During a recent annual general meeting of the U.S. National Music Publishers Association, CEO David Israelite called for reform in the way publishers license digital content, as well as several other areas of American copyright law that impact digital licensing and the way collecting organizations operate. Israelite was quite vocal about the current state of online music videos and the ways in which American record labels currently utilize legacy contract clauses to sidestep paying publishers their proper share when online video sites pay them.
“Today, you have VEVO talking about reaching $150 million in revenue and wanting to grow to $1 billion,” said Israelite. “A large amount of the music videos being played are not getting licensed [by our members] and publishers are not being paid.”
Israelite isn’t alone in voicing frustration on the subject. Earlier this year, Matt Pincus of Songs Music Publishing said that his company was receiving little income from VEVO – primarily because in the United States, VEVO has deals with record companies that put the obligation to pay publishing royalties onto the labels, rather than paying royalties directly to the publishers of the songs featured in videos.
Pincus goes on to mention that when artists performed their own songs, labels were using a common clause in artist contracts stating that publishing royalties are not due when music videos are used for “promotional purposes.” Both independent and major publishers are seeing negative impacts to their business because of this, and as platforms like VEVO and YouTube continue to grow, Israelite argues that music videos no longer act as just promotional content, but rather key revenue streams that he believes publishers should have a share of.