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Fighting for music rights - WR #175
Weekly Roundups
August 18, 2023

Fighting for music rights - WR #175

This week has seen a few news relevant to music rights and their issues, whether it’s regarding traditional actors or brand new ones.

#1. SoundExchange goes after SiriusXM for unpaid royalties

US performance rights organization SoundExchange is suing the platform SiriusXM to recover over $150 million in alleged unpaid royalties and late fees for sound recordings. SoundExchange claims that SiriusXM has misallocated its revenue between its satellite radio and streaming services, leading to an undercounting of the money owed to rights holders.

The lawsuit comes after SoundExchange's repeated efforts to resolve the dispute failed. SoundExchange alleges that SiriusXM exploited recording artists' creative efforts without paying the legally mandated compensation. The complaint focuses on how royalties are calculated for satellite radio and webcasting services, highlighting SiriusXM's manipulation of revenue attribution to reduce royalty payments.

This legal action follows a previous dispute between SoundExchange and SiriusXM in 2013, which was resolved in 2018 with a $150 million settlement paid by SiriusXM to SoundExchange.

#2. Twitter / X denies the NMPA’s lawsuit for copyright infringement

Elon Musk's social media service, X (or you know, Twitter), has filed a motion to dismiss a multi-million-dollar lawsuit from music publishers alleging "rampant infringement of copyrighted music" on the platform. The suit, which seeks over $250 million in damages, claims that X has turned a blind eye to alleged infringement and fuels its business with infringing copies of musical compositions. X argues that the claims of direct infringement, contributory infringement, and vicarious liability should be dismissed as they fail to establish the required elements for liability.

David Israelite, CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), responded by stating that X's response is an attempt to deny the platform's failure to address piracy and that X owes songwriters and publishers compensation along with a commitment to fully license music, in line with other major social media platforms and the law.

#3. Instagram is working to catch up on the music front

Instagram has partnered with musician Olivia Rodrigo to introduce new music features, including the ability to add songs to photo carousels. The platform is also planning to expand its music library to more countries in the coming weeks and the possibilities to add music to all kinds of content on the platform. This move comes in the midst of competition from TikTok, which recently partnered with Warner Music Group, and as both platforms continue to evolve their music-focused offerings to attract users and musicians.

#4. Metaverse actors looking to connect with creators

Metaverse developer Karta has unveiled its Fortnite studio, aiming to collaborate with music, entertainment, and sports talents for in-game projects. The London-based company, known for creating experiences within platforms like Roblox and The Sandbox, intends to create in-game experiences for Fortnite. The studio's debut was facilitated by Epic Games' release of "Unreal Editor for Fortnite," which provides creators with enhanced tools to develop diverse experiences within the game.

The move comes amid a growing trend of music partnerships in the metaverse, with artists, festivals, and companies like iHeartMedia and Coachella already having a presence in various virtual worlds. The interesting part is the will to make sure to partner up with Music’s main IP owners to make sure the rights would be covered.

#5. Some news on the streaming platforms market

Tencent Music Entertainment has surpassed a significant milestone, reaching 100 million paying streaming subscribers in June. This increase in subscribers by 20% year-on-year is highlighting the growing willingness of users to pay for copyrighted music and premium features. However, the company also witnessed a decrease in revenues from social entertainment services, which were down 25%, attributed to service enhancement and risk control measures aimed at providing a better music-centric user experience.

In contrast, Amazon Music is raising subscription prices. Amazon's price increases for Prime members are seen as good news for the music industry, potentially setting a trend for regular price adjustments that could bolster industry revenues. As music streaming platforms continue to adapt to evolving user preferences and market trends, these shifts signal a dynamic and evolving landscape for music consumption and monetization.

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