Posted inNews

Despacito is most-streamed song ever… thanks to YouTube

Universal Music Group is understandably trumpeting a new milestone for Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s ‘Despacito’.

Aided by a Justin Bieber-starring remix, the song has now been streamed more than 4.6bn times across “leading streaming platforms”, which UMG says makes it the most-streamed song of all time.

In fact, the previous record-holder was Bieber’s own ‘Sorry’ and its various remixes, which notched up nearly 4.4bn streams.

What’s interesting here is the role played by YouTube, currently under pressure from the music industry over safe harbour, but also a piledriving force behind global hits like ‘Despacito’.

Of the song and its remix’s 4.6bn streams, 1.18bn have come from Spotify according to that service’s public stats: 563.2m from the original version and 619.2m from the remix. That means Spotify has accounted for around 26% of the total figure.

Posted inNews

SACEM boss talks YouTube, blockchain and user-centric streaming royalties

At a recent event organised by collecting society PRS for Music, MEP Mary Honeyball noted that the debate around copyright reform and the ‘value gap’ has split the European Parliament like never before.

“We have had some heated discussions – which doesn’t usually happen in the European Parliament,” she said. “It is two very opposing points of view which so far have proved irreconcilable.”

Is that worrying? Jean-Noël Tronc, CEO of French authors’ rights society SACEM, thinks that such a clear division is actually a sign of progress from the music industry’s point of view.

Posted inNews

Stream-ripping music piracy growing ‘aggressively’

A pair of new studies commissioned by British collecting society PRS for Music and the UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) claims that stream-ripping is now the “most aggressive” form of music piracy.

The term refers to the process where audio from music-streaming services is ‘ripped’ by users into digital files which can be downloaded and then transferred to their various devices.

PRS and the IPO commissioned two studies of the practice, from anti-piracy company INCOPRO and research firm Kantar Media. The first study examined traffic to stream-ripping websites and apps, while the latter surveyed more than 9,100 people about their online habits.

Posted inNews

Jimmy Iovine blames labels, YouTube and Billboard for bad albums

Apple Music’s Jimmy Iovine has been making waves again, with an interview for Beats 1 in which he criticises labels for their handling of YouTube and safe harbour, suggesting that they are partly responsible for a decline in the quality of some albums, as artists try to squeeze recording in between their more-lucrative commitments.

YouTube first. “The labels haven’t done anything about YouTube. So now you’ve got YouTube out there with 500 million people, where you can get your music very elegantly for free, and getting better and better and better and better,” said Iovine, before claiming that Billboard’s chart is “counting YouTube’s plays the same as Spotify’s paid plays and Apple Music paid plays” – thus encouraging artists to support it.

“So where does the artist go? ‘Oh, there’s 500 million people on YouTube, so I’m going to go promote my record there. Even though I get paid here, but I want a number one record here! That’s called fake news!” said Iovine. “Netflix doesn’t have a free tier: you can’t find House of Cards on YouTube.”

Posted inNews

Music rightsholders attack ‘complete tomfoolery’ of YouTube

“There is a massive contradiction in the messages they are giving out… It is complete tomfoolery.”

BASCA chairman Crispin Hunt was speaking at an event held in London last night by British collecting society PRS for Music, which provided the latest salvos in the war of words with YouTube over safe harbour and the ‘value gap’.

As with the recent debates on the topic at the Midem conference in Cannes (our reports of which are here and here) the event was focused on one side of the debate: despite being held literally opposite Google’s London office, YouTube did not take part.

Posted inNews

CISAC boss: ‘We are in a medieval dark digital age’

CISAC president and laser-spurting musician Jean-Michel Jarre has been speaking out again about the ‘value gap’ and the music industry’s relationships with big-tech giants.

“We must solve the problem of the sustainable economy for culture. The fact that you get $1,000 dollars after 10 million clicks on YouTube. When YouTube is making billions of dollars on the back of cultural content,” he told Billboard.

Posted inAnalysis

sonaBlast Records boss: ‘Copyright needs to be blown up and rethought’

SonaBlast Records was set up by Gill Holland in 2002 in New York and is now based in Kentucky. Holland came from the film business, having worked in and around indie films since the 1990s, serving a stint at the French Film Office as well as working with legendary French Nouvelle Vague auteur Jean-Luc Godard.

Establishing the label (and eventually the publishing arm) was driven, he says, by necessity and out of frustration at the way the sync business worked and made it difficult – if not impossible – for smaller filmmakers to clear the rights to use music in their films.

Holland had previously dealt with a label on a soundtrack deal, but the cost of licensing music was, he says, “almost as costly as the production for the entire film” and that acts were making it unnecessarily difficult to have their music used. He felt creating a label that thought differently about sync was the way to go. Irish singer Mark Geary was an early signing and provided the template for how the company operated.

Posted inNews

Is the ‘value gap’ debate anywhere near a resolution? (#midem)

Yesterday, we reported on a Midem panel providing the European perspective on the debate about YouTube, safe harbour legislation and the ‘value gap’.

Today there was a panel billed as “round two” – although still with no speaker from the YouTube side of this particular battle. Instead, IFPI director of legal policy and licensing Lauri Rechardt; GESAC senior legal adviser Burak Özgen; BMG SVP of business and legal affairs Götz von Einem; and MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick gave their views, moderated by CMU’s Chris Cooke.

Posted inNews

The European perspective on music’s ‘value gap’ (#midem)

The music industry’s arguments about the ‘value gap’ tend to be summarised as ‘rightsholders versus YouTube’.

While that’s often the case, there are wider issues in play here around how internet safe-harbour legislation could be modernised. A panel at the Midem conference this afternoon focused on the rightsholders and legislators in this debate in Europe.

The panel included Enzo Mazza from Italian trade body FIMI; Dr Florian Drücke from German body BVMI; and Guillaume Leblanc from France’s SNEP. They were joined by European parliamentarians Jean-Marie Cavada and Christian Ehler, and chairman of the copyright committee at the ministry of culture Professor Paolo Marzano. Music Week’s Mark Sutherland moderated.

Posted inNews

EC’s Martine Reicherts talks Europe and music (#midem)

Brussels has long held a magnetic draw for music companies and their representative bodies, and technology companies alike. From copyright-reform lobbying to funding schemes, Europe remains a hive of activity.

Today, the Midem conference in Cannes heard from Martine Reicherts, director general of the European Commission’s directorate general for education, youth, sport and culture.

Among the topics for discussion were the Creative Europe and Music Moves Europe initiatives. Reicherts was interviewed by Music Week editor Mark Sutherland.

Posted inNews

Irving Azoff provides pithy response to YouTube study

YouTube recently commissioned a study to prove that its service offers more value to the music industry than rightsholders have claimed.

Your starter for ten: does industry veteran Irving Azoff agree with its findings? Nope.

“My report about the ‘Value of YouTube to the Music Industry’ would be really brief because I can summarise the benefit of YouTube to artists in a word: none,” Azoff told Hits Daily Double.

Posted inNews

IFPI and BPI hit back at YouTube over cannibalisation report

Did music industry body the IFPI have something to say about the YouTube-commissioned report suggesting that Google’s video service isn’t cannibalising higher-value streaming services? Of course it did.

The global body has published a statement this afternoon criticising the report – which was published by Google this morning – and reiterating its desire to see safe-harbour legislation reformed, to YouTube’s disadvantage.

“Google’s latest publicity push once again seeks to distract from the fact that YouTube, essentially the world’s largest on-demand music service, is failing to license music on a fair basis and compensate artists and producers properly, by claiming it is not liable for the music it is making available,” said the IFPI’s statement.