Tidal is now launching a free tier in the US as well as a new user-centric payment model for its premium subscription offerings, according to an announcement made on Wednesday. Rights holders will be paid based on the streaming activity of each individual subscriber on Tidal’s HiFi Plus tier.

An annual report on the “Global Value of Music Copyright” by former Spotify chief economist Will Page states that the calculated value of music copyright for 2020 totalled $32.5 billion, growing by 2.7%. “The driver of these changes is streaming: Its contribution to labels, publishers, and their CMOs has risen, from 22% in 2016 to 54% in 2020,” wrote Page.

Spotify has announced that it is introducing real-time lyrics that display during song playback on both of its free and subscription tiers. The lyrics are provided by Musixmatch, and users can see the lyrics scroll as they listen to a song and can also share selected lyrics on social platforms.

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Compiled by Heidi Seo

Exploration Weekly - November 19, 2021

Tidal Launches Free Tier, Steps Into User-Centric Payments

Tidal is launching a free tier in the U.S. and is introducing a user-centric payment model for its premium subscription offerings, the company announced Wednesday (Nov. 16). The moves mark the first major shifts under its new parent company Square, which acquired Tidal earlier this year for $302 million. The streaming service now has three tiers for listeners to choose from: Tidal Free, Tidal HiFi, and Tidal HiFi Plus. The Tidal HiFi Plus tier is where the revenue for direct-to-artist payouts and Tidal’s fan-centered royalties will come from. Instead of using the current pro-rata system, which pays rights holders based on their share of total streams, fan-centered royalties will be paid based on the streaming activity of each individual HiFi Plus subscriber. In addition to the new payment structure, Tidal says 10% of the subscription fee from HiFi Plus users will go to their most listened to artist that month in addition to their normal streaming royalties. Tidal says artists must opt-in to access direct artist payouts. Currently, the program is invite-only, but Tidal says it will continue to increase access over the coming months. Tidal is the second prominent streaming service to introduce a user-centric streaming model, following SoundCloud’s rollout of its fan-powered royalties for indie acts back in March.

Global Value of Music Copyright Grew 2.7% to $32.5 Billion in 2020

Former Spotify chief economist Will Page published an annual ‘Global Value of Music Copyright’ analysis, stating that the calculated value of music copyright for 2020 totalled $32.5 billion, including $21.1 billion for labels (up 8% year-on-year), $9.3 billion for collecting societies (down 9%) and $2.1 billion of directly-collected revenue for publishers (up 12%). Overall it’s 2.7% growth. “The driver of these changes is streaming: Its contribution to labels, publishers, and their CMOs has risen, from 22% in 2016 to 54% in 2020,” wrote Page. “Streaming now accounts for the majority of copyright’s value. Fifteen years ago, streaming revenue didn’t even exist in the IFPI report.” He also noted a “tip toward labels” in the value scales, thanks to the “lockdown boom of streaming revenue and bust to performing rights collections” that saw labels account for 64.9% of the overall value in 2020.

Spotify is Rolling Out Lyrics Across Its Apps Worldwide

Spotify is finally introducing one of its most-requested features to users globally: real-time lyrics that display during song playback, available on both free and subscription tiers. Lyrics will be available in-app for the majority of Spotify’s library. The lyrics are provided by Italy-based Musixmatch, which says its catalog has “over 8 million” lyrics. Meanwhile, Spotify says it hosts more than 70 million songs. Users can see the lyrics scroll as they listen to a song and can also share selected lyrics on social platforms. Previously, Spotify has offered a “Behind the Lyrics” feature for select songs powered by Genius, which shows both song lyrics and the backstory behind individual tracks. Spotify’s lyrics feature is available beginning Nov. 18 in 28 additional markets, including the U.S. The streamer has made real-time lyrics available in 26 markets since mid-2020, including in Brazil, Hong Kong, India and Mexico. The feature is available on iOS and Android devices, desktop computers, and connected-TV and gaming consoles.

The MLC Seeking Suggestions for Music Publisher Representative to Serve on Operations Advisory Committee

The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC) is now seeking suggestions for a music publisher representative to fill an open seat on its Operations Advisory Committee. As described in the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the Operations Advisory Committee “makes recommendations to the Board concerning the operations of the Collective, including the efficient investment in and deployment of information technology and data resources.” Certain governance positions at The MLC are reserved for representatives of music publishers. These positions include ten members of The MLC’s Board of Directors, six members of the Operations Advisory Committee, five members of the Dispute Resolution Committee and five members of the Unclaimed Royalties Oversight Committee. Suggestions should be made no later than Monday, December 13, 2021.

Spotify Expands Into Six New Countries, Including Venezuela and Iraq

Spotify has expanded its service into six new countries, including Iraq, Libya, Tajikistan, Venezuela, Republic of the Congo, and Democratic Republic of the Congo. The streaming service is now available in 184 markets. The announcement, detailed in a blog post, comes after Spotify promised a “sweeping global expansion” in February, aiming to introduce the service “to more than a billion people around the world”. Since then, Spotify has expanded into more than 80 new markets, and added 36 languages to its platform. The company has made both its Free and Premium services available in the six markets announced this week, and its global Premium Subscriber base grew to 172 million in Q3. That was up 19% year-on-year, and up by 4%, or 7 million subscribers, on the 165m that SPOT counted at the end of the prior quarter (Q2 2021).

Global-Linked Investment Vehicle No Longer Pushing to Acquire Major Stake in iHeartMedia

An investment vehicle called Global Media & Entertainment Investments has seemingly ended its bid to acquire as much as 49.99% of American radio giant iHeartMedia. After attempting to seek regulatory approval in the US to increase its shareholding in iHeart, GMEI recently called off its bid, according to the Radio + Television Business Report, reporting that “GMEI wanted a bigger non-controlling stake in iHeart – one that could expand to 49.99%, if it chose to – but, iHeart didn’t want this, sparking a transcontinental tiff between the two radio industry giants”. GMEI is the second iHeart investor to call off ambitions to significantly increase its stake in the company. At one point Liberty Media was also looking to increase its iHeart stake, maybe to as high as 50%. That also created regulatory concerns, though in Liberty’s case for competition law reasons, given it also controls Sirius XM and Pandora, and owns a third of Live Nation. But last month it emerged that Liberty had now sold all its iHeart shares, formally ending its ambitions in that domain.

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