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Music Business News, August 16, 2017

Streaming royalty payments rose for indie labels. And songwriter groups lashed out at the Recording Industry Association of America for betraying its commitment to bring new opportunities to creators.


Streaming Royalty Payments Up for Indie Labels


Independent label sector global digital rights agency Merlin said royalty payments to indies were up significantly during the past year.


According to Billboard, Merlin announced that royalty payments to its over 700 members for audio streaming reached $353 million during the 12-month period ending March 2017. This represents a 52-percent increase over 2016. These figures are in line with rising streaming numbers that are reshaping the overall music business.


Led by CEO Charles Caldas, Merlin is the representative for indie labels that make up more than 12-percent of the recorded music market worldwide. Merlin announced a new global licensing agreement with Spotify in April and now has partnerships with more than 20 digital music services.


Songwriters Lashing Out at RIAA for Scaling Back Opportunities to Creators


A network of organizations that represent songwriters penned an open letter published August 16 attacking the RIAA for “[what] many in the music creator community [see] as a betrayal of our joint commitment to expand opportunities for creators.”


Music Business Worldwide indicated that the “strongly-worded” letter was signed by eleven groups from the United Kingdom, Canada and the U.S., including the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA), the European Composer & Songwriter Alliance (ESCA), Music Creators of North America (MCNA), Screen Composers Guild of Canada (SCGC), the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL), the Songwriters Guild of America (SGA), Songwriters of North America (SONA) and others.


In the letter, these organizations claimed the RIAA is not recognizing their “moral rights” as songwriters.


Moral rights have been part of legislative framework since 1928. The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works outlines songwriters’ and composers’ rights, such as “attribution”/”the right to be recognized as the author of a work.”


172 countries out of 192 have signed up to the Berne Convention to date. Although the U.S. signed in 1989, it does not recognize moral rights.


This year, the U.S. Copyright Office put together a study on the issue of moral rights, which included testimony from creators as well as written submissions by writer organizations indicating why having moral rights for artistic works is so important in the U.S.


In the open letter, the songwriters claimed the RIAA continues not to budge on its position not to grant moral rights to artists.


The letter was sent to the RIAA’s CEO and Chairman Gary Sherman and Mitch Glazier, Senior EVP.

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