Music Business News, July 5, 2017

A new report indicated audio streams and subscriptions are way up in the first half of 2017. And Kanye West broke with TIDAL over under payment. Also, Warner/Chappell sued EMI for failing to pay royalties.


Audio Streams and Streaming Subscriptions Booming


Audio streams and subscriptions are “way up,” according to the 2017 mid-year report released by business analysis firm BuzzAngle.


Variety indicated that streams are up 58.5 percent in comparison to 2016 figures, and subscription streams rose 69.3 percent. Subscription streams make up 78.6-percent of total audio streams this year so far.


Drake, Ed Sheeran and Migos are the artists leading the charge. Drake’s More Life is the most streamed album, whereas Sheeran’s Divide is the biggest-selling album. Migos’ “Bad and Boujee” is the most-streamed song with 711 million streams, half of which were video streams.


Overall music listening was up 10-percent in 2017 thus far with song listening up 28.5 percent.


While streaming dominated, the vinyl market also saw significant growth, up 20.4 percent over 2016. Vinyl made up 4.9 percent of physical album sales, a one-percent increase from last year.


CD album sales were down almost four percent, with overall sales down 13.9 percent. These numbers indicate that music fans are gravitating towards individual songs and less interested in committing to full-length albums. Digital album sales supported this concept, down 24.3 percent from 2016.


Downloads were also down almost 25 percent in the first half of 2017.


The BuzzAngle report also showed that the bar for on-demand streams has been raised yet again in 2017. In 2016, there was no week where there were 10 billion on-demand streams. This year, every single week, total on-demand streams have averaged 10.8 billion. In the seven days after April 21, there were 11.8 billion.


According to the report, hip-hop continues to be the most-listened-to genre in terms of albums, songs and streams. However, in 2017, world music listening was up 124 percent from 2016.


Kanye West Breaking up with TIDAL


Kanye West broke ties with TIDAL, claiming the company owes him over $3 million.


Music Business Worldwide reported that he artist’s representatives sent TIDAL a legal letter last month declaring the platform was in breach of contract, then sent another letter ending the artist’s relationship with the company two weeks ago.


West’s most recent studio album, The Life of Pablo was released in February of 2016 and was exclusive to TIDAL for its first six weeks. West claimed the album brought in 1.5 million new subscribers to the streaming service, qualifying him, as a partner, for a bonus, which he claims he never received. He also indicated he has not been reimbursed for music videos he released via the service.


TIDAL’s response was that West did not deliver the agreed-upon amount of music he promised the service. The company said it sent him a letter saying he is still under exclusive contract and will file suit if he goes into business with rival streaming companies.


Kanye West was among the 16 artists given shares in TIDAL after the service was purchased by Jay Z’s company in 2015. Artists were said to have been given three percent in equity stakes.


Sprint acquired a 33-percent stake in TIDAL in January 2017.


Warner/Chappell Suing EMI


Warner/Chappell filed suit against EMI, claiming the publisher only paid half of owed royalties on the 20th Century Fox catalogue.


According to Billboard, an audit released by Warner showed EMI has under-reported and underpaid Warner by 50-percent of the royalties due based on an agreement between the two publishers.


A complaint filed on June 30 in L.A. County Superior Court showed the relationship with the Fox catalogue started in 1936. Warner acquired the catalogue in 1982 after buying Twentieth Century Music. In the early ‘90s, EMI grabbed Robbins and Feist, originally a part of Fox’s 1936 agreement.


Warner has requested that the court grant an order telling EMI to account for all outstanding money, due and payable, including the Fox catalogue and other holdings. EMI administers Warner’s share in other catalogues: compositions by Curtis Mayfield and Kool and the Gang.


EMI has not yet commented on the lawsuit.

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