Five years ago, the demise of the music industry seemed almost inevitable. Recession, rampant piracy, falling CD sales and a fear that “kids just don’t buy music any more” had giant record labels, once oozing wealth, counting the pennies. Yet 2016 has seen a reversal of fortune – and the industry’s saviour is not what many predicted. Profits from music streaming, first championed by Spotify and now offered by Apple and Amazon, have given some labels their largest surge in revenue in more than a decade.
Read Article: The Guardian
Which lawsuits will you be watching most closely in the coming year?
2017 is shaping up to be a critical year for music law. The Copyright Royalty Tribunal will set the rates that SiriusXM will pay sound recording copyright owners during the years 2018-22. To date, SiriusXM has benefited from below market rates set by the CRB under the so-called 801(b) standard. This rate standard does not require a marketplace rate, and the cost to artists and labels over the last 10 years is in the hundreds of millions if not billions. The result: a subsidy for SiriusXM as it has built an enormously profitable business. SoundExchange, representing artists and labels, is trying to restore some balance so that SiriusXM pays rates more in line with those that would be negotiated in the market. SiriusXM is asking for rates to be reduced. The decision is due by December 2017.
As the music marketplace has transitioned to streaming, the industry is seeing a rise in services that enable “stream-ripping,” which essentially copy and download music from a service intended only for streaming music or music videos. Stream-ripping undermines both streaming and download services. After all, why bother subscribing to Spotify if you can download all the music from YouTube? The industry has taken action against the largest stream-ripping site in the world, youtube-mp3.org. The case should be underway in earnest next year.
Read Article: Hollywood Reporter
As is the case whenever a superstar musician passes away, the music of George Michael and his band Wham! have suddenly experienced enormous surges in popularity wherever they are immediately available online. Many of Michael’s biggest fans have turned to Spotify to start hitting play on the songs they loved the most, which should come as no surprise given how many users the streaming service has been able to collect.
It has been less than 24 hours since his passing was announced and spread across social media instantly, but his solo discography has already experienced a 3,100% jump in plays.
Horacio Gutierrez: “The only way a company like Spotify can get, and stay, ahead in the technology industry is through a combination of two key things: innovation—in technology, business model, as well as in other aspects the service that we provide our customers; and customers delight —we have to not only satisfy customers, but even surprise and delight them, by offering them experiences they don’t get in other services. The combination of those two things is the only way that we can be sure to remain a leading force for years to come…”
“…I think one just has to look at data to recognize that the freemium model for online music consumption works. Our free tier is a key to attracting users away from online piracy, and Spotify’s success is proof that the model works. We have data around the world that shows that it works, that in fact we are making inroads against piracy because we offer an ability for those users to have a better experience with higher quality content, variety richer catalogue, and a number of other user-minded features that make the experience much better for the user.
“As we continue to succeed in monetizing the free tier, and continue to do a good job of converting free users to paid subscribers in the way we have done so far, we have a proven formula and a formula that, once again, will benefit everyone in the industry.”
Read Article: Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law
Spotify, Amazon, Google, and Apple found there was no substitute for that human touch, to quote another Springsteen number, so a coveted career came into being. Like music supervisors in film and TV, curators are now industry gatekeepers, approached with reverence.
These invisible influencers can break an artist through a choice playlist placement.Perhaps the music curator is the inevitable new link in a chain that includes record labels, managers, critics, DJs, publicists, and fans. These experts (often bloggers and industry pros) bring their background and taste into play to create customized listening experiences for rabid and casual music consumers alike. They comb catalogs, analyze stats, and sweat the small stuff to improve our lives.
Curators know there is a mix for every mood, ever party, and every life event.
Read Article: Observer
Streaming encourages curiosity.
With streaming rather than downloads, access replaces ownership and the commitment is of time, not money. That’s still significant, but it doesn’t feel so irrevocable. Where downloads and playlists favored the lone song, streaming gives the artist and the album a fighting chance again.
Anyone interested in a particular artist, from die-hard fans to novelty seekers, can listen to a whole album repeatedly — not just song samples, not just YouTube choices — and let subtler material sink in. Musicians don’t need to think so exclusively about what sounds, beats and structures the radio gatekeepers will allow; they can get poetic, political, sonically weird or all of the above. While big and glossy still works, it’s just possible that odd and heartfelt will, too.
Read Article: NY Times
One of the biggest problems the music industry faces today is knowing which labels and publishers, performers, songwriters and producers own the rights to songs and recordings, and what their split of the royalties might be. Many believe that record keeping with Blockchain technology can help. Advocates of Blockchain foresee a music industry where every time a song is sold or streamed, payments on royalty splits would be clearer and quicker.
Read Article: Music Business Journal