CMU Digest

CMU Digest 15.03.21: Brexit, women in music, SGAE, Pirate Monitor, ASCAP

By | Published on Sunday 14 March 2021


The key stories from the last week in the music business…

The Musicians’ Union and Incorporated Society Of Musicians called on the UK government to deal with the post-Brexit touring challenges facing artists with a greater sense of urgency. Ministers say that they recognise the problems caused by the post-Brexit UK/EU trade deal not ensuring visa/permit/carnet free touring for British performers. New talks with EU officials, unilateral deals with individual EU member states to remove permit and carnet requirements, and a new cultural export office to support British artists have all been proposed to address those problems. However, the MU and ISM noted that in its latest statement on the matter in Parliament, the government “offered no signs of immediate activity”. It’s vital, MU and ISM argued, that work begins straight away, to ensure minimum barriers when COVID restrictions lift and musicians can start touring again. [READ MORE]

An annual report on diversity in the US music business concluded that “for women in music, there is little to celebrate when it comes to industry change”. The report from the University Of Southern California, published on International Women’s Day, looks at the music-makers behind the year-end Billboard Hot 100 each year. It found that only 20.2% of performers on those tracks were female, and only 12.9% of songwriting credits and only 2% of production positions were secured by women. And things haven’t changed much in that regard over the last decade. The report concluded that although various initiatives might be increasing the opportunities for female music-makers elsewhere in the industry, the teams recruited to work on the biggest hits still very much skew male. [READ MORE]

Often controversial Spanish song right collecting society SGAE was readmitted into global grouping CISAC. It was expelled from CISAC in 2019 following various controversies regarding governance and royalty distribution practices, especially relating to broadcast royalties. Having initially resisted pressure from music publishers and other societies around the world, and the Spanish government, to change its policies, CISAC said that a number of reforms are now under-way at SGAE. The global organisation added that the reforms now being implemented should help the Spanish society “better serve its members and international partners, and drive recovery in collections after the deep crisis caused by the pandemic”. [READ MORE]

Little known anti-piracy outfit Pirate Monitor was removed from a lawsuit over who has access to YouTube’s Content ID. Pirate Monitor teamed up with musician Maria Schneider to sue YouTube, claiming that the Google company only gives access to its sophisticated rights management platform to major rights-holders, and that independent creators are still forced to issue manual takedown requests if their content is uploaded to the video site without licence. That manual takedown system, they added, is not fit for purpose. But YouTube said that Pirate Monitor – which turned out to be a front for film director Gábor Csupó – had acted in bad faith while trying to get access to Content ID, demonstrating why Google was right not to grant that access. Pirate Monitor voluntarily dismissed its legal complaint meaning Schneider will now pursue the case on her own. [READ MORE]

US song right collecting society ASCAP announced that its 2020 royalty collections were up $53 million on 2019. This despite concerns that the income of songwriters and music publishers would be severely hit by COVID, given royalties from the live and public performance of music are key to the songs side of the business. And, of course, the live industry has been in shutdown for a year, while many businesses that play recorded music in public have also been closed at various points. ASCAP’s collections from live and public performance in the US were down 30% year-on-year, but increases in international income and digital royalties helped ensure that total collections were up. It remains to be seen if that trend is replicated elsewhere in the world. [READ MORE]

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