Our friends at Royalty Exchange round up and analyze the top news stories of the last fortnight in music royalties.
Week ending July 21st:
Spotify Hit With Two Copyright Infringement Lawsuits from Music Publishers (The Hollywood Reporter)
Songwriters’ spat with Spotify complicates plans to go public (New York Post)
Benom’s Take: I wrote a longer, more details analysis of this lawsuit in a separate blog post, so here’s the summary…
This will be a tough fight for Spotify. Having worked for Bluewater Music as VP of Licensing, I can verify that the company is meticulous and persistent in their licensing and royalty collection work. The company would not file a lawsuit against a behemoth like Spotify unless the copyright infringement and non-payment data they have is rock solid. [READ MORE]
Benom’s Take: This is the biggest case of “holding hands and singing Kum-Ba-Yah” in the music industry we’ve seen in decades. Pandora and the record industry agreeing on royalty legislation? Is this real life? Yes, it’s real life and this is very positive news for our industry. [READ MORE]
Benom’s Take: Here’s an update from last week’s story regarding Michael Jackson’s record producer, Quincy Jones. Jones is suing the Jackson estate over an alleged $30 million in royalty underpayments. It appears, according to courtroom testimony by Sony Music’s VP of Royalty Audits, that Mr. Jones was paid nearly $18 Million (mostly in record royalties) between 2009 – 2016. The Sony executive’s testimony implies that Mr. Jones has been paid in plenty and there are no underpayments. [READ MORE]
Week ending July 28th:
Benom’s Take: This week’s big news of ASCAP and BMI joining forces to create a joint musical works database is a huge step in the right direction to clearing up confusing copyright claims, splits and licensing data. It should have really happened a decade ago, at least. However, due to the fierce competitive nature of the two biggest American performing rights organizations, this never came to fruition until now. [READ MORE]
Facebook Takes Another Step Towards The Music Biz With Source3 Buyout (Music Business Worldwide)
Benom’s Take: With recent acquisitions in technology to identify intellectual property on its platform and hiring music industry professionals to join the Facebook team, it seems apparent that Facebook is making big strides to take on YouTube in the area of user-generated content and videos. As the article states: “Facebook is gearing up to take on YouTube properly in both the user-generated and premium video space – while sliding up to established providers to embed itself deeper in audio streaming.” What this means in practicality is at least two-fold: [READ MORE]
Benom’s Take: On Wednesday, a decision on the Quincy Jones lawsuit against the Michael Jackson estate was reached over an alleged $30 million in royalty underpayments. As mentioned in a previous post on the case, I wrote that most of the time, folks get underpaid royalties, especially if the artist or record company has been audited. The jury concluded this was the case, although about $21 million short of what Mr. Jones was suing for. [READ MORE]
Benom’s Take: Yes, Google owned two competing music services–YouTube Red and Google Play. Now the two will be merged into one service, competing not only with Spotify, but YouTube own “free” platform. Unless Spotify completely crashes and burns, Google still has a major competition problem against itself with the free YouTube video platform. Google already set the bar low for free access to music and videos on YouTube, and the public is conditioned to that. [READ MORE]
This round-up was put together by Benom Plumb, Assistant Professor of Music Industry Studies at the University of Colorado Denver.