|THURSDAY 27 APRIL 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Pan-European indie label trade group IMPALA has updated its ten point plan to make streaming work, building on a document it published two years ago, and factoring in more recent market trends, industry developments and research work... [READ MORE]|
IMPALA updates its ten step streaming plan, asks "is the label share being undervalued?"
In the new plan and an accompanying white paper, IMPALA remains supportive of alternative models for sharing out digital income and again calls on all labels to pay all artists a modern royalty rate. It is also still opposed to Spotify's discovery mode and the proposal to pay performer equitable remuneration on streams.
But perhaps most interestingly, this time it also talks about a proposal to revise the recording share of streaming income "upwards to adjust for the gradual decrease compared to other sectors".
There are many different strands to the ongoing debate around the economics of music streaming. IMPALA's original ten step plan was published as that debate was being heard in the UK Parliament as part of the inquiry undertaken there by the culture select committee.
The most contentious part of the economics of streaming debate relates to how streaming monies are shared out across the music community. Though even that is, in fact, several different distinct debates.
So there is debate to be had about: what streaming services charge for their subscriptions; how money is allocated to tracks that have been streamed; how money is shared between the recording rights, the song rights and the services; and how money paid through to the record industry is shared with artists.
The new white paper increases the focus on the first point, with the need for music streaming subscriptions to at least keep up with inflation now the first point in the ten point plan.
"Music streaming appears under-priced compared to other forms of entertainment", the white paper says. "Subscribers receive access to almost all music recorded, ever, in one platform with no adverts for £9.99/€9.99/$9.99. A full price Netflix subscription costs 50% more, for a limited selection of televisual content".
Meanwhile, in music, and especially with Spotify, you have "a headline price which has remained stuck for fifteen years. The £10 UK price point from 2008 is now worth £15.08 according to the Bank Of England's consumer price index calculator. [And] many services continue to offer free, ad supported subscriptions".
Most of the music industry now agrees that streaming subscription prices should go up, even though Spotify boss Daniel Ek told his investors the other day that further talks were needed with the record labels to decide when that can happen.
There's also a lot of agreement within the wider music community that the way streaming money is allocated to individual tracks and catalogues needs a rethink, although there's possibly less of a consensus as to what alternative approach should be adopted.
Two years ago when IMPALA published its first ten point plan the alternative approach getting most attention was the user-centric system. But IMPALA proposed a number of other alternatives, some of which have got more attention in recent months since Universal Music boss Lucian Grainge called for a big old revamp in this domain at the start of the year.
Things start to get more contentious, of course, once you are considering how streaming money should be shared between the recordings and the songs, or between the label and the artist.
On that latter point, the indie community generally supports a proposal that is also popular in the artist community: that all labels should pay all artists a modern digital royalty rate, including on catalogue recordings where old physical era record contracts usually provide a lower (sometimes much lower) rate than would be offered in a new record deal.
IMPALA's members - the new white paper states - "know what a fair deal looks like, and are confident in calling for all labels to revise pre-digital rates to correspond with a modern, negotiated, digital royalty rate. This benefits all artists, but especially those on older deals where royalties can be as low as 4%".
The majors, in the main, continue to resist the idea of minimum royalty rates on catalogue. Which has led some in the music-maker community to propose another way to get artists a bigger share of streaming income, that being extending the performer equitable remuneration system that applies to broadcast income to streams. Under such a system artists would get at least some of their share of streaming income through the collective licensing system at industry standard rates.
The indies and majors are united in opposing the ER idea. And the new IMPALA report repeats the indie community's opposition. "Equitable remuneration would deplete value from the commercial market and reduce capital for investment in new artists and projects", it argues. "This would disproportionately harm the independent sector, which is responsible for 80% of new releases, and that's before counting the community of artists who are not signed to record labels".
As for the debate over how monies are shared between recordings, songs and streaming services, much of the debate in that domain to date has focused on getting a bigger cut for songwriters, with song rights generally receiving at best 15% of total streaming monies, while recording rights usually get 50-55%.
As a result, the assumption to date has often been that the share going to the labels - as the biggest share - is either fair or too high. Even though the label cut has actually declined since streaming first launched fifteen years ago. And the share now going to songs on streams is around about double what was allocated on physical discs.
When songwriters campaign for a bigger cut - and when artists argue that they should get higher royalties from labels - the argument is that the cost of releasing and managing recorded music is lower once you take physical discs out of the equation. Which is clearly true.
Although, how much lower, given the often hidden costs of digital distribution and increases in marketing costs, especially once the data and analytics work that powers digital marketing is taken into account?
On all this, IMPALA cites recent studies by the Competition & Markets Authority and Intellectual Property Office in the UK.
The former, it notes, "showed that since the beginning of streaming, when it comes to the recorded sector, the costs of manufacture and distribution are lower, but other costs (eg marketing, data analysis, etc) have increased considerably, and record labels continue to face important risks when creating new recorded content for streaming services".
"Yet, the UK IPO found that under streaming, the label's share of revenue has decreased (concurrently to an increase of revenues to artists) and that the share allocated to [song] rights has increased significantly more than that of recording rights (with songwriters seeing a corresponding increase)".
It goes on: "In line with the IPO's findings, the CMA identified that the share of publishing in the UK has almost doubled from 8% in 2008 to 15% in 2021. The study goes on to say that 'overall publishing revenues paid out by the UK's largest music streaming services have grown … as streaming revenues continue to grow".
"Major publishers in particular have seen above average streaming revenue growth between 2017 and 2021", it then adds, "significantly outpacing their recording counterparts' revenue growth".
All of which leads to perhaps the most contentious questions posed by the new IMPALA report. "With that in mind", it writes, "we ask whether the label share is being undervalued compared to other parts of the sector, which are experiencing increases".
"We have always said that there cannot be a review of the allocation of revenues between different parts of the sector without a concomitant discussion about who's taking the risk and investing in music. With the evidence from the UK market assessments, the question now is how do we boost the recording share to ensure investment in new talent can continue?"
Of course, many of the streaming services have also slightly increased their share of the digital pie over the last fifteen years, so any re-slicing back in favour of the recording rights wouldn't necessarily have to come out of the song share.
Though the streaming services do like to stress that they are still mainly unprofitable. But critics in the music community might counter that that's mainly due to the growth and diversification strategies of the services.
Either way, IMPALA's new ten step plan - like the original version - both contributes to and expands upon the never ending economics of streaming conversation. You can access the new white paper here.
Pras found guilty of political conspiracy
The musician was convicted in a Washington court yesterday for campaign finance violations, acting as an unregistered foreign agent, witness tampering and lying to banks. Although he plans to appeal, the conviction could result in years of prison time.
The whole thing relates to what is known as the 1MDB scandal in Malaysia. Back in 2015, Malaysia's then President Najib Razak was accused of involvement in a scam to siphon off $3.5 billion from a state-owned investment fund called 1Malaysia Development Berhad - or 1MDB.
It was alleged that the scam was orchestrated by Low - who has various links with the entertainment industry, including involvement in the 2012 Sony-led acquisition of EMI Music Publishing.
Facing criminal charges in both Malaysia and the US, Low was seemingly keen for the American government to be lobbied as officials there continued with their investigations. And that's where Michel's involvement began. He was initially charged in relation to that involvement in 2021.
During the recent court case, prosecutor Nicole Lockhart told jurors that Michel had been "looking for other ways to be paid" after his music career slowed down, and was therefore open to taking money from Low in return for using his contacts to get to American politicians and officials.
Michel himself - while acknowledging that he had received payments from Low - argued that he had seen it as basically "free money". He then blamed various advisors who he said had given him bad advice when it came to accepting and using that money.
According to the BBC, Michel's lawyer David Kenner confirmed plans to appeal, stating: "This is not over. I remain very, very confident that we will ultimately prevail in this matter".
UK Music signs up to the Human Artistry Campaign
UK Music - the cross-sector trade group for the music industry - marked the occasion by signing up to the Human Artistry Campaign, which sets out various principles and priorities around all things generative AI and music.
Initially led by the US music industry and launched at South By Southwest last month, an increasing number of organisations beyond the US and beyond music have since come on board.
Although keen to also recognise the positive impact generative AI is having and will have on the music industry, the campaign sets out various concerns around copyright and transparency issues created by AI.
That includes an insistence lawmakers must not provide AI makers with copyright exceptions that allow them to train their technologies with existing music without licence. That's something UK Music has campaigned on quite a bit recently after the UK government proposed such an exception - a proposal that has since been put on hold pending a rethink.
Says UK Music boss Jamie Njoku-Goodwin: "The AI revolution will have a transformative impact on the music industry - our task is to meet the huge challenges it presents in some areas, while making the most of the potential opportunities it could offer in others".
"As we navigate these issues", he adds, "it's vital that our approach is underpinned by clear and consistent principles, not just here in the UK but globally. So we are delighted to sign up to the Human Artistry Campaign, which sets out core principles for how we ensure AI technologies are developed in a way that supports human culture and artistry rather than eroding it".
"The challenges presented by AI exist on a global level - and so joining this international coalition is an important step towards ensuring we can grow the AI sector in a responsible way, while also respecting creator rights and supporting human creativity".
"The UK has a world-leading music industry, and our global success is down to the strong copyright and IP frameworks we have in place", he concludes. "Developments in AI should not change that - and so on World Intellectual Property Day, it's important to recognise the importance of our IP framework and renew our commitment to the strongest copyright protections possible".
Sony relaunches Epic Records UK
"The pioneering global artists signed to Epic have inspired me and countless fans for decades", says Lockhart. "The relaunch of the label in the UK provides a once-in-a-lifetime chance to celebrate Epic's legacy and build a culture that encourages us to think differently, honouring and supporting artists to create connection through the power of music".
Sony Music UK CEO Jason Iley adds: "I'm confident that Sarah is the right person to relaunch Epic UK and enrich its legacy while protecting its artist-first ethos. Throughout her career Sarah has challenged the norm, pre-empted trends, and supported artists from the very beginning of their careers".
Lockhart is a co-founder of Rinse FM and also launched the FWD>> club night. In roles at EMI Music Publishing and Sony Music Publishing she signed artists including Skepta, Benga, Skream, Ms Dynamite, Aitch, PinkPantheress and D Block Europe.
Electronic music revenues grew 16% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2022, research finds
In fact, the report finds that dance music live revenues were up 65% year-on-year in 2022, reaching $4.1 billion. Though that's mainly post-COVID revival growth, of course. The 2022 live revenues are still slightly below 2019 levels - when they were at $4.4 billion - with electronic music's share of the wider live market actually declining.
Recording and publishing revenues also increased - together up 13% year-on-year to $1.9 billion. That's largely in line with wider industry growth, although electronic music did see a slight increase in market share last year when it comes to music rights.
Overall the electronic music industry grew by 34%, from $7.6 billion in 2021 to $11.3 billion in 2022. The post-COVID revival is a big part of that general growth as well, of course. However, the wider electronic music market is up on pre-pandemic levels, it having been valued at $8.9 billion in 2019.
This year the report was authored by MIDiA Research, expanding the number of datasets used in its analysis. The company's MD Mark Mulligan says: "MIDiA Research is proud to have compiled the 2023 edition of the IMS Business Report, building on the great work of its previous authors".
"After a couple of pandemic-impacted years", he adds, "the global dance music industry is back in top gear and this report reflects how growth has returned across all the various aspects of its thriving business".
PJ Harvey to release tenth album in July
The new songs, she says, offer "a resting space, a solace, a comfort, a balm - which feels timely for the times we're in".
"I think the album is about searching, looking - the intensity of first love and seeking meaning", she goes on. "Not that there has to be a message, but the feeling I get from the record is one of love - it's tinged with sadness and loss, but it's loving. I think that's what makes it feel so welcoming: so open".
The album was recorded with longtime collaborator John Parrish at Battery Studios in London. "The studio was set up for live play and that's all we did", says Harvey, adding that - as a result - the whole thing "came out of me in about three weeks".
'I Inside The Old Year Dying' is out on 7 Jul. Watch the video for 'A Child's Question, August' here.
N-Dubz are back with new single 'February', their first release under their new deal with EMI Records.
Four Tet has released new track 'Three Drums'.
Rachel Chinouriri has released new single 'Ribs'. "I wrote 'Ribs' when I had a chest infection and a crush on someone and it was annoying me", she says. "So I combined my two annoyances and described my liking of someone as a chest infection that was hurting my ribs because I actually had achy ribs. So basically fancying someone is a sickness which you can either cure or it can make you worse - in my case I never recovered".
BB Sway has released new single 'How Will I Get There?', the title track from their forthcoming EP, out on 26 May. "It felt right to name the EP after this track because the whole project centres around the theme of transition/striving towards something", they say. "In different ways, each of the four tracks speaks to some desire for change, congruence and alignment. 'How Will I Get There?' is about the journeys we go through, the desires we have, and the truths we confront along the way".
Protomartyr have released new single 'Elimination Dances', taken from the band's sixth album 'Formal Growth In The Desert', which is out on 2 Jun. The band will be in the UK for live shows in August and October, including a show at London's Electric Ballroom on 26 Oct.
Vexed have released new single 'Anti-Fetish', the first single from their new album 'Negative Energy', which is out on 23 Jun. "We wanted to start with a huge riff and a strong message", say the band of the track. "'Anti-Fetish' is us confronting the constant comparisons and ungrounded hate that bands receive. It's become completely accepted in the [metal] scene to cross the line of constructive criticism and just dive bomb into hatred and prejudice. This song is us setting the record straight by calling out the blatant discrimination".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Travis Barker teams up with mineral water company to launch enema kit
The connection, of course, is that in 1999 Blink 182 released an album called 'Enema Of The State' - their first to feature Barker on drums. So it makes total sense - TOTAL SENSE - that he would now be promoting a company selling mineral water via an enema kit.
"What's my secret?" says a nude, reclining Barker in an advert for the, er, device. "How did I marry the woman of my dreams? How have I had such a successful career in music? I use Liquid Death mountain water. In my asshole".
Each $182 kit comes with a branded enema bulb and a can of Liquid Death water signed by Barker. The website is also at pains to point out that it is in no way intended for actual use.
One disclaimer explains: "[This] is a limited edition collectible adult art piece and not intended for use as a real medical device. [It] should never be placed in or near your butthole without consulting a doctor first. Also, you should not place it in or near your friend's butthole without consulting them or their doctor first either".
The kits are now all sold out, but you can sign up to be notified if any become available again. Meanwhile, watch the advert for the enema kit here.