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Posted inNews

Tech firms want Trump to tackle their digital music gripes

As the waves from Donald Trump’s shock election victory continue to ripple, the business of lobbying the president-elect is swinging into gear.

The Internet Association, which includes Spotify, Pandora, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Netflix among its members, has published an open letter to Trump offering “a roadmap of key policy areas that have allowed the internet to grow, thrive, and ensure its continued success”.

Posted inData, News

RIAA figures reveal 8.1% rise in US recorded-music revenues

US industry body the RIAA has published its figures for music sales in the first half of 2016, and they tell a positive story: an 8.1% year-in-year rise in revenues.

“For the first half of 2016, strong growth in revenues from subscription streaming services more than offset declines in unit based sales of physical and digital music download products,” explained the RIAA in its mid-year report.

“Overall revenues at retail increased 8.1% on a year-over-year basis to $3.4 billion, the strongest industry growth since the late 1990’s. At wholesale, value increased 5.7% to $2.4 billion.”

Posted inAnalysis

Analysing the European Commission’s copyright reform proposals

This guest analysis comes from the Reed Smith Entertainment and Media Industry Group.

“Given all the fuss about Brexit, there is a risk that the implementation by the European Commission of its ‘Digital Single Market’ (DSM) strategy may start to fly below our collective radar. Meantime, the Commission continues to press ahead in delivering concrete proposals.

The latest – and arguably most significant yet – proposal seeks to reform the European copyright landscape through a new Copyright Directive, which was formally announced on 14th September 2016.

This is separate from the Commission’s earlier proposal to introduce a Regulation on the cross-border portability of online content services. If accepted in its current form, the proposed Directive would represent one of the most radical changes to copyright law in recent times.

Posted inNews

Music industry welcomes EC copyright proposal as ‘a good first step’

The music industry has cautiously welcomed the European Commission’s new proposal to address copyright in the digital single market.

However, the IFPI has warned that it is only “a first step” in the process towards tackling what it sees as the “value gap” between usage of music on services like YouTube, and the revenues flowing to rightsholders and musicians.

Posted inNews

IFPI makes stream-ripping latest front in YouTube row

The IFPI and Google are arguing about YouTube again, this time in the pages of the Financial Times.

There’s a new angle on their dispute though: young music fans’ increasing use of ‘stream-ripping’ tools to turn YouTube videos into unpaid music downloads.

The IFPI commissioned research firm Ipsos to survey fans in 13 countries, and claims that the study reveals almost half of 16-24 year-olds now use stream-ripping software, making it a more popular form of music piracy than file-sharing.

Posted inAnalysis

Inside YouTube Content ID: a blessing or busted flush for music?

Despite being located in the capital of the most expensive country in Europe (and the second most expensive in the world after Bermuda), Google’s offices in Switzerland are – from the outside – surprisingly nondescript.

Slate grey bar the occasional flash of colour with the Google logo, it sits on the former site of a brewery but could be any office in any industrial park in any major city.

Inside, of course, is a very different matter. An explosion of geek-centric interior design, each of its seven floors has a theme – like “sky” (it’s the top floor), “sports” and “jungle”.

There are canteens and cafés on most floors, offering staff free food and drinks during the day. There is a massage room. There is a meditation room. There is a gym. There is a “power-nap” room whose only source of light is from backlit fish tanks. There’s a room set up for bands to play, with giant posters of Prince, Madonna, The Beatles and Bob Dylan on the walls.

There are reclaimed cable cars fitted out as meeting rooms (of course there are) and private pods to relax in or make calls from. There’s a full-time hairdresser, so large are the staff numbers now. Yes, there’s also a slide leading into the ground floor canteen.

On the “jungle” floor, there’s a room packed tightly with giant potted plants, like a mini botanic garden, and casually sitting by a meeting pod is a full-size plastic crocodile with a plastic doll’s arm lodged in its jaws.

(Keen fans of heavy handed visual metaphors for relationships between the tech industry and the music industry will have a field day with that one.)

Zurich was Google’s first engineering site in Europe, opening in 2004 with a staff of two. It’s now up to 1,800 employees and YouTube takes up the top three floors of the building, housing Google’s biggest engineering team outside of the US. This, our guides tell us, is where “the Content ID magic” happens. (There will be several references to “magic” during our time here but it’s one of those hyperbolic words that is best swatted away like a fat bluebottle when it comes up.)

Music Ally is in Zurich to speak to the team behind Content ID and to see how it works as well as how it is evolving. The engineering team works from around 11am to 7pm (to be able to do conference calls with head office in California) and alongside Content ID, they are working on improving upload speeds, refining the video platform’s analytics and extending the tools offered out to creators.

Posted inAnalysis

Dancing to a new tune: what does Brexit mean for the music industry?

A guest column from Gregor Pryor, co-chair of Reed Smith’s global Entertainment and Media Industry Group
As one of the chief Leave campaigners, former secretary of state for culture, media and sport John Whittingdale was always likely to be of the view that the departure of the UK from the European Union would have limited impact on the music industry, and he said as much at a House of Commons event for the UK music industry.

Unfortunately, 91% of the UK music industry disagreed with him when asked before the Referendum whether they would rather Remain or Leave. For the most part, the reaction from those working in the sector has been negative.

There are two reasons for this. First, UK music is heavily reliant on international trade. Second, legal and contractual arrangements concerning music and its exploitation are already complex. Brexit will likely add many more layers of challenge and complexity, for artists, rights holders and music users.

Posted inData

Germany: industry hails ‘dynamic’ streaming in first-half figures

German music body BVMI has published figures for its recorded music market in the first half of 2016, showing 3.6% growth year-on-year.

Despite CD sales still being big in Germany, BVMI hailed the “dynamic” music-streaming market as a key ingredient in the overall growth.

Streaming now accounts for 24.4% of the German music market, with revenues from streaming services in Germany having increased by 88% year-on-year. That’s based on income from both ad-supported free and subscription-based premium services.

Posted inNews

‘Greenwash’ – BPI and IFPI respond to Google piracy report

Well, that didn’t take long. The publication of Google’s ‘How Google Fights Piracy’ report has already drawn critical responses from British music body the BPI and global body the IFPI.

“This report looks a lot like ‘greenwash’. Although we welcome the measures Google has taken so far, it is still one of the key enablers of piracy on the planet,” said BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor, who has regularly criticised Google and YouTube in recent years.

Posted inReports

Report 393 – Frenemy of the state

Cover Feature: YouTube is currently the target of concerted artist and label lobbying at both the European Commission and Washington. They are demanding the end of the safe harbour exemptions that YouTube, and others, have partly built their models on as well as calling for higher royalties to close the value gap they believe is unsustainable. […]

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Posted inNews

Ed Sheeran, Abba and Coldplay sign latest YouTube letter

Google is under more pressure over the safe harbour protection that YouTube enjoys, with a letter signed by more than 1,000 artists sent to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Ed Sheeran, Abba, Coldplay and Lady Gaga are among the signatories according to the Financial Times, which notes that the arguments are the same that have been put to legislators in the US in recent months.