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“Digital licensing needs to be fit for purpose”: Music Managers Forum releases Song Royalties Guide, indicating the need for reform to iron out licensing inefficiencies
By Anna Grace on 09 May 2019
The UK’s Music Managers Forum has released a new song royalties guide, highlighting “global licensing inefficiencies” and calling for greater transparency around royalty chains and rights ownership.
Published today at the Great Escape, the new guide, produced by CMU Insights, lifts the lid on how songwriters’ repertoire is licensed to digital music services and how payment systems can reduce the royalties that creators receive.
The report states that while featured artists can be paid royalties within weeks of their track being streamed – especially if they self-release via a DIY distribution platform – those who write the track sometimes wait years before receiving their share.
The MMF calls for action to reform royalty chains, in which global-facing digital music services are licensed on a territorial basis and revenues flow between several parties, causing “delays and deductions” to royalty payments.
Although the percentage of income allocated to the song copyright in streaming is often double that allocated on a CD sale, the report finds that problems on the royalty chains mean songwriters do not benefit from this.
Research shows that problems increase as listening goes global, especially beyond Europe.
“Streaming should be boosting songwriters’ incomes”
MMF draws six key recommendations from the report, urging greater transparency around royalty chains, the reduction of links in the global licensing chain, a nine-month limit on payments post-streaming, the disclosure of any disputes and the reform of redistribution practice.
MMF also encourages songwriters, managers and accountants to push publishers and collecting society partners to address licensing inefficiencies.
“Streaming should be boosting songwriters’ incomes, instead MMF research reveals much of their money is subject to unnecessary data disputes, deductions and delays,” says MMF chief executive Annabella Coldrick.
“Long and complex royalty chains need to be simplified and shortened so more of the money gets back to the creator of the music. Digital licensing needs to be fit for purpose.”
The report forms part of MMF’s Dissecting The Digital Dollar, a series of publications helping artists and managers better understand the streaming business.
MMF membership grew 25% in 2018. The organisation recently made two new appointments to its team, hiring its first industry relations and events manager.
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