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In this newsletter:

US music rights management company BMI has clinched victory in a rate court dispute against live events promoters Live Nation, AEG, and the North American Concert Promoters Association.

The UK government proposed a Media Bill to modernize broadcasting legislation and level the playing field with global streaming giants.

PRS is reducing the joining fee for songwriters and composers under 25 from £100 to £30 to make it easier for young music-makers to sign up.

Now, the details...

Exploration Weekly - March 31, 2023
Compiled by Ana Berberana

BMI Beats Rate Court Dispute vs Concert Promoters, Giving Songwriters 138% Raise in the US

US music rights management company BMI has clinched victory in a rate court dispute against live events promoters Live Nation, AEG, and the North American Concert Promoters Association (NACPA). The win will see songwriters get a 138% increase in rates to 0.5% of every event’s revenue. Live Nation downplayed the impact of the ruling on concert promoters, saying this will instead cost performers about $15 million a year, divided among thousands of artists. BMI described the ruling, handed down by New York District Court Judge Louis Stanton on Tuesday (March 28), as a decision that ends “decades of below-market rates for songwriters, composers and publishers in the live concert industry.” Stanton also ruled that the new rate will be applied to an expanded revenue base, including tickets sold directly to the secondary market, as well as servicing fees that promoters receive and revenues from box suites and VIP packages. BMI CEO and President Mike O’Neill, said: “This is a massive victory for BMI and the songwriters, composers and publishers we represent. It will have a significant and long-term positive impact on the royalties they receive for the live concert category.”

UK Government Unveils Bill For Reforming Broadcasting Laws

The UK government yesterday announced details of its new draft Media Bill which will, we are told, “modernize decades-old broadcasting legislation”. It mainly seeks to guarantee access to more conventional TV and radio services – especially public service broadcasters like the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – and reduce some of the restrictions on them. Ministers say the proposed new rules will allow those public service broadcasters – which also include STV in Scotland and S4C in Wales – to “unleash their potential to grow, produce more top quality British content and invest in new technologies to keep viewers tuning in amid fierce competition from subscription-based online platforms”. Commenting on the proposed bill, the government’s Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer says: “Technology has revolutionized the way people enjoy TV and radio. The battle to attract and retain audiences has never been more fierce. British content and production is world leading but changes to viewing habits have put traditional broadcasters under unprecedented pressure”. “These new laws”, she reckons, “will level the playing field with global streaming giants, ensuring they meet the same high standards we expect from public service broadcasters and that services like iPlayer and ITVX are easy to find however you watch TV. Our bill will give these brilliant broadcasters and our legendary radio industry the tools to keep doing what they do best – nurturing the creative talent and skills that fuel the UK’s booming production industry, whilst making outstanding shows that we can all enjoy”.

PRS reduces joining fee for younger music-makers

UK song rights collecting society PRS yesterday announced that it is reducing the joining fee for songwriters and composers who are under the age of 25 – from £100 to £30 – to remove a barrier that stops some younger music-makers from signing up. PRS, of course, represents the performing rights of its songwriter and music publisher members, issuing licenses and collecting royalties in most scenarios where songs are performed, broadcast, communicated to the public or made available online. All songwriters – and especially unpublished songwriters – need to join in order to access the royalties owed to them in those scenarios. However, the £100 joining fee has often deterred many early-career music-makers from becoming PRS members, even though they could potentially earn back the fee pretty quickly if they are regularly performing live or receiving airplay on major radio stations. PRS Members’ Council President Michelle Escoffery announced the lower rate for younger songwriters yesterday, explaining: “I have consistently heard for some young writers that the cost of PRS membership has been a disincentive to join, and as such they haven’t had access to the support and systems essential to their career progression”. “I am, therefore, delighted”, she went on, “that we have been able to introduce this new discounted joining rate to provide easier access for all music creators, irrespective of their circumstances or background”.

Apple Music Classical Streaming App Officially Launches

Apple’s standalone ‘Apple Music Classical’ app is now available on the App Store just weeks after the company teased its launch. Apple Music subscribers are able to download and use the new app at no additional cost as part of their existing subscription. The app is now available worldwide where Apple Music is offered, excluding China, Japan, Korea, Russia, Taiwan and Turkey, while available features and content may vary by country or region, according to the Apple Music Classical page on the App Store. It requires an Apple Music subscription, but is not available with the Apple Music Voice Plan, a subscription tier for Apple Music that is designed to work with Siri. Apple says the app is “designed to deliver the listening experience classical music lovers deserve.” The new app, according to Apple, “makes it easy for beginners to get acquainted with the genre thanks to hundreds of Essentials playlists, insightful composer biographies, deep-dive guides for many key works, and intuitive browsing features.”

Childish Gambino Beats Years-Old Copyright Lawsuit Over 2018’s ‘This Is America’

District Judge Victor Marrero just recently granted a motion to dismiss from Childish Gambino, his fellow “This Is America” writers, Sony Music, Kobalt, and several additional defendants. One Emelike Nwosuocha, a Florida-based musician known professionally as Kidd Wes, levied the complaint back in May of 2021, alleging therein that he had created a track entitled “Made In America” in September of 2016. Nwosuocha further claimed he’d uploaded the track to SoundCloud that same month, made it available via YouTube about eight weeks later, and registered the work with the Copyright Office in May of 2017. Specifically, the plaintiff identified a “substantially similar unique ‘flow’” shared between the two tracks, besides maintaining that “the lyrical theme, content, and structure of the identically-performed choruses are also glaringly similar.” But as highlighted at the outset, Judge Marrero has granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the action, citing in the corresponding order the plaintiff’s failure to copyright the underlying composition of “Made In America.” “The Court finds that Nwosuocha’s copyright claim fails as a matter of law because Nwosuocha does not possess a copyright registration for the musical composition of” his above-mentioned 2016 track, the presiding judge relayed, but rather possesses “only a registration for a sound recording of the song.” Judge Marrero likewise indicated that even if the plaintiff had registered the composition, “dismissal would be warranted here because the elements” in question “are insufficiently original to warrant protection, or because they are not substantially similar to the” Childish Gambino release at the case’s center.

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