|WEDNESDAY 31 MAY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK government's Intellectual Property Office has published a new music industry agreement around metadata which seeks to begin tackling some of the data issues that routinely impact on the crediting and payment of music-makers. It follows the confirmation yesterday that the UK government is convening a working group to discuss music-maker remuneration from streaming.... [READ MORE]|
UK government formally announces music metadata agreement and music-maker remuneration working group
All of this is part of work that was initiated by the government in response to the culture select committee inquiry in Parliament that called for a "complete reset" of the streaming music business. The IPO organised that economics of music streaming work into three strands focused on remuneration, transparency and data.
In terms of data, a working group was convened to discuss the various issues around the provision of data that identifies what specific songs are contained in any one recording, and what artists, musicians, songwriters and producers were involved in the creation of any one track.
At the moment a lot of that data is not provided as standard when recordings are delivered to the streaming services. Which means many of the music-makers involved in the creation of a track are not crediting on the streaming platforms.
And when it comes to the songs side of the music industry, the bad data causes delays, increases admin costs and reduces accuracy when it comes to getting songwriters paid.
The music industry has been discussing these data issues for years if not decades. Solving the problem requires the involvement of record labels, music distributors, music publishers, collecting societies and streaming services, as well as artists, musicians songwriters, producers and their managers. So a big part of the challenge is getting all those people to work in unison.
The new metadata agreement - negotiated through the metadata working group - sees each of those stakeholders commit to raise their game. A little.
The undertakings in themselves are not massive, but if everyone in the UK industry truly embraces the code, it should be a step in the right direction. One ultimate aim being that the unique identifier for each song - the ISWC - is issued quickly and included in the metadata alongside each new recording.
To date the government-led work around remuneration has focused on three pieces of research, each investigating a copyright reform that was proposed by the select committee in the report it published following its inquiry.
Those included the introduction of a reversion right allowing music-makers to reclaim rights previously assigned via a record or publishing deal; a contract adjustment right allowing music-makers to renegotiate old deals in the context of the modern industry; and a new remuneration right that would see artists and session musicians receive at least a portion of the money generated by the streaming of their recordings through the collective licensing system.
The issues around music-maker remuneration - ie how artists, musicians, songwriters and producers share in the streaming money their music generates - are different for each group of music-makers. The proposed copyright reforms would benefit most those artists stuck in old record deals that pay lower royalties than are now the norm and session musicians who currently don't share in streaming income at all.
The label community is always keen to point out that artists seeking business partners to work with on their recordings today have much more choice than in the past and can choose to work with a label or distributor in a way that gets them the majority of the money their music generates. Which is true. But that doesn't help the artists stuck in old record deals or the session musicians.
The majors are also keen to stress that they do now pay through streaming royalties to heritage artists that never recouped advances or other costs back in the day, something that never happened until very recently. And there have been talks between record industry trade group BPI and the Musicians' Union about evolving the industry's standard session musician agreement, although those seem to have stalled.
The music-maker community argues that while paying through royalties to unrecouped artists is a good step in the right direction, if those artists are being paid CD-era royalty rates on streaming income, that is still unfair. Some indies - most notably the Beggars Group - pay a minimum royalty to all the artists in the catalogue, as well as having paid through royalties to unrecouped artists for a number of years.
So, while both the majors and the indies are generally not supportive of the proposed copyright reforms, there is some support in the indie community for other non-legislative solutions that would address some of the music-maker concerns. Including applying a modern royalty rate to all artists - just like Beggars already does - and possibly launching some sort of fund to benefit session musicians whose music is streamed.
All of that is likely to be discussed within the new music-maker remuneration working group, the convening of which was confirmed by the culture select committee yesterday and the by the IPO this morning.
It remains to be seen how the different stakeholders choose to participate in those discussions, with the indies possibly more willing than the majors to seek a voluntary solution that would benefit more artists. The majors are also keen to avoid copyright reforms, of course, but seem more likely to resist other solutions too.
Responding to the convening of the working group, the Association Of Independent Music urged that a collaborative approach be taken that ensures all voices in the wider music community are heard. Whereas the BPI expressed concern about the discussions ahead, reckoning that "numerous studies have demonstrated that streaming has benefited consumers and artists alike, with record labels paying more to artists than ever before".
Unsurprisingly, groups representing music-makers were much more positive about the new working group, with the Council Of Music Makers saying that its members "look forward to now getting to work".
Commenting on the new data code and remuneration working group, the government's Intellectual Property Minister Jonathan Berry says: "I am delighted to announce the publication today of the UK industry agreement on music streaming metadata, and the establishment of a further working group on creator remuneration. This has been a fantastic collaboration between industry experts and the Intellectual Property Office".
"Good quality metadata benefits everyone who creates and enjoys music", he goes on. "The agreement on metadata is a positive commitment by the music industry to improve the quality of metadata in the UK. I am very pleased to see the wide range of organisations which are signatories to the agreement, and I look forward to seeing the further progress that industry makes on metadata over the next two years".
And John Whittingdale, Minister For The Creative Industries, adds: "The UK is a hotbed for world-beating musical talent but as technology advances we need our thriving music industry to continue to offer viable career opportunities".
"This landmark agreement on streaming metadata is a step towards ensuring UK musicians in the digital age are fairly credited and compensated for their contributions and creativity", he continues. "Alongside the IPO I'm pleased to be bringing the industry together so we can explore wider issues around music creator remuneration more generally".
Music industry responds to metadata code and remuneration working group
Sophie Jones, Interim CEO at record label trade group the BPI: "We are concerned the environment being fostered in the UK will disincentivise investment in our creative ecosystem at a time when labels are fighting hard to grow exports and protect the rights of artists in the era of AI. Furthermore, this new effort seems at odds with the government's ambition to grow the UK's world leading creative industries by an extra £50bn by 2030".
"Over the past three years our sector has been subjected to multiple inquiries and investigations, culminating in a CMA market study that found competition is working effectively and delivering good and improving outcomes for consumers and creators across the sector".
"Throughout that process the BPI and its members engaged positively and constructively, resulting in a raft of initiatives to improve transparency and the flow of royalty payments to artists. Numerous studies have demonstrated that streaming has benefited consumers and artists alike, with record labels paying more to artists than ever before".
Silvia Montello, CEO of the Association Of Independent Music: "AIM's priority continues to be that artists are rightly rewarded for their creativity whilst ensuring that all those who invest in and nurture them have sustainable successful business models. We are also committed to ensuring that the growing DIY sector has its voice heard".
"The metadata agreement is a step in the right direction, creating workable industry-wide standards to help improve accurate payments and data flow in streaming".
"A win for the new remuneration group will be that all involved work positively together not to simply create new 'winners' and 'losers' but to understand the bigger picture and find fair outcomes which will benefit creators and rightsholders across the industry. By working together rather than in individual silos we can make a more positive difference".
Graham Davies, CEO, The Ivors Academy: "Currently a fraction of recordings being streamed properly credit the people that wrote and published the song".
"This is bad for the creators who lose their due recognition and payment, this is bad for the consumer who wishes to know and search for this information, it is bad for digital service providers who wish to enhance the consumer experience, it is bad for the industry whose job it is to pay the rightsholders in a timely and accurate way".
"The Ivors Academy originally raised this issue with the DCMS Select Committee and are pleased that this code gives us the first proper step on a journey of closing the metadata gap".
Naomi Pohl, General Secretary, Musician's Union: "Data has been a problem in the music industry for as long as royalties have existed. Accurate data will mean more money in music-maker pockets and less getting lost in the system or mis-allocated. This can only be a good thing and is extremely welcome".
"However, our members also need to be paid more; the metadata issue isn't the only issue and we are delighted that the government and IPO have now instigated a working group to look at creator remuneration. We look forward to advancing the complete reset of music streaming that the DCMS Select Committee called for".
Cameron Craig, Executive Director, Music Producers Guild: "The MPG welcomes the signing of the metadata code of practice. The first step is always small and yet the most significant, this one will start music-makers down the path to more accurate metadata for the whole UK music industry, allowing for better, more accurate remuneration and career progression through tangible crediting".
"We'd also like to take the opportunity to thank the DCMS Select Committee, government ministers and the Intellectual Property Office for their work in making this possible. We are pleased the IPO and government are listening and look forward to continuing to shape the next stages, ensuring that quality and quantity targets are met".
David Martin, CEO, Featured Artists Coalition: "The FAC would like to thank the Intellectual Property Office, the DCMS Select Committee and government ministers for bringing the UK music industry together in order to improve the streaming economy. The signing of the metadata code of practice marks a small, but significant step on the journey towards a complete reset of streaming".
"We look forward to contributing to the next stage of this work on metadata key performance indicators. We also welcome the news that a creator remuneration group is to be established. Remuneration is the FAC's main focus, as we seek a more equitable deal for the UK's artist community. We welcome confirmation from ministers that legislative interventions remain an option if the industry is unable to reach voluntary agreement".
Annabella Coldrick, CEO, Music Managers Forum: "Once again, the MMF would like to put on record our gratitude to the DCMS Select Committee, the IPO and government ministers for their recognition that concrete reforms are required if the UK's music streaming market is to keep pace with other countries".
"As reiterated yesterday by the Minister Of State, sustaining a thriving music industry that delivers continued growth in an increasingly competitive global music market and fair remuneration for existing and future creators should be complementary and reasonable goals".
"The establishment of a working group on remuneration and a new pan-industry agreement on metadata are are clearly important steps - albeit early steps - in that direction. We now need all sides to get down to work and deliver some meaningful changes".
MCPS member distributions increased by £6.7 million in 2022
In a new stats statement from the society, which is owned by the UK's Music Publishers Association, it's also revealed that the total number of members within the organisation increased by 7.5% last year, with 2,284 new members. The society also notes that "effective from August 2022, MCPS reduced its commission rates by 10%, an unprecedented reduction from a collection society allowing more returns for members at highly competitive rates".
The CEO of both MPA and MCPS, Paul Clements, says: "MCPS is committed to driving up value, efficiency and leaving nothing on the table due to publishers, songwriters and composers. We pride ourselves on optimising our service through effective and innovative strategies, protecting mechanical rights and delivering maximum return for our members".
"We are very excited about celebrating our centenary next year in 2024", he goes on, "but will of course continue to primarily focus our attentions on increasing member distributions further, and at the most cost-effective rates".
The primary revenue stream under the mechanical rights banner was traditionally physical discs, with MCPS licensing the record labels that released physical recordings of its members songs.
That revenue stream obviously slumped in the 2000s as the CD market crashed. Though the declines have slowed in recent years, and in some cases the record industry's physical revenues have grown again - and with it the mechanical royalties that are due - in no small part down to the vinyl revival.
Mechanical rights are also exploited when music is downloaded and streamed, although some of the song royalties due on digital are classified as performing rights income, plus many music publishers license streaming services directly rather than allowing their rights and royalties to flow through the collective licensing system.
There are other mechanical right revenue streams too which are generally handled by MCPS in the UK, especially in the TV, broadcast and production music domain.
With all of the licences it issues, MCPS hires the UK's performing rights society, PRS, to do the administration work.
Commenting on the 2002 stats, the Chair of MCPS, Universal Music Publishing's Jackie Alway, says: "We are proud to present our financial results for 2022 and a milestone fourth consecutive year of growth".
"Despite facing recent challenges such as the global pandemic", she adds, "the united MCPS board and management team have worked tirelessly for our members. As our centenary approaches, we reflect on our achievements and are determined to press hard for further positive innovations for our members".
NME launches new weekly feature The Cover to champion new talent
This new feature goes by the name The Cover, because - alongside some editorial - an original photo of the featured artist will also appear online in the style of an old fashioned NME cover. So, I guess, each artist picked for some championing will be the NME's virtual cover star for that week.
Says NME's Commissioning Editor (Music) Tom Smith: "The NME cover is, naturally, iconic, but it's only as powerful and memorable as the cast of characters that feature on it. The emerging music scenes around the world are where their stories begin and where their cutting-edge innovation flourishes. The industry would be nothing without these fearless creatives".
"I'm THRILLED", he adds, "that more rising artists will get the opportunity to land on The Cover each and every week to meet our global audience, as we continue to elevate our best-in-class editorial prospect and continue NME's commitment to grassroots musicians".
The first artist to appear in the feature is D4vd, who grew his fanbase with tracks created using the music-making platform BandLab which, like NME, is part of the Caldecott Music Group.
Commenting on the new NME feature and D4vd's inclusion in it, Caldecott Music Group CEO Meng Ru Kuok says: "D4vd's musical journey is a testament to the next generation of creativity. It's more important than ever for platforms like NME to support the creators who need it the most - the emerging talent who are shaping the future of music and the industry as we know it".
"We're proud", he goes on, "to take our commitment to fostering new talent across Caldecott Music Group to the next level with The Cover".
IMPALA presents Changemaker Award to Women In CTRL
This annual award was launched last year with the aim of spotlighting and celebrating projects that promote change in the independent music sector and which inspire others to take action.
Women In CTRL was founded by manager and label owner Nadia Khan and, IMPALA explained yesterday, "was set up to empower and inspire women in the entertainment, creative and business sectors of the music industry, and encourages women and non-binary persons to find their strengths, develop their own personal brand, and build the tools and confidence to become leaders".
The organisation runs workshops and events; publishes regular research reports monitoring diversity within music and media organisations; and has "partnered up with Association Of Independent Music and Amazon Music to launch new apprenticeship scheme Amplify, which aims to improve access to music industry careers for women and non-binary people".
Commenting on receiving the award, Khan says: "It's an honour for Women In CTRL to be chosen as the second recipient of the Changemaker Award. This recognition affirms our work, inspires us to continue, and highlights the independent community's collective determination and passion in driving positive change within the music industry".
"Women In CTRL firmly believe", she adds, "in the transformative power of sharing best practices and learning from the exceptional organisations that IMPALA champions. Together, we can create a ripple effect that resonates throughout the industry".
Commenting on the award and its winner, the Chair of IMPALA's Equity, Diversity And Inclusion Task Force, Eva Karman Reinhold, says: "I'm glad IMPALA members and the task force chose to honour Women In CTRL this year with this award. Their work to bring a more inclusive music sector is central. Make sure to check out all resources and info they can provide".
Cardi B may struggle to get her defamation damages as YouTuber files for bankruptcy protection
Cardi B - real name Belcalis Almanzar - sued YouTube creator Latasha Kebe over various claims that the latter made about the former in her YouTube videos. That included, legal papers said, that Almanzar "was a prostitute ... was a user of cocaine ... had and still has herpes ... had and still has HPV ... engaged in a debasing act with a beer bottle and ... committed infidelity".
Almanzar denied all the allegations that Kebe had made, and told the court that false rumours spread by the YouTuber had had a negative impact on her mental health, resulting in the rapper becoming depressed and suicidal.
Kebe, meanwhile, basically admitted in court that she didn't fact-check any of the allegations made about Almanzar on her YouTube channel, even when the rapper was actively denying those claims.
A jury found Kebe liable for defamation in January last year, awarding the rapper nearly $4 million in damages. Kebe appealed that judgement in the Eleventh Circuit Appeals Court, but judges there upheld the original ruling in March. She has now said that she wants to take the case to the US Supreme Court, though she may not have the funds necessary to pursue such action.
According to Billboard, legal reps for Almanzar have been seeking payment from Kebe for months now, having previously secured about $10,000 by successfully making a claim on monies owed to Kebe by YouTube. Millions in damages are still owed.
However, in bankruptcy papers the YouTuber says that she has just $58,595 in total assets to her name - and most of that relates to a 2021 Chevrolet Silverado that's tied as collateral to an unpaid auto loan.
The legal papers add that Kebe and her husband currently make more than $30,000 a month, so there is new income coming in, but finding the millions that are owed to Almanzar may prove challenging. Technically Kebe's company Kebe Studios LLC is liable for $500,000 of the damages, but as it currently stands that business is not seeking bankruptcy protection.