Analysts said a billion in publishing assets are up for grabs in 2017. Also, a Nielsen report indicated that on-demand streaming is already way up in the first quarter. And three major collection societies announced a partnership to improve licensing and royalty payments.
$1 Billion in Music Publishing Assets for Sale in 2017
Canadian rights group ole and indie publisher Carlin Music indicated their catalogs are looking for buyers, said Music Business Worldwide.
Carlin is attracting buyers in the range of $250 million. The company’s catalog has more than 100,000 songs that are garnering interest from Sony/ATV, Atlas Music and Concord Music. BMG recently took its name out of the running.
Carlin owns the copyrights to hits like “What A Wonderful World,” Elvis Presley’s “That’s Alright Mama” and the soundtracks of the musicals Fiddler On The Roof and Cabaret.
Sources revealed that Toronto-based publisher ole may be for sale in the range of $800 million. The publisher’s main investor is Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund, rumored to be looking to cash out.
Ole has asked for a minimum bid of $650 million from any interested parties, though the company is valued at $800 million. Ole has spent $520 million on acquisitions since its founding in 2004.
Publishing experts said now is a prime time for music publishing rights-holders who want to cash out, as the average going rate for publishing assets is at a recent high. Experts also wondered whether these particular market conditions may entice other major publishing names into sales.
Nielsen Already Reporting Major Gains in On-Demand Streaming This Year
Nielsen Music released its first-quarter figures for music consumption. The Los Angeles Times reported that on-demand streaming is already up 35.2 percent compared to this time last year.
Listeners played 133.9 billion streams in the first three months of the year. Last year during the same time period, they initiated 99.1 billion.
When these figures are turned into album sales using a formula that equates one sale with every 1,500 song streams, the music industry grew overall at a rate of 5.9 percent. Unit sales of track equivalent albums (TEA) and streaming equivalent albums (SEA) went up from 137.4 last year to 145.5 million in these first few months of this year.
Listening behavior analytics also pointed to the fact that listeners are gravitating towards curated playlists on streaming services, including artist-generated playlists and playlists like Spotify’s “New Music Friday” list. Use of this “programmed streaming” was up 49.2 percent from the same time period in 2016.
Ed Sheerhan’s album, “÷” was a major driver of the streaming uptick. It was the most-streamed album, garnering 1.1 million equivalent album units to date. The single “Shape of You” is the biggest-selling song and has had 1.58 million downloads thus far.
The year’s most-streamed song is Georgia hip-hop group Migos’ “Bad and Boujee,” with Lil Uzi Vert. It garnered 464.7 billion on-demand audio and video streams.
Only Sheerhan has passed the one-million-stream threshold this year. Rounding out the Top 5 best-selling collections: Drake’s “More Life”; Weeknd’s “Starboy”; Migos’ “Culture” and Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic.”
The top-selling vinyl LP for the first quarter is the soundtrack from La La Land, which has sold 25,000 physical units.
ASCAP, SACEM and PRS for Music Partnering on Royalty Collection
ASCAP, France-rooted SACEM and the UK’s PRS for Music announced they are teaming up to build a new model for metadata recording and management. According to Billboard, the initiative will help improve the efficiency and speed of licensing and royalty payments.
The new partnership will capitalize on IBM blockchain technology and create a system to improve the management of links between International Standard Recording Codes (ISRCs) and International Work Codes (ISWCs), both of which are used to identify recorded works and compositions. Currently, many songs and recordings have more than one code assigned, which makes determining ownership, licensing properly and delivering royalties challenging.
Spokespeople for the three societies agreed they hope using blockchain technology will help strengthen the process of royalty matching, speed up licensing, get rid of reporting mistakes and reduce the cost to society members. The goal of the project is a shared database of music work metadata that allows for real-time updates and tracking.
Jean-Noel Tronc, SACEM’s CEO explained, “We believe the benefits may be really significant, if not crucial … One of the key issues for rights owners is to improve the accuracy in matching data to distribute the right amount of revenue to the right owners. By leveraging what we can do to tighten the links between ISRCs and ISWCs, we believe there is huge potential for improving the processes of royalty matching.”
When it launches, the initial model will apply blockchain technology to approximately 25,000 musical works in order to test how it can be used to process music data across a variety of rights holders and revenue streams. Tronc said he hopes to prove the system will work in the larger music industry so he can introduce it to other societies and industry bodies worldwide.
He said, “As three of the leading societies in the world, we have a responsibility to be at the forefront, to invest and then offer the community to contribute.” He also noted that technology and innovation are both important elements in the music business, but “cooperation between [industry] players is even more crucial.”
ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews issued the following statement: “ASCAP is always looking for opportunities to exploit new technology platforms to specifically address the needs of our members and the music industry, which has been calling for greater transparency and accuracy … Blockchain has become well-known for its use in payments systems because of its ability to capture real-time data and transaction updates that can be shared with multiple parties, and in the process, dramatically improve operations by reducing costs.”
PRS for Music chief executive Robert Ashcroft agreed and added that establishing “authoritative copyright data” was a major industry challenge: “The digital market requires real-time reporting on behalf of multiple stakeholders across the world … If blockchain can help us achieve this, it will unlock opportunities for developers of new digital applications, increase accuracy of royalty payments and release value for rights holders.”