs, Meat Loaf and Brian Eno, plus a set of 'Now Yearbook' releases.
Monies raised will support the BRIT Trust charity and its work in music education and well-being, including the BRIT School.
Says Johnny Chandler, A&R Director at Universal Music Recordings and founder of the auction: "We're all delighted there's another White Label Auction in aid of the BRIT Trust taking place later this year and hope that super fans and collectors will again find some compelling lots from their favourite artists".
"As ever", he goes on, "we are grateful to all the artists, their labels and teams for making the event possible with their generous support, and hope to generate as much as we can to help the Trust continue its valuable work".
The auction will be run by Omega Auctions both online and at the company's Greater Manchester base on 6 Jun.
Agencies, managers and industry groups back Live Nation's Fair Ticketing Act
The live giant unveiled the so called Fair Ticketing Act last month in response to increased discussion about the ticketing business within American political circles.
The most recent ticketing discussions in Washington were prompted by all the issues that occurred last year when Taylor Swift tickets went on pre-sale via the Verified Fan platform run by Live Nation's Ticketmaster.
That put the spotlight back on ticketing in general, but also Ticketmaster in particular. And the relationship between Ticketmaster and the rest of the Live Nation business, and even the 2010 merger that brought Live Nation and Ticketmaster together.
So there were all the usual gripes about high ticket prices and confusing ticketing fees, plus allegations that Live Nation and Ticketmaster are just too dominant in the US live music and ticketing markets.
However, Live Nation's proposed new regulations for ticketing in the US are mainly focused on the good old secondary ticketing market.
They call for an expansion of existing rules that ban touts from using bots to buy up tickets from primary sites; a new ban on speculative selling, where touts advertise tickets they don't have yet; and a crackdown on resale sites that don't enforce those rules or respect an artist's preferences regarding how they sell their tickets.
They do also call for a rule forcing all ticketing platforms to declare any fees and commissions upfront, which would affect primary and secondary ticketing sites. However, the focus of the wider Fair Ticketing Act initiative is definitely the latter.
Now, issues around ticket touting remain a big concern, of course, and Ticketmaster still runs ticket resale platforms in the US, so is actively involved in the kind of ticketing that it is proposing should be more tightly regulated.
However, the live giant's critics - and especially everyone else involved in secondary ticketing - see the Fair Ticketing Act as a massive distraction tactic - ie distract the politicians with ticket touting over here so they don't bother themselves about any of the other issues raised about primary ticketing, and the dominance of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, over there.
But, while not everyone involved in live music and ticketing Stateside is impressed with Live Nation's proposals, plenty of key companies are.
Earlier this week it was confirmed that booking agencies CAA, WME, UTA and Wasserman Music; management firms Vector, Laffitte, Gellman and Red Light; and industry organisations like the Music Artists Coalition and Songwriters Of North America are all backing the Fair Ticketing Act, which now has its own website.
Though, Live Nation's main rival AEG and its ticketing division AXS are notable omissions from that list, somewhat unsurprisingly.
It's no secret that many agents, managers and artists have long wanted better regulation of the ticket touting business - or at least for some of the regulations that have already been introduced in some European countries to be exported to the US.
But it would be interesting to know whether Live Nation's allies on these particular proposals would also like to see additional regulation of the primary ticketing market in a way that Ticketmaster would not approve.
Apple Music Classical launching this month
The Apple Music Classical app will, we are told, make it "quick and easy to find any recording in the world's largest classical music catalogue with fully optimised search, and listeners can enjoy the highest audio quality available, and experience many classical favourites in a whole new way with immersive spatial audio".
Most streaming apps aren't particularly well designed when it comes to navigating and discovering classical music, which is why a bespoke service for the genre, like Primephonic, made sense.
However, given the complexities of licensing and operating a streaming service, which are particularly tricky for smaller businesses to deal with, having a classical skewed app within a bigger service like Apple Music possibly makes even more sense.
"Apple Music Classical is the ultimate classical experience", the official blurb continues, "with hundreds of curated playlists, thousands of exclusive albums, insightful composer biographies, deep-dive guides for many key works, intuitive browsing features and much more".
The new app will be available to Apple Music subscribers from later this month, albeit initially only iPhone users whose devices are running at least iOS 15.4.
Eliah Seton becomes SoundCloud CEO
The big old rejig at the top of the SoundCloud business also sees the appointment of a new Chair, with Union Square Ventures founder Fred Wilson now leading the company's board.
Wilson takes over in that role from SoundCloud founder - and former CEO - Alexander Ljung. He will remain on the board though, taking the only slightly made up title of Chairman Emeritus.
Seton joined SoundCloud in 2021 after more than a decade with Warner Music, latterly running the major's artist services operations. He arrived at SoundCloud as the company put the focus back on its original core business of providing services and support to independent creators.
Commenting on his new job, Seton says: "As the only platform with direct relationships with artists and fans at scale, SoundCloud has a singular opportunity to forge the future of the music industry by unlocking the full power of fandom".
"I am grateful to Mike for our partnership", he adds, "[and] to Fred and the board for their confidence, and THRILLED to work alongside our incredible leadership team to realise that vision".
Meanwhile new Chair Wilson says: "I have served on SoundCloud's board for more than a decade and can honestly say that I have never been more excited about the direction and leadership of the company".
"Eliah's passion for the business of music, relationships and vision are exactly what is needed for the next phase of SoundCloud's growth", he goes on. "On behalf of the board, I want to thank Mike for his leadership, dedication and partnership over the past several years and welcome Eliah to this new role".
Lewis Capaldi "terrified" and "proud" about new Netflix documentary
'Lewis Capaldi: How I'm Feeling Now' has been made by BMG, Pulse Films and Netflix, with the latter set to be make it available on 5 Apr, ahead of the May release of Capaldi's second album 'Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent'.
"This all-access film sees Lewis Capaldi at a pivotal moment in his career", says the blurb. "At the heart of this film is the story of a young artist, returning to his roots after achieving unbelievable global success, attempting to reconnect with his old life and the family and friends he left behind".
"The film captures Capaldi's defining year, struggling to balance the familiarity of home, normality and all he's ever known, with life as one of the biggest stars on the planet", it goes on, "gleaning an intimate portrait of his unique character, hopes and fears in his own words".
Commenting on the doc, Sam Bridger at Pulse Films says: "This started out as a film about the process of creating the 'difficult second album', but ended up being an astonishingly unguarded portrait of the pressures of fame on young shoulders, exploring one of the great conversations of our age - mental health".
"Such unfiltered access to one of the biggest stars on the planet is testament to the bravery of Lewis and his team who invited us into their world", he adds, "and the incredible trust and storytelling instincts of director Joe Pearlman, producer Alice Rhodes and the production team".
Capaldi himself, meanwhile, says: "I'm pretty terrified for people to see this documentary if I'm quite honest, but I'm also really proud of it. I hope you enjoy it".