By Wallace Collins from Wallace Collins Entertainment Law Blog
By Wallace Collins from Wallace Collins Entertainment Law Blog
Are ASCAP and BMI obsolete? Sony/ATV, arguably the world's #1 publishing company, seems to think so, and is preparing to pull out of both before the end of the year, according to reports surfacing yesterday. Sony/ATV head Martin Bandier had told members in July that he was considering such a move as a way to open direct negotiations with digital and broadcast outlets. But now it appears all but certain.
The loss of one or more top publishers could cripple both ASCAP and BMI financially, and would likely lead to more defections.
Music licensing rarely gets the press it deserves when it comes to potential revenue streams. Music supervisors are constantly looking for the perfect song to pair with whatever project their working on, and if packaged and presented correctly, your song could fit the bill. Knowing your genre of music and which audiences it speaks to will help you determine appropriate targets to set and reach out to. Making your pitch personal and strategic is way more important than blasting out an emailer to thousands of aimless contacts. How do you do this?
As part of the events and activities leading up to The 48th Annual CMA Awards on Wednesday, Nov. 5, the Country Music Association is bringing the CMA Songwriters Series back to Music City. Taking place at the Nov. 4 at the CMA Theater in Nashville, the CMA Songwriters Series will feature 2014 CMA Awards nominees Brandy Clark and Jaren Johnston as well as other songwriters who have yet to be announced.
By copyright and intellectual property attorney Wallace E. J. Collins III, Esq.
Score one for the musicians: a California Federal Court Judge delivered a legal earthquake in the music industry by declaring that Flo & Eddie of the Turtles prevail on the issue of the public performance of their pre-1972 sound recordings in their legal action against SiriusXM. The ongoing lawsuit seeks $100 million in damages but the money is hardly the only consequence of this ruling that could eventually disrupt the operations of the satellite radio giant as well as other services like Pandora.
Pandora has signed a music rights deal with BMG as of September 11th, 2014. In an effort to secure a more favorable deal for the songwriters and copyright holders, the 4th largest publisher executed a direct deal with the most popular streaming service. In doing so, they bypassed the US Performing Rights Organizations BMI and ASCAP, who traditionally handle all licenses for digital performance royalties. These organizations are bound by government regulations and aged consent decrees. This deal follows Pandora's recent deal with Merlin, which allowed Pandora was able to negotiate direct deals with thousands of independent labels.
Music publishing is something that many small artists don’t think about, and, to be honest, some of them don’t need to. If you're truly just starting out in music, focusing on getting the word out and racking up a good number of listens comes before delving too deeply into the complicated world of music publishing. Having said that, publishing is a very important (if less-than-sexy) part of the industry, and, if you’re successful enough or even just performing for any real length of time, you'll have to deal with it at some point.
Spotify has introduced video ads as an attempt to generate more revenue from non paying users. The leading music streaming service’s “Sponsored Session” will be a15 - 30 second video ad followed by 30 minutes of uninterrupted music. The idea behind this new strategy is allow non paying users to have longer uninterrupted listening time in exchange for an up front video message. A similar campaign was launched for desktop Spotify users called “Video Takeover”. Company’s opting into this new strategy are McDonalds, Nike, Sprint, and Target among others.
Last year about this time Feed.fm launched featuring "music as a service" and an initial $1.2 million seed round. This week Venture Beat reports that an SEC document reveals another $1.2 million seed round. Assuming someone didn't get their dates confused, it looks like Feed.fm is moving forward with their goal to make music licensing a much easier experience.
Former President of CD Baby, Brian Felsen, Is Named New President of AdRev, a service that helps artists and labels monetize views on YouTube. AdRev's primary strategy is to place premium advertisements on videos to generate more money than the standard advertising formats. The company claims to have over 6 million copyrights, including music libraries of publishing companies and major recording artists. Felsen believes YouTube has an advantage over other streaming competitors because it has created a high demand for all types of video.
The shift in revenue from sales to streaming continues with SoundExchange paying $161 million in the last quarter to artists and labels. It the largest Q2 payment to date and an 8% increase in payments from 2,500 digital radio services in Q2 2013 to Q2 2014. SoundExchange second quarter 2014 highlights:
Youtube and Google will partner to launch new “Music Key” subscription based music streaming services. Youtube will launch Youtube Music Key and Google will re-brand their existing service to Google Play Music Key. Youtube’s service will be $9.99/month after a 1 month free trial and will consist of over 20 million high - quality tracks. Listeners will be able to stream ad-free, audio-only music and will have access to full artist discographies. They will also be able to access covers, concert footage, and remixes. This is something that most competitors cannot currently offer. The official launch date for the service has not been announced.
When putting tracks up on Soundcloud, you should strongly consider turning API access off. If you do not do this, you are granting not only Soundcloud a royalty free licence to use your recordings, but also anyone else who uses their API and/or links to your recordings (eg internet radio stations, remix services or other music apps).
The Top 10 Music Publishing companies have been announced for the 2nd quarter of 2014. Leading the way with a 32.2% share of the top 100 songs is Sony/ATV. This is an increase from their 31.9% share in the 1st quarter of 2014. The quarterly success of Sony/ATV is partially due to their control of the the EMI Music Publishing catalog as well as country cuts like Miranda Lambert’s “Automatic”. Universal Music Publishing and Warner/Chappell ranked No. 2 and 3 with 15.2% and 14.3%. The 7 companies that followed ranked for the most part the same as the 1st quarter of 2014 with the exception of SONGS and BMG Chrysalis who switched places. Round Hill also entered the list for the first time at No. 7 largely due to their 3x Platinum hit “Best Day Of My Life” by American Authors.
A new infographic from trade group Music Biz, “Music Royalties USA Quick Start Guide,” offers songwriters and performing musicians a simpler way to understand the complex framework they must navigate to receive full payment for their work. Included are how royalties are handled for songwriters, publishers, and performers in various media ranging from physical and download sales, radio, tv, satellite, the various forms of streaming, and synchronization.
After a decade at Kobalt Music Group Rebekah Alperin has exited to become enior vice president marketing and communications and Universal Music Group Publishing. Alperin will report to Evan Lamberg, president of UMPG North America, and Will Tanous, executive vice president and head of global communications of Universal Music Group. She will be based at the company’s headquarters in Santa Monica.
ASCAP has announced their 10th annual "I Create Music" EXPO will be held April 30th - May 2nd, 2015, at the Loews Hollywood Hotel in Los Angeles. ASCAP’s signature three-day event serves songwriters, composers and producers in all genres of music. It will once again feature creative and business-focused panels, workshops, master classes, keynotes, one-on-one sessions, networking events, demos, and performances.
Pandora has struck a deal with Merlin. The global rights agency that represents over 20,000 indie labels including Epitaph, Razor & Tie, and Wind-Up Records announced the deal with the Music-Tech giant this past Wednesday. This marks Pandora's first direct label deal and will allow Merlin's labels to negotiate royalty rates instead of paying statutory rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board. With this new deal in place, not only will Merlin’s artists see increased royalty payments, but Pandora will provide them with access to metadata that was otherwise restricted. Merlin’s artists will also now be able to use Pandora as a platform for direct-to-fan access.
OP Ed by Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish Pirate Party, from TorrentFreak.
People sometimes ask how the artists will get paid if - no, when - the copyright monopoly is abolished. This question is not based on facts.
By David Lowery from The Trichordist.
The DOJ is reviewing the WWII era consent decrees that force songwriters under federal court supervision for supposed anti-competitive practices. Yes the awesome power of the federal government is being used to protect multi-billion dollar companies like Clear Channel, Sirius, Pandora, YouTube/Google, Amazon and Spotify from hippy freak songwriters. Considering that many of these companies are effective monopolies it’s a stunning abuse of federal power on behalf of a few politically connected corporations.
Jody Gerson has been named the Chairman and CEO the Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), effective January 1, 2015. Gerson, who currently serves as Co-President of Sony/ATV Publishing, will be based at UMPG’s headquarters in Santa Monica, CA. She will succeed Zach Horowitz who yesterday stepped down effective immediately "to explore other opportunities."
SESAC plans to expand by hiring new chairman and CEO John Josephson. As Co-founder of Downtown Music LLC, former managing director to Allen & Co, and 22 year SESAC board member, Josephson plans to expand the business beyond traditional performing rights. With US PRO’s facing potential withdrawal from major publishers, SESAC predicts these companies will be looking for other options. With a reported $35 Million offer to Harry Fox Agency, SESAC hopes to expand their services to mechanical royalties. This is something ASCAP and BMI cannot do due to consent decrees. SESAC has also acquired a major stake in licensing platform Rumblefish, paying a reported $15 Million for expanded rights. Being the only invitation-only PRO in the US, SESAC will also continue to acquire premium catalogs. Recent acquisitions include Kurt Cobain and Mariah Carey.
Downtown Music Publishing has signed Randy Newman to an administration deal for North America. The six time grammy award winner is responsible for hits such as “Short People”, “I Love L.A.” and “It’s Money That Matters” as well as movie scores for “Ragtime”, “Toy Story”, and “Monsters, Inc”. Newman signed with the NYC based Music Publishing company this week. Newman is currently working on songs for his new studio album expected to be released later this year via his longtime label Nonesuch Records.
Cinncinnati's The Brandery is considered one of the top tech startup accelerators. They help startups in the early stages to further develop and seek funding. The Brandery just took in a new batch of startups including two in the music tech space. LuckyPennie combines music and event discovery with social elements in an interesting mix. MusicPlay Analytics wants to track music played in business so that licensing fees can be distributed to the actual musicians whose music is played.
Sony/ATV's Martin Bandier is threatening to withdraw all rights from ASCAP and BMI. Most major music publishers are looking to withdraw digital rights from the PROs and negotiate direct deals with digital services due to low royalty rates for publishers from digital services. Withdrawing digital rights from the PROs presents challenges to publishers like licensing to small businesses. Martin Bandier, the CEO of Sony/ATV has made it clear that if the Decrees are not amended he will “explore other options”.
OP ED from Peter Getty, musician, producer, writer and philanthropist. A member of the band Virgin Whore Complex, Getty founded the indie label Emperor Norton.
As if beleaguered indie labels needed another battle…
Music streaming services like Spotify and Rdio are making a lot of money delivering unlimited streaming music in return for a flat monthly fee. Never shying away from a bandwagon, Google too is now jumping into the game. Corporate subsidiary YouTube is currently cutting deals with music labels in preparation of Music Pass, a music streaming service to be released later this year.