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Digest: Pandora & SiriusXM Might Be Back On, Paypal Sues, DOJ Appeals in BMI Case

Posted by Glen Sears | May 22, 2017 10:42 am | No Comments

Story of the Week

SiriusXM’s Pandora Buyout Could Be Back On
That’s according to a new report from the New York Post, which suggests that Sirius recently restarted talks with Pandora’s banks and is currently “discussing the size of a potential offer.”

Top Music News Highlights

Pandora Sued By PayPal For Alleged ‘Harmful’ Logo Infringement. PayPal’s suit, filed on May 19, claims: “The similarities between the logos are striking, obvious, and patently unlawful. Just like the PayPal logo, the Pandora logo is a capital P in block style, sans serif, with no counter, in the same deep-blue color range.”

Merlin Agrees Multi-Year Licensing Deal With HD Music Firm MQA. The partnership will enable the number of independent labels represented by Merlin to encode their master recordings in MQA’s master quality audio technology.

Department of Justice Appeals Consent Decree Ruling, BMI Hits Back. The DOJ claims that BMI is seeking to include a special exception for split works and it notes that while BMI has the right to license some of these split works on a full-works basis, it is asking the court to create an exception for all split works so that it can provide fractional licenses for those songs.

France’s Sacem Posts Record Revenues of $1.5 Billion. Of that total, $1.3 billion was paid out to members and affiliate neighboring rights organizations (up 2% on 2015) with just under $67 million invested in almost 2,000 creative and cultural sustainability projects – including financial support for music venues and festivals – to help “ensure long term growth for the industry.”

The MP3 Is Dead, Long Live The MP3. The last of the patents related to the MP3 format expired (or will very soon), so patent-holder Fraunhofer IIS has nothing left to license.

Digest: Spotify Nearing WMG Deal and May List Directly, SoundExchange Acquires CMRRA, eMusic Relaunches

Posted by Glen Sears | May 15, 2017 9:28 am | No Comments

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Story of the Week

Warner Music Boss Nears Royalty Deal With Spotify
Sources tell On the Money that Warner and Spotify are getting this close to a new royalty agreement and a deal could be signed by June; if inked, Daniel Ek’s Spotify would be on the way to its long-planned IPO — expected in the final quarter of 2017.

Top Music News Headlines

Spotify Valued At $13bn – And Is Pushing Ahead With A Direct Listing. The move would be the biggest test yet for the direct listing process, which for companies willing to list shares without raising capital eliminates the need for a Wall Street bank or broker to underwrite an initial public offering (IPO) along with many associated fees.

SoundExchange Moves Into Publishing Rights By Acquiring Canadian Body CMRRA. The organization has been thriving in recent years, but its business model faces some undeniable threats: SoundExchange’s biggest source of revenues, Pandora, is failing to grow its listener base – and recently inked direct licensing deals for the first time to cover its new three-tiered streaming product.

Pandora Secures At Least $150m Investment But May Still Sell. Pandora’s revenues grew by 6.3% year-on-year to $316m in the first quarter of 2017, however, the company’s net loss increased from $115.1m in Q1 2016 to $132.3m a year later, with a 9.4% hike in content acquisition costs to $187.4m one of the key reasons.

Australian Streaming Guvera Service Has Shut Down. According to CEO Herft’s letter to shareholders, the company will look into selling or commercializing some of its “valuable” intellectual properties in an attempt to get back on its feet.

eMusic Relaunches As Indie-Centric Music Service. The “fully overhauled and upgraded” eMusic is based around a music ownership model rather than an access streaming model and offers users free and discounted downloads, cloud-based storage, universal access on any device and a catalog of 32 million titles exclusively from independent labels.

Smule Raises $54M At $604M Valuation. Social music startup Smule has raised $54 million in a strategic financing round led by Tencent, used to expand the service, which has 54 million monthly active users creating over 20 million songs daily, into Asia.

Google Releases Study Defending YouTube’s Value To Music Biz; Trade Bodies Hit Back. According to a European study carried out by RBB Economics, if music content was removed from YouTube around 85 percent of the time that users spend on the platform would switch to lower value channels, such as TV, radio or internet radio.

iTunes and Apple Music Coming to Microsoft’s Windows Store. Microsoft said that once the app is released to the Windows Store, users of its just-revealed Windows 10 S operating system will get a “complete” iTunes experience, including Apple Music and full support for iPhone syncing.

Universal Music Group Revenue Rises 12.7%, Biggest Q1 In 15 Years. A UMG company spokesman said that the first quarter revenue was its highest first quarter total since UMG reported 1.365 billion euros ($1.48 billion) back in the first quarter of 2002.

Digest: WMG Signs Deal With YouTube, VKontakte Launches Streaming, The Orchard Expands in Europe

Posted by Glen Sears | May 8, 2017 9:40 am | No Comments

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Story of the Week

Warner Music Group Extends Deal With YouTube
Warner Music Group has extended its recorded music and publishing deals with YouTube, according to the video platform and a memo by WMG CEO Stephen Cooper obtained by Billboard. The memo said WMG was able to secure “the best possible deals under very difficult circumstances” and that term for the deal is shorter so to allow for “more options in the future.”

Other Important Music News

Everything You Need To Know About The “Difficult” WMG, YouTube Deal. Hypebot breaks down the nitty-gritty details of the WMG/YouTube deal and aggregates responses, as well as analysis, from around the internet.

Irving Azoff Hopes Warner Music Avoided ‘Step Backwards’ On YouTube Deal. “I trust that Warner took its responsibility to its artists and insisted on two crucial points: both better control for artists and increased compensation,” Mr. Azoff said in an email.

‘Russia’s Facebook’ Launches Fully Licensed New Spotify Rival. With over 100 million active users, Russian Facebook VKontakte (VK) has the same sized audience as Spotify’s last confirmed active user base (across both freemium and premium users).

SoundExchange Q1 Collections Down Thanks To Pandora Direct Deals. In these new agreements, Pandora is paying rights owners directly and SoundExchange is continuing to pay artist royalties directly for the service’s ad-supported tier.”

Sony’s The Orchard Buys Independent Distributors Finetunes And Phonofile. The move effectively means Sony has acquired four independent European distributors in little over a year; the company swooped for both Essential Music & Marketing (UK) and Century Media (DE) in 2016 for a combined price of just under $21m.

German Music Publishers Hold ‘Historic’ Meeting to Show Unity Amid Royalty Sharing ‘Crisis.’ Germany’s music publishers are coming to terms after a court decided in November that performing rights society GEMA is not required to give them an equal share of all income.

Digest: Musical.ly Partners With Apple Music, Merlin Drops Fees, Spotify Bets on Blockchain

Posted by Glen Sears | May 1, 2017 9:26 am | No Comments

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Top Music News Story

Musical.ly, Apple Music Ink New Partnership
With the new partnership, Musical.ly users will be able to stream full-length songs — rather than just 15-second clips — from Apple Music’s catalog directly within the Musical.ly app, with the further option to save particular songs to their own playlists within Apple Music and access Musical.ly-branded playlists via the streaming service as well.

Other Music News Highlights

Apple Music To Reportedly Relaunch With More Video, Original Programming. “A music service needs to be more than a bunch of songs and a few playlists. I’m trying to help Apple Music be an overall movement in popular culture, everything from unsigned bands to video. We have a lot of plans.”

Merlin Reduces Fees For Indies 25%. “On the back of our new agreement with Spotify, I am proud to announce yet another reduction in our Administration Fee,” Charles Caldas, CEO, Merlin said. “Together it means Merlin continues to deliver maximum value to our members’ digital business, and highlights our ongoing commitment to provide ever greater efficiencies.”

Spotify Hires Mediachain Labs, Blockchain Developers. When applied to the music industry, blockchain technology resembles a secure-but-shared ledger that connects data “blocks” containing data about every song and its rights holders.

Bill to Make Register of Copyrights a Presidential Appointee Approved by U.S. House. The next stop for this reform effort will be the Senate, where thus far legislation to accomplish that end has not been approved.

VKontakte (Russia’s Facebook) Launches Built-In Music Streaming Service. The built-in music service allows users to choose between the subscription-based and ad-supported models, giving them access to tracks licensed from Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Merlin Network and local labels.

Universal Music Group Valued At $22bn – Three Times What It Was Worth In 2013. That’s according to top brass at UMG parent Vivendi, speaking at its annual shareholders’ meeting April 25th in Paris.

Streaming Income For TuneCore Artists grew 85% Last Year. Streaming revenue for TuneCore artists was up 85% with top streaming stores including Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify and Google Play. Publishing revenue for TuneCore artists was up 42% percent from 2015, and sync revenue up 28%.

Digest: Spotify Inks Long-Term Deal With Merlin, Google Play Now Samsung’s Default Music Service, SAG-AFTRA Fund

Posted by Glen Sears | April 24, 2017 9:21 am | No Comments

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Top Music News Story

Spotify Locks Down Long-Term Licensing Pact With Merlin
Spotify and independent label organization Merlin have agreed to a multi-year licensing agreement that ensures an uninterrupted flow of music from non-majors to the music streaming leader, plus extends to Merlin members the same flexible release option that was core to a recent deal with Universal Music Group.

“This new agreement lays the path to future sustainable growth for us both, and we look forward to remaining an integral part in the service’s continued success,” said Merlin CEO Charles Caldas in a statement.

Other Music News Highlights

Spotify Has Launched A Facebook Messenger Bot For Music Discovery And Sharing. The bot, originally uncovered by TechCrunch, includes search, recommendations, sharing a 30 second song clip within Messenger, or launching Spotify to hear the full song.

Streaming May Have Slowed Piracy, But It Certainly Hasn’t Stopped It. According to a late 2016 study by Ipsos for the IFPI which surveyed 12,600 internet users in 13 countries, more than 1/3 said they had still accessed copyright infringing music over the previous 6 months.

Google Play Music Becomes Default Music Service On All Samsung Mobile Devices. Google also promised to add more “special features in Google Play Music just for Samsung customers, including expanded cloud music storage and integration with Samsung’s Bixby voice control system.

How Royalties Are Paid On All Three Pandora Music Services. Glenn Peoples explains, in welcome detail, the new royalty distribution processes for all of Pandora’s new streaming tiers.

AFM/SAG-AFTRA Fund Pays Royalties to Oft-Neglected Backup Singers, Session Musicians. The joint fund, the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, distributed about $60 million in royalties in 2016 to backup singers and session musicians, who otherwise might not receive music royalties at all.

YouTube Settlement Helps Push GEMA Collections Up 15% In 2016. The PRO collected $1.14B on behalf of its 70,000 members and rights owners last year; That’s up 15% — or $166.9M — from 2015’s $969.7M.

Deezer Is Exploring User Centric Licensing. MiDIA’s Mark Mulligan claims that “The general consensus among labels I have spoken to is cautious optimism..One of the key concerns was that the model could penalize some indie labels.”

Digest: Fans More Willing To Pay For Music, Amazon’s Music Plans, Slacker Lays Off Staff

Posted by Glen Sears | April 17, 2017 9:20 am | No Comments

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Top Music News Story

Fans Have A Growing Willingness To Actually Pay For Music
Music fans are showing a growing willingness to actually pay for music, and that is helping to drive the current growth in the recorded music industry. In fact, the value of those fans grew 11% last year driven by tens of millions of $10 per month on-demand subscriptions, according to MusicWatch’s Annual Music Study.

Read the full story on Hypebot

Other Music News Highlights

“Music Streaming Still Needs To Get A Lot Easier For Consumers.” In an exclusive interview with MBW, Steve Boom discusses Amazon’s ambitions in digital music, streaming’s potential to grow globally, the tricky subject of artist exclusives and free vs. paid- plus the small matter of how we’re all going to listen to music in future.

Slacker Radio Has Laid Off 25% Of Its Staff. “Slacker Radio is laying off approximately 25% of the team as part of our ongoing effort to focus on efficiency and accelerate the path towards profitability.”

Pandora Is Now Talking To Private Equity Firms In Search Of Cash. Pandora is in talks with private equity firms Providence Equity Partners, Silver Lake, KKR and others; tandem talks with other potential partners about strategic investments and even sale are continuing, and Pandora hired Centerview Partners last July to explore strategic options.

TuneCore Now Offers Musicians and Indie Labels Fast, Low Cost Royalty Advances. TuneCore launched TuneCore Direct Advance in collaboration with Lyric Financial — a new service provides U.S.-based TuneCore customers the option of quick, automated advances on their future distribution sales revenue.

U.K. Recorded Music Industry Grew By 5.1% in 2016. Mark Mulligan of MiDIA Research gives his quick take on another streaming music success, and why there may be more to the story.

Digest: SOCAN & SODRAC Set To Join Forces, Spotify Signs UMG Deal, May Avoid IPO

Posted by Glen Sears | April 10, 2017 9:40 am | No Comments

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Top Music News Story

SOCAN Set To Join Forces With Reproduction Rights Body SODRAC
Canadian music rights bodies SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors & Music Publishers of Canada) and SODRAC (Society for Reproduction Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers in Canada) are actively discussing the possibility of combining operations.

‘The integration of the management of public performance rights and reproduction rights could have many advantages and would reduce operating costs for rights holder members of each organization, and promises to increase efficiencies, leverage licensing relationships, and reduce operating costs, resulting in even more money to go to those who have earned royalties for their music and streamlined licensing for businesses using music,’ read a press release.

Read the full story on Music Business Worldwide

Other Music News Highlights

Canadian Music Rights Groups Hope to Make ‘Quick Progress’ on Merger. Baptiste expects to have board approval “within the next few months,” but notes that timeline could change: “We are meeting again. It’s going to be up to the board of SOCAN and the board of SODRAC to decide, but we hope to make quick progress on this.”

Spotify Signs Long-Term Deal With Universal, Opens Door on Windowing. The agreement, announced last week, represents the end of Spotify’s long-standing policy of granting all of its users — both free and premium alike — access to complete albums on their release dates.

Universal And Spotify’s Deal Is An Even Bigger Deal Than It Looks. Mark Mulligan writes that “Although the big focus across the industry so far is, understandably, on what this means for Spotify, it is also part of a bigger story, namely that of the maturation of the streaming market and its associated business models.”

Could Spotify ‘IPO’ (Without An IPO) As Early As September? Much has been made of Spotify’s imminent IPO, but a new report suggests the streaming service is instead considering a different approach – through a direct listing on a US stock exchange.

Google Play Music Launches in India, Undercuts Apple. Google is offering users its streaming service and radio stations for an initial discounted price of Rs 89 per month ($1.40) for those that sign up within 45 days, reports the India Times.

Major Scandal At The Copyright Office With $25 Million ‘Fake Budget’ Line Item. According to a Techdirt report, Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante put in place a fake twenty-five million dollar budget line item, and then intentionally deceived congress about it.

YouTube, Creators Respond To Monetization Threshold Change. Many throughout the industry have had strong reaction to YouTube’s changes to their monetization rules, including YouTube itself.

Digest: Dissecting the RIAA 2016 Year-End Report, Report Claims Safe Harbor Costs Industry $1B, Emoticast Raises $5M

Posted by Glen Sears | April 3, 2017 9:20 am | No Comments

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Top Music News Story

Five Takeaways From the RIAA’s Year-End Music Industry Report
When the RIAA released its revenue statistics for 2016 yesterday (March 30), the headlines were about the industry’s remarkable growth — U.S. recorded music sales grew 11.4 percent, bolstered by the strength of streaming. That’s the first double-digit growth since 1998. But a closer look at the numbers reveals a few other notable trends.

Read the full story on Billboard

Other Music News Highlights

With Streaming’s Explosion, Where Does the U.S. Music Business Go From Here? The question now is whether this nascent recovery will continue — and whether an industry dominated by streaming can eventually return to a level close to its 1999 revenue peak of $14.6 billion.

Streaming Subscription Revenue Rises 133% In Australia To Top $80M. The wholesale value of Australia’s recorded music market has risen for a second consecutive year as the growth in income generated from ad-funded streaming dramatically slows.

Report: Safe-Harbor Costs United States Music Business “Nearly $1B A Year.” “Using 2015 data, we find that that a plausible royalty rate increase could produce increased royalty revenues in the U.S. of $650 million to over one billion dollars a year,” claims the Phoenix Center report.

SoundExchange Is Distributing SiriusXm Settlement Funds For Pre-1972 Recordings. The distribution began in the Fall of last year, but “as we distribute these funds in the future, recording artists will notice a line item on their statements that identifies “Pre-72 Settlement” royalties,” SoundExchange said in a statement on Wednesday.

Emoticast Raises $5M As Sean Parker, will.i.am, David Guetta Back Mobile Music Messenger. Emoticast has global licenses with major label groups Universal Music and Warner Music; and major publishing groups, including Sony ATV, Warner Chappell, Universal, Sony BMG and PRS/Impel.

Paul McCartney Claims Sony Is Devaluing His Beatles Rights. His lawyer also tells a judge that without resolution to his attempt to reclaim rights, McCartney would be exposing himself — and others — to liability.

Pandora Under Pressure Even As Music Industry Warms To Westergren. Activist investors have come to view Pandora very differently from its users, with Corvex Management LP, which owns 8.8% of Pandora and may increase its stake to as high as 15%, pressuring Pandora to either get profitable quickly or sell.

Report: Apple Music Had 20% More Users Last Month Than Spotify or Pandora. 90 day free trials helped Apple Music amass 20% more unique monthly users in the U.S. in February than Spotify or Pandora, says a just-released study by Verto Index.

Native Instruments Buys Remix-Licensing Startup MetaPop. MetaPop recently announced that it had successfully licensed more than 20,000 bootleg remixes, with the company paying rightsholders 70% of the subsequent revenues; remixers 15%, and keeping a 15% cut for itself.

Digest: Spotify Close To Major Label Deals, Budging on Windowing, UMG Partners For VR Experiences

Posted by Glen Sears | March 20, 2017 9:30 am | No Comments

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Top Music News Story

Spotify To Sign New Licensing Deals With Major Labels ‘Within Weeks’?
The Financial Times is reporting optimistic news: it says that “licensing talks have picked up considerably” between the Spotify and Universal Music Group – and even that “deals [with the major labels] could be inked within weeks.”

According to the FT’s sources, Spotify has changed stance on one crucial point: finally agreeing to allow blockbuster album releases to be ‘windowed’ on its premium tier.

Read the full story on Music Business Worldwide.

Other Music News Highlights

Spotify Softens Stance on Windowing New Music In Exchange For Lower Royalty Rates. The concession, which Spotify has long resisted, would reportedly be in exchange for the labels agreeing to reduced royalty fees for songs — the proposed deals are seen as a crucial step as Spotify tries to clear the path for an IPO in 2018.

Drake Has Reportedly Generated More Than $50m On Spotify. A spokesperson said: “Drake continues to break Spotify records, including his own, and is now the number one streamed artist and the first to reach over 10 billion streams.

Universal Inks Deal With MelodyVR For ‘Revolutionary Music VR Experiences.’ MelodyVR says it will be creating experiences with UMG artists including sell-out concerts, live performances, immersive music videos and intimate behind-the-scenes content.

Chance The Rapper Says Apple Music Paid $500,000 For 2 Week “Coloring Book” Exclusive. “I just wanna remain transparent, folks out there without a deal need to know they’re doing everything right just keep at it…I think (an) artist can gain a lot from the streaming wars as long as they remain in control of their own product.”

Pandora Not For Sale, Will Be Profitable This Year, Says Pandora CEO As Stock Falls. Pandora founder and CEO Tom Westergren made some bold claims during a CNBC appearance Monday — Wall Street seemed unimpressed, pushing the stock -6.3% to $11.60 by midday Tuesday.

Performance Rights in Pre-1972 Sound Recordings Kicked to California Supreme Court. The development is the latest in a high-stakes showdown that’s been unraveling since Flo & Eddie of The Turtles brought class actions against Sirius XM and Pandora for broadcasting hits like “Happy Together.”

Ticketmaster Expands ‘Verified Fan’ Program To Combat Bots, Ticket Scalping. Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan uses a combination of expert systems and customer data such as purchasing history in an effort to identify fans purchasing tickets and cut down on automated ticket buying systems or bots.

Digest: Spotify Acquires Sonalytic To Improve Pub Data, Pandora Premium Launching, NMPA Goes To Court

Posted by Glen Sears | March 13, 2017 10:14 am | No Comments

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Top Music News Story

Spotify Acquires Audio Detection Startup Sonalytic To Improve Publishing Data
Spotify has acquired Sonalytic, a UK based startup that specializes in audio identification that enables us to connect creators and rights-holders to monetization opportunities.

Spotify says it will use Sonalytic audio detection to improve its personalized playlists and to match songs with compositions to improve their publishing data system. Publishing data and subsequent payments have been a source of tension between the music streamer and music publishers and songwriters.

Read the full story on Hypebot.

Other Music News Highlights

Opinion 1: “Spotify Could Use It’s New Acquisition To Take On Shazam.” Hypebot reports that, “in addition to its public intent to use Sonalytic’s audio detection to improve its personalized playlists and to match songs with compositions to improve their publishing data system, Spotify could use it to build its own Shazam.”

Opinion 2: “Could Sonalytic Help Spotify Build, Not Buy SoundCloud?” “If Spotify is so minded, then, it could use Sonalytic’s technology to build its own version of the kind of technology SoundCloud has been developing – and thus open up Spotify’s platform to the kind of mixes, mash-ups and other user-generated content that has been the engine behind SoundCloud’s growth.”

Pandora Premium $9.99 On Demand Streaming To Launch Wednesday. Invites for a free trial will be sent to select users this Wednesday; and an option to upgrade will be available to all listeners over the coming weeks.

Liberty: We’d Buy Pandora… For $1bn Less Than We Offered Last Year. At the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference in Florida, Greg Maffei stated that Liberty believes Pandora’s “stock is overvalued. We will not pay the current market price so I think it’s very unlikely we’re going to end up buying them.”

Amazon Is Getting Involved In The Music Festival Business. The plans will involve a “physical festival presence” which could include “on-site food and product delivery, custom tour merchandise for purchase, artist meet and greets, and convenience amenities such as free Wi-Fi, water, charging stations, and restrooms”.

4,000 Songwriters Sign NMPA Petition As Copyright Royalty Rate Hearings Heat Up. The NMPA, in a statement last week, said, “This week the most important trial most people have never heard of will begin in Washington, D.C.”

“I Don’t See A YouTube Value Gap.” Believe boss Denis Ladegaillerie claims his digital distribution and artist services company earns 20% of its overall revenues worldwide from YouTube, and sees it as a vital revenue and promotion tool.

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