Our friends at Royalty Exchange round up and analyze the top news stories of the last fortnight in music royalties.
Week ending August 4th: SESAC Scores Big, GMR Faces a Deadline, and Concord Keeps Buying
SESAC Scores Big Win in Radio Royalty Rate Dispute (The Tennessean)
Benom’s Take: SESAC’s favorable ruling in their radio royalty dispute is very positive news for SESAC affiliated songwriters, music publishers and royalty payees. SESAC says that it will now receive a royalty rate 50% higher than ASCAP’s recent rate court decision. This is historic, as the article states: “No one had ever litigated the rates with radio before. This was the first time.” I believe this is further proof that the restrictions placed on ASCAP/BMI through the Department of Justice’s “Consent Decree,” does not result in fair market value for music radio royalties. [READ MORE]
Benom’s Take: Speaking of radio royalty disputes. The smallest and fourth U.S. performing rights organization, GMR, is currently in a dispute with the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) over radio royalty licenses for their catalog of music publishing rights. GMR is a recent creation of music industry titan, and former Eagles manager, Irving Azoff. GMR is what I jokingly like to call, “the illuminati of PROs” because of the sheer star power on its roster. GMR is really a “superstar only” PRO… you can’t join unless you’re in the big time. Mr. Azoff’s creation has caused some big stars to leave their old PROs (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) for promises of higher royalty rates through GMR. [READ MORE]
Concord Keeps Faith With Imagem As It Eyes Further Acquisitions (Music Business Worldwide)
Benom’s Take: I would have to agree with this author that Concord Bicycle has become a “mini-major” next to BMG Rights Management. Concord and BMG are independent companies (not affiliated with Sony, Warner, Universal) but have the songs, stars and acquisition power to be big competitors with those majors. With the Imagem acquisition, Concord Bicycle now controls over 380,000 musical works including songs by big stars Phil Collins, Mark Ronson, Pink Floyd and Daft Punk. [READ MORE]
Week ending August 11th: Fans Still Buy Music, As Both Music Publishers and Labels Report Record Revenues
Benom’s Take: The press has developed a habit of reporting on sales and streaming spikes of recently deceased artists. As if it’s not obvious that when a beloved artist dies, there naturally will be a short-term spike in activity around his/her work. The sad news of Glen Campbell’s passing is no different.
But in this case, the reported numbers are interesting because it shows that the public continues to buy music. The Forbes article reports that digital album sales spiked 13,665%, and that his “Greatest Hits” albums contributed to about 70% of all sales. The article also reports that single song downloads rose over 6,000% and streaming by over 900%. [READ MORE]
Music Publisher Q2 Numbers Keep Sony/ATV On Top (Billboard)
Benom’s Take: As usual, the top three music publishers are the majors. Every quarter, Billboard analyzes the top 100 radio songs to see which music publishers control the market. Sony/ATV continues to hold top market share (for five years now) with 23%, while Universal Music is close behind at 21%. Warner/Chappell rounds out the top three with 17% and independent “majors,” Kobalt and BMG, round out the top five with approximately 8% market share. Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” was the hit song giving Universal and other publishers a Q2 boost. [READ MORE]
Warner Music Group Posts Biggest Revenues in 14 Years (Music Business Worldwide)
Benom’s Take: For emphasis, these Warner Music Group numbers include both the recording and publishing divisions. The article reports that WMG posted $917 million in revenue and $360 million of that came from sound recording streaming income, up 59% from last year! This is positive news on a macro level: Industry-wide, we are seeing consistent royalty growth, especially from recorded music streaming. [READ MORE]
This round-up was put together by Benom Plumb, Assistant Professor of Music Industry Studies at the University of Colorado Denver.