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Rightholders and contracts - WR #44
Weekly roundups
November 20, 2020

Rightholders and contracts - WR #44

Welcome back to our Weekly Roundup! This week, many updates on artists and their contracts regarding royalties, masters management etc. So we focused a bit more on how rightholders are taking advantage (or not) from the current practices in the music industry.

Don’t forget that we are developing our very own royalty accounting management system for our users at Reprtoir! You can always join the private beta to help us build the best tool for your business.

#1. Is TikTok banned?

Well, apparently not. Funny thing: the deadline came and nothing happened. There even is a new one, but without any concrete explanation of what will happen on the 27th of November. It seems that this decision will be the next administration’s one. For now, nothing is moving for TikTok, which still scores impressive numbers in the US.

#2. Twitch’s management of rightholders

Let’s follow this up by another fairly newbie at dealing with many music copyrights when it comes to music: Twitch. This week, Digital Music News highlighted the creators on the platforms recording their videos without any sound or humming some rhythm themselves. The point is to show how important music is to them and how off tracks is the handling of copyrights issues by the platform. Twitch also sent a statement to its users apologizing to the current situation, but no evolution seemed to be planned.

But we have to give it to them: navigating licensing in the music industry is a long process. For platforms like Twitch and TikTok on which creation is fast and consumption very immediate, this can quickly become impossible to manage. But for music professionals and artists, these platforms could be an opportunity to seize in building stronger communities, leveraging the visibility and in licensing itself. MIDiA Research summed up some leads to follow when it comes to integrating music onto these new platforms.

#3. Scooter Braun (already) selling the Big Machine Masters

Let’s keep at artists navigating the complexities of music rights. The very public feud between Taylor Swift and Ithaca Holdings (owned by Scooter Braun) is changing hands: the Big Machine Masters’ interests have been sold just after 16-17 months to Shamrock Capital. This long dispute has been exhausting to all parties, involving the way intellectual property is dealt with in the music industry.

I’m not trying to decide who is right or wrong, Variety got a few declarations summed up here, but it highlighted the fact that many young artists have trouble with contracts to sign with labels. It is true that more artists are understanding what it means to own their rights, but fans are also more invested. 

#4. Revisiting contracts for rightsholders

Last week, we talked about the EMMA’s official demands regarding contracts between artists and their labels. Well, it did strike a nerve here and there and it seems like these recommendations (however recurrent they might be) are on the verge to be actually leading to some concrete actions.

It was actually the topic of a Music Ally exchange last Friday, including 2 members of the EMMA and Believe. The tone was clearly stated by Virpi Immonen (vice-chair, EMMA):  “The music industry has changed so much over the last 10 years, and the contracts haven’t. We’re still stuck somewhere in 2008.

I can only invite you to take a look at the discussion if you’re looking to get more details on the matter. But some of the main points got our interest. Everything seems to rely mainly on the current lack of transparency of said contracts for artists, based on an outdated version of the music industry. Not to forget the mention of the fact that investing in innovative solutions to get to the next step is necessary (and not being done right now).

Interestingly enough, the artist Russ and his (great) revenue coming from Tunecore, the distribution platform dedicated to independents, owned by Believe. This could be a sign that many artists and their communities now see the advantages in owning their rights, and could be shifting towards independent distribution. Many leads to think about for record companies as well.

#5. Believe could be looking at an IPO

Hard to miss here, big distribution actor Believe Digital could be going for a $2,4 billion IPO. Although we’re still missing details, this could be a big step for Believe. And it could also help our users here at Reprtoir since optimized distribution through Believe is available on our product Releases Manager. Anticipate and check out how we can help you automate releases for you!

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