200 independent music publishers from around the world travelled to the Melia Palma Marina hotel in Mallorca for IMPF’s first Music Entrepreneurial And Creative Industry Summit on October 9.
After specially hosted social events sponsored by Musixmatch on the Sunday evening and Downtown Music Services the following morning, the Summit kicked-off in earnest.
Following presentations to the international publishing community from CISAC Director General Gadi Oron, and Spotify’s Global Head of Songwriter and Publishing Relations Jules Parker, the first panel discussion of the Summit took a broad look at ‘The State Of The Nation’ in 2022.
Panellists Stella Tavella (Musixmatch), Barry Scannell (William Fry), Caroline Champarnaud (SACEM), Mark Kitcatt (IMPALA), economist Will Page and Niclas Molinder (Session), discussed growing digital revenue alongside new technologies impacting the music industry, with a particular focus on the need to improve royalty collections, and the copyright implications of AI and the metaverse.
Niclas Molinder passionately called for better metadata across the industry, which was identified as a vital element in the mission to eradicate the infamous ‘black box’ of unassigned royalties at CMOs.
“There’s so much unidentified money in the industry that belongs to you guys,” he told the rights-holder audience. “We need to use systems to improve data quality.”
While better metadata could and should be driven by publishing companies, Molinder pointed out that the change had to happen at the very start of the creative process to be truly effective.
“We need to get there sooner rather than later,” he said. “We need to get the creators involved so that they can tell us who they worked with and when.”
Barry Scannell drew parallels with the banking sector to highlight the music industry’s current shortcomings when it comes to making sure artists are paid quickly and accurately.
“In 2022, there isn’t an excuse for the amount of money that isn’t getting to creators,” he said. “Imagine if the banking industry sent money like the music industry does? It wouldn’t work. For creators, that’s their salary.
“The technology is there, but a lot of CMOs are doing things in a very outdated way,” he suggested. “There should be an insistence on moving to new technology. Publishers need to ask those questions. The old ways aren’t good enough anymore.”
SACEM’s Caroline Champarnaud made the case for CMOs, however, saying, “Register your work, clean your catalogues and we’ll be able to claim for it.”
She also highlighted a problem at the very heart of the streaming economy (one that would be revisited multiple times during the Summit): “There is inflation [everywhere] but where we are not seeing any inflation is in digital. If you take the average revenue per user [with streaming], it has decreased over time.”
Mark Kitcatt agreed that the streaming market has been static for too long.
“There’s a lot of room for growth but we aren’t capturing the value,” he said. “It’s difficult for new entrants to come into the field because the free offer is convincing to teenagers and the paid services haven’t moved in years. We’d like to see more competition, and local [streaming] services opening up. There’s much more to be done.”
The ‘State of the Nation’ panel. [L-R] Moderated by Emmanuel Legrand (Creative Industries News), and featuring Caroline Champarnaud (SACEM); Mark Kitcatt (IMPALA), Stella Tavella (Musixmatch); Will Page (economist); Niclas Molinder (Session) and Barry Scannell (William Fry).
As the conversation moved towards music copyright in the metaverse, Barry Scannell suggested that the industry’s current approach to licensing may have to adapt significantly to align with future usage.
“If we look back at why piracy occurred to the extent that it did, it was probably because the technology wasn’t in place to make music as available as it should have been, and that the licensing models weren’t there to be extended immediately. I think to avoid history repeating itself with the metaverse – which will come, whether we like it or not – we need to make sure that both the tech and licensing frameworks are there, because there’s going to be an awful lot of sharing of licenses and IP.”
Budde Bar at 75
Budde Music celebrated its 75th ‘Budde Bar’ at the nearby Melia Victoria Hotel as the sun set on the first day of the Summit. The company’s CEO, Benjamin Budde, said a few words at the event, which has traditionally taken place at Midem in the past.
“I found this hilarious photo of my father standing on a chair in the Cannes Grand Hotel at The Budde Bar’s first [edition],” he said. “He was standing there with the mic trying to get everyone’s attention. We didn’t have the professional set up that we do now.
He then congratulated IMPF on bringing the publishing community together in such a way, saying, “I want to point out what a great achievement it is to have built this IMPF Summit and the IMPF in general to what it is today. There are a lot of early founders and supporters of the IMPF here, and my father was too, so I think he would be very proud to see us all together.”
Conversations sparked by the day’s conference sessions continued into the night. Speaking to IMPF, Budde Music COO Ender Atis said, “What’s interesting to me is that [the independent publishing community] has always been a group of entrepreneurs. Even if we don’t have the scale of the majors, we still have to deal with topics like the metaverse, inflation, subscriber prices with DSPs… They’re on all of our agendas no matter the size of the company.
“One of the points made today is that everyone is building their own tech [in terms of managing and supplying metadata], but I think we’ve made huge progress as companies that deal with and interact with data and technology. I think we’re on a good path and are closing the gap in savviness, but it’s true that we need more collaboration on these topics.”
Where is the fairness in the streaming market?
On Tuesday morning, during a panel discussing fairness in the modern music streaming market from the perspective of songwriters and publishers, Burak Ozgen (GESAC), Alexander Wolf (SESAC), Indi Chawla (The MLC), Helienne Lindvall (ECSA), Robert Singerman (LyricFind) and IMPF President Annette Barrett talked about solutions to a system that saw songwriters as “the last and the least to get paid”, as Barrett put it.
""How can we get comprehensive data for the reported 100,000 tracks [being uploaded to DSPs] every day? I actually think we’ll see a lot of consolidation in the admin space. I don’t think every CMO will manage that amount of data and some will look at other options."
“We need to pull together to get accurate data and codes. That’s where we should start,” Barrett suggested. “That’s not just for publishers, it’s about educating writers, and DSPs and CMOs need to play their part as well. We need to come together to establish a lot more transparency. That would be a good start.”
Indi Chawla agreed with Barrett but questioned whether current CMOs were adequately prepared for the rapidly increasing amounts of data that will inevitably need to be produced in years to come.
“How can we get comprehensive data for the reported 100,000 tracks [being uploaded to DSPs] every day?” she said. “We’re seeing a lot of focus on managing that data and I actually think we’ll see a lot of consolidation in the admin space. I don’t think every CMO will manage that amount of data and some will look at other options. We can’t have everyone building big databases.”
Helienne Lindvall wanted to take lessons from the prominent #FixStreaming campaign, and pointed to the need for both the stick and the carrot in driving change.
“You have to keep the pressure on, you need to keep the stick there,” she urged. “The reason we got the labels and DSPs to come to the table was because of the DCMS Inquiry and the threat of equitable remuneration. The difficult part is keeping that pressure on. You can see now some parts of the industry are backing off and reverting to their old ways again.
“We want to [maintain that pressure] and expand it across Europe and the US. We need to be able to say, ‘If you don’t sit at the table with us and bring solutions to these problems, we’re going to go to the legislators.’ As songwriters, we’ve never been in the spotlight as we are currently, and you can see something isn’t right.”
SESAC’s Alexander Wolf said that he believed there were people at the IMPF Summit who were ready “to do the job that societies won’t do” but they needed a number of trailblazing authors to create a precedent.
“That’s the stick part, which sounds terrible but we need to face the threats coming, especially from the UGC platforms.”
He also tabled the idea of renewing efforts that were started with DDEX at the turn of the millennium: “22 years ago, we founded DDEX in Berlin,” he said. “There was a project to digitise writers’ information in the digital work. All of the societies in Europe were in agreement to move in that direction, but it was refused by RIAA at the time. We should go back to DDEX because times have changed and the RIAA has changed.”
LyricFind’s SVP of International Publishing, Robert Singerman, suggested that independent publishers look at collective action in a more formal sense, saying, “I come from a union family and I think we need a Merlin for independent publishers – our friends at IMPEL maybe? We need to have collective action to change the world. If publishers and songwriters stand up together, you can do whatever you want with DSPs and labels – because they need songwriters.
IMPF was very pleased to welcome Ukrainian CMO NGO UACCR to the Summit to talk about the work that was being done in Ukraine to help keep artists creating, despite everything they were up against.
In an introductory speech, IMPF General Counsel, Ger Hatton, emphasised unity among the creative community against the Russian invasion: “Solidarity with the international sanctions, that are proving to be the best weapon we have against Putin’s expansionism,” she said. “And solidarity with the artistic communities that have tried so hard to continue to survive and thrive in these past horrific months.”
NGO UACCR’s Liudmyla Tsymbal then took to the stage to talk about the war effort being made by Ukraine’s creatives, some of whom have joined the frontline, while others have contributed in other ways: “They are protecting our culture and our identity, and lifting spirits. Supporting our creators is a really important mission.”
Tsymbal was grateful for the “outstanding” support of the international creative community to date, with particular thanks for strong statements from IMPF and CISAC.
She then went on to outline how the world’s independent music publishers could work with Ukraine’s publishing contingent in mutually beneficial ways going forward, suggesting that joint artistic projects would indeed mean vital support for Ukrainian creators, but that Ukraine itself has a rich and diverse culture and audiences to offer as well.
Music supervisors, sync and publishers
The Summit’s independent publishing delegation got some valuable insight into the other side of sync via a panel that featured music supervisor Michelle de Vries, Sky TV’s Peter Bradbury and Budde Music’s Katja Jainski-Manteuffel, with Reel Muzik Werks President and CEO Teri Nelson Carpenter on moderation duties.
The session was packed full of practical, honest advice for rights-holders looking to pitch their music for upcoming productions.
The Music Supervisors, Synch and Publishers panel was moderated by IMPF Board Member and President & CEO at Reel Muzik Werks Teri Nelson Carpenter and featured [L-R] Michelle de Vries (music supervisor); Peter Bradbury (Sky TV); and Katja Jainski-Manteuffel (Budde Music).
Peter Bradbury suggested that, in terms of targeting, while binge-worthy TV spots often grab the headlines, a publisher’s efforts may be better spent elsewhere from a commercial point of view.
“If your track is in a drama, it might get played twice on Sky,” he explained. “If it’s in a [sports] promo, it might get played 15,000 times. In terms of royalties, I’d target the promo. There’s a tendency to think about it through Stranger Things goggles. I’d move on from that.”
Meanwhile, de Vries encouraged music publishers to go out and educate those working in the world of film and TV about the value of music.
“One thing I’ve been astonished by is how little directors and producers know and understand about the process, the effort and the money it takes to create music,” she said. “They’re taught in film school to use their mates’ music for free. They don’t understand why they should be paying for music. [Independent publishers] should go out and explain music rights to up-and-coming directors.”
Tuesday evening saw The Ivors’ Graham Davies, GESAC’s Veronique Desbrosses, ECSA’s Marc du Moulin and IMPF Board member Francesca Trainini discuss the increasing problem of buy-out contracts being imposed on composers by US-based VoDs.
Davies described the problem succinctly as an increasing pressure on composers to sign away all future royalties for a fee by VoD services. “Commissioners will say it’s a massive fee but, against future royalties, it isn’t,” he explained.
While members of the panel could point to positive changes in legislature in some territories, the consensus was that real change could only come by generating a degree of collective action, including from publishers, and encouraging composers to come forward with evidence of the practice – something that is easier said than done, as GESAC’s Desbrosses pointed out: “We really need a European solution but, to have that, you need a political angle, and you need to bring evidence, but there is a fear among composers to come forward [in case they’re unable] to participate in other projects.”
The Summit programme was rounded off by a discussion on ‘The Big Future of Independent Music Publishing’, in which IMPEL CEO Sarah Williams was joined by Downtown Music Holdings’ Molly Neuman and Reservoir Media’s Rell Lafargue.
Williams pointed to what she saw as the “green shoots” of publishers becoming more innovative “and seizing the initiative”. She asked Lafargue, who sits on the Board of The MLC, whether he thought the relatively new organisation represented a sea change for the music business.
30 songwriters attended the five-day Songwriting Camp that ran alongside the Summit, producing 30 brand new songs in total, culminating in a high energy listening session.
“I think we can all learn from what’s going on there,” said Lafargue. “Basically, issuing a blanket license, having the DSPs pay to process their royalties, putting all of the money into the hands of the publishers, and having them process the royalties themselves and getting it right. It’s a fantastic idea.
“The other things that are coming out of this is that we’re paying people monthly for streaming now, over a billion dollars has flown through this, the match rates are up to just under 90% and it continues to rise.”
The topic of conversation at the Summit almost came full circle when Lafargue pointed out that The MLC also offers full visibility into the entire database of splits and who owns what songs. “I think that PRS has just announced that they’re going to make more data available too,” he added. “I hope that trend continues because playing keep-away with data for licensing purposes is a massive pothole. We need to go forward and hopefully The MLC can be the test case.”
Again, the call came for new, collective processes and infrastructures to handle the vast amount of music IP landing on streaming services daily and make sure revenue finds its way back to the correct bank accounts.
Molly Neuman echoed Niclas Molinder from the start of the Sumit, saying, “It requires us to think a little bit differently. As these numbers to grow, how do you build capacity and meet that need from a licensing and operational perspective? It would be great if we had more of a common solution, rather than trying to solve the same problem side by side. These are progressive matters, and we need to think about the gates and barriers still in place, and how we confront them.”