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On Friday July 5, the US Copyright Office (USCO) confirmed that the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), which is backed by organizations NMPA, NSAI, and SONA, is now the new entity tasked with licensing and administering rights under the Music Modernization Act. The newly-designated group will now formally begin operations, including negotiating budgets with the digital streaming services and developing a user portal through which publishers and songwriters will be able to manage rights and royalties. Full launch for the MLC is set for January 2021.

In addition to these news, the role of Digital Licensing Coordinator has also been filled by the group consisting of Spotify, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Pandora by the US Copyright Office. Responsibilities under this position include protecting digital music services’ interest in the running of the MLC as well as assisting the group in fulfilling its mandate of matching composition to recorded masters and making sure the correct rights owners receive payment.

YouTube made new updates on its manual copyright claiming tool earlier this week. Those who manually file a copyright claim on a video must provide that video’s creator with timestamps indicating where in the video their copyrighted content has been used. Video editing tools for claiming will also allow creators to easily remove copyrighted content, thus letting them release manual claims on their videos themselves.

Now, the details...
Compiled by Heidi Seo

Exploration Weekly - July 11, 2019

NMPA-Endorsed Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) Chosen by US Copyright Office

The US Copyright Office announced on Friday July 5 that it designated the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) backed by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), and the Songwriters of North America (SONA) as the new entity tasked with licensing and administering rights under the Music Modernization Act. A few members on the MLC’s board include chairman Alisa Coleman (ABKCO), directors Jeff Brabec (BMG), Peter Brodsky (Sony/ATV), and Bob Bruderman (Kobalt). NMPA EVP & GC Danielle Aguirre is also a non-voting member as well as NSAI Executive Director Bart Herbison. The MLC was chosen over a group called the American Mechanical Licensing Collective (AMLC). Following the announcement, the group is now allowed to formally begin operations, which includes negotiating budgets with the digital streaming services who, by law, must fund the collective. It is also tasked with partnering with a vendor to provide administration and matching services and developing a user portal through which publishers and songwriters will be able to manage rights and royalties. It is set to fully launch in January of 2021, according to the announcement. In the case that a funding agreement cannot be voluntarily determined, the MLC and the digital services will go before the Copyright Royalty Board, which will set the MLC’s budget via an assessment proceeding.

US Copyright Office Confirms Digital Licensing Coordinator

Timed around exactly the moment the Copyright Office designated the group led by the NMPA to build and operate the MLC, it also named the group consisting of Spotify, Amazon, Google, Apple, and Pandora to the role of Digital Licensing Coordinator (created by the Music Modernization Act). According to the Copyright Office, this group was the only submission it received. However, it still met the requirements set forth in the MMA to receive the designation. A document available on the Copyright Office website reads, “The Register has concluded that DLCI meets each of the statutory criteria required of the digital licensee coordinator, and that each of its individual board members are well-qualified to perform the statutory functions.” The position is intended to protect digital music services’ interest in the running of the MLC. It is also expected to assist the MLC in fulfilling its mandate of matching composition to recorded masters and making sure the correct rights owners receive payment. The DLCI’s board is composed of initial members, including Nick Williamson (Apple, Inc.), Lisa Selden (Spotify), Sarah Rosenbaum (Google), and James Duffett-Smith (Amazon Music). The document further states that the group anticipates hiring an executive director as well as naming a non-director, officer, or employee to serve as a non-voting member of the board, which potentially may be DiMA’s CEO, who is currently Garrett Levin.

YouTube Updates Video Editing Tools for Manual Copyright Claiming

On Tuesday July 9, YouTube officially rolled out the manual copyright claiming changes first reported in March. As a result, entities that manually file a copyright claim on a video must provide that video’s creator with timestamps indicating where in the video their copyrighted content has been used. The company introduced new updates as well to its video editing tools for creators that will help them more easily remove copyrighted content, subsequently letting them release manual claims on their videos themselves. To go into more detail, after someone filed a manual copyright claim against a creator’s video, a creator can now use YouTube’s updated onsite editing tools to zero in on the timestamped section where the claimant says their copyrighted content is being used. The creator then can choose to mute all sound in the section where the copyrighted content can be heard, replace the song with a free-to-use tune from YouTube’s Audio Library, or cut the timestamped section out of their video entirely. Once the creator chooses any of these options to remove the copyrighted content from their video, and uses YouTube’s editing tool to make the changes, the claim on their video will automatically be released. More information on YouTube’s updated manual content claiming policies can be found here.

Spotify Lite Android App Now Available in 36 Markets Across Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa

Spotify has now launched Spotify Lite, a low data usage version of its mobile app for Android users in 36 markets across Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and Africa via the Google Play store. The new app has a similar look and feel to the original Spotify app, but “with a few key differences”. It uses less storage, data, and battery power making it “ideal for older devices and operating systems” and is specifically tailored for users in areas without high-speed network connectivity. Downloaded separately, Lite only takes up 10 MB of internal phone storage, and it comes with the ability to set a data limit and get a notification when you reach it. Users are also allowed to control and clear the cache. Countries that now have access to Spotify Lite include Brazil (where it was being tested last year), Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Indonesia, and India. According to an unverified screenshot posted by a Reddit user this week, Spotify could also be launching in Russia soon for about US $2.35 per month. This has not yet been confirmed by Spotify.

SiriusXM Unlocks Personalized Pandora Playlists and More Streaming Upgrades

SiriusXM is upgrading its streaming offerings by allowing subscribers to unlock personalized stations powered by Pandora, new music channels, and exclusive video content, all at no extra cost. A SiriusXM Select subscription plan will include unlimited streaming access on the platform’s mobile app and on connected home devices as a way to expand listening options beyond the car. These customers will also gain access to more than 100 recently-launched Xtra Music Channels, plus newly-accessible video content that includes performances by and interviews with Cardi B, Jonas Brothers, Khalid, BTS, P!nk, and more. All Access and SiriusXM Premier Streaming plans now include personalized, ad-free radio stations powered by Pandora’s Genome Project. This follows SiriusXM’s recent acquisition of Pandora six months ago. Currently, a SiriusXM Select subscription costs $15.99 per month, while All Access customers pony up $20.99 per month. SiriusXM Premier, which is a fully outside-the-car package, costs $13 a month.

Global Touring Revenues Slump in H1 2019, with World’s Top 100 Tours Down $752 Million Year-On-Year

A significant slump in global touring revenues is seen in the first half of 2019, according to an analysis by Music Business Worldwide and figures by Pollstar. The stats show that the Top 100 global tours in H1 2018 turned over $2.81 billion in gross sales. In H1 2019, however, this half-year worldwide figure for the Top 100 tours stood at $2.06 billion, falling by 26.8%, or $752 million, year-on-year. Global live music industry ticket sales, on average, also generated over $100 million less per month in H1 2019 than they did in the equivalent period of 2018. Average ticket price, however, did move up from $89.85 in H1 2018 to $92.42 in H1 2019. Another significant find states that there was a lack of superstar tours this year, with the Top 5-grossing artist tours around the world totaling $376.6 million in ticket sales. In H1 2018, the Top 5 shows grossed significantly more at $621.7 million. In fact, the $2.21 billion generated by the world’s Top 50 tours in the first half of last year was more than the $2.06 billion generated by the world’s top 100 tours in the first half of this year. MBW’s analysis of Pollstar’s numbers also showed that North America saw exactly the same declining trends as those which hit the globe in H1 2019.

Fat Joe Sues Insurance Company for Refusing to Pay for Legal Costs in Copyright Infringement Case

American rapper Joseph Cartagena, aka Fat Joe, recently sued a New York insurance company for refusing to cover his legal costs in a copyright infringement lawsuit over his 2016 Remy Ma collaboration “All The Way Up”. Eric Elliott, aka Fly Havana, filed the suit against Cartagena back in March 2019, claiming that “All The Way Up” is simply an evolution of a track of the same name that he had produced a year earlier. Cartagena did not deny Elliott’s involvement. In fact, he referenced his contribution in an interview, and according to legal papers, he paid the rapper a $5000 fee while also promising additional future royalties. But Elliott says those royalties never materialized, and now demands courts to confirm he was a co-creator on the record, and is therefore due a co-write credit and formal royalty share. As a result, Cartagena turned to the Homeland Insurance Company, assuming they would foot the legal bill. However, the insurers argued that the lawsuit was not covered by the insurance policy, and Cartagena had withheld important information when signing up. The rapper fought back, stating that these reasons are “all patently false,” and that he could not have foreseen Elliott’s litigation, having assumed that, by taking the $5000 fee, his fellow rapper would not be making any future claims over “All The Way Up”. Homeland is yet to respond to Cartagena’s lawsuit.

AM/FM US Radio Attracts 272 Million Americans Each Week, According to Nielsen Report

According to Nielsen’s Audio Today 2019 report, AM/FM US radio consumption is growing with the format reaching more consumers than any other entertainment platform in 2019 with 272 million Americans each week. That is 7 million more listeners than the 265 million figure published in the same report from 2016. Radio also still comes out on top regarding users per platform on a monthly basis in the report, attracting 244.5 million users over the age of 18 each month. For comparison, TV (Live & DVR TV) attracts 231.9 million monthly users, while tablets (web users) come in at 135.9 million users each month. The three most popular radio formats amongst listeners over the age of 18 are Country (13.2 % of listeners), News/Talk (12.2%) and Adult Contemporary (8.7%). Managing Director of Nielsen Audio, Brad Kelly, stated, “Some of this appeal can be attributed to a long and sustained legacy...It’s free, ubiquitous, and at the fingertips of virtually every consumer on the road today. Add to that solid foundation all the new delivery platforms and limitless content being offered from streaming and podcasters, and it’s easy to understand why the sector is growing.”

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