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IFPI reaffirms its position on digital pie debate

By | Published on Thursday 30 July 2015

Frances Moore

Perhaps sensing that the mantra “don’t blame Spotify, it’s all the fault of your label” is being increasingly recited in the artist community when digital royalties are discussed, the boss of the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry, Frances Moore, has taken to her blog to begin the fight back.

Yes, the average recording artist is making less from recorded music today compared to the 1990s, but that’s because the entire industry is making much less from recorded music. And, actually – all you moaners – the labels are paying more of their revenues over to artists today than back in the CD heyday. So stop saying labels are the problem. You know who’s really to blame. For everything. YouTube, that’s who.

I’m paraphrasing a little, but that’s the basic gist of Moore’s piece. We already knew this was the IFPI’s line, because the grade group rehearsed these arguments went unleashing its annual stats pack earlier this year, but in the new blog post Moore goes over the arguments once again.

IFPI’s independently verified research, Moore wrote, “found that while payments to artists have declined over the past five years, the decline was substantially smaller than the reduction in corresponding sales revenue. This means that artist remuneration has actually increased as a proportion of record companies’ revenues in the last five years”.

She goes on: “The IFPI research covered payments to locally signed artists by record companies in eighteen markets worldwide. It found that industry revenues in those countries declined by 17% over from 2009 to 2014, while corresponding payments to artists declined by only 6%. That meant the proportion of record companies’ revenues paid to local artists in those markets increased by 13% over five years”.

So boom, take that whining artist types. And ignore the fact various managers and indie labels had a good go at pulling apart this IFPI research when it was first shared earlier this year. Moore concludes: “The issue is not that artists are getting lower royalty payments from digital services – they are not – but that the overall recorded music market has shrunk, which means smaller revenues for all involved”.

But what about blaming YouTube? Well: “It is true that artists and record producers are not being paid fairly for the use of their music. This is because user upload platforms, such as SoundCloud and YouTube, are taking advantage of exemptions from copyright laws that simply should not apply to them”.

Yeah, fucking YouTube, ruining everything for everybody. Except for all the artists who use it as their primary marketing platform. And all the music consumers who use it as their main discovery channel. But for everyone else, everything’s ruined.

As we say, Moore’s new blog covers mainly old ground, but it reaffirms the record industry – and especially major labels’ – line on the big old digital pie debate (label/artist dimension). More on which here if you are a CMU premium reader, and this article actually says some nice things about YouTube as part of the ‘converting freemium’ discussion. You’ll need the password published in the CMU Digest to access these articles.