Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Year-in-Review: Music Royalties

Beyond Blurred Lines:


1. 2015 Year-In-Review: Live Music Preliminary numbers suggest that the largest component of the music industry may have continued its strong run in 2015, perhaps increasing by as much as 10% if preliminary reports are any indication.  

Pollstar says that the top tours of 2015 include Taylor Swift, AC/DC, One Direction, U2 and Foo Fighters were the top earners.  Plenty of commentators have problems with Pollstar's list, though.

Our post last September may interest those looking for deeper analysis:




2. 2015 Year-In-Review: Recorded Music
Preliminary reports from Nielsen and Billboard in 2015 were positive, showing streaming revenues continued to rise and and download sales fell in most genres.  Physical sales are mostly down, with a few exceptions (e.g., vinyl sales are up and WMG reports rising physical sales). (FYI, global recorded music sales totaled about $15 billion in each 2013 and 2014 according to IFPI.)

2015 was an especially good year for the growing sector of sound recording performance royalties. Major developments include:
  • In 2015, the USA's Copyright Royalty Board increased future royalty rates payable to SoundExchange for non-interactive audio streaming by webcasters like Sirius XM and Pandora
  • Sirius XM and Pandora settled disputes with rightsholders regarding historic uses of pre-72 sound recordings to the collective tune of $300 million
Our post last October may interest those looking for deeper analysis:

The RIAA's 2014 Reported Revenues Reveal the Growing Relevance of SoundExchange's Distributions of Sound Recording Performance License Fee Royalties 


Other 2015 notable record industry news includes:
  • Wu Tang Clan finally sold a sole copy of its album for $2 Million to notorious pharma exec./criminal defendant Martin Shkreli - click here for Bloomberg's report
 Click to View: 2015 Damages Year-In-Review
Click to View

3. 2015 Year-In-Review: Music Publishing
Globally, the latest figures from CISAC showed 2.4% growth to about about $9.2 Billion USD during 2014 (based on an estimated average exchange rate from Euros to Dollars of 1.329). Almost $8 in $10 global publishing revenue dollars represent performing rights license fees.

However, in the United States, The National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA) revealed in 2015 that domestic revenues fell 2.5% in 2014 to $2.15 billion.  

Domestically, about $5 of every $10 publishing revenue dollars represent performing rights license fees.  While "performance" and "other" revenues are growing, highly government-regulated "reproduction" revenues continue to melt away, representing a mere fraction of what sound recording copyright holders are able to collect via free market licensing.

Also, publishers aren't happy with the Department of Justice's position that any rightsholder can issue a license for 100% of a copyright. (See also 
The NY Chapter of the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP)'s 2015 program on the difference between fractional and 100% licensing and SONY/ATV's Martin Bandier's letter).

Thus, publishers led by associations including the NMPA and the AIMP continued to seek in 2015 deregulation of both performance and reproduction licensing and royalty rates. For more details, check out Billboard's Cheat Sheet for Copyright Reforms: Radio Royalties, Simplified Licensing and More.

However, the music industry - especially the music publishing sector - does not have much funding to lobby lawmakers in Washington D.C.  During a talk at the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP), NMPA's David Israelite pointed out that all songwriter and publisher groups combined spend only about one fortieth of the amounts that the MIC coalition spends on lobbying.





Speaking of the NMPA, 2015 was the end of an era for the organization, which sold its mechanical licensing and collection arm - The Harry Fox Agency - to SESAC, a performance rights organization which is not directly subject to the consent decrees under which ASCAP and BMI operate.



L - R: John JosephsonSam Kling & Dennis Lord of SESAC - seated with Michael Simon of The Harry Fox Agency (HFA) on the heels of SESAC's acquisitions of HFA and Rumblefish (Photo by Cedar Boschan)

See SESAC CEO John Josephson's vision for expansion in this article and this video. (The latter video is free to AIMP members, in which AIMP lunch attendees questioned Spotify's PDF statement formats to payees of non-HFA clients, which are inordinately expensive to process.  Also, certain audience members expressed dismay over the appearance of a conflict in HFA's audit of Spotify on behalf of HFA clients who pay HFA an 11.5% commission, in light of the fact that Spotify is itself HFA's client).

SESAC is but one example of the evolution in the music publishing rights marketplace. As another example, Kobalt, which has expanded into performance royalty collection, made a similar move in 2015, acquiring from Sindee Levin her US mechanical collection society, AMRA, a small HFA competitor.

In terms of judicial activity, some of the key music publishing cases this year include:

Many more copyright and music publishing cases appear on our rather uncurated listicle of damages news with which our readers engaged in 2015:

2015 Year-In-Review: Pandora

In 2015, Pandora struck direct deals with many music rights holders including ASCAP, BMI, BMG, Warner/Chappell & SONY/ATV.

AIMP members can click here to hear for free the National Music Publishing Association's David Israelite:

  1. Report some news about Pandora turning a new leaf in its publisher relations
  2. Share analysis of Pandora's paid vs. free subscribers and plans for the future
  3. Explain why he thinks Pandora's "rising tide" of direct deals with the majors will will "raise all boats" in music publishing:



David Israelite, Esq. of the National Music Publisher's Association Speaking in November 2015 at the Association of Independent Music Publishers

Pandora share prices closed 2015 at $13.41, down nearly 40% from their peak of over $22 per share in October, perhaps due to factors such as:

  • US Government Raises Master Webcasting Rates, which Pandora pays to SoundExchange
  • Pandora settled for $90 Million a lawsuit brought by major labels over pre-1972 recordings 
  • Recent acquisition costs:
Look for Pandora to expand into more on-demand services in 2016.

For more on Pandora, check out the links below, with which our readers engaged during 2015:

  • Pandora's share price tumbles 50% in a year - Music Business Worldwide  http://t.co/tjlCAFztOF
  • Sub Pop artist creates music-streaming site to mock Pandora, Spotify  http://t.co/JWofObwHr9
  • More Teens Listen to Spotify and Pandora Than FM Radio ¦  http://t.co/qz8WmWahUd
  • NYT: @Pandora Readies for Another #Royalties Battle, This Time With @BMI - by @Sisario http://t.co/rse758hgvK
  • Pandora's Shares are Losing Value, Sales Decline  http://t.co/QP3MNcBj1g
  • Pandora Has No Comment About Payola In Direct Deal With Naxos Records - hypebot  http://t.co/Hg918t1e47
  • Next Out Of Pandora's Box: Letting The Artists Speak To You, Literally | Fast Company | Business + Innovation http://t.co/AgkmtBqIiB
  • Pandora Making Bid to Unruffle Music World -  http://t.co/dbXM7HvsZc
  • Pandora to release day pass for ad-free listening  http://t.co/few7NtZ4Fk
  • Guest Post: Is Pandora's Licensing Deal With Classical Label Naxos Unfair to Professional Artists? | Billboard  http://t.co/59Guh87DeV
  • Still just 1 woman on the @pandora board: Pandora Adds Former CEOs of AEG and EMI to Board of Directors | Billboard  http://t.co/8U5dIQ1GZk
  • .@DavidIsraelite @NMPA Responds to Roger Faxon, Saying '@Pandora Exploits Songwriters' | @Billboard  http://t.co/cZiTHl9Xb6
  • Because 1 token female on the board is enough? @Pandora pays members of music's old boys club to join its board / http://t.co/SxgjJUwNIP
  • Pandora loses 2m listeners and $48m in three months - Music Business Worldwide http://t.co/rUQngIsgO5
  • Pandora earnings return to the same old song - CNET http://t.co/ICPaPYxGRW
  • Pandora didn't pay 50 employees for two years (P)  http://t.co/qclRwQQx1X
  • Pandora is paying out $0.0001 more per stream than it was last year - Music Business Worldwide  http://t.co/tLciPsFOKo
  • Billboard: @Pandora_Radio Wins in @ASCAP's Appeal of Payment #Rate by @EdChristman http://t.co/8rzz9KkrOW
  • @Pandora_Radio set to claw back $1.5m from songwriters with FM buy - Music Business Worldwide  http://t.co/sr1JQe6j0y
  • Billboard: @Pandora_Radio Wins in @ASCAP's Appeal of Payment #Rate by @EdChristman http://t.co/FLtFl4KZSv
  • Pandora loses to BMI in #hearing over #royalty #rates, vows to #appeal http://t.co/PBTksXVgkF
  • Pandora loses to BMI in #hearing over #royalty #rates, vows to #appeal http://t.co/NSfs4wqZ3E
  • Court Rules that Pandora Has to Give BMI More Money... - Digital Music News http://t.co/YyECgr4796
  • Court Rules that Pandora Has to Give BMI More Money... - Digital Music News http://t.co/AWJrKj9xOO
  • BMI hones in on some key points in its Pandora ruling | Complete Music Update  http://t.co/HVbtCQ0PSo
  • Judge Explains Why Pandora Must Pay 2.5 Percent of Revenue to BMI | Billboard  http://t.co/4zvFECQSXK
  • BMI hones in on some key points in its Pandora ruling | Complete Music Update  http://t.co/3U7ZwZ92yc
  • Judge Explains Why Pandora Must Pay 2.5 Percent of Revenue to BMI | Billboard  http://t.co/ymBOF96t1k
  • People are saying Pandora just dodged a huge bullet in the Apple Music launch (P)  http://t.co/5GzCbuXzPO
  • Why Pandora Is Running a Small Town Radio Station - Bloomberg Business  http://t.co/pc9mOIoKRP
  • Pandora CFO: Music streaming royalties 'going to get worse' - Nashville Business Journal  http://t.co/uXUx8NFkNw
  • NPR Leaves Pandora and Google’s Music Lobbying Group  http://t.co/WqOOdXp8jg
  • Pandora CEO not worried about Apple Music  http://t.co/TvCQWWKHvM
  • Pandora launches Sponsored Listening for advertisers out of beta  http://t.co/5ilpGqC0gS
  • Stock analysis: Pandora Has Potential After a Pullback - Barron's  http://t.co/iWJM0OWkXp
  • Judge Denies Pandora Bid To Lower #Royalties After Buying FM Station - hypebot  http://t.co/qM1mfhC2HJ
  • Spotify And Pandora Help Streaming Music Ad Revenue Pass $1 Billion By 2017, Report Says http://t.co/QU1TjHlbAL
  • "Pandora has lost almost $200 million since its inception." http://t.co/vkd1SiqtkW
  • Pandora's stock price has "fallen more than 40% over the past year" http://t.co/9QbWGHIAm3
  • Pandora's Summer Surge Starts Melting on Wall Street http://t.co/h3X2lPw1q5
  • Pandora's new ad-free Internet radio pass costs $1 for 24 hours, launches September 10  http://t.co/LvalW66rjT
  • Pandora financials http://t.co/GPP0mSgXES
  • Pandora Media Jumps After Preliminary Decision on #Royalties to Use Merlin Agreement as Benchmark http://t.co/4yu4rwzTuo #crb
  • Pandora and SoundExchange Each Get Small Wins in Rate Proceeding http://t.co/zaFFJHIRWK
  • Pandora Reaches $1.5 Billion in Royalties Paid by @billboardglenn http://t.co/rdfiXsA6pW
  • Pandora buys Ticketfly for $450 million  http://t.co/NZkn91osxt
  • I think it is a smart move: Pandora's Acquisition of Ticketfly Is Expensive, Groundbreaking and Full of Opportunity http://t.co/gSXiVU50zg
  • Pandora's $123 million #royalties bill for #broadcasting the golden oldies https://t.co/4n5jSMjPbV
  • Pandora reportedly close to major label deal over pre-1972 recordings | Complete Music Update https://t.co/dnwG1r4f7L
  • Pandora Agrees to $90 Million Deal to End Pre-72 Lawsuit By Major Labels - by @EriqGardner Hollywood Reporter  https://t.co/PkaaJoLmIW
  • Pandora listeners can hear only so much - CNET https://t.co/T7L0Fslq1U
  • Pandora Revenue Growth Overshadowed by Questions About Apple Music's Impact https://t.co/oSxSiD4gyZ
  • Pandora Reports Q3 2015 Financial Results | Business Wire https://t.co/BPXd5Wgqhr
  • Pandora Shares Plummet as Competition Grows  https://t.co/ejQvdOVlVO
  • Manatt: Pandora ordered to pay ASCAP and BMI disparate rates in parallel rate case decisions - Lexology  https://t.co/rf3ISyL6CW
  • Pandora, Apple Music and a #Music #Streaming Market in Flux by @billboardglenn https://t.co/6vfxslK3qH
  • Sony/ATV music publishing and Pandora ink direct publishing deal https://t.co/Z0SgfRPmEN
  • Martin Bandier promises songwriters 'significant increase' in Pandora cash - Music Business Worldwide https://t.co/4c85oJQ9cX
  • Bandier: 'Sony/ATV's Pandora deal will significantly increase songwriter royalties' https://t.co/NyqgOHSIkQ
  • Rdio is filing for bankruptcy, Pandora will buy ‘key assets’ for $75M  https://t.co/jx4ds49YV9
  • Per @DavidIsraelite @NMPAorg @AIMPorg: The deal Pandora made with @Sony, @Pandora is offering to all #publishers. https://t.co/L4tjxE5atq
  • Pandora's aggressive plot to defeat Spotify: 5 things you need to know - Music Business Worldwide https://t.co/E86h5SSjDW
  • Pandora financials reveal $1bn+ investment since 2009  https://t.co/2xL15O0Krz
  • 5 Things Pandora Media, Inc.'s CEO Wants You to Know --  The Motley Fool https://t.co/YbwN4nvuXB
  • Pandora CEO: Free on-demand music streaming is bad https://t.co/D86RJpavfh
  • Pandora is laying off more than half of Rdio employees following acquisition  https://t.co/LZrTWYZNMU
  • Pandora is gearing up for an all-out music streaming war https://t.co/pO7UKPsrfY
  • Pandora CEO: Free on-demand music streaming habit is killing the music industry https://t.co/sQi9PatML7
  • Songs Music Publishing signs direct licensing deal with Pandora https://t.co/Pi7oVQkL6p
  • Why Pandora needs a streaming ruling that doesn't irk music industry https://t.co/PFcQnMauA0
  • NYT: For Pandora, Ruling on Streaming Royalty Rates Is Crucial by @Sisario https://t.co/JgmetoXWCc https://t.co/8IJT5Bm4CA
  • Pandora CFO wants to pay lower royalties, claims iTunes "eviscerated" the music industry by @sambarsanti https://t.co/3TRCA9ZNLy
  • Pandora's profits depend on #CRB - interview with @sisario https://t.co/VSoCPTNg1F
  • Copyright Royalty Board raises rate of royalties for streaming music services like Pandora https://t.co/3Zmoc4cIrP https://t.co/mXqdvuyJhq
  • Warner/Chappell Music and Pandora Sign Licensing Agreement | Business Wire https://t.co/UaOqCuXx5l
  • Pandora and Warner/Chappell Sign Direct Licensing Deal by @EdChristman | Billboard https://t.co/paa4PSdO8a
  • In case you missed it: ASCAP and BMI Sign Licensing Agreements with Pandora https://t.co/g7fpvD15o5
  • Pandora, Music Rights Holders Settle Royalty Rate Dispute https://t.co/FtigiLJ7yK

Friday, January 1, 2016

2015 Year In Review: Apple Music

Our readers engaged with the below uncurated list of 2015 Apple news items we shared on social media:


Click to View

2015 Year-In-Review: Interactive

Below are some of the news items with which our readers engaged in 2015:

Year-In-Review | The Auditrix:


More (uncurated):



AIMP Members Click Here to View "The Evolution Of Music In Video Games" Video for Free




























2015 Year In Review: Crowdfunding

2015 Year-In-Review: Apple

Must-know 2015 news for development CEOs, CFOs and counsel:











2015 Year-In-Review: Netflix


















2015 Year In Review: YouTube


Click to View



2015 Year-In-Review: Damages

 What We Learned About Damages from Blurred Lines + Howard King Talk


What We Learned about Damages from 'Blurred Lines' in 2015
+ January 2016 Howard King Talk


Do you think Hollywood power litigator Howard King regrets his strategy to not present an alternate damage theory for jurors - and the judge - to consider when defending his clients Pharrell and Robin Thicke in the so-called "Blurred Lines" lawsuit brought by the family of Marvin Gaye?

With great deference to Mr. King, I think more defendants should consider including alternate damage theories in their defense strategy because of cases like this, where hiring the right damages expert could drastically change the outcome.

* * * * * * * *

You might find a chance to ask Mr. King a question about damages if you attend The Copyright Society of the USA's "Copyright Conversation with Howard King" in Los Angeles on January 21.  (Register and view who else registered here. Note that the AIMP members save $10 on registration - just log in to the AIMP site and then visit this page to see your discount code.)


* * * * * * * *

In any case, the below 2015 articles may interest those who wish to learn more about the damages aspects of the Blurred Lines matter: