“Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself.”

Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) has named music executive Kris Ahrend as new CEO, effective immediately. The MLC was approved by the US Copyright Office in July 2019, and is expected to begin operations on January 1, 2021. The entity is also tasked with managing a blanket mechanical license as well as a centralized database to administer and license rights under the 2018 Music Modernization Act.

Spotify and Warner Chappell have both entered into a global licensing agreement this week, ending a year-long dispute in India where Warner Music was seeking an injunction to prevent Spotify from using its music in the country. According to an estimate by Cisco, the number of internet users streaming content in India is set to double by 2022.

iHeartMedia has decided to modernize its company by announcing a “new organizational structure” and “technology transformation”. As a result, layoffs have ensued across the country, and “Centers of Excellence” will be set up where new technology- and artificial-intelligence-enabled sectors will be implemented.

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Exploration Weekly - January 17, 2020

Mechanical Licensing Collective Names New CEO

Music executive Kris Ahrend has now been named CEO of the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), an entity that was designated by the US Copyright Office to license and administer rights under the 2018 Music Modernization Act. The Nashville-based exec has been seen in executive roles within Warner Music Group for the past six years, creating and leading its legal, financial, and administrative shared services organization. His appointment to the MLC is effective immediately. His career in the music industry began at Sony Music's law department, where he provided legal services to all of Sony's U.S. divisions, including its publishing company. He subsequently served in the business and legal affairs department at Sony BMG Music Entertainment before joining Rhino Entertainment as vp business and legal affairs in 2006. Ahrend currently serves on the boards of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and the Nashville Downtown Partnership, and is a member of the Music City Music Council. Sponsored by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), the MLC was approved by the US Copyright Office in July 2019. It is slated to begin operations on January 1, 2021, and it will manage a blanket mechanical license as well as a centralized database to collect royalty payments from digital services and pay them out to the correct copyright owners.

Spotify and Warner Chappell End Dispute in India, Sign Global Licensing Deal

Spotify and Warner Music’s publishing firm, Warner Chappell, has ended their year-long dispute, announced on Tuesday, as a result of both parties finally inking a global licensing agreement. This marks the end of their litigation before the Bombay High Court, where Warner Music was seeking an injunction to prevent Spotify from using its music in India. Warner Music had sued Spotify days before the streaming service was to launch in the region, claiming that it “falsely asserted a statutory license”. Spotify argued that it was using an Indian rule that permits radio stations to offer songs from Chappell Music, and launched the service in India anyway, though it did not include a number of Warner Music’s titles. A new free tier was added as well as a premium version that cost just $1.40 a month in order to lure users. India is an overcrowded market for music streaming services, but it also holds a lot of opportunity. Thanks to the availability of cheap mobile data plans and low-cost Android smartphones, more than half a billion people have come online in the last decade. According to an estimate by Cisco, the number of internet users streaming content in India is set to double by 2022.

iHeartMedia Announces “New Organizational Structure,” Layoffs Ensue

iHeartMedia announced a “new organizational structure” and “technology transformation” this week as it modernizes the company, involving a number of layoffs during the process. According to Country Aircheck and All Access, there have been multiple layoffs in the country and other sectors of the radio network, including top roles at WPOC/Baltimore, WSIX/Nashville, and others. The company further noted that its Markets Group will now consist of the Region Division, the Metro Division, and the Community Division. It will also launch a cross-market division, the Multi-Market Partnerships (MMP) Division. The Integrated Revenue Strategies group, led by President Hartley Adkins, will be merged into the iHeartMedia Markets Group. There will also be “Centers of Excellence” where new technology- and artificial-intelligence-enabled sectors will be implemented.

YouTube Studio Adds New “Restrictions” Column, Ability to Manually Insert Mid-Roll Ads, More

YouTube recently unveiled a number of updates to YouTube Studio, the creator-facing dashboard by which creators can publish videos, track monetization and analytics, and tweak other channel settings. According to a tweet by Creator Insider host Tom Leung and a support post, YouTube announced a new “Restrictions” column on the “Videos” page, which will allow creators to quickly see if monetization or viewership has been limited with respect to copyright issues, age-related restrictions, and more. Additionally, users can now manually insert mid-roll ad breaks during the upload process. The option to place ads manually will appear once standard definition (SD) processing is finished, according to YouTube. These changes come as the company gradually continues to sunset its “Classic” version of YouTube Studio amid an ongoing revamp.

Ariana Grande Hit With Copyright Suit Over “7 Rings”

Ariana Grande was sued this week by a hip-hop artist who claims she ripped off the chorus of his song for her hit “7 Rings.” Josh Stone wrote and recorded “You Need I Got It” in 2017. He alleges that he took the song to music industry executives, including producer Tommy Brown, who has worked extensively with Grande. Key elements of Stone’s song were claimed to be used in Grande’s “7 Rings.” The hit song includes the repeating line: “I Want It, I Got It. I Want It, I Got It.” While Stone’s song has the refrain: “You Need It, I Got It. You Want It, I Got It.” The suit was filed in New York federal court by attorney Tamir Young. Two forensic musicologists have analyzed the choruses of each song and reportedly found the rhythm and notes to be substantially similar as well. The suit further claims that “7 Rings” has already netted more than $10 million in revenue. Defendants include Universal Music Corp. and others. Grande’s label did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

TikTok was the World’s Second-Most Downloaded App in 2019, and Now Generates $40 Million Per Month

TikTok passed Facebook (No. 4) and Facebook-owned Messenger (No. 3) to rank second globally behind the No. 1-most downloaded app, WhatsApp, which is also owned by Facebook, according to new figures published by intelligence firm Sensor Tower. TikTok downloads reached an all-time high in Q4 2019, with nearly 220 million installs, which represented a 24% increase over Q3 2019. Sensor Tower also reports that TikTok’s revenue grew by 540% YoY in Q4 2019. A majority of that revenue growth came from China, says Sensor Tower, which adds that the country was responsible for 78% of TikTok’s revenue in Q4 2019. The US was second at 16%. Across the entirety of 2019, TikTok saw more than 700 million downloads. India was responsible for nearly 45% of the app’s first-time downloads last year. The data further states that TikTok downloads on the US App Store grew 83% YoY to nearly 10 million in Q4 2019.

T-Series is the Most-Watched YouTube Channel by Weekly Views

Using data from analytics firm GospelStats on industry site Tubefilter, Indian firm T-Series’ flagship channel has the most subscribers on YouTube at 124 million and it is the most popular in terms of weekly views. The channel was able to rack up 780.7 million views on YouTube in the week of 6-12 January 2019 alone, putting it at the top of the rankings by some distance from second-placed Cocomelon, a nursery-rhymes channel for children. Over the month of August 2016, T-Series’ channel generated 624.6 million views. Three and a quarter years later, the channel is surpassing that total in a single week. That shows how YouTube viewing has grown, particularly in India, over that period.

Gaana Reiterates Hopes for Strong Indian Streaming Growth

Indian music streaming service Gaana has published its annual trends report. It states that regional music now accounts for more than 35% of overall consumption. According to the Economic Times, it has generated more than 1 billion streams in December 2019 alone. Gaana further reported that its Gaana Originals program, which focuses on non-film music, is now generating more than 100 million streams a month on the service. The report predicts that there will be 600 million people streaming music in India in the next three years. According to figures published last month, Gaana has more than 125 million monthly active users, who stream more than 3.2 billion tracks a month. Having passed the 100 million milestone in April, this suggests that Gaana has been adding around 3.1 million net new listeners a month.

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