Spotify’s director of economics Will Page has published his latest study on the ‘global value of music copyright’, for 2016. The research adds together label, publisher and collecting-society revenues, then adjusts for ‘double-counting’ (revenues that would be counted twice across any of those categories) to produce a total figure for the industry.
And that is? According to the study, published by MBW, the global value of copyright in 2016 was $25.9bn, up from $24.4bn in 2015. That includes $14.8bn from labels, $2.2bn from publishers and $8.9bn from collecting societies belonging to the organisation CISAC – up 5.6%, 6.3% and 6.8% respectively year-on-year. “In past editions of this analysis, there was more variance in growth rates, yet now we see a rising tide lift all boats,” wrote Page.
This all does filter in to one of the industry’s simmering debates: whether publishers are hard-done-by in the streaming era, given the division of revenues from services like Spotify and its rivals. While this discussion tends to be put on ice when the industry is working hard to come together – for example, while lobbying politicians and other regulators over copyright reform – the argument is constantly threatening to pop out again and expose divisions between the recorded and publishing sides of our industry.
Page provides his answer to the question. “Yes, it’s true to say that in streaming, labels and artists get the lion’s share of the rights pool. But in areas like synchronisation (TV and film), grand rights (theatres) and public performance (retail) to name but a few, publishers do significantly better than labels,” he wrote. “As a result, the label/publishing split across the entire music rights landscape – in overall revenue terms – was pretty even at 57/43 in 2016.”
Spotify’s argument – although it’s unlikely to stop publishers calling for a different split in streaming revenues – is that streaming may be driving some of those areas listed above. “It might be that streaming is helping the synchronisation market grow. The ability to ‘spot and identify’ music can be complementary to placing it in a film or tv show,” as he put it. “A similar spillover benefit can be assumed for the live sector.” Although ticket sales aren’t included in the study: adding the estimated $30bn live market in would “put the total annual revenue of the holistic music industry – across publishing, recorded music and live – at over $50bn”.