Amid a genre and distribution revolution, copyright issues are a sour note
You don’t have to be in the music industry to have noticed the eye-popping amounts of money pouring into legacy music catalogs lately. Artists like Paul Simon ($250 million), Bob Dylan ($325 million) and Bruce Springsteen ($550 million) pushed total catalog sales into billions of dollars at a time when the U.S. music industry peaked at $15 billion in 22 years. in sales and the global music industry reached $26 billion last year.
And the sports music industry has had a big part in that growth.
“He was busy pretty much continuously for a year,” says Matthew Gutknecht, Senior Account Manager, Sports Entertainment. APM Music. “We anticipate strong demand for even more [music] content in the coming months.
APM is a massive repository of over a million custom and catalog music tracks, mostly from its co-owners, Sony Music Publishing and Universal Music Publishing, two of the so-called Big Three that remain legacy-era labels. That number was shrunk from a dozen three decades ago through an often torturous consolidation that saw the entire industry fall from CD-induced highs of the 1990s to an endangered species hunted by Internet startups like Napster at the turn of the century, only to come back stronger than ever in a Wall Street-fueled happy ending.
The music industry’s recovery coincided with the rise of broadcast sports over the past 20 years, which reached an estimated value of between $480 billion and $620 billion.
Back to normal
As music in general is having a moment on Wall Street, music production executives are relieved to see its use for sports becoming more frequent and more conventional after two years of artificial crowd sounds and other ways in which audio elements have been deployed to create a sense of normalcy. This makes it possible to notice more nuanced changes in the musical choices.
For example, there is an increasing use of high-energy rock music in broadcast sports, even in traditionally staid sports like golf, notes Peter Alexander, Director of Sales, Sound Ideas. His company oversees producers The Hollywood Edge, Westar Music and the recently acquired Sound Dogs and provides content to college clients such as Georgia Tech, Wake Forest Athletics and Hofstra University.
“Even in basketball, which has been mostly hip-hop for years, and especially lately in college sports, in any situation where they want to get the crowd going fast,” he says, “we s relies less on sound effects and more on certain types of music, like classic rock, to achieve this.
This case is bolstered by the resurgence of rock music elsewhere in the culture, with bands like Foo Fighters and Greta Van Fleet topping the charts.
Rock may be thriving right now, but a wider range of musical genres have been applied to sports programming over the past year. This is partly due to an effort to appeal to a wider audience and broaden the sport’s appeal to more and different demographics, according to Dan Cross, musical director, Megatrax.
“We’ve noticed not only an increase in songs, but also a broadening of styles in general,” he explains. “Where it relied primarily on rock, hip-hop and orchestral/hybrid theme music, there has been a growing trend towards styles like dance-pop, EDM and other more pop styles , both vocal and instrumental. It’s almost as if there are no more designated lanes for sports music, and the crossovers are plentiful. Going commercial once might be your typical sports theme, then the next might be Dua Lipa’s new single. Everything is on the map.
Whitney Arnold, Vice President, Music Services, Stephen Arnold Music, a custom music provider for NBC Sports, CNN Sports, ESPN and others, says the mission of music production now that broadcast sports have returned to near normal is to communicate and restore the energy that has disappeared during COVID. What is also changing is the modernization of the productions themselves.
“The genres of different sports haven’t really changed,” he observes. “You always have hip-hop or basketball, etc. But there are more hybrid sounds used, more syncopated beats, just more production values. We’ve done the same with our productions to reflect that. Production music must meet the same standards as what fans hear on the radio.
Avoid copyright infringement
The growing synergy between music and sports is highlighted by APM Music’s landmark agreement with the National Hockey League. Under the exclusive seven-year deal signed in 2021, the Hollywood-based production music provider provides all music used by the NHL and its 32 teams, collectively and individually, for broadcast, on-site, commercial, promotional and social. multimedia application. At the time, Gutknecht called the contract “the soundtrack to a new era in the NHL.”
He hinted at possible new deals with other sporting entities in the near future, talks he says today are “ongoing”. The discussions stem from a central problem that sports leagues, venues and broadcasters have shared in recent years: pre-recorded copyrighted music played in a stadium or arena during a broadcast is leaking through many sites open broadcast microphones into the television audio, creating a de facto copyright infringement. As a result, disputes between these entities and music publishers have become more frequent in recent years as the range of outlets and amount of sports content broadcast on-air and online has multiplied, increasing the potential for (mostly) unintentional but costly copyright infringements. For example, the music of a batter at a baseball game may be properly licensed for use live in the stadium, but leaking it into a broadcast of the game via crowd capture and other open microphones could constitute an unintended event – but nonetheless very real. , legally speaking — copyright infringement.
“The rules of the game have changed,” says Gutknecht, noting that rights holders have asserted such violations more forcefully. “We interact a lot more with legal departments now than in the past.”
APM’s agreement with the NHL created a model for what Gutknecht calls “a complete music solution” for sports leagues, teams and venues. It will be scalable for application to streaming sports, he notes, citing recently announced deals like Apple’s foray into live sports with mobile distribution of MLB games on Apple TV+, as well as its track indoor flagged to broadcast NFL. Sunday ticket. He adds that the shift to OTT distribution of sports and the likely shift in demographics will affect music choices and workflow.
“It would bring greater production efficiency if everyone was in the same content ecosystem,” he says, adding that moving to online distribution will increase what he calls “content speed.” .
The APM/NHL deal has generated a lot of interest in the music production industry. Arnold admires the move: “It’s not as unique as it sounds. As a content producer, you need to know where the rights are. That is why we compensate our customers for this. They need to know where the music comes from. We must be a trusted partner.
Based in Ontario Sales Manager Sound Ideas Peter Alexander says that while copyright infringement litigation in Canada “is not inconsequential”, it is not on the same level as in the United States, where litigation is often the first resort for nearly all types of disagreement. Instead, he argues, a lack of copyright education is the root cause of the problem.
“Even the colleges that teach broadcast techniques don’t fully understand what copyright entails,” he says. “Students, especially the current generation of them, don’t understand that they can’t just grab music off the radio for their own productions. I blame Napster for that.
Click here for Tech Focus: Production Music, Part 2 – What’s Happening in Libraries.