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ICE and SACEM sign up more indie publishers for digital licensing

By | Published on Wednesday 18 July 2018


Two more independent music publishers have announced new alliances to facilitate the direct licensing of their repertoires to digital services on a multi-territory basis. Concord Music will work with copyright hub ICE on digital licensing moving forward, while the PEN Music Group has allied with French collecting society SACEM.

The big five global music publishers – so that’s Sony/ATV, Universal, Warner/Chappell, BMG and Kobalt – have, for a long time now, directly licensed their Anglo-American repertoires to digital services in many key markets. Which is to say, they do direct deals rather than allowing such services to be licensed via the collective licensing system.

Though such direct deals do actually involve the collecting societies, for two reasons. First, streaming services exploit both the mechanical rights and the performing rights in songs, and the publisher only controls the former, while one of the Anglo-America societies will control the latter. Secondly, because song royalties are tricky to calculate each month, it makes sense to have a collecting society involved in that process.

To that end, the big five publishers ally with one or more collecting societies to assist in the direct licensing process. The partner society liaises with the other Anglo-American societies whose rights are being bundled into the direct deals, and with processing the monies each month.

An assortment of indies got involved in the direct licensing party via a venture called IMPEL, which was originally run by the UK’s Music Publishers Association and administered by UK collecting society PRS. IMPEL was then spun off as a standalone entity at the start of the year and has since allied with the aforementioned SACEM.

Meanwhile, a number of other indie publishers – some of them formerly part of the IMPEL scheme – have started allying directly with either SACEM or ICE in order to direct license their Anglo-American repertoires to streaming services. ICE, of course, is the copyright hub owned by PRS, German society GEMA and Swedish society STIM.

Concord follows Downtown and Peermusic in partnering with ICE on digital licensing. The US-based independent music group last year boosted its music publishing credentials by acquiring Imagem, which was previously a key member of the IMPEL venture.

Confirming the new alliance, Concord Music’s President Of Publishing For Europe, John Minch – who was previously CEO of Imagem – said: “We have known the ICE team from the beginning in 2012 and love this idea of a direct and simple arrangement with them. It means we can be on top of and monitor all the major deals with digital service providers while getting a much quicker, cost-effective and more efficient pay through. This is a great deal for Concord writers and composers”.

ICE Commercial Director Ben McEwen added: “We are delighted to welcome Concord as a direct customer of ICE. The acquisition of Imagem shows the scale of ambition at Concord to grow and develop the music publishing side of their business”.

US-based PEN Music Group follows Wixen, as well as the all-new IMPEL, in allying with SACEM on digital licensing. Under the new deal, the French society will represent the digital rights of the Mother’s Finest Songs catalogue that was recently acquired by Mothership Music Publishing and which is administered worldwide by PEN.

Confirming that deal, PEN Music’s Michael Eames said that SACEM’s “technology is very impressive as is their dedication to maximising the worldwide value of rightsholders’ online repertoire”. Meanwhile Hein van der Ree from Mothership Music Publishing added: “The enthusiasm of SACEM’s team combined with their digital expertise convinced us that they are the right partner for the online administration of Mother’s Finest Songs”.