20 euro bill on white printer paper

Global collecting societies body Cisac has published its latest annual report, covering 2022, and it reveals strong growth in music royalties collected by its members.

Royalties for songwriters and composers grew by 28% to €10.8bn (around $11.4bn at current exchange rates) last year according to the report. It’s the first time this figure has been more than €10bn.

(Note, we’re focusing purely on the music collections. The headline figure in the report – €12.1bn of collections – include other sectors too, from drama and literature to visual art.)

That’s important, because Cisac is keen to stress that the annual growth is not simply a bounceback from the hit that its members’ collections took in the first couple of years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report points out that the 2022 music collections were 21.4% more than those from 2019, the last full year before the pandemic took hold.

Another important stat: digital is now the single largest source of royalties collected by CISAC members, accounting for €4.08bn in 2022 – up 33.5% year-on-year, and nearly double the total collected in 2019.

2022 was the first time when digital overtook broadcast – TV and radio – for royalty collections, says Cisac. However, that category also grew in 2022, by 11.4% to €3.56bn. There was also growth for live and background collections (up 68.2% to €2.51bn).

Every major region tracked by CISAC showed growth, including Europe (up 28.3%), North America (up 29.9%) and Asia-Pacific (up 16.5%).

Latin America showed the fastest growth, up 64.9%, although it only accounted for 5.1% of global music collections in 2022. Africa, meanwhile, saw its collections grow by 10.4%, but only to €0.07bn – 0.7% of the total.

Cisac president Björn Ulvaeus highlighted the digital stats in his foreword to the report.

“For the first time ever, digital is the biggest source of royalty income. In barely more than a decade, streaming has transformed life for Cisac members and the 5 million creators it works for,” he wrote.

Ulvaeus devoted much of his piece to the music industry’s biggest talking point of 2023 so far: the potential impact of artificial intelligence technologies.

“AI will radically change the world for creators and the creative industry. It demands international leadership and a strong united front from all parts of the creative industry,” he wrote.

“AI has the potential to empower human creativity in mind-blowing ways. I think of it as having the power to extend the human mind and potentially create wonderful art. But it brings dangers too, and without hard rules protecting human creators it could also threaten their livelihoods on a huge scale.”

In July 2023, Cisac was one of a group of creative-industry bodies that published an open letter to policymakers setting out their desired principles for regulation of AI.

“Right now, creators must sit at the table with the tech firms and policy makers at the highest level, starting with the UN, and get their message over,” wrote Ulvaeus, who was recently announced as one of the musicians and producers taking part in YouTube’s ‘Music AI Incubator’ project alongside Universal Music Group.

Getting back to the Cisac report, the organisation’s director general Gadi Oron wrote in his foreword that the growth in collections reflected “the business skills and resilience of our member societies”.

He also offered a warning that despite the digital growth “digital income is still under-delivering for the vast majority of creators” – with one reason being inaccurate or missing metadata in the streaming sector meaning royalties are still going missing for many songwriters and composers.

Ahead of the report’s publication, Oron spoke to Music Ally to offer more context on the trends that it highlights, and how he sees the wider industry’s evolution.

“The growth is a combination of different efforts that are made at society level – the improvements in identifying content and licensing better, and increasing rates, renegotiating contracts – and of course the fact that the market itself has been growing,” he said of the digital growth.

“And thankfully, the other sources that we’ve always seen as the foundation of collections – radio and TV broadcasting – that’s performing well. It’s not affected by digital. It’s not growing much, but it’s growing steadily and in a way that gives us the confidence that it’s there to stay. “

“And public performances recovered. Not to the level of pre-Covid days. It’s close to that, but it’s not there yet.”

Oron flagged up the work of Cisac and its member societies in areas such as metadata: for example updating the ISWC system [the identifier codes for musical works] and opening it up to publishers to check the data. In the UK, PRS for Music is running a pilot to give labels access too.

“It’s small steps made in different areas in different countries, and overall that contributes to that top figure and general growth,” he said.

“We are now, for example, working with DSPs to give them access to our systems. We have an interest in Spotify getting the codes directly from us and using our system. That’s going to lead to a huge improvement in claims and collections. It takes time, but all of these small steps contribute to the big outcome.”

Oron also addressed the debate around AI technologies, including models that are trained on copyrighted works and can then generate original music.

“For me, the worst thing that can happen is that we end up in a parallel world where there’s a category of works that are AI-generated – not protected, not paid for, not licensed – that compete with the works that were created by humans, which cost money, are subject to payment, are subject to remuneration,” he said.

“I think that this competition can be very destructive and unsuitable for the industry, and that’s something I think we need to be smart to avoid.”

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