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Music Business News, May 31, 2017

Sony/ATV announced a new virtual ATM feature for songwriter and publisher advances. Also, Spotify settled its long-standing class action lawsuit with artists. And the electronic music industry hit a peak value of $7.4 billion.


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Sony/ATV Offering Artist Advances


Sony/ATV announced a partnership with Lyric Financial that will allow it to incorporate a new virtual ATM (vATM) platform in the Sony/ATV portal. According to Billboard, this technology will let songwriters and publishers to request advances on their earnings through the SCORE system.


This new feature came on the heels of updates to Sony’s royalty portal, making it possible for songwriters to access real-time data about earnings.


Launched in 2007, Lyric Financial created the virtual ATM in order to let creators monitor and withdraw existing and projected royalties within minutes. It also does not take any rights from the songwriter, rather collects a one-time service fee.


Lyric Financial founder and CEO Eli Ball explained, “For the last two years, we have been working to automate what has historically been an extremely cumbersome manual advance process in the music industry … The vATM … provides songwriters with a clear view of their available earnings and allows them to request advances in less than a minute.”


A side benefit of the system, added Ball is to help songwriters in “budgeting and managing the ups and downs of their cash flow.”


This partnership between Sony/ATV and Lyric Financial is a response to the need within the music industry to “simplify and demystify the royalty and royalty advance processes,” which has arisen due to the shift among music fans to a “consumption model” rooted in streaming services vs. ownership of music.


Universal Music Publishing Group added real-time advance initiatives in its own royalty portal two years ago.


Companies like Sound Royalties and Royalty Exchange have also come into the music space in order to give songwriters more options for managing their finances.


Dale Esworthy, Sony/ATV’s senior VP worldwide administration, said, “We are always looking for ways to provide the highest level of service to our songwriters … Giving our writers the ability to see their current earnings and access them 24/7 when needed is an important innovation that we are thrilled to provide.”


Spotify Setting Up $43.4 Million Fund to Settle Class Action Lawsuits


Spotify arrived at a $43.4 million settlement with David Lowery, Melissa Ferrick and the rest of a group of songwriters who sued for copyright infringement, reported Stereogum.


Experts noted that the settlement will get rid of issues surrounding the public offering the streaming service has planned for later in 2017.


The agreement must be approved by the court, but the terms dictate that the streaming company will set up a $43.4 million fund designed to repay songwriters and publishers whose compositions were used on the platform without paying mechanical royalties.


The settlement is a response to long-standing class actions filed separately in federal court by Cracker/Camper van Beethoven leader David Lowery and singer/songwriter Melissa Ferrick. The two artists asked for $150 million and $200 million, respectively and joined forces officially in 2016.


Spotify must pay record labels in order to use recordings and publishers in order to offer the backing compositions. It pays mechanical royalties to publishers and public performance royalties to PROs including ASCAP, which in turn distribute money to publishers and songwriters.


Streaming services are not obligated to negotiate with publishers, as they can use a “statutory license” offered by the government. However, they do need to pay the appropriate publishers for their work, which has proven difficult due to errors in metadata on the system.


Spotify has been diligent about putting money away for publishers it was unable to identify, but this action does not equal compliance with copyright law.


The recent settlement reached also describes a process that will allow Spotify and the class counsel to “work collaboratively to improve the gathering and collecting of information about composition owners to help ensure those owners are paid their royalties in the future.”


Electronic Music Industry Hitting $7.4 Billion


The electronic music industry reached a new financial high, peaking at $7.4 billion. The announcement came via the annual International Music Summit (IMS) Business Report, said DJ Mag.


The report, which topped out at 35 pages, came out as part of the launch of the 10th annual IMS Ibiza Summit.


The electronic music business grew three percent this past year. The report featured several highlights: dance music is the fifth most popular genre worldwide; Beatport is experiencing a resurgence; recorded music revenue growth is greatest in Latin America and more musicians have invested in DJ gear than have invested in fretted instruments since 2007.


The report also tracked changes in preferred electronic music genres. EDM is at the top of the list, edging out trance.

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