Must Read: @ChrisRizik: How Spotify Is Killing Jazz, Soul, Classical Music

[This is a must read post on the growing revolt against Spotify as the first known example of Orwell’s versificator.  As Chris Rizik notes, Spotify and its ilk are hardly saviors of music, more like destroyers of music and any popular culture that is more than a foot wide and an inch deep and a few years old.  There’s a reason why 10% of the music accounts for 90% of the revenue–and I think it’s more like 5% acccounts for 95%.]

Two events happened recently that caught my attention:

  • Lil Pump, a 17 year old Miami rapper, signed an $8 million recording deal with Warner Bros.
  • Around the same time, one of the leading modern soul singers in the US celebrated on social media the one millionth stream of her latest song on Spotify. Her financial haul on it? Likely around $3,000.

Though these two stories appeared unrelated, they are instructive of the strange new world of music streaming payments, and the inherent bias against soul, jazz, classical and other genres of music aimed at adult listeners….

And while there has been a lot of press about how streaming initially reduced the overall payments to record companies and artists (which has since turned around), what hasn’t been addressed as much is how streaming has changed which artists get paid. And, without a doubt, streaming has stacked the deck toward hip-hop, pop, and other genres whose listeners are teenagers and twenty-somethings.

Read the post on Hypebot

 

 

5 Ways The Music Modernization Act Could Be Fairer To ALL Music Creators

A good starting checklist of issues ignored by the Music Modernization Act in the House of Representatives.

Dae Bogan Music

music modernization act

Today, the Music Modernization Acthas passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a unanimous 415 – 0 vote (16 reps abstained from voting at all).

The mega bill — which consists of a bundle of Titles that were previously independently proposed bills — will change the way in which musical works are licensed by digital service providers and provide a safe harbor for infringement under a blanket licensing mechanism (Title One – Music Modernization Act); it will bring recordings made before 1972 under federal copyright protection (Title Two – CLASSICS Act); and it will codify an allocation of digital radio royalties to music producers and sound engineers (Title Three – AMP Act).

On its surface the MMA sounds amazing, when summarized this way.

Accordingly, the passing of the MMA in the House was widely praised by executives from the most recognizable U.S. music rights organizations and trade associations (e.g…

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@RobertBLevine_: Congress Should Tweak — and Pass — the Music Modernization Act (Column)

[Rob Levine puts his finger on the central objection that most songwriters have about the Music Modernization Act–the lack of incentives to stop paying the current hit songwriters with other people’s money on black box distributions.  Every songwriter knows that what a wise man one said–they may be riding high in April, but they could get shot down in May.  With very few exceptions that black box will eventually be their money.]

The focus should be on getting as much unclaimed royalties as possible to the publishers and songwriters who actually earned it.

The part of the Music Modernization Act that reconfigures the way mechanical royalties are collected and distributed in the online world has something for everyone in the publishing business. Streaming services that comply with the new law can no longer be sued for statutory damages for copyright infringement. Music publishers gain more control over how mechanical royalties are paid. Most publishers and songwriters should make more money. So it seems almost churlish to point out that the only issue that involves mechanical royalties that the bill won’t necessarily fix is how hard it is for streaming services to match recordings with compositions in order to accurately pay publishers — which is what created the push to pass it in the first place.

The bill does create a mechanism to improve that situation, and a relatively simple fix to the law would make sure it did. Congress should make this fix and then pass the bill, since it will stabilize the music streaming business and update the way publishers are paid in the online world.

Read the post on Billboard.

@JemAswad: Vivendi Prepping ‘Potential’ Stock Listing of Universal Music Group

[This could be a great result for Universal, although having been through the Polygram experience it does put a lot of pressure on for short term results.  On the other hand, it could increase the amount of cash available for “moon shot” operations like expanding direct to consumer.]

Vivendi has begun work on a “potential listing of Universal Music Group,” its largest asset, according to reports from a company shareholder meeting in Paris. The news was first reported in Financial Times and Reuters.

Vivendi chief executive officer Arnaud de Puyfontaine said at Thursday’s the meeting: “We have started work that will allow us to present the benefits of a potential listing of UMG to the supervisory board,” FT reported, citing Reuters. Representatives for UMG and Vivendi declined Variety’s request for further comment.

Read the post on Variety

 

I Was Interviewed By The Congressional Budget Office Regarding The Music Modernization Act, And Now I’m Even More Concerned For DIY Musicians

Dae Bogan Music

cbo1
I just spent the last hour giving a copyright law and music publishing crash course to a Principal Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office who’s tasked with determining the economic impact of the revised Music Modernization Act (which, by the way, now includes the Musical Works Modernization Act (which is an update to the originally proposed MMA, affecting songwriters and publishers), AMP Act (affecting producers and engineers) and CLASSICS Act (affecting recording artists of Pre-1972 records)) on states, DSPs and music creators.

He emailed me yesterday and asked to speak with me about the magnitude of the unclaimed royalties market, although we ended up discussing much more than that. Apparently he had discovered a presentation that I gave at the Music Industry Research Association’s MIRA Conference last year titled “The State of Unclaimed Royalties and Music Licenses in the United States.”

Screenshot (533) Email from a Principal Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office

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@TedStew: AT&T-Time Warner Trial: Randall Stephenson Takes Stand and Defends Merger

[It’s important to focus on the budgets that the OTT services are spending on original programming and animal spirits being targeted on creators in a positive way for once.  That is at least nominally driving the competitive incentives for the AT&T/Time Warner merger.  May not be smart to be too quick to judge.]

[AT&T CEO Randall] Stephenson tried to show that the ability to gain increased leverage in distribution was never the rationale for the merger. In notes he wrote after his initial lunch conversation with Bewkes, Stephenson described the potential merger as a “vision deal,” and said that he didn’t want to give the AT&T board of directors “the expectation that there would be these significant cost synergies” if they paid a premium for the company. He explained that he wrote the note before his team did a full study of the transaction, and savings have since been identified.

On Sept. 1, 2016, the board gave him the greenlight to pursue the merger, and approved the transaction in a unanimous vote on Oct. 22 that year.

He said AT&T, starting in 2016, set out to pursue the acquisition of a content company, given the changes taking place in the media business, citing Netflix and Amazon, and their ability to gain valuable consumer data on what their subscribers are watching, as well as Google and Facebook and their offering of targeted advertising tied to a specific consumer’s likes and dislikes.

The CEOs of those companies, Stephenson said, say that their businesses are “all about engagement” with the consumer.

He talked of the benefits of AT&T’s wireless and DirecTV’s set-top box data in creating a new targeted advertising platform for Turner’s channels, with the ability to deliver “three, four, five” times the return on what traditional spots currently get.

He said the merger represented a “significant shift in strategy” for AT&T, as it had previously tried to buy two smaller content businesses but “to no avail.” The merger with Time Warner, he said, would allow AT&T to make a giant leap into the content business more quickly.

“We knew we had to have scale,” he said.

He pointed out the decline in subscribers to DirecTV and U-verse, as younger consumers in particular migrate to cheaper platforms or go without pay-TV subscriptions altogether.

Read the post on Variety

@FeaturedArtist’s Lucie Caswell calls for “due reward” to artists from Spotify equity windfalls

[And what about the songwriters?]

As the trading floor eyes up Spotify’s float, the attention of the music industry is on its licensors. None more so than music makers, who created the assets which make Spotify and its rivals, the billion-dollar businesses they are today. In theory, those assets are due for a windfall as option agreements become exercisable and paper value crystallises into cash. This is potentially a moment which proves the extraordinary opportunities of our digital age, the borderless, boundless bounty of music, the leadership of music innovation and, the enormous value in this business we love, music.

Whose value and how much however, is the conversation of the day. Spotify floating as the New York Stock Exchange takes a hit, is hopefully not prescient of the rewards to the music value chain, through rights-owners and rights licensors who included equity in their licensing deals. Premium-priced initial sales would suggest otherwise. Those licensing deals intrinsically exist for the protection and monetisation of copyright – the music rights and songs artists entrusted to those licensors, for the best advantage to achieve fans and revenues. Rights-holders, distributors, aggregators and services like Spotify, all make money from that transaction and, that trust. Surely it is only sound business that the trust will be repaid and the creators receive due reward from those valuable assets, when money is made.  Whether marketing them, streaming them, building a business upon and around them or licensing them, this industry is sustained and sustainable only, with those songs and recordings.

How much value, will be a matter of the deal at hand and the hour at which the licensor cashes in (something which it seems, will be a tightrope dance of timing over the initial roller-coaster period of trading). From that point, the licensor must decide how to distribute the win across all of the assets it has licensed. Notice I say all. There is apparently some discussion of who should be included, of what repertoire may or may not feel the windfall and who is more valuable.

At this stage we point, as we have before, to the demonstrative WIN FairDigitalDeals Declaration. This landmark calling-card for fair play by rights-holders has come of age. Principle statements are now to become practice. This simple document, signed up to by a growing, global swathe of independent labels, is indicative of how good practice is the fair, transparent and creator-led business we strive for as the FAC.  Good players are many but they also provide precedent that business can be done with equal revenue shares, clear reporting and by fit for purpose, full and fair distribution of wealth to those who create it. Now is the time for all labels and licensors to really demonstrate good intent for artists, ensuring that our ecosystem is sustainable in practice and principled throughout.

Read the post in Music Week