Business News Digital Labels & Publishers

NMPA chief says he will get publishers a share of VEVO royalties

By | Published on Thursday 14 June 2012


Also having an Annual General Meeting yesterday was the US’s National Music Publishers Association, and CEO David Israelite used his speech to call for a number of changes, both in the way publishers licence digital, and in various bits of American copyright law that impact on digital licensing and the way collecting organisations operate.

Though perhaps most interesting was what Israelite had to say about music videos, and the ways in which American record labels are utilising legacy contract clauses to avoid giving publishers their share when they are paid by online video sites.

This relates to comments made by Matt Pincus of American indie publisher Songs Music Publishing earlier this year in relation to music video site VEVO. He said his company was receiving very little income from the booming music video service, because in the US VEVO had deals with the record companies that put the obligation to pay publishing royalties onto the labels, rather than paying royalties direct to the publishers of songs that feature in videos on the site.

But, Pincus said, where artists performed their own songs, labels were using a common clause in artist contracts that says publishing royalties are not due when music videos are used for promotional purposes. This disadvantaged independent publishing companies like his, he added, because unlike the majors he didn’t also own a big record company that was concurrently benefiting from this increasingly contentious interpretation of the ‘no royalty in promo’ contract clause.

That said, the major publishers probably aren’t that happy with the situation either, even if it’s being led by and benefiting their sister company record labels. And certainly Israelite has this issue high up on his agenda, arguing that, as YouTube and VEVO grow, music videos are no longer just promotional tools – rather they have become key revenue streams of which publishers should have a share.

Said the NMPA chief: “Today you have VEVO talking about reaching $150 million in revenue and wanting to grow to $1 billion, and a large amount of the music videos being played are not getting licensed [by our members] and publishers are not being paid. NMPA is going to put an end to that”.

It’s worth re-noting this anomaly does not apply in the UK, where VEVO is licensed directly by PRS on behalf of the publishers.