Tuesday, April 23, 2019

SAG-AFTRA switches to automated residuals payments with a little help from Exactuals

By Emmanuel Legrand

US union for entertainment workers SAG-AFTRA announced that as of May 1, 2019, it will start automated residual payments to all eligible members nationwide, following a successfully testing of the residuals direct deposit process with local members across the country. SAG-AFTRA processes over four million residuals (payments from studios for the ancillary use of creative works) checks for 270,000 people per year.

  “SAG-AFTRA is very proud to be a leader in bringing this landmark process to fruition,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. Actor and writer Sylvie Sadarnac ‏said on Twitter that "direct deposit truly is a game changer. Got my first batch recently and loved the convenience!"

  SAG-AFTRA said it had worked with a series of partners such as Los Angeles-based Exactuals, to put into place the infrastructure and run pilot programs nationwide "to ensure a secure, stable, and high-quality experience that will allow members to receive residual payments and statements quicker and easier than ever before."
Modernise payment processes

  Exactuals was founded in 2011 as a solution and service provider to help entertainment companies deal with film and TV residuals and ease the payment system between the studios, the guilds and the writers. "There has been a massive growth of transactions with the development of Netflix and satellite and cable channels," Mike Hurst, CEO and co-founder of the company, told Creative Industries Newsletter. "We were founded to modernise the payment process."

  The company started with several investors, including City National Bank as a minority shareholder. City, which already had clients in the film and TV businesses, eventually bought all the shares in August 2018 and Exactuals became a wholly-owned subsidiary of City. "The industry responded very well," said Hurst. "It gave confidence to clients."

  One of the main solutions provided by Exactuals is an SaaS (Software as a Service) platform, PaymentHub, to manage many forms of complex payments (residuals, royalties, marketplaces, etc.). PaymentHub helps payers to issue payments and give users access to a portal that outlines all the streams of payments, based on logs from the studios, in a timely and transparent manner. The system is fully secure with its own encryption algorithms. "The premises of our system is that it is secure," said E
xactuals managing director for music Jack Cyphers.

Save millions in costs

  For SAG-AFTRA, Exactuals provided a solution through PaymentHub that enabled to end paperless payment of residuals. "Exactuals accepts data feeds from studios/payroll companies, standardises the data, and processes it through guilds," explained Hurst. In addition, Exactuals securely registers payees globally and then processes Direct Deposit payments at the guilds’ direction. This process will replace four million paper checks mailed to over 270,000 payees and will save more than 20 million sheets of paper annually, said Hurst.

  Hurst said the benefit for studios, payroll companies and guilds is that they will "save millions in costs while future-proofing residuals practices for the massive growth in residuals volumes expected over the next 10 years driven by expansion of streaming, cable, and OTT services."

  Over the years, Exactuals has also developed its own database of music works, with recorded music and publishing data. It has
also created RAI or Royalty Artificial Intelligence, a system that helps through machine learning reconcile unmatched metadata. "If you acquire a catalogue with 50,000 tracks, RAI can help ingest all new data," said Hurst. The system, he added, could be of interest to the operator that will be picked by the US Copyright Office to run the Music Licensing Collective created by the Music Modernisation Act to manage mechanical rights in the USA. "We are discussing with the MLC and the AMLC [the two project competing for the role]," confirmed Cyphers. "Our technology can certainly help."

Europe's Copyright and SatCab Directives become the law of the Union

By Emmanuel Legrand

Two major pieces of regulation that will significantly update European Union's copyright framework have been adopted by the ​Council of the European Union in Bucharest on April 15: the Copyright Directive and the Satellite and Cable Directive. The SatCab Directive is meant to facilitate the circulation of audiovisual content throughout the Union, while the Copyright Directive will “ensure adequate protection for authors and artists, while opening up new possibilities for accessing and sharing copyright-protected content online throughout the EU”, according to the European Council.

  “With today's agreement, we are making copyright rules fit for the digital age," said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. "Europe will now have clear rules that guarantee fair remuneration for creators, strong rights for users and responsibility for platforms. When it comes to completing Europe's digital single market, the copyright reform is the missing piece of the puzzle.”

  In total, 19 countries supported the Copyright Directive, while Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg voted against the Directive, and Belgium, Estonia and Slovenia abstained. In a joint statement, the opposing nations, excluding Sweden, said “the final text of the Directive fails to deliver adequately on the above-mentioned aims.” They added that the “Directive does not strike the right balance between the protection of rights holders and the interests of EU citizens and companies,” and "risks to hinder innovation rather than promote it and to have a negative impact [on] the competitiveness of the European digital single market.” 
Double final victory!

  French MEP Jean-Marie Cavada, a member of the European Parliament's legal committee (JURI), and a supporter of the Directives, welcomed the passing of both legislation on Twitter: "Double final victory! EU's Council has also adopted #CabSat Directive. #Copyright and #CabSat establish a legal protection of content like never before!" In another tweet, Cavada wrote: ‏"#CopyrightDirective definitely confirmed by the Council of EU. #Europe, first continent to protect content: #GAFAM will now have to share their revenues with creators and journalists. #EuropeForCreators."

  Organisations representing rights holders and creators such as the European Magazine Media Association, the European Newspaper Publishers’ Association, the European Publishers Council, News Media Europe, music rights organisation GESAC, independent music labels' group IMPALA, the European Writers’ Council (EWC), the Federation of European Film and TV Directors (FERA), the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE) and the European Composer and Songwriter Alliance (ECSA), among others, welcomed the final adoption of the Directive.

  After publication in the Official Journal of the EU, all 28 Member States will now have two years to implement the the Directives into their national law. France's Minister of Culture Frank Riester said he expected French Parliament to debate the new legislation during the summer.
Leeway for interpretation

  However, if the SatCab Directive is likely to be implemented without major problems, the Copyright Directive may not pass as easily in all Member States. Estonia, which abstained,
said the final text “does not strike a sufficient balance between different interests in all aspects.” Some countries like Poland or Italy have already announced that they try to limit the reach of the Copyright Directive, in particular with regards to Article 17 (formerly 13) that requires digital services allowing user-generated content to be uploaded on the platform to make licensing deals with rights holders and filter content on their platforms. The debate on Article 17 centered around free speech and opponents like Poland said it would introduce internet censorship.

  "Member states now have two years to implement the reform into national law," said MEP Julia Reda, who was the key opponent to the Directive. "The wording of the Directive does leave some leeway – for example, in the specific interpretation of what constitutes a 'large amount' of user uploads, and thus how many platforms fall under the scope of Article 17 (formerly 13)."

  In a joint message, EWC, FERA, FSE and ECSA called "on all EU Member States to engage in an ambitious and constructive implementation of the Directive so that it honors its promises to improve the livelihoods of all authors and foster Europe’s creativity."
Content crossing borders

  The SatCab Directive will introduce a series of new rules making it easier for European content to cross borders. The key component to the Directive is the adoption of the country of origin principle that will facilitate the licensing of rights and make certain types of programmes on their online services available across borders. The services covered by the legislation include simulcasting, catch-up services and other services that complement the main broadcast, such as previews. In addition, European consumers will have access to a wider choice of radio and TV programmes offered by retransmission services provided through Internet Protocol television (IPTV), satellite, digital terrestrial, mobile networks or over the internet.

  The Directive makes the use of compulsory collective management for rights clearance the preferred mechanism for retransmission services provided through means other than cable, such as internet-distributed services. The Commission explained that such system will make it "easier to obtain authorisations required to re-transmit radio and TV channels from other Member States."

  The SatCab Directive also clarified the legal status of the so-called "direct injection" technique. This happens when a broadcaster transmits its programme-carrying signals to signal distributors in such a way that these signals are not accessible to the public during that transmission. The Directive introduces the notion that when this happens, only a single act of communication to the public is deemed to occur which requires that both the broadcaster and the signal distributor will have to clear the underlying rights.

  "These new rules will provide wider access to online content for the European citizens and will enhance European cultural diversity, as right-holders will be adequately rewarded for their works. This is another great benefit of the EU's Digital Single Market," said Romanian Minister for Culture and National Identity Valer Daniel Breaz.

Monday, April 15, 2019

AMLC founders outline their Mechanical Licensing Collective project

By Emmanuel Legrand

The team behind the American Music Licensing Collective (AMLC) got to present its project in a Town Hall meeting in Nashville last week. The AMLC is one of the two entities competing for the ​role of Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) to be created as part of the Music Modernisation Act and tasked with issuing blanket licenses to streaming services for mechanical licenses, and to collect and distribute monies to the owners of songs, authors, composers and music publishers for the use of their works.

  The other project is put together by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), alongside the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and the Songwriters Of North America (SONA). It benefits from the support of NMPA's board as well as individual publishers such as Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell and Sony/ATV, and also a wide range of organisations such as ASCAP, BMI, the RIAA or SoundExchange.
  The entity ​operating the MLC will be designated by the US Copyright Office (USCO), based on the merits of the project as well as the support it gets from the community. As part of the MMA, interested parties have until April 22 to express their views and support to any of the proposals on the USCO's web site.
  In Nashville, a panel regrouping AMLC's board or committee members gave a broad overview of their project. Speakers included Clearbox Music Publishing founder/CEO John Barker; Boogie Shack Music Group’s Hakim Draper; Songwriter’s Guild of America's president Rick Carnes; Audiam CEO Jeff Price; Union Music Group president Ricardo Ordonez and composer and performer​ Zoë Keating. All participants are either board members of committee members of the AMLC. (The session can be watched on the following YouTube video)
Fair to everybody

  "We have made a commitment that we are fit to do this and we are going to do this better than anyone else," said Barker. The point of the meeting, said Barker, was not to be negative about the NMPA's project, but just highlight why "our project is better." He added that the people behind the AMLC are "more diverse" and "tech savvy."
  "I truly believe that AMLC is here to protect songwriters and to get them paid," said Carnes, who reminded the audience that SGA's mission statement was two words: "Protect songwriters."

  "Are you building a solution that is going to be fair to everybody or a solution that is going to be fair for those who are already in there?" asked Draper, who added that the AMLC is a solution that will help those who do not usually get a seat at the table. Ordonez explained that a lot of the money collected for mechanicals does not get distributed and that the AMLC will help fix that problem.

  Keating picked up on the same topic and said that she was among those who could not get their mechanicals from overseas from example, as a self-published composer. "In order to survive in this era you have to maximise all your revenues streams from public performances to syncs, sounds recordings, etc. I am just interested in leveling the playing field for unaffiliated artists and removing the frictions from all the systems that get in the way of getting artists their royalties," said Keating. "I believe the AMLC will do the best job to do the work for songwriters like me."
  Price said the AMLC will be cheaper that its counterpart since it plans to outsource many of the functionalities of the collective, and rely on existing entities such as Music Report for its database, or Dataclef for its systems and as well as banks banks and royalty management services to handle the operational side. "We don't want to stop what is happening already, we want to make it better," he says.

Conflicts of interest

  In a blogpost, ​American composer and performer ​Zoë​ Keating​ said she joined the board of the AMLC because "I believe they will get mechanical royalties to the songwriters who earned them."  According to Keating, "There is a pot of an estimated $1.2 billion in unmatched mechanical royalties that have yet to be paid to the people who earned them. The streaming services were required to pay the royalties, not to match them. Making a system for connecting songs to owners and getting these black-box royalties to the people who earned them will be primary tasks of the new MLC.​"
  Keating also wrote that the key issue for self-published composers and songwriters like her is to have the guarantees that they will received what is their due. She believes that the AMLC will have "the least conflict of interest, the best technology proposal and the least incentive to recommend directing other people’s royalties to themselves, not to mention their budget is a fraction of the one proposed by the NMPA."
  Recently, the AMLC received the support of Fair Trade Music International, with which it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that advances the adoption of Fair Trade Music principles of fairness, sustainability and transparency in the music ecosystem.
  Meanwhile, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) and the International Council for Music Creators (CIAM) issued a statement in regard to the MLC: “For the avoidance of doubt and in view of the different rumours circulating, CIAM and CISAC wish to clarify that the organisations have not endorsed either of the competing companies for the US MLC, nor has CIAM or CISAC taken any position with respect to the suitability of any candidate over the other for the role of the future MLC.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Fourth consecutive year of growth for the global recorded music industry

By Emmanuel Legrand

With total revenues up 9.7% to $19.1 billion, the global recorded music industry has experienced in 2018 its best year in over a decade. Industry revenues have now been growing for four years in a row, boosted by strong performances from streaming, which have offset the decline of both physical products (except vinyl) and downloads, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's ‘State of the Industry Report’ covering 2018.

  Total streaming revenues grew 34.0% to $8.9bn and now account for 47% of total revenues. Paid subscription streaming revenue, up 32.9%, was the main source of growth, and represented 37% of total recorded music revenue, thanks to 255 million users of paid streaming services at the end of 2018. IFPI noted that almost all markets reported growth in paid audio streaming. Revenues from advertising-supported streaming services accounted for 10% of total revenues.

Digital accounts for 59% of revenues

  Physical sales represent 25% of global revenues, downloads and other digital formats 12%, performance rights 14% ($2.7bn, up 9.8%) and synchronisation 2%. All formats combined, digital accounted for 58.9% of total revenues, at $11.2bn in 2018, up 21.1% year-on-year. Downloads sales fell by 21.2%.

  Revenue from physical sales declined 10.1%, although revenues from vinyl grew for the thirteenth consecutive year, up 6% in 2018 and representing a 3.6% share of the overall market. However, the IFPI said  that while the majority of markets saw a decrease in physical format revenues, a small number of markets "bucked the trend," posting growth. Such was the case in India (+21.2%); Japan (+2.3%) and South Korea (+28.8%). Physical revenues "still constitute a significant percentage of the market" in some countries, representing 71%, 47% and 35% of the market in Japan, Poland and Germany respectively.

  For the fourth consecutive year, Latin America was the fastest-growing region (+16.8%) pushed forward by strong performances in Brazil (+15.4%) and Mexico (+14.7%). The Asia and Australasia region (+11.7%) has now become the second-largest region for combined physical and digital revenue, ahead of Europe. South Korea (+17.9%), Japan (3.4%) and Australia (2.9%) all had strong growth rates. China rose to tenth to seventh position between 2017 and 2018.

USA drives digital growth

  North America remained the world's largest music region, with double-digit growth (+14%) thanks to a dynamic US market (+15), while Canada remained flat (+0.5%). The market enjoyed significant streaming growth (+33.4%), but physical revenues were down 22.0% year-on-year and their decline accelerated between 2017 and 2018. The US market has turned into a predominantly digital market (74.2% of recorded music revenues), with paid streaming accounting for well over half (59.4%) of digital revenue.

  Europe's sales only grew by a mere 0.1%, despite significant gains in streaming. Paid streaming in Europe rose by 29.2%, but the decline rate of physical revenues (-19.4%) and downloads (-24.3%) was substantial. Sweden and Norway grew 2.8% and 1.7% respectively, but Germany was the only top 10 European market to experience a decline in revenues (-9.9%).

  According to the IFPI, the German situation is partly due "to its continued transition away from a physical-led market." Germany was overtaken by the UK (+3.1%) as the largest market in the region. Performance rights revenue in Europe fell sharply by  6.7%, and contributed to the region's overall slower growth.

  Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI, said: "Record companies continue their investment in artists, people and innovation both in established markets and developing regions that are increasingly benefiting from being part of today’s global music landscape."

Recognising music's value

  The IFPI said that the growth of the industry was fragile and that to ensure that the return to growth remained sustainable, "the right public policy and legal framework must be in place." The organisation will be pushing for five key points to guarantee that music markets will continue to enjoy growth:

Public policies "must recognise that music has value – cultural and economic alike – and that creators have a crucial role to play."

Copyright frameworks "must be clear and provide for legal certainty" to allow everyone to understand how music can be used. 

> Owners of rights in recorded music "must be free to license their rights on terms that are freely negotiated between the parties."

> Rules "must ensure that all services engaging in distributing music online, regardless of their mode of operation, negotiate licenses with right holders on fair terms."

> Music "must have fair and effective ways to tackle illegal services that seek to exploit the work of artists and profit through large-scale copyright infringement."

  Moore concluded: “As music markets continue to develop and evolve, it is imperative that the appropriate legal and business infrastructure is in place to ensure that music is fairly valued, and that the revenues are returned to rights holders to support the next cycle of development.” 

MUSEXPO 2019 Day 2: Diving into data, playlists & the importance of managers

By Emmanuel Legrand
[This story was originally published by The Music Network]

On its second day, executives lined-up at  in Burbank, California continued to auscultate to inner workings of the music business, with a focus on the value of having a good team around artists, the role of data, and the growing importance of emerging markets such as India and China. Oh, it was also about songs…
It’s all about the team
As talented as they can be, artists usually need a team around them to achieve success. “A manager is so important, in many many cases more important than the label or anything else,” said music legend Seymour Stein, who signed such acts as the Talking Heads, the Ramones, Madonna and a few others. “People don’t realise how important a manager is. A record label is more likely to drop you than a manager.”
“It is more important than ever to help artists to develop because it is the biggest field out there at the moment,” said Simon Katz, VP, A&R/Staff Producer at Republic Records.
A team is also how artists can get through the complexity of the eco-system. “The challenge for us is that on daily basis, with the artist self-release model, 20 to 30,000 new songs are put online every day and what do you do from there? Labels and distributors can take it from there,” said Chris Taylor, Global President Music at Entertainment One. “The one thing that distributors and labels can do to add value is helping artists to drive their careers and in terms of efficiencies, it is important.”
The team’s importance was also highlighted by Amy Dietz, Executive Vice President & General Manager for distributor Ingrooves Music Group. “You cannot just push a button and get on all the platforms in one go,” she said. “You have to upload to each individual platform. There are efficiencies in using a distribution platform to help getting above the noise and have tools to market your music. There is a level of expertise that comes with a team doing it on a daily basis.”
Data counts, but use with care
In relation to the previous point, many voices raised the issue of what to do with the wealth of data that is captured by the digital use of music and social media action. “How many people know how to read data?,” asked Entertainment One’s Taylor.
Ingrooves Dietz explained that you have to skim through data to extract useful information. “The key is bringing back info that is meaningful and that you can act upon,” she said. “It’s not enough to say you have 100,000 streams. We try to use all the data points to find the way to engage with the super-consumers, and to do that you have to dig deep. We have a group of PhD scientists. We have experts that have been doing this for years and have the ability to look at all the data and find ways to connect dots. The data cannot be understated, but you have to know what to do with it.”
For a company like Songtradr, which is trying to create an online market for syncs, data “is the key value point,” according to CEO Paul Wiltshire. “The goal is to get as much data as we can to achieve syncs for brands.”
And if you think that data is good enough to determine which artists to sign, a warning came from Republic’s Katz. “I look at data but treat it with care,” he explained. “Sometimes artists can have good metrics but it can sometimes mean that they are good at marketing themselves. So we look at it as a whole.”
Think billions of listeners
That’s what you get in China and India, with a combined population of 2.7 billion people. Well, not all will have the means to access music but as Mandar Thakur, COO of Mumbai-based publishing house and label Times Music India, explained, “India is like a large buffet.” He elaborated: “Out of 1.3 billion people, 850 million are on mobile phones, so the runway for growth for any of the 14 to 16 [music streaming] players is huge. I don’t think they will take market share from each other. And local players had a significant head-start.”
“It is ground zero in China,” Mathew Daniel, VP, International for one of China’s largest streaming platform NetEase Cloud Music. “There is no market for downloads in China. We are moving to an entirely streaming world.”
He added, “In China, music is in a unique position in terms of music distribution, because all the music came at once, when the market opened up. So the challenge for outsiders to get into China is about context. Not only do you have to get the music out but you have to make it relevant. That means that new artist can go to China and be bigger than Led Zep or the Rolling Stones, and that’s the beauty of it.”
Playlists matter but they are not an end to all means
Playlist are the new hot thing in the business as being placed on one of the top playlists can help break artists, but “being on playlists is not always sufficient as a strategy,” according to Ingrooves’ Dietz.
Has playlist created new gatekeepers? Some speakers mentioned the importance of being added to the biggest playlists on Spotify, but there were words of caution too. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss!” said NetEase’s Daniel.
He continued, “There are four people controlling the playlists. On our platform, we have 800 million playlists that have been user-generated, so in China, we have a very democratic platform for user-generated playlists.” That last comment was met with laughter from the audience…
And in the end… it’s all about songs
One of the common thread throughout the whole conference was the constant reference to the importance of good songs to rise above the white noise. “The song comes first,” said Seymour Stein. “I don’t think I ever signed an artist that wasn’t a songwriter.”
Michael Chase, A&R/Business Development at MGM Distribution, claimed that “we are in the most exciting time in music business history,” with all the opportunities offered to artists to expose their music, but added a caveat: “I feel it is back to songs and A&R. The gatekeepers are gone. The business has always been about great songs and I see the music that cuts through is exceptional music. You have to put out great songs.”
And the last word will be for Seymour Stein. When asked what advice he could give aspiring artists, he answered: “If you make it overnight it’s wonderful but that’s a rarity. So you are in for a lot of hard work. but never give up on yourself, and that’s very important.”

MUSEXPO 2019 Day 1: Re-tooling the music industry

By Emmanuel Legrand
[This story was originally published by The Music Network]

, the springtime A&R-focused conference in Los Angeles founded by Sat Bisla, has been going through a makeover, with new branding,  Creative Summit, and a new location, the Castaway resort in Burbank (March 24-27, 2019).
But the purpose of the conference/showcase event has not changed: it is still about the state of the music union, the future of A&R and the creative process, and the impact of new technologies on the eco-system. And because it takes place in the film and TV capital of the world, there is obviously a focus on synchronisation.
Here is an overview of the key points discussed during the first day at Musexpo, in particular during the opening keynote session on “The Future of the Music Business,” the panel on “The Future of A&R” and the keynote with Capitol UK co-presidents Jo Charrington and Nick Raphael.

Artists are in the driving seat

Memo to labels: now is the era of the empowerment of the artists. With streaming becoming ubiquitous, and artists being able to bypass traditional gatekeepers to get their music available to the world, the role of labels has been re-evaluated.
“Social media has given artists a voice when they didn’t have one, and given opportunities to artists who can start their own business outside of music,” said Allison Kaye, president of SB Projects, a company that has worked with Ariana GrandeJustin Bieber.
“There are so many different ways artists can break and that gives them a lot of power,” said Lonny Olinick, CEO of Kobalt-owned label service company AWAL. “We have artists who have done billion of streams, and who own their rights. They can do it with a company like ours that empowers them, but they also know what their audience wants, and that is a paradigm shift.”.f
Olinick claimed that we are seeing “a middle class emerging.” He elaborated: “There are so many pockets of opportunities for artists and that is a major shift. Inn used to be about the 200 superstars, but now it is about thousands of artists making a living. The change is profound.”

But labels still matter

Labels and publishers need to adapt to the new reality. “The last three acts that we looked at signing did not want to sign,” said Monti Olson, co-head A&R, Frontline Publishing, at BMG. “They had a direct relationship with DSPs. One artist made a million dollars last year and said ‘why do I need you’. It makes our job more difficult but also more interesting.”
Artist can certainly get their music out and retain their rights but to get to play a role on a global scale, labels are still needed. “It is really easy to put song to the world but you need marketing muscle to promote it,” said Tarsame Mittal, founder of Indian management company All About Music. “Labels are marketing machines that can create things at a certain level,” concurred Curt Marvis, CEO & co-founder of video specialist QYOU.
For Capitol UK co-president, the power of majors like Universal still allows for artists to get global visibility. He recalled how switching from Sony to Universal changed his outlook. “[Universal Music Group chairman/CEO] Lucian [Grainge] & [Universal Music UK CEO] David [Joseph] said, ‘Come to Universal & we’ll sell your records around the world’. We’ve found the power of, ‘We’re backing you’ and my God, you need that nowadays.”

Catching the attention of the public is the main challenge

“From an artist perspective, the challenge is getting people to open their wallet,” quipped SB Projects’ Kaye. “Artists can have million of streams but can’t sell concert tickets or convert it into sales. The challenge is getting the people who are caring about the music to care about the artist enough to spend money.”
The other challenge, according to Kaye, is that “people’s attention span is short so you have to keep feeding the beast. Fans do care but you have to really put the time in with fans day by day. You have to go on the ground, and meet fans, and engaging with fans. You have to keep doing that.”

Authenticity and likeability work

Memo to artists: be yourselves and be likeable. In the era of social networks, you have to rise above the white noise and find a way to catch the fans’ attention. Executives at Musexpo were adamant that aside from talent and good songs, artists these days need to connect and be real and authentic. “Ariana [Grande] is on Twitter day and night talking to fans and fans know it is her, not someone doing it for her,” explained SB Projects’ Kaye.
For Capitol UK’s Raphael, “An artist can have the most talent in the world but if they’re not likeable, the public won’t buy it.” He also warned artists about the importance of having a good manager. “If you think your manager is a douche bag, get rid of him because wait until the record company meets him,” he claimed. “Great artists have great managers.”

Albums are not dead, they’re just a repository for singles

On many different occasions, the debates at Musexpo focused on albums vs. single. Sony/ATV’s Jennifer Knoepfl said she’d “miss the album if it went away. Albums allow artists to stamp a moment in time that you can’t get from just releasing single after single.”
That point was confirmed by Capitol UK’s co-president Jo Charrington. “It is important for most artists to make an album. What’s changed for us is the album is the end of the campaign, not the beginning.”
And with the quick rotation of songs in the public eye, the notion of what constitutes catalogue has shifted. “After three month, a song can be catalogue,” said John Fleckenstein, co-president of RCA Records.

Streaming will not kill the radio stars

Or such is the belief of Ben Cooper, controller of BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 1Xtra, and BBC Asian Network. “Our challenge is how does radio continues to be part of the ecosystem in breaking artists and being part of people’s lives,” said Cooper.
He added, “Streaming has replaced your record collections and now they want to be your radio. So how are we different from streaming services? Streaming is insular, and for radio its about zeitgeist, the community. Give us the artists, we’ll put a great presenter next to the artist, and do creative things with the artist and the audience. If can do things like that, there are opportunities for radio going forward.”
For Cooper, streaming will continue to grow for the next couple of years and then it will level off. “That’s when it will start getting interesting!”

Creative sector applauds European Parliament for adopting controversial Copyright Directive

By Emmanuel Legrand

After one of the lengthiest and most virulent legislative battle in recent history, the European Directive on Copyright in the Single Market was finally adopted by the European Parliament in a 348-274 vote (and 36 abstentions). Members of the Parliament had previously discarded by 5 votes a motion to allow amendments to the draft adopted after the trilogue discussions in February. 

  Following the vote, Commission's Vice-President for the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip and Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel said the Directive “ensures the right balance between the interests of all players — users, creators, authors, press — while putting in place proportionate obligations on online platforms."

  They said that the Directive will protect freedom of expression by settings "strong safeguards for users, making clear that everywhere in Europe the use of existing works for purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature as well as parody are explicitly allowed. This means that memes and similar parody creations can be used freely."

  Ansip and Gabriel added, "At the same time, the Directive will improve the position of creators in their negotiations with big platforms which largely benefit from their content. Writers, journalists, singers, musicians and actors will find it easier to negotiate better deals with their publishers or producers. The new rules will also allow research organisations, universities, schools, libraries and museums to use more content online. The Directive takes account of new technologies to ensure that researchers can use text and data mining to its full potential."

So what now?

Before the Directive becomes the law of the EU, there are still a few more steps. The Directive will need now to be approved by the European Council, which should not be a problem since the Council endorsed the compromise draft that was voted by Parliament. The Council’s vote could take place either April 8 or 15. The Directive will then be published in the EU’s Statute Book, and will enter into force 20 days after publication. From then, EU member states will have 24 months to transpose the Directive into their own legislation.

  One caveat to that is the British situation. If Brexit is finally acted, the fate of the Directive in the UK will be depending on the deal (or no-deal) made with the EU, and if the UK continues to abide by some "acquis communautaire." The British creative sector has emphatically been supportive of the Directive, in particular the provision in Article 17 (formerly Article 13) on the "value gap."

  Another grey area is Poland, where ruling party leader JaroslawKaczynski said the Directive threatens freedom and hinted that his Law and Justice party will implement the Directive "in a way that will preserve freedom." [Coming from a government that has been attacking free speech and controlling public media, this accusation is in fact quite ironic.]

What will the Directive change?

This is the first significant copyright overhaul in Europe since the 2001 Copyright Directive. It covers a wide range of topics, among which:

Article 17 (formerly Article 13): by requiring UGC-enabling platforms such as YouTube to negotiate licensing deals with content owners, and pay "fair remuneration" to rights holders, the Directive is the first attempt in the world to address the 'value gap'. The law will make platforms liable for hosting unlicensed content, requiring filtering technologies to address the issue of infringing content. "This is a hugely welcome clarification," wrote Gadi Oron, Director General of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers, in an op-ed for MBW.

  After the trilogue discussion, the Directive included a distinction between “large” platforms and “small” platforms, and attributed different obligations to each. An online platform is deemed “large” if it has existed for at least three years, has revenues in excess of €10 million annually, and has more than 5 million unique monthly users.

  The law states that in the absence of licensing agreement with right holders, a "large" online platform has to show it made its “best efforts” to identify the right holder, get a permission from the right holder; prevent unauthorised content from being uploaded to the online platform; expeditiously take down unauthorised content upon notice; and prevent future unauthorised uploads.

  However, as noted by lawyers Michael Rounds and Andrea LaFrance from law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in The Hill, the Commission "failed to use its own 'best efforts' in providing any guidance" and define "what exactly is considered 'best efforts' to prevent infringing activity from lingering on these online platforms."

Article 15 (formerly 11): introduces a neighbouring rights for news services. Again, here, the devil being in the details, it will be challenging to anticipate how this will shape up, and what will be the reaction of platforms like Google and Facebook, both main users of new slinks.

Article 14-16: introduces a right to fair remuneration. Rights holders, in particular creators are entitled to fair and proportionate remuneration. This will mostly affect creators in the AV field who do not have "the negotiating power to secure an equitable share in the success of a project they have worked on and helped flourish," according to CISAC's Oron.

Who said what?

The vote was welcomed by representatives from the creative sector, many of whom had made the trip to Strasbourg of March 26. For tech companies and free internet advocacy groups, the event was described as a dark day for digital freedom and open internet.

"This is a really important decision that has enormous implications worldwide. It recognises that a 21st century internet needs a 21st century level of protection for creators.  It confirms that the big tech companies which use creative content must be made to negotiate fairly with the creators who fill their pipes and cables with their works."
By Jean-Michel Jarre, electronic music pioneer and President of CISAC.

"By voting to pass the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive, the Parliament has endorsed a global game changer for the creative community. CIAM will be proactive in encouraging other regions to follow Europe’s lead in adopting measures that reflect a genuine commitment to the arts and the positive contribution the creative industries make to our societies."
By CISAC's music creators' council CIAM.

"With this new historical milestone for cultural exception, Europe sets a modern framework for creation in the digital age in which creators and journalists are entitled to a fair remuneration for their work."
By France filmmakers' organisation ARP.

"This is a landmark day for Europe’s creators and citizens, and a significant step towards a fairer internet. Platforms facilitate a unique relationship between artists and fans, and this will be given a boost as a result of this directive. It will have a ripple effect world wide."
By Helen Smith, executive chair of indie labels' body Impala.

"Four years of titanic tussling later, our work to solve the 'Value Gap' now begins a new stage after this vote. Namely, to ensure that those who make the music make a fair return."
By John Phelan, director general of international music publishing trade association ICMP.

"We strongly encourage the US government to look to this law as a guide for future legislation, and look forward to the day when independent publishers and songwriters throughout the entire world will be granted the rights now established by the EU."
By the US Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP).

“We thank lawmakers for their efforts in navigating a complex environment to pass a Directive with noteworthy implications for the content community. We now look forward to the implementation stage, where we will work with the EU’s Member States to ensure the Directive is transposed into national law in a manner fully consistent with its aim and key principles of European and international law.”
By Frances Moore, CEO of IFPI.

"This is an unprecedented victory for European creators, who will now be able to exercise their rights and receive fair remuneration from platforms such as YouTube."
By Anders Lassen, President of GESAC, the European umbrella for societies of authors and composers.

“This is about modernising the Internet and it’s a massive step forward for consumers and creators alike."
By Robert Ashcroft, CEO of British rights organisation PRS for Music.

“The EU copyright directive is improved but will still lead to legal uncertainty and will hurt Europe’s creative and digital economies. The details matter, and we look forward to working with policymakers, publishers, creators and rights holders as EU member states move to implement these new rules.”
By a Google spokesperson as published in the Guardian.

"EU netizens will need to organise and support independent European digital rights groups willing to challenge the Directive in court. And outside Europe, friends of the Internet will have to brace themselves to push back against copyright maximalists attempting to export this terrible Directive to the rest of the world. We must, and we will, regroup and stand together to stop this Directive in Europe, and prevent it spreading further."
By Cory Doctorow for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"A dark day for internet freedom." 
By German MEP Julia Reda.

"A dark day for the open internet. The EU has just decided to end the experiment and lock in the internet giants and legacy copyright gatekeepers."
By TechDirt founder Mike Masnick.

(Picture courtesy Blaise Mistler)