Sharing the Wealth: Opening the Music-Rights Investment Game to the Masses

EXTRA From housing to securities to precious metals, many asset markets around the world are reeling in the face of persistent inflation, rising interest rates and fears of recession. While capital has continued to flow into the market for for rights-based assets, including music publishing catalogs, those waters, too, have shown some choppiness of late as well.

Will Higher Streaming Prices Lift All Boats? Don’t Bank On It

EXTRA For more than two decades after the launch of Rhapsody, and then Real Networks, the price of a basic music streaming subscription, unlike nearly every other product or service, remained remarkably static — cemented a 9.99 a month across nearly all territories and currencies, irrespective of exchange rates. But it appears, at long last, as if the dam has begun to burst.

Spoken Word Audio Sounding More Like Music

EXTRA Apropos the panel discussion we hosted at last month’s RightsTech Summit on the evolving role of podcasts and audio originals in the movie and streaming video ecosystem, here’s another interesting data point, courtesy of Edison Research’s annual spoken-word audio report, which was released this week: spoken-word audio listening is increasingly digital and mobile. According to the report, more than one-third of all spoke-word listening was done via mobile device in 2022, compared to only 25% in 2019. Another 25% was accounted for by computers, smart speakers or connected TVs. Less than 40% occurred via traditional AM/FM radio.

Music’s Distinct Digital Profile

EXTRA Here’s an Interesting data point from CISAC’s latest Global Collections Report, released today: Music was the only repertoire among the major creative industries to show increased royalty collections in 2021. Collections in all other categories were either flat, as was TV & Radio, the biggest category overall, or down from 2020. Music’s growth, moreover, came despite the sharp drop in collections from live performances and background uses of music that began in 2020 and continued through 2021, as venues remained shuttered and people around the world remained huddled at home due to the Covid pandemic.

Music in Podcasts at the RightsTech Summit

Download or stream a podcast today and it would not be uncommon to hear music, if only interstitially and in short segments. For the most part, however, those streams and downloads are not counted for the purposes of calculating and paying any royalties the music rights owner(s) might otherwise be due. Instead, most music used in podcasts today, where its licensed at all, is licensed on a royalty-free basis, often from stock houses or production-music catalogs, through a single, upfront payment that allows unlimited use of the music in podcast episodes for a specified period of time. As no backend royalties need to be paid, no effort is made to report back to the music rights owner how many times an episode is downloaded or streamed.

NFTs, Rights and Royalties

Now that the initial bloom has begun to come off the NFT rose, thorns are starting to poke through. Among the prickliest: legal uncertainty around NFT ownership and intellectual property rights; and enforcement of smart-contract based royalties. Last week, crypto merchant bank Galaxy released a report for which it surveyed the top 100 NFT collections by implied market capitalization (floor price X collection size) to determine how and to what extent the listed terms and conditions of sale convey ownership rights in the digital object represented by the NFT.

Beyoncé and the Eve of Disruption

Many people in the music business are anxiously awaiting sales and streaming results from Beyoncé’s newest album “Renaissance,” released last week. As the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, fingers are crossed that Queen Bey can snap the recent streak of commercial and/or critical disappointments among recent releases from major artists, including Post Malone, Drake, Kendrick Lamar and even Adele, whose November release “30” fell well short of her previous record sales. Early signs were not encouraging.

RightsTech Summit: Are Music Rights Still in Tune for Investors?

Copyrights, particularly music publishing rights, has been a hot alternative asset class over the past four or five years, as investors chased yield after a decade of low interest rates, and sought shelter from the volatility of equity prices. But with the post-Covid economy showing signs of slowing down around the world and central banks raising rates to try to choke off accelerating inflation, will smart money start to look elsewhere for returns, and what would that would that mean for the fortunes of songwriters, publishers and other rightsholders who haven’t yet cashed in?

Music in the Metaverse at the RightsTech Summit

This week’s e-news is chock full of headlines about Web3 and the metaverse thanks to the blossoming enthusiasm and optimism around those concepts within the music, movie and television industries, to say nothing of the game business. Yet for all the optimism, one theme that comes through many of the discussions is the difficulty and complexity of licensing copyrighted content for use in those applications. That’s particularly true of music, with its dual copyrights and multiple rights owners.

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