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YouTube-commissioned report tackles music-industry criticism

We’ve heard a lot about YouTube and the ‘value gap’ from music rightsholders in recent months, but now YouTube is opening up a new line of defence against criticism from the music industry.

Google’s video service has commissioned competition-law specialist RBB Economics to write a series of papers exploring YouTube’s impact on the music industry.

The reports are based on a survey of 1,500 people, as well as analysis of YouTube views and audio streams for around 5,000 tracks in the UK, France, Germany and Italy.

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PRS for Music paid out £527.6m to members in 2016

UK collecting society PRS for Music has announced record figures for 2016, including payouts of £527.6m to its members – the first time it’s surpassed the half-a-billion milestone.

That represented an 11.1% year-on-year rise in payouts to songwriters, composers and publishers, while the revenues collected by PRS for Music grew by 10.1% to £621.5m in 2016. Income from online platforms grew by 89.9% to £80.5m as part of that.

According to PRS, it paid out to 33% more members in 2016 than the previous year, while the number of unique musical works earning money rose by 45% to 4.2m. The society received data on more than 4.3tn (trillion) uses of music, which it notes has grown from 126bn in 2012.

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US music revenues up 11.4% but RIAA still focused on safe-harbour reform

Recorded-music revenues in the US grew by 11.4% to $7.7bn in 2016, but industry body the RIAA is determined to continue pressing for reform of the safe-harbour protection afforded to YouTube.

The organisation published its annual industry-revenue figures this afternoon, with the headline $7.7bn figure referring to retail revenues: consumer spending on recorded music.

‘Wholesale’ revenues earned by labels rose 9.3% to $5.3bn, and as in other countries around the world, music-streaming is the engine of this growth.

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Report: safe-harbour costs US music biz ‘nearly $1bn a year’

Expect industry bodies and rightsholders to seize upon a report by US non-profit organisation the Phoenix Center, which claims to have put a number to the financial cost to the music industry of current safe harbour legislation.

Its study claims that “market-based royalties for subscription-based services are about eight-times larger than that paid by YouTube”, and tries to work out how much revenue would be generated if the DMCA legislation was amended in a way that led to YouTube paying higher royalties.

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IFPI Norway head: “YouTube is not doing anything wrong: the legislation is wrong.”

Music Ally’s second conference session at the by:Larm festival this morning saw IFPI Norway boss Marte Thorsby joined by ReedSmith partner Gregor Pryor and PIAS director of streaming strategy Justin Barker.

In a panel moderated by Music Ally’s Stuart Dredge, the trio talked about some of the big music-industry trends of 2017, including the ‘value gap’ and Spotify’s future prospects.

Thorsby gave her assessment of the situation with YouTube and safe-harbour legislation. “We are not competing against YouTube. YouTube is not doing anything wrong – but the legislation is wrong,” she said.

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Google files its latest comments in DMCA review process

The US Copyright Office continues to take submissions from interested parties as it examines whether the safe harbours of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) need to be modernised.

We reported on the latest comments filed by music-industry bodies earlier this week, as they blasted the legislation for being “broken and antiquated”. Now Google has returned to the debate with its own additional comments.

It partly reiterates the views in Google’s original filing to the Copyright Office, claiming that the existing notice-and-takedown regime has done its job well, including laying the “foundation” for copyright-protection tools like YouTube’s Content ID “that go far beyond what the DMCA requires and enable copyright owners to monetise uploads of their content by third parties”.

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US music industry bodies renew attack on ‘broken’ DMCA

Industry bodies including the RIAA, NMPA and SoundExchange have renewed their criticism of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the safe-harbour protection it provides for digital services like YouTube.

15 organisations have come together to file comments to the US Copyright Office criticising the legislation as “broken and antiquated”, in a new round of lobbying as part of a long-running review of the DMCA.

The comments may be new, but the arguments are familiar to anyone who’s been following the safe-harbour rows on either side of the Atlantic.

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WMG says current music-streaming growth is ‘just a drop in the bucket’

Warner Music Group’s recorded-music business generated $311m from streaming in the final quarter of 2016 – its fiscal Q1 – taking it to more than $1bn for the last calendar year, according to its latest financial results.

The label group’s digital revenues grew by 25% year-on-year to $402m last quarter, while its overall revenues grew by 8% to $797m. Meanwhile, publishing arm Warner/Chappell saw its digital revenues spike by 59% to $43m, and its overall revenues grow by 7% to $124m in the same period.

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Live365 returns with DMCA-based online radio platform

Online radio platform Live365 shut down at the start of 2016, blaming the changing royalty-rates for internet radio.

“There are always possibilities that we can come back in one form or another,” said the company at the time. A year on, that’s exactly what has happened. “We’re back,” announces a message on the relaunched Live365 website.

“Create your own online radio station with music licensing, 24/7 cloud automation, brandable players, station discovery, and the ability to earn revenue.”

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David Lowery talks digital scepticism and music-streaming’s future

David Lowery started the year in the headlines for leading one of two class-action lawsuits against Spotify over mechanical licensing. They have since combined with the other lawsuit taking prominence.

That has left Lowery free to continue with touring life with his two bands, Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, but through his activism and The Trichordist blog, he remains closely engaged with the issues that sparked those lawsuits – and with the wider questions of fair streaming royalties.

“It’s pretty clear that the courts are going to do something with this: there’s going to be some sort of action. The NOI system for licensing streaming mechanicals in the United States is essentially broken. If we want to have streaming services that have more than a few million tracks on them, we can’t have that system,” says Lowery.

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US music industry bodies lobby Trump ahead of tech summit

US president-elect Donald Trump is meeting a group of tech leaders today in New York, including Apple’s Tim Cook, Alphabet’s Larry Page and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.

Ahead of the event, a group of US music-industry bodies have sent a letter to Trump urging him to stick to his promises on protecting intellectual property rights and standing up to big technology firms.

“Music is responsible for the most-followed accounts on Facebook and Twitter, the most-watched videos on YouTube, and is one of the most popular draws for phones and other personal devices,” claimed the letter, which was signed by 19 bodies including the RIAA, A2IM, ASCAP, BMI, the Music Managers Forum, NMPA, the Recording Academy, SESAC and SoundExchange.

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IFPI hits back at YouTube over $1bn payouts claim

Is the IFPI impressed with YouTube’s claim that it has paid $1bn out to the music industry in 2016 from ads? Entirely unsurprisingly, it isn’t, saying that the announcement “gives little reason to celebrate”. In a statement published on the music body’s website, it explains why.

“With 800 million music users worldwide, YouTube is generating revenues of just over US$1 per user for the entire year. This pales in comparison to the revenue generated by other services, ranging from Apple to Deezer to Spotify,” it claims. “For example, in 2015 Spotify alone paid record labels some US$2 billion, equivalent to an estimated US$18 per user.”