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Music copyright & business - WR #43
Weekly roundups
November 13, 2020

Music copyright & business - WR #43

Big week for the music business! Between changes ahead with a new presidency to expect for the beginning of 2021, and continuous music / tech alliances, it seems like things keep moving fast. And that’s not all! Music copyright and royalties are evolving; we’ve talked about it many times, our music industry needs to evolve, and it seems like it is doing just that. 

#1. TikTok is still waiting

First things first: how is TikTok doing? Right now, it seems like they don’t know the answer themselves. As they told The Verge, ByteDance never got any communications from the Trump administration on their deadline (which was originally November 12th). So the saga on TikTok seems to be continuing, weirdly. And since the US are not making any decision (at least not as we publish this Weekly Roundup), and the Chinese Government has still not given approval for the Oracle / Walmart offered deal, nothing seems to be moving forward for now.

So, since nothing is settled, you might want to diversify your strategies a bit. Whether you’re in the US or not, taking a look at other apps for your artists’ marketing strategies can only be helpful. MusicAlly is launching a new series of videos to help music professionals make their way into short-video music apps, and not only on TikTok (Triller, Reels…). And just so you know, we got news from the ex CEO at TikTok in the US this week, Kevin Mayer, just joining Warner Music’s parent company Access Industries, as a senior media advisor. Not surprising considering his ties with the music industry, and not surprising either that he was originally selected by ByteDance.

#2. Spotify Discovery Mode

We told you about Spotify trading ads for royalties in our last Weekly Roundup. And to be fair, it was a bit blurry on how it would work regarding recommendation. No need to worry, MIDiA Research dug a little deeper into it, and gave us an understanding of the way the Discovery Mode is working, and how it fits in Spotify’s long term strategy. Quite easily understandable: this “Royalties in exchange for Ads” move is directly aimed for an increase of revenue that should benefit the company and help them keep growing until the podcast part of their activity meets the expectations.

Still, even if the fact that we are talking about a percentage of royalties, the trade seems fair. It is still basically paying for ads, and this system has been up for a long time. Sure, majors and big labels might automate the strategy and leave very little room for emerging independent artists though. But, it is still purely legal. As Digital Music News reminded us that payola (the underpayments made to radio to air tracks without mentioning the financial implications) is illegal today, it might be happening on streaming services. This option from Spotify has been of course cleared.

#3. Europe and royalties management

Things are moving in Europe, regarding royalties. More than the European Court of Justice’s decision in favor of the US claiming their royalties from European countries who had been applying the reciprocity concept, since nothing was coming their way from the US (but more on that a bit later this month on our blog), it’s streaming that is at the center of attention for music managers.

The European Music Managers Alliance (EMMA) has released an official demand to revisit contracts between artists and labels regarding streaming services. Since live has been way out and won’t likely come back to normal anytime soon, the streaming business model isn’t adapted to the current situation anymore. This coalition gathers around 1,500 music professionals scattered across Europe, and is now joining the ongoing demands to redefine streaming models.

#4. Music Business & USA

Of course, this has been a major event last weekend: Joe Biden is now the President-elect of the US. Music Week went over how the latest years impacted the music business and tried to build leads on what the relationship with the US would look like. Even if Biden is not as indulgent with Big Tech actors, the music industry is still glad to move on to a Democrat Presidency.

#5. Shutterstock to distribute royalty-free tracks?

Let’s wrap up on a more prospective note here. Shutterstock, the well-known image stock company, just acquired the AI music generator platform Amper. This could be a powerful alliance to build an offer of free copyrighted content (free or under subscription). Note: this happens a year and a half after TikTok partnered with another AI-based platform Jukedeck.

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