Farrant explained that WOI needs at least five percent independent Anglo-American publisher participation in order to achieve the efficiency and negotiating leverage comparable to the majors' pan-Euro licensing partnerships:
- To form "PEDL," Warner/Chappell allied with many societies, including:
- STIM (Sweden)
- PRS (UK)
- SACEM (France)
- BUMA/STEMRA (The Netherlands)
- SABAM (Belgium)
- SGAE (Spain)
- EMI allied with PRS (UK) and GEMA (Germany) to create "CELAS"
- UMG allied with SACEM (France) for "DEAL"
- SONY engaged GEMA's "PAECOL" (Germany)
- SONY, EMI and independent publisher Peermusic allied with SGAE (Spain) for licensing of Latin American repertoire
Independent music publishers may wish to join a pan-Euro licensing initiative in order to enjoy deal-making leverage and royalty recoveries that are on par with those of the major publishers in connection with music services that operate across multiple territories in Europe (e.g., Apple iTunes and Nokia Comes with Music).
However, many independent publishers are bound to exclusive subpublishing agreements in Europe that will not allow for affiliation directly with a society. In order to participate in WOI, such publishers must "rearrange" their subpublishing deals to make them non-exclusive, advised Farrant. He argued that subpublishers should not object because WOI focuses on multinational exploitations, while subpublishers will retain administration rights on a country-by-country basis.
Still, it seems like a virtual landgrab is happening now in Europe's multinational music publishing rights marketplace, and not every subpublisher thinks the new role of rights societies is for the best. This may be because pan European license alliances cut out the subpublisher as middleman. As Farrant pointed out, WOI is as close to "at source" as publishers can get. Provided enough publishers join, STIM thinks it can limit collection fees to ten percent 10% and US publishers will receive quarterly accountings directly from STIM, without having to wait for a subpublisher to process the royalties (and take a share).
Farrant outlined how the WOI initiative will work:
"With detailed information on licensing terms made available via the STIM/WOI website, the US independent publisher has the flexibility to suggest changes (that will be put forward in the negotiations process), or opt out of the license altogether. When you sign up with WOI you are under no obligation to license your content until and unless you are satisfied with the terms of the license agreement. You are under no obligation to license your content via WOI because your relationship with WOI is strictly non-exclusive."
If you are an independent music publisher in the United States or Canada, what is your strategy for collecting European royalties derived from digital exploitations? Have you looked into joining one or more pan-European licensing initiatives? If not, why not?
Either way, Scott Farrant would like to hear from you. His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will give you his telephone number upon request. It will take STIM some time to review your repertoire before you can sign up, so do not delay in contacting him soon to discuss the details if you are looking to start collecting digital music publishing royalties from multinational European music services.
I encourage you to explore WOI as well as other options, such as IMPEL, PRS' pan-Euro licensing initiative for independent music publishers, and talk to your subpublishers to learn their views on the subject.