IMPF 25th Oct 2023

'We need to work together. At the moment, we don’t even speak the same language'

Independent music publishers from around the globe gathered in Palma for IMPF's second Music Summit in October. The stand off between the music industry and AI tech developers dominated conversation. Here's the full report from the conference...

Following the runaway success of last year’s inaugural event, a capacity crowd of more than 340 independent music publishers and industry associates from all over the world descended on Palma de Mallorca for IMPF’s second Music Entrepreneurial and Creative Industry Summit, which is co-financed by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union under the IMPF Network project to expand and add capacity to independent music publishers.

Reservoir Media had the pleasure of opening the event with a welcome cocktail reception on the eve of the Summit at the Hotel Victoria Gran Meliá. The company’s President and COO Rell Lafargue said, “It’s great to see so many familiar faces. It was a wonderful conference last year and, by the looks of it, it’s going to be twice as good this time. It’s a great opportunity to talk about the issues of the day and catch up in person. Congratulations to the IMPF for pulling this off. We’re really excited to be part of it.”

Molly Neuman, Chief Marketing Officer, bid good morning to her industry peers at the Summit’s first breakfast reception the next day, hosted by Downtown Music Publishing. “We’re very lucky to be here to talk about and improve the industry as best we can,” she said. “I’m so impressed with what IMPF has done in the past year. We’re really grateful.”

Indeed, this year’s Summit programme represented a comprehensive To Do list for the independent music publishing community – but, when IMPF canvassed the gathered crowd at the Hotel Victoria, the words on everyone’s lips were ‘artificial intelligence’.

Speaking to IMPF after her speech, Neuman said: “It feels like our industry is trying to welcome the new opportunities that AI will bring but they don’t want to be foolish. Those conversations are obviously happening here and are important.”

Rocking Gorillas Music Chairman John Telfer said: “The key thing that is hitting everyone in the creative industries is artificial intelligence. We need to come up with a degree of legislation – not to stop it, but to encourage good use, and stop the bad.”

IMPEL CEO Sarah Williams was optimistic about the potential for AI and humans to coexist in the creative space: “AI will never replace culture, it will only contribute,” she predicted. “It will disrupt business, and we need to work out how to navigate that, but humans will always want to work with and hear from other humans.”

The Summit officially kicked off at the neighbouring Hotel Melia Palma Marina, with a panel discussion focused on the creative side of songwriting, and how music publishers can assist, support, and inspire international synergies to develop a greater interactive global songwriting community.

The panel consisted of Helienne Lindvall (Composer and ECSA President), Arriën Molema (Songwriter and Vice President of CIAM), Marcelo Castello Branco (Chair of the Board of Directors of CISAC and CEO of UBC), Annette Barrett (IMPF President and Global Strategic Liaison at Reservoir), and Ivor Novello winner and Grammy nominated singer, songwriter and producer Jamie Hartman, alongside moderator Molly Neuman (CMO of Downtown Music Holdings).

“Never underestimate the international market,” warned Barrett. “Don’t forget that anything can come from anywhere. Putting writers with other writers from other territories and cultures brings new ideas and direction. Your own territory is great, but I’ve found over many years that, actually, sometimes a writer can work so much better in a different territory – a different culture works for them. It’s important to explore these things – and to have different partners on the ground in other countries to explore their idiosyncrasies.”

Lindvall added that there is often more scope for songwriters to have real success outside of their domestic territories in the modern music biz – something that those from Anglo-American markets should keep in mind.

“Traditionally people were so focused on the Anglo-American market,” she pointed out. “But you can have a long career as a songwriter with hits in Germany, Scandinavia, Korea… It used to be that if you were successful in Korea, nobody would know your name [outside of the territory]. That’s not the case now.”

Arriën Molema agreed that the world is more open to songwriters than ever before but suggested that they still have to find the right partners to make opportunities count – with writing careers often being precarious.

“You can make a really quick connection with someone you want to work with [elsewhere in the world], but it’s complicated – you need knowledge of the territory and the opportunities in that country,” he said. “One of the concerns songwriters have is that they only have one career. For me as a songwriter, if my career doesn’t do what I need it to do at this point, then I’m screwed. As a publisher, you manage multiple careers. As a songwriter, you need a team of people that can support you with your one chance. Globalisation has diversified the market, but you need expertise.”

Jamie Hartman had particular praise for his long-time publisher Annette Barrett. “Having the support of publishers, who can curate and put you in the positions that allow things to happen changes everything. Annette put me in the right situations. Having personal relationships, and people who know this industry inside out, gives you the opportunities you need to have a hit.”

Later in the day, delegates had the opportunity to learn more about the programme that made the IMPF event possible, with a presentation from Creative Europe’s Olga Sismanidi. She had joined the music publishing community in Palma to attend bi-lateral meetings with those present that were running other Network Projects, and hold discussions on sources of funding and programme opportunities for music publishers, as well as hosting a presentation during the Summit on the various aspects of the Creative Europe programme.

In total, The Europe Union co-finances 37 pan-European Networks of culture and creative organisations, under the Creative Europe programme. The networks support cultural organisations and professionals who contribute to strengthening the competitiveness and diversity of the European cultural and creative sectors.

Sismanidi revealed that the initiative has invested more than 100 million Euros into music projects, platforms and networks over the last seven years.

“The idea is that by providing co-financing on a project basis, we will be able to support and facilitate access to culture, both for professionals and audiences,” she explained. “We also have collaborations aiming to attract the best talents in Europe, to leverage the finance between public and private, and to scale up the economy.”

The Summit’s second panel discussion, The State of Global Rights Management, brought everyone back to the hot topic of the moment, with the growing prominence of AI naturally being the primary concern.

Moderated by IMRO CEO Victor Finn, the conversation brought together Matteo Fedeli (SIAE), Andrea C. Martin (PRS for Music), Alisa Coleman (ABKCO Music & Records and The MLC), Cristina Perpiñá-Robert Navarro (SGAE) and Ole Dreyer (The Nordic Music Society, Musikforlaeggerne i Danmark, and KODA).

There was no doubt among the group that action had to be taken on AI – much quicker than had been taken in the face of previous technological threats.

“Close to 90% of our members want to have a say on AI and have their rights protected,” said PRS for Music CEO Martin. “We have to work together on this globally.”

ABKCO’s Coleman agreed, but also pointed out the need to establish a clear objective to inform the right approach, saying, “It really depends on what’s being used. There is a lot of talk about scraping data but, to determine licensing and compensation, we need to work together as a creative community to figure out how to address each different type of exploitation.

“There is a lot of history of handling similar situations,” she added. “We know they can stop it, that they can act responsibly. So, the question is, what is the system doing with our material and how do we license it, if we choose to license it?

“We have to find a balance and we have to communicate, which is inherently difficult in our industry.”

AI was also the starting point for a conversation between SACEM CEO Cécile Rap-Veber and moderator Emmanuel Legrand. Rap-Veber welcomed the new technology as far as it could improve business processes across various departments, ultimately decreasing costs. “But, on the other hand, AI is a problem for creators,” she said.

“We have to fight at both a national and European level, because we don’t have clarity. There is the AI Act which means that if you don’t opt-out your work will be used for training different AI. At SACEM, we have recently decided that we must opt-out.”

Rap-Veber also covered recent growth in SACEM’s collections, with the organisation having collected up to 1.7bn Euros last year, as well as speeding up distributions across online, live and broadcasting rights. She set a target to get daily streaming reports from DSPs to gain parity with labels.

She also argued that, with DSPs largely being controlled from the US and China, there was need for a conscious effort to promote local creators across less influential territories: “What’s important to me is to promote diversity. Otherwise, there will [only be a certain few] that survive, and that isn’t how we create the stars of tomorrow.”

Red Brick Songs President Jennifer Mitchell moderated a panel taking an in-depth look at the Canadian music market and the opportunities it presents for both artists and publishers globally. She was joined by Margaret McGuffin (Music Publishers Canada), Andrea England (Four Chords And The Truth, LFM and CMRRA), Catharine Saxberg (SOCAN); Vincent Degiorgio (Cymba Music Publishing), and Odette Lindsay (Third Side Music).

SOCAN’s Saxberg and CMRRA’s England talked about how the two licensing organisations have found a way to work together that “is driven by the strengths of both of us.”

“Hopefully that will continue. If it does, I see nothing but upside for publishers,” said Saxberg.

Margaret McGuffin celebrated the term of copyright moving from life plus 50 to life plus 70 years in Canada at the start of the year – a legislative change that MPC was very much involved in driving forward.

She also outlined ambitions behind an Online Streaming Act, part of which will see online streaming services “come into Canada and commit,” according to McGuffin.

“They can’t come in and not put people on the ground or contribute to the infrastructure,” she explained. “It’s about making sure we have a diversity of voices in Canada. Our voices are very different from the US and the rest of the world – and they are being heard around the world. 71% of independent music publishers in Canada see their revenue come from foreign sources. We have invested in Canadian songwriters and composers, and they’re global forces. That’s what the Online Streaming Act is about – competitiveness – but we need to make sure our regional and indigenous voices have the opportunity to develop.”

A roundtable led by Cecilia León (AEDEM Spain/Ediciones Joaquín Rodrigo) and Davide Grosso (IMC) asked why the exponential rise of online royalties being experienced by pop music isn’t occurring at the same rate for classical music and other musical genres.

León suggested that a key reason could be found in the minutia of metadata.

“Most music platforms’ mandatory metadata does not require the identification of the composer,” she pointed out, explaining that this often meant such crucial information was inaccurate or absent all together at DSPs. “In my opinion, this is an infringement of moral rights. Every composer has the right to be identified as the creator of their work.”

Grosso added: “We have been discussing metadata and how unfair streaming is for over 10 years. There have been attempts [to fix things] but none of them have arrived in the mainstream. We need to ask why they have failed and we need to educate the public so that they understand the value of music.”

He went on to reveal plans for a brand-new streaming platform that is by creators, for creators: “We will ask creators, publishers, CMOs [and others] what their dream streaming platform would look like,” he said. “This is not to compete with the existing streaming platforms. We want to demonstrate that the technology to make things more transparent [fair and efficient] is possible.”

Day one also saw delegates get an early look at WIPO for Creators’ new Clip platform with Niclas Molinder. The resource will give creators all the information they need to navigate the music industry and their various rights to make sure they get credited and paid.

Meanwhile, songwriter Jamie Hartman presented his own creator tool alongside co-founders Ed Bennett-Coles and Cameron Chell. ARK is a blockchain-based, biometric boosted system that the trio believe will help artists, inventors and entrepreneurs alike protect their IP from the point of conception all the way to market.

Day two began with a panel focused on syncronisation – a revenue opportunity that continues to increase in significance for music publishers.

The panel consisted of Nicky Bignell (BBC), Sue Crawshaw (music supervisor), Quentin Boniface (Netflix), and Mary Jo Mennella (Music Asset Management Inc), with moderation duties carried out by Teri Nelson Carpenter (Reel Muzik Werks).

Nicky Bignell laid out just how much of a role music has to play at the BBC, revealing that it uses “something like 250,000 unique works every week across [all] channels.” She added: “In terms of sync, my team all have amazing stories about working with independent publishers – quick responses, good deals… we really appreciate that.”

On the flip side, Quentin Boniface explained just how much of an opportunity online streaming platforms like Netflix still create for music companies and artists of all statures.

We have 238m subscribers,” he said. “If you have a song synced on one of our productions, you can potentially reach that wide audience. The impact is huge.

“Kate Bush had a billion streams on DSPs after featuring on Stranger Things,” he offered as an example. “But we’re also trying to please the local audience in each of our territories. We try to use local talent in that case – that’s the other opportunity.”

The BBC’s Bignell added that the opportunity at the BBC is also not limited to a one-time airing in the UK: “If you get a sync on the BBC, you’re not just going to get a bit of money from the blanket agreement, you’ll earn from the long tail of our sales around the world, including on Netflix, Apple TV and the likes.”

Of course, in terms of TV and film production, the big topic in recent months has been the writers and actors’ strikes in Hollywood. It’s certainly had an impact on the sync business, as music supervisor Sue Crawshaw explained.

“The strike has been like a mini Covid for music supervisors,” she said. “We used to be across 10 shows, now we’re working on three shows. It’s had a knock-on effect for everyone including music supervisors. Documentary and advertising is still strong but, in terms of TV and film, this mini Covid has happened only a short time after we all got back to work.”

Amos Biegun (Vistex), Indi Chawla (The MLC), Rell Lafargue (Reservoir Media) and Paul Shaver (CMRRA & SX Works) were tasked with dissecting the multi-faceted problem of data management for music publishers, focusing primarily on when and how to do it effectively.

The MLC’s Chawla suggested that the extent of music’s data problem could be measured by the fact that the UK Government has recently felt it necessary to wade in on the issue, with the result being the UK Industry Agreement on Music Streaming Metadata. She also suggested, however, that things are improving, with The MLC receiving writer and publisher metadata in around 80% of cases, up from 70% not long ago.

Vistex’s Biegun said he felt the music industry should be proud of the level of standardisation it has achieved to date.

“Our company represents other creative industries that have no standardisation at all,” he said, before suggesting a positive next step would be to look at Common Works Registration, “which has not been updated in 15 years”.

The conversation turned to technology as a potential solution, with a number of platforms and systems emerging that could help writers and publishers alike.

Reservoir Media’s Rell Lafargue said that, while his company embraces technology, “the problem I see is that one size doesn’t fit all.

“Not all creators create the same way, and some choose to be off the grid,” he elaborated. “We have to embrace all the technology and use it all together because I don’t think there’s going to be one solution that works for every songwriter.”

With a certain amount of foreshadowing written into its title, the most well attended session at the Summit was the ‘Talk of The Town’ panel, which was billed as focusing on AI and the metaverse – although artificial intelligence was the dominant concern.

Hosted by IMPEL CEO Sarah Williams, the debate was held between Constance Herreman Follain (CISAC), Florian Koempel (copyright consultant), Markus Schwarzer (CYANITE), María González Gordon (CMS Spain), and Cliff Fluet (Lewis Silkin/MD Eleven).

Fluet challenged the room to “spend half of your time focused on piracy and leave space to think about what [AI] can do for us to solve our problems.”

The relationship between music rights-holders and AI tech companies was a key discussion point, with Fluet reminding everyone that the music industry had failed to license new platforms quickly enough in the past.

There was optimism that the industry is far more prepared this time around, however many on the panel (and in the audience) pointed out that a willingness to license AI entities would fall flat without solid legislative backing.

“We are able to license [AI companies], but we also need help from legislative frameworks,” said CISAC’s Herreman Follain. “We need transparency obligations from AI developers and we need accountability from them. We need to ensure that, if we license these services, it will be respected and money will get back to rights-holders.”

María González Gordon agreed, saying “We need to embrace AI. It’s here already, there will probably be no way back. From a lawyer’s perspective, we want certainty. We want to know that what happens in one place happens in another [when it comes to copyright law]. We don’t like to over regulate but, because AI [is very new], we need a certain baseline.”

Florien Koempel made a more philosophical point, suggesting that the key to thriving alongside AI would be down to improving relationships with the people behind the new tech – something that the music industry perhaps has failed to achieve in the past.

“It’s always so confrontational,” he said. “We need to work together – rights-holders together with tech companies. At the moment, we don’t even speak the same language, which means we all go back to our old positions, which are so defensive. Things are moving quickly, so we need a solution now.”

Music Publishers Canada CEO Margaret McGuffin hosted a discussion on diversity within the music industry between Eva Karman Reinhold (SOM/IMPALA/Smilodon), Tony D. Alexander (Made in Memphis Entertainment), and Olga Heijns (Next Era Music Publishing). The discussion looked at different ways that music’s current gatekeepers can establish greater representation at their companies, and give greater opportunities to marginalised communities.

“The beauty of the music industry is that it doesn’t require a degree or a distinctive education,” said Alexander. “That gives us the opportunity to help individuals. In our recording studios, we have engineers that would be unemployed but for the fact that they have a passion for music and have been given an opportunity to come and work in our space. They interned initially and then were given more opportunity. So, I do think there are ways to help communities, but it truly has to be a deep commitment. You need the will to do the work.”

IMPF was pleased to welcome Member of the European Parliament Ibán García del Blanco to The Summit to present and discuss his recent report on cultural diversity and the conditions for authors in the European music streaming market.

The report makes a number of observations on the modern music landscape, noting “with concern that the current imbalance in revenue allocation in the music streaming market disfavours both authors and performers, and puts the sustainability of their professional career in the digital market at risk.”

It makes a number of detailed recommendations to create a more sustainable ecosystem for authors specifically, including many of the issues discussed by publishers at this year’s Summit, such as creating better visibility on streaming services, and better metadata and identification as it pertains to authors.

IMPF’s General Counsel Ger Hatton took the opportunity to publicly recognise García del Blanco’s support in the European Parliament to date, saying, “I just wanted to say thank you on behalf of IMPF. Ibán has been a really great friend to authors during his tenure, and authors are the fundamental reason that we all do what we do.”

Day two also saw presentations from economist Will Page on the phenomenon of ‘glocalisation’ of music streaming across Europe; an update from IMPEL in its fifth year as a wholly independent entity; and a presentation from ICE on multi-territory royalty flows and the new opportunities it could bring publishers.

The Palma Songwriting Camp ran alongside the Summit programme, with Annette Barrett welcoming industry delegates to experience the results of the sessions during an exuberant listening session sponsored by Spotify.

Aaron Buckingham, songwriter and Publishing Relations Lead EMEA and SEA at Spotify, also addressed the room saying, “What a week! Thank you for inviting us to this event. Songwriting is part of my team’s passion, we hope to put it at the heart of everything Spotify does. It’s a privilege to be here, congratulations to all the writers.”

Many of this year’s Music Summit delegates met back at the Hotel Victoria for one last breakfast reception on the Wednesday morning. The event was hailed as another great success, having given the independent music publishing community plenty to think about on the way to the airport.

“After the success of last year, it’s been great to return to Palma to see the event grow so much,” said Bucks Music Group MD Simon Platz. “It’s quickly established itself as a really important date in the diary for independent music publishers around the world. We’re grateful for all the hard work that IMPF has put into making it happen.”

Beggars Music’s Andy Heath said: “All power to IMPF, they’ve created something that’s very important. The seminars have been full and there’s a good community of publishers here. They compete with each other but they like each other, and it’s a great marketplace for them. Hats off to IMPF.”

The MLC’s Head of International Relations, Indi Chawla, told IMPF: “It’s been fantastic. I’ve been able to meet with MLC members and exchange information with societies who are here as well, so it’s been very fruitful. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who haven’t heard about The MLC or want to delve into our data a bit more, so it’s been great for that as well. It’s a fantastic event and so good to see so many publishers here.”

Mushroom Music Publishing MD Linda Bosidis said: “IMPF has created a unique and exciting meeting place for independent music publishers to come together to foster important relationships, build new connections and solve challenges specific to our industry. From the diverse range of panels to the extensive network of attendees, the event in Palma is an invaluable and productive opportunity to connect face to face with other like-minded teams to continue to forge the future of independent music publishing. For us, it encompassed both business and creative opportunities. Thank you to the IMPF team for another successful year. Can’t wait for 2024.”

IMPF would like to thank the international independent music publishing community and friends for attending the Global Music Entrepreneurial and Creative Industry Summit this year, and its partners and sponsors for making it possible: 22D Music Group, Kemper Music Group, Roba Music Verlag, and Strictly Confidential Music Publishing; and a host of big name sponsors, including Reservoir Media, Bucks Music Group, Downtown Music Publishing, Beggars Music, Spotify, GC Partners; ICE Services, Reel Muzik Werks, On Music, Session Studio, and OYEZ!.


IMPF is a network and meeting place for independent music publishers globally. We want to take advantage of the incredible opportunities to have our music on every service, licensed easily and without borders. And most importantly, we want our writers and our companies rewarded fairly for their work.