Music Business News, February 28, 2017

Online royalties increased by 60-percent for indie publishers last year. And Canadian artists received millions in unpaid royalties from YouTube in the U.S. Also, SoundCloud launched a new mid-priced, ad-free streaming plan.



Online Royalties for Independent Publishers on the Rise


Royalties paid by Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify and YouTube to a group of independent publishers increased by 60-percent in 2016.


According to Music Business Worldwide, the figure accounts for distributions made for IMPEL, the licensor for Anglo-American mechanical digital rights in Europe for publishers such as Beggars Music, Imagem, SONGS Music Publishing and others.


The increase was driven entirely by streaming and is attributed specifically to hits by SONGS songwriters such as The Weeknd). This increase easily counteracted decreases in digital download royalties.


Other members of IMPEL include Bucks Music Group, Mute Song, peermusic, Reservoir Media, Sentric Music, Spirit B-Unique and The Music Sales Group plus repertoire that covers Elvis, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Drake Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson and more.


Based in the UK, IMPEL’s annual distribution last year was over $19 million, double the money it doled out to artists in 2013.


When compared to the overall music market, IMPEL’s royalties are notable. In the recorded music industry, digital music retail revenues grew by just 15.8 percent across streaming and download in the UK market in 2016.


In Germany, digital retail revenues were up 26.2 percent, according to data from BVMI.


CEO of IMPEL, Jane Dyball declared, “IMPEL is a major player now in the digital space. By uniting their repertoire and pro-actively engaging with the digital community the independent publishers are operating on a par with the majors. With repertoire spanning decades, genres and which has been recorded by iconic artists from Elvis to Bowie to Drake, the IMPEL repertoire has become an essential repertoire for digital services … IMPEL is growing in all directions and 2017 is going to be a ground-breaking year for us.”


Rell Lafargue, COO for Reservoir/Reverb Music added, “Reservoir/Reverb Music’s Pan-European royalties have seen triple digit growth, year on year, since joining IMPEL … IMPEL helps to level the playing-field for independent music publishers and our songwriters, as we continue to top European charts time and time again. The indie sector is robust, as these impressive statistics illustrate.”


The CEO of peermusic, Ralph Peer II stated, “Since becoming the first independent publisher to undertake pan European digital licensing in 2008 and subsequently joining IMPEL we have enjoyed exceptional growth in the royalties generated from this structure … Having the benefit a single point of quality data collection for all European PEL royalties ingested and processed by our purpose built proprietary software makes the end-to-end procedure efficient and transparent.”


He also explained, “The resulting speed and transparency has been of great benefit to our western hemisphere writers and the catalogs we are fortunate to represent within Europe and has led us to institute additional pan-regional licensing schemes in other global regions where peermusic operates on the front line.”


SOCAN Members Claiming Millions in Unpaid YouTube Royalties


The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) told its members they have three months to claim their share of millions in unpaid YouTube Royalties. Billboard reported, the royalties come from U.S. use of these artists’ music in music videos.


Jennifer Brown, SOCAN’s vice president of licensing said she cannot estimate an average payout per artist: “That would be impossible to pinpoint, since every situation is different. But whether it’s five dollars or five million dollars, we encourage rights-holders to investigate so that they can be sure to receive what they’ve earned.”


To get their royalties, SOCAN members who hold exclusive control of their administrative sync rights can either fill out a form or go through the interactive streaming mechanical royalty agency Audiam, acquired by SOCAN in 2016. The YouTube Liquidation Agreement must be completed today without going through Audiam. Those who go through Audium have a window of March 1 through May 31 of this year to process their claims.


SOCAN and Audiam are able to identify compositions that have received sync royalties in YouTube thanks to U.S. views between August 1, 2012 and December 31, 2015 and can also add missing information that then releases and pays out royalties.


The royalties are currently in a YouTube escrow account and were earned from the share of paid advertising revenues from views of YouTube videos during these same months/years.


After May 31, 2017 as passed, any unclaimed royalties in the account will be distributed by YouTube to participants based on market share data.


The press release gave an example to illustrate how the process will work if royalties are not claimed: “If $1,000,000 in royalties are not paid out due to missing information, and that information is not entered into the YouTube system by May 31, 2017, then the $1,000,000 is split between all of the other entities participating in the Liquidation Agreement.


Being a client of Audiam is free and requires an administration fee of 20 percent applied to distributed royalties for SOCAN members.


SoundCloud Launching Mid-Priced Subscription Plan


SoundCloud launched a mid-priced subscription plan today: an offline, ad-free service for just $4.99.


According to Music Week, the package will be called SoundCloud Go and the current premium service, priced $9.99 per month, will be called SoundCloud Go+.


The difference between the two tiers is the number of available songs. SoundCloud Go gives access to 120 million, whereas SoundCloud Go+ provides 150 million. More SoundCloud Go+ features will be rolled out in late 2017.


Alison Moore SoundCloud’s chief revenue officer said, “SoundCloud’s unique mix of content, much of which can’t be found anywhere else, is an incredibly attractive offering for music lovers who are at the forefront of what’s happening now and driving what’s next in music … SoundCloud Go answers the call from our users who want the ability to take the huge catalog of content found in SoundCloud’s free, ad-supported offering with them anytime, anywhere, without interruptions, at a very affordable price. And at the same time, we’re now giving users who haven’t made the jump into a music subscription plan, a robust, fully on-demand option at an accessible price.”


CEO of SoundCloud, Alex Ljung said, further, “SoundCloud offers the largest, most diverse mix of established and emerging artists, all in one place. Now with three ways to experience SoundCloud: SoundCloud’s free, ad-supported offering, SoundCloud Go and SoundCloud Go+, users have even more freedom to choose the features and content they want, at the price that fits their budget. By expanding our offering, we not only enhance the experience for listeners on the platform, but also unlock new revenue opportunities to further expand our creator-payout program.”


Industry analysts and others noted that many artists have yet to be paid for use of their music on the SoundCloud platform.


Spotify was rumored to be eying SoundCloud last year, but then allegedly Spotify backed out of the deal in December because it perceived the buyout as something that might “negatively impact its IPO preparation.”

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