Analysis

Music managers’ report to tackle ‘erosion of trust’ in digital market


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mmfWe’ve been pegging 2015 as the year when music managers start to exert much more influence in the debates over streaming payouts and artist royalties. A report due to be published by the Music Managers Forum (MMF) later this month has the makings of an important moment in that trend.

Titled “Dissecting the Digital Dollar”, the report is based on qualitative research with 50 artist managers and 30 digital-music experts across five countries. The report – written by CMU’s Chris Cooke – won’t be published until 13 October, with its detailed conclusions under wraps until then.

However, some nuggets are being announced this morning. For example, when asked how governments could help, 34% of managers surveyed said the most important issue was better transparency on digital income.

Meanwhile, 28% said their top priority is changes to the way safe-harbour legislation works in the US and Europe – also an increasingly important lobbying point for industry bodies from the IFPI and BPI to PRS for Music.

More findings? Less than 10% of managers surveyed have been told “the key components of the labels’ streaming deals for all the artists they manage”, while less than 20% say they have been briefed by labels on how digital deals are structured. And 78% called for “equitable remuneration” from digital music services “in line with that already received from broadcast revenues”.

It’s no overreaction to interpret this of battle lines being drawn for a debate that will last long beyond the report’s publication on 13 October – anyone interested can sign up on the MMF’s website to receive a copy. Some familiar voices will be heard in that debate, too.

“Having publicly supported streaming as a route out of the constraints of physical distribution and digital piracy, I have been somewhat dismayed at how streaming services have been licensed and how creators and their representatives, by and large, have been shut out,” said MMF member and manager Brian Message, who has been banging the drum for more transparency for some time now.

“The erosion of trust in the chain from creator to consumer lies at the heart of an economic model that should now be flying.”

Stuart Dredge

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