"Consciousness is only possible through change; change is only possible through movement.”

Aldous Huxley, The Art of Seeing

We continue to unequivocally stand beside the Black Lives Matter movement and would hope that the entire music business and Nashville community does the same. At Exploration, we have heard what our Black colleagues, clients, and creators have been saying. While we must be outspoken in our support, now is also the time to listen and learn from those speaking out and sharing their experiences. As such, we would suggest the following articles:

After music companies of all kinds paused their regular work to participate and respond to #TheShowMustBePaused on Black Out Tuesday, the music industry responded with a list of actions: Sony Music announced a $100 million fund supporting social justice and anti-racist initiatives globally, Republic Records stated the removal of the term “urban” to describe music made by Black artists, and veteran US industry lawyer Ronald E. Sweeney mentioned a 12-point plan to call upon major music companies to include and empower more minorities.

The CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), David Israelite, announced this week that music publishers in the US raked in $3.72 billion in revenues in 2019 - up 11.6% on the $3.34 billion publishers pulled in during the previous year. Out of the total figure, 52.3% came from performance royalties, 18.5% came from mechanical, and 22.7% came from synchronization.

Amazon-owned live streaming app Twitch recently received an “influx” of DMCA takedown requests from the music industry this week. Users were impacted by copyright complaints regarding videos from 2017-2019 containing background music. Twitch stressed that its policies regarding music in its users’ streams have not changed, but that the company recently experienced a sudden takedown frenzy.

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Compiled by Heidi Seo

Exploration Weekly - June 12, 2020

#TheShowMustBePaused Latest: Sony Music, #ArtistsForBlackLives and More

After last week’s #TheShowMustBePaused day when music companies of all kinds paused their regular work to respond to the protests about racism and police brutality, the music industry has been announcing what they are now doing in the form of actions. Last Friday, Sony Music announced a $100 million fund that will support social justice and anti-racist initiatives globally, matching WMG and the Blavatnik Family Foundation’s $100 million fund announced last week. Universal Music Group has also announced a $25 million fund as part of the “first phase” of further support. Republic Records stated removing the use of the term “urban” to describe music made by Black artists. Veteran US industry lawyer Ronald E. Sweeney additionally called for major music companies to include and empower more minorities with the help of a 12-point plan. And a new seven-day social media campaign was launched with a new hashtag, #ArtistsforBlackLives to help musicians who are “not sure what to post right now” with content suggestions from Black educators, organizers, and activists.

US Publishers Pulled In $3.7 Billion During 2019 - Just Over Half What Record Labels Made

According to an announcement made by the CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), David Israelite, at the org’s online Annual Meeting, US music publishers banked $3.72 billion in revenues in 2019 - up 11.6% year-on-year, and the equivalent of just over $10 million a day. The figure reveals the cumulative performance of the NMPA’s members, and it is also up by $385 million on the $3.34 billion they pulled in during the previous year (2018). In a breakdown of the NMPA headline figure, 52.3% (approximately $1.4 billion) came from performance royalties, with 18.5% (approx. $497 million) coming from mechanical. Sync, the usage of music across movies, TV, video games, advertising and other media, provided 22.7% of US publishers’ money last year (approx. $610 million).

Twitch Reports Sudden “Influx” of Takedown Requests as Prolific Users Hit Out a Copyright Claims and Channel Ban Threats

Amazon-owned live streaming platform Twitch revealed this week that it had recently received an “influx” of takedown requests from the music industry. An increased number of Twitch users were impacted by copyright complaints, many relating to old videos, with the threat of being banned from the platform if they failed to remove any unlicensed music contained in the archived content. Twitch was keen to stress that its policies regarding music in its users’ streams have not actually changed, it’s just that the music industry has suddenly gone into a takedown frenzy. Referencing the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which contains the US safe harbor rules, it said on Twitter: “This week, we’ve had a sudden influx of DMCA takedown requests for clips with background music from 2017-19. If you’re unsure about rights to audio in past streams, we advise removing those clips. We know many of you have large archives, and we’re working to make this easier...including examining how we can give you more control over your clips”.

Google Play Music to YouTube Music Transfers Are Now Live

Google Play Music is now being officially transferred to YouTube Music after a month-long beta. The feature debuted for some lucky Google Play Music users last month, allowing them to bring all of their uploaded music into YouTube Music. For now, the feature appears to be a server-side rollout. That means it won’t be available to everyone at once to keep the servers from being too stressed.

SiriusXM to Raise $1.5 Billion Through Sale of Notes: Why It Matters

In an announcement on Monday June 8, SiriusXM stated that it will raise $1.5 senior notes due 2030 in a sale expected to close on or around June 11. The notes will have an annual rate of 4.125%, and they will pay off two existing debts: $500 million of 4.625% senior notes that are due 2023 (at a redemption price of 100.771% plus accrued and unpaid interest) and $1 billion of 5.375% senior notes due 2025, (at a redemption price of 102.688% of the principal amount plus accrued and unpaid interest). This is significant, because SiriusXM will not need to worry about $1.5 billion of debt for nearly a decade, and given the uncertainty in the US economy in the coming years, later redemption dates give the company financial breathing room. Furthermore, on May 13, senior executive vp and CFO of SiriusXM, David Frear, said he expects satellite subscriptions to falter in late 2020 on weak auto sales. On April 28, SiriusXM pulled its 2020 guidance and will issue new guidance when it has greater certainty of COVID-19’s impact.

Recording Academy Announces 9 Rule Changes to Its Grammy Awards and Nominations Process

On Wednesday June 10, The Recording Academy announced nine key changes to its awards and nominations process, including changing best urban contemporary album to best progressive R&B album. The changes were ratified at the semiannual Trustees Meeting in May. They take effect immediately and will be in place for the upcoming 63rd annual Grammy Awards.

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