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European Parliament proceeds on Article 13 of new copyright directive

We’ve covered the ‘value gap’ debate regularly and emphasised that it’s a slow-burning issue in terms of policymakers deciding how to modernise safe-harbour regulations in the US and in Europe alike. On the latter front, there was a development yesterday as Article 13 of the European Commission’s proposed Copyright Directive sailed through to its next stage, after a vote by the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee.

Article 13 is backed by industry bodies including the IFPI and Impala, who see it as cracking down on digital platforms hosting user-uploaded content (i.e. YouTube, SoundCloud and social apps more generally). Or rather: at least forcing these companies to seek licensing deals, rather than rely on takedown notices from rightsholders.

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Q&A: BPI boss Geoff Taylor on the UK’s streaming-fuelled music growth

Music Ally recently interviewed BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor about the UK’s recorded-music market trends in 2017: from the growth of subscription streaming and safe harbours to Brexit and diversity.

Recent BPI and ERA figures show a big increase in music streaming in the UK in 2017 – why was this?

This increase is being driven by a number of factors, but a key element is that streaming is becoming ever more accessible and familiar to a more mainstream audience. It isn’t just millennials and Generation Z fuelling growth – important though they are to the market – the number of older consumers becoming subscribers is growing fast, helped by free trials and telco deals.

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YouTube targeted as German music revenues show slight decline

We’ve already seen strong recorded-music revenue growth in the 2017 figures from a number of countries, but Germany isn’t among them. Stats published yesterday by industry body BVMI revealed that recorded music generated €1.59bn (around $1.94bn) in Germany last year, down 0.3% on the previous year.

This is perhaps not a surprise, given the continued importance (and thus, the impact of its decline on overall industry revenues) of physical formats in Germany. Physical sales were down 14.3% in 2017, but still accounted for 53.4% of overall revenues. A 22.7% rise in digital music revenues, including a 42.8% spike in audio streaming, couldn’t quite outweigh the physical decline.

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City Slang boss calls for governments to close the ‘value gap’

Christof Ellinghaus, founder of Berlin-based indie label City Slang, is keen for governments to take action to remove YouTube’s safe harbours, and thus address the ‘value gap’.

“We’re all stopping to sell records at this moment. Our bands are getting bigger and bigger, but we are selling less and less of their music,” said Ellinghaus, citing the example of a City Slang band that recently played to a crowd of 2,500 people in Warsaw.

“That stands in no relation to our sales or streams.. Everybody is just on YouTube. And so as long as YouTube gets away with this – and that’s one of the things that the governments of the entire world really need to figure out – it’s going to hinder Spotify,” he said.

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Neil Young takes aim at Google and other tech giants

Neil Young has said some thought-provoking things about digital music in the last few years, but his latest blog post about Google could have done with a fact-checker.

“Today, in the age of FaceBook, GOOGLE and Amazon, it’s hard to tell how a new and growing musical artist could make it in the way we did,” he wrote.

“The Tech Giants have figured out a way to use all the great music of everyone from all time, without reporting an artist’s number of plays or paying a f***ing cent to the musicians.”

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UKF founder: ‘YouTube is a platform where you have to fend for yourself’

YouTube music boss Lyor Cohen has been winding up rightsholders recently with his views on why the ‘value gap’ debate is overblown. But amidst this controversy, it’s easy to forget that some music executives see YouTube as the industry’s biggest opportunity rather than its greatest menace.

Speaking at Paris Electronic Week, Luke Hood, founder and director of UKF, which is now part of AEI Media, outlined the case for the defence.

He is a true YouTube native, setting up UKF when he was just 16 “as a bedroom hobby” and quickly finding it had built a hugely engaged community. In the nine years since its founding, it has grown to have 1.5 million subscribers while the affiliated NoCopyrightSounds (NCS) as a channel has 12.8 million subscribers and dives over 100m views a month.

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RIAA half-year figures reveal 17% rise for US recorded-music revenues

Paid music-streaming subscriptions are the star of US industry body the RIAA’s latest half-year figures, which show a 17% year-on-year rise in recorded-music retail revenues in the first six months of 2017.

That means $4bn of spending on recorded music in the first half of the year, up from $3.4bn in the first half of 2016. When converted to wholesale (i.e. labels’ cut) revenues, the RIAA’s figures show a rise of 14.6% to $2.7bn.

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YouTube’s Robert Kyncl: ‘The music industry has won the war’

No, not the war of words over whether ‘safe harbour’ laws should be reformed to give YouTube less of an advantage at the music-rights licensing table. That skirmish is going to run and run.

The war that YouTube’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl is talking about in his new book is the long-term decline in recorded-music revenues that saw the industry’s value drop by 40% over a period of 15 years.

The book – Streampunks: YouTube and the Rebels Remaking Media – isn’t just about the music industry, but naturally Music Ally turned straight to the chapter on music after receiving our review copy.

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YouTube’s Lyor Cohen: ‘The focus on copyright safe harbours is a distraction’

YouTube’s head of music Lyor Cohen has admitted that “there’s still a disconnect between YouTube and the rest of the industry” but maintains that the company is keen to continue building bridges with music rightsholders.

“I get why some in the music industry would be skeptical of their relationship with YouTube. They were late to the subscriptions party and YouTube’s focus for many years was largely just on ads,” he wrote in a blog post today.

“While they have been at subscriptions for a year, and the numbers are very encouraging, YouTube must prove its credibility when it comes to its ability to shepherd their funnel of users into paid subscriptions. But since I’ve been here, I’ve been incredibly encouraged by what I’ve seen. The team is serious about subscriptions.”

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RIAA: mixtapes site Spinrilla ‘ineligible’ for safe harbour

US industry body the RIAA is continuing its action against digital-mixtapes site Spinrilla, claiming that the site should not be eligible for DMCA safe-harbour protection.

In a new court filing, the body claims that Spinrilla has not registered a ‘designated agent’ with the US Copyright Office, in order to field infringement notifications from rightsholders. Nor has it adopted and promoted a policy for terminating the accounts of repeat infringers on its service.

“Although the failure to meet either requirement would foreclose Defendants’ claim to the safe harbour, Defendants have failed to meet both,” claimed the RIAA’s filing, which was published on TorrentFreak.