Opinion: Content lockdown hurts songwriters and music publishers

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The past two decades have been a boon for composers, AV music publishers, and owners of production music libraries, as content had some freedom of movement between different networks and platforms. In a market that saw AV rights holders benefit from multiple sources of revenue, this meant new financial opportunities with each new license agreement.

However, the last few years have seen a phenomenon that threatens to tighten the tap for AV rights holders: content locking. That is: relegating the movement of once free content to the closed communities of tech and streaming giants like Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, Peacock, HBO Max, Paramount Plus, et al.

As a result, rights holders who had multiple sources of income now have one – and one that pays less. This will have a dramatic effect on the future earnings of songwriters, composers and publishers of music libraries and production soundtracks.

Performing rights organizations will also feel increased pressure as things continue in this direction. Take the Disney position as an example. During its history, Disney has produced and acquired a ton of content, where most of the music is under its control.

As Disney Plus rolls out globally, this could change the equation for payments to PROs and only pay the writer’s share of the broadcasts of their published assets, creating a major new disruption in the flow of content. income from copyright companies and administrators if other platforms follow. In short: the same amount of work for PROs for significantly less income.

Traditional production music libraries are feeling the pressure to lock in content more directly from disruptive newcomers who have ambitions to create complete ecosystems in-house.

KKR-backed Artlist, a relatively new kid on the PML block, was founded in 2016. Since then, it has opened a video stock service, signed artists, and launched the music label Artlist Original, as well as purchasing the catalog and Motion Array image. Fxhome software developer, creating a creative technology platform that can offer distributive license for all types of uses.

The challenges are multiplying for the traditional actors of PML. Namely: direct license for high quality music; share buybacks from writers; the high cost of music supervision for film and television productions that will be broadcast on a single streaming platform; and future decrease in revenues from older catalogs due to content lockdown. Universal Production Music boss Michael J. Sammis expressed the need for a “marketing renaissance” when he posted an offer for his company’s vice president position on LinkedIn.

An extreme renaissance (the definition of Renaissance) of recorded music libraries might look like this: Since they hold both sides of their assets and provide the creative community with stems and remix capabilities through online platforms, they could record all of their works on the blockchain and allow independent video and music creators to use their works in the creation of new video or music content. The business model would be based on revenue sharing (as defined in the smart contract) and an immediate license would be generated. AV authors can find a splice of their music in a new composition and get a share of the revenue.

On the other hand, Warner Brothers just launched a PML label in partnership with UPM that would place their assets on third-party productions to compensate for the future decrease in their publishing assets due to content foreclosure. Warner Music is also taking preventative measures.

Warner Music has been involved in film and television production since 2017, since it appointed former MGM COO Charlie Cohen to head Warner Music Entertainment.

In 2021, the company’s enthusiasm in this area is greater than ever. Speaking on the WMG Q2 results call, Steve Cooper said, “We are focused on maximizing the reach and income of our artists and songwriters across all fandom touchpoints.” In the third quarter of this year, WME signed agreements to co-produce and develop non-fiction films, scripted projects and television projects, as well as a “first of its kind” agreement with Twitch. It will feature original programming curated by IMGN, the leading digital media company, which WMG acquired last year.

Additionally, in the third quarter, Warner Music Group entered into “historic”, “career-spanning” deals with Madonna and the David Bowie estate. These are agreements that could include developments across the entire business ecosystem: animation for children by WME around their unique personality; virtual performances and fan engagement using Wave; a virtual avatar using Spirit Bomb; special license agreements via Lickd…

WMG connects the dots and creates a new formula for migration and content development for its artists and songwriters. WMG Plus, if you will. Buying Concord and using its theatrical content in its ecosystem would be a game-changer on all fronts.

The adoption of cryptocurrency by Aron Adam from AMC Entertainment is truly exciting. This is where the whole relationship between the music industry and the audiovisual world could be redefined. If someone like Adam dares to expand the use of cryptocurrency and introduce a blockchain-based compensation module for independent creators, offering immediate box office distribution from tickets sold, he would set a new benchmark. for the whole industry.

Go Further: Teaming up with ByteDance or Meta could lead to the creation of an IRL presence for the vibrant filmmaker community, offering live feeds of exclusive content and interactions between memes makers and consumers, creating new sources of income

In the midst of it all, there is another disruptive newcomer – Merck Mercuriadis from Hipgnosis. As it stands, to fully exploit its copyright, it has to work with its competitors, the major music publishers. But, with Hipgnosis Songs Group in the United States and its powerful professional team in London, Mercuriadis has the infrastructure to disrupt the status quo by promoting and licensing (where possible) Writer’s Share for Sync directly. , bypassing its competitors.

Take it one step further: Use the new music company he is forming with Blackstone to empower all authors (no matter if Hipgnosis Songs Fund owns them) through a technology platform that would create a new business model and change the way music is allowed. Forever.

Ran Geffen is the founder of the development agency XR connect OMA and the CEO of Amusica Song Management in Israel.

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