This Week In Royalties: Feb 13 - 17

Feb 17, 2017

Benom Plumb, Assistant Professor of Music Industry Studies at the University of Colorado Denver, reviews the biggest stories of the week affecting music royalties. He is a music industry professional, not an attorney.

U.S. Gov Seizure of Music Publishing Assets Draws Malaysian Financier’s Family (Billboard)
Benom’s Take:
This situation ties into the historically significant purchase of EMI Music Publishing by Sony/ATV some years ago. Long story short, Sony purchased EMI for $2.2 billion and approx $107 million of that was invested/purchased with Malaysian public funds, then diverted to high-level Malaysian government officials. Along with many other assets like real estate and artwork, some of the EMI Music Publishing assets were seized by the U.S. Government. All in a day’s work for the Dept. of Justice’s asset forfeiture program. Bottom line, this story is just more evidence that everybody in the world wants a piece of valuable music publishing assets.

Four Companies That Could Buy Spotify (Music Industry Blog)
Benom’s Take:
It’s amazing to me that we’re already talking about potential Spotify buyers! Just more fascinating details about Spotify’s IPO situation. This blog explains that if it doesn’t turn things around, Spotify’s debt burden may be too much to bear. If Spotify were to sell, it’s likely an international buyer would be the strongest candidate. Even so, don’t ever count out Apple or Facebook.

Facebook Tries to Offer Music Labels a YouTube Alternative (Bloomberg Technology)
Benom’s Take:
Speaking of Facebook! Personally, I think “licensing” of private, user-generated videos is a little too over-protectionist of an approach - and I consider myself pretty “protectionist” on music assets. True story, one of my friends posted a video on Facebook of a puppy he got his twin daughters for Christmas, dancing to a famous song playing in the background. Facebook rejected the video on copyright violations. The guy just wanted to show off a cute puppy to his friends and family! I don’t get it. If your Facebook settings are set to “private” and you’re not seeking commercial gain in it - what’s the big deal? But if the video goes viral and you make tons of cash from ad revenue, using the song, that’s something entirely different and should require licensing. The labels and publishers need to make a deal somehow, at least for the professional and commercial content on Facebook. Get creative and customize it! If it’s a dancing puppy video, then slap a Puppy Chow ad before it and be done with it!