Major Labels’ $1 Billion Decision Against Cox Communications Overturned
A U.S. appeals court has overturned a $1 billion 2019 decision in favor of the major labels against cable and internet provider Cox Communications, setting the stage for a new trial. In December 2019, a Virginia jury found Cox Communications — the largest unit of privately owned Cox Enterprises and the third-largest broadband service provider in the U.S. — liable for its customers’ violations of more than 10,000 copyrights held by labels that include Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group. The court said in its ruling on Tuesday: “We affirm the jury’s finding of willful contributory infringement. But we reverse the vicarious liability verdict and remand for a new trial on damages because Cox did not profit from its subscribers’ acts of infringement, a legal prerequisite for vicarious liability.”
Only 19% of artists on Spotify had over 1,000 monthly listeners in 2023
The music streaming business is changing. New thresholds coming into effect at Spotify this quarter aim to tackle streaming fraud and the dilution of streaming royalties between high and low-quality content.
Inspired by Universal Music Group‘s ‘artist-centric’ streaming strategy, Spotify’s new rules see ‘premium’ artists and ‘premium’ content financially prioritized over so-called low-quality tracks and creator accounts with low engagement.
Amongst those rules are that tracks on Spotify must have reached at least 1,000 streams in the previous 12 months in order to generate royalties on the platform.
To put into perspective just how many tracks will be impacted by this change, Luminate recently reported in its 2023 Year-End Music Report that 158.6 million of them each received 1,000 or fewer plays on audio streaming services in 2023.
Why You Should Make More Short Songs
Since the 1990s, the average song length has been going down, settling at about 3:15 today, according to The Washington Post. And it may continue to decrease because “social media is nudging song lengths downward.” “The attention span for any entertainment has changed a lot,” said Erika Nuri Taylor, a Grammy-nominated songwriter. “People are interested for two minutes and then they want to switch to the next thing – the next song, the next video, the next TikTok. It’s constant scrolling and bouncing around.”
For example, at this year’s Grammy Awards, 28 of the 144 nominated songs were under three minutes long. That’s 19% of the songs nominated. While in 2023, 14% of the songs nominated were under three minutes.
Now, I know the Grammy Awards are not the best representation of the music industry as a whole. It’s mainly just famous artists patting each other on the back. But it does somewhat match the downward trend of song length.
FTC Steps Up Pressure on AI Deepfakes & Impersonations
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is seeking to update regulations surrounding the creation of deepfakes and impersonations of businesses, government agencies, or celebrities to trick consumers. The final language of the regulation for generative AI platforms could make it illegal to offer services that could be used to harm consumers through impersonation. “With voice cloning and other AI-driven scams on the rise, protecting Americans from impersonator fraud is more critical than ever,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a press statement. The updated rules for government and business impersonation would empower the FTC to initiate federal court cases to directly compel scammers to return illegally acquired funds. For example, a deepfake of a celebrity like Oprah hawking vitamin pills could be pursued for impersonation. There are no federal laws that address the sharing or creation of deepfake images and videos—though these personalities have resource through copyright laws, publicity rights, and other protections. The final rule will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The public comment period for the proposed rule will be open for 60 days following the date it is published—so the FTC can monitor public feedback to the rule change.
Music Industry Funding Already Tops $1.25 Billion In 2024 — But That’s Substantially Below Funding Levels at the Same Point In 2023
How’s music industry funding faring in 2024? Here’s a breakdown of relevant raises to this point in the year – and a look at how they stack up against their 2023 counterparts. The data behind this analysis comes from DMN Pro’s Music Industry Funding Tracker, a comprehensive collection of raises attributable to the music space and sub-sectors. Between 2024’s start and today, February 15th, 11 such raises have been announced, down slightly from 12 during the same window in 2023.
All told, music industry funding has approached $1.25 billion across 2024’s initial month and a half, per the all-encompassing resource. But the lion’s share of that massive sum entered the media spotlight today, when Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group revealed that it had obtained north of $1 billion from backers including HPS Investment Partners.
MLC: Highest Compensated Employees The MLC, Inc. has to disclose its “highly compensated” employees on its nonprofit Form 990 tax return for 2022 (note this probably doesn’t include travel to CES, the Grammys, MIDEM, SXSW, etc., etc.) The Copyright Office will be deciding very soon to keep the party going another five years.
BMI Acquisition Officially Signed and Sealed — With a Promised $100 Million Doled Out to Songwriters, Composers, and Publishers
New Mountain Capital officially announces its acquisition of BMI, with $100 million of the sale’s proceeds going to stakeholder
iHeartMedia. Investment firm New Mountain Capital has announced the completion of its acquisition of Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), one of the world’s largest performing rights organization. Previously announced in November, the deal includes BMI allocating $100 million of the sale’s proceeds to affiliates. The allocation, while not a distribution of royalties, is “in recognition of the creativity of the songwriters, composers, and publishers they have had the privilege to represent,” while keeping in-line with BMI’s distribution methodologies, “based on performance levels over a set period.”
Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards Show
When: February 24, 2024 7:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Where: ACL Live at the Moody Theater, 310 West Willie Nelson Boulevard, Austin, TX
On February 24, 2024, the Texas Heritage Songwriters Association will host their annual Texas Songwriters Hall of Fame Awards Show. This premiere event concludes a 2-day celebration that brings together our latest class of songwriters who represent the spirit of Texas into the spotlight for a unique ceremony and inducts them into the TxHSA Hall of Fame. The 2024 Class of Honorees includes Eric Johnson, Jack Ingram, Jon Randall, Ruthie Foster and Terry McBride, and Tanya Tucker will receive the Darrell K Royal Texas Music Legend Award from the TxHSA. Special performances by Miranda Lambert, Emmylou Harris, Ronnie Dunn and more!
SiriusXM Cuts 3% of Workforce to Invest in Content, New Technologies
Eleven months after SiriusXM cut 8% of its workforce, the company announced on Monday (Feb. 12) that it will eliminate another 3% of its staff. The layoffs will impact about 170 jobs based on the company’s head count of 5,680 full-time and part-time employees as of Dec. 31, according to its 2023 annual report. The cuts will affect every team and business unit and will enable SiriusXM to invest in its content, marketing and technology platform, a company spokesperson told Billboard. Investors tend to react positively to news of layoffs made to reduce costs and speed a transformation. Shares of SiriusXM rose as much as 3.1% to $5.05 Monday morning and stood at $5.01, up 2.1%, in the mid-afternoon.
Streaming music reaches 20% of all U.S. listening. Podcasts at 11%.
In the just-released Share of Ear report from Edison Research, streaming music claims 20% of U.S. consumer time spent listening (13+ years). It is a first-time milestone in the history of Edison’s quarterly report. To be exact, this is how Edison suggests to frame the metric: “The average person in the U.S. spends 20% of their daily audio time listening to streaming music.”
AM/FM listening falls one point (from the previous quarter) to 36% of time spent. It’s important to remember that these numbers do not represent reach, and do represent percent of all listening to recorded music in all modes of delivery.
The Perfect Collaborator
Early in my songwriting journey, I barely eked out a living working temp jobs. My idea of financial planning was figuring out who might lend me the money to pay my rent for my rundown room on the fringes of Hollywood. Paying to hire musicians, a recording studio, and engineer to record my demos was out of the question. But without demos of my songs, I would be unable to catch the ear of a publisher or other music industry professional. Of course, we need to write with people who can contribute elements that are not our forte. For example, someone who is primarily a lyricist needs to work with someone who can contribute melodies and chords. I have written successful songs solo, but many of my best songs were the result of my contributing the topline—the vocal melody and lyrics. I’m a mediocre guitarist at best, and I’ve found that when I am not tasked with thinking about chord changes or grooves, some of my strongest melodies and lyrics emerge. There is no magic formula for finding that elusive chemistry, other than writing with many collaborators and keeping an open mind. As the saying goes, sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs…
Mechanical Licensing Collective Files Suit Against Pandora Over Unpaid Mechanical Royalties
The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) has filed a lawsuit against Pandora Media, LLC (Pandora) over allegedly unpaid blanket royalties that are due under the compulsory mechanical license that Pandora obtained in order to function as a consumer music streaming platform. As an interactive service, Pandora must pay mechanical royalties for all streaming activity on the service; in the lawsuit filed in Nashville federal court on Monday, (February 12) the MLC states that the company has failed to report and pay all that it owes under its ad-supported offering, Pandora Free.
“The MLC has repeatedly raised this license compliance issue with Pandora and asked it to correct its reporting, but it has refused to do so,” writes the MLC. “We are taking legal action to ensure that our Members receive all the mechanical royalties they are due in connection with the use of their songs by Pandora.”
Apple is phasing out iTunes for Windows. Years after the company broke down its legendary software for the Mac into Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV+, it’s finally time for Windows users to have a similar experience. If you’re running Windows 10 and open the iTunes app, it will ask you to download the new apps.
'Made in America' country music legend Toby Keith dead at 62 Keith ran the race and kept the faith, which he indicated late in his battle with cancer had been his 'rock.'
Country music legend Toby Keith died Monday night after a lengthy battle with stomach cancer. A message posted to the "Should've Been a Cowboy" singer's social media page noted that he died surround by his family.
"He fought his fight with grace and courage," continued the message. "Please respect the privacy of his family at this time."
The Oklahoma native, born in Clinton on July 8, 1961, announced in June 2022 that he had cancer and that he had been undergoing chemotherapy for several months. Prior to his receipt of the Country Icon Award at the inaugural People's Choice Country Awards in September 2023, the
derrick hand's son told Fox News Digital, "I lean on my faith, and I just pray."
"You gotta do what you gotta do, and I don't know how people do it without faith. ... That's that what I did," added Keith.
The singer underscored that throughout his battle with cancer, faith "was [his] rock."
Upon receiving the Country Icon Award, Keith singled out his Creator, saying, "I want to thank the Almighty for allowing me to be here tonight. He's been riding shotgun with me for a while."