France’s music market won’t stop growing as streaming income reaches €243m

Streaming is driving growth in music industries all around the world and France aren’t missing out on the gains.

According to the latest from the SNEP France’s music market saw a 23% growth last year. That brought streaming profits up to €243 million in 2017, an increase of €46 million on 2016. Streaming now counts for 41.6% of the market.

Of the €243 million in streaming revenue, premium subscriptions accounted for €203 million and the remaining came from ad-supported music streams. Whilst Premium is clearly making up the most of the revenue free streaming actually saw the biggest growth in France last year. Subscriptions rose 21% to 4.4 million subscribers whilst ad-funded streaming grew by 33%

Overall the French music market grew by 3.9% to a total of €723 million with physical music still accounting for the majority, 51.2%. The vinyl resurgence has a large role in music revenue accounting for 12.2% of overall profits. Out of the overall music market revenue including sync licensing and performance rights physical music makes up 41% and digital accounts for 39%.

The general director of SNEP, Guillaume Leblanc says: “The efforts of the producers and the whole industry are paying, this recovery is encouraging, but it is fragile. We are starting to rebuild a value, but we are still far from the peak reached in 2002. This growth must be confirmed over time.”

Gibson guitars face bankruptcy; “running out of time – rapidly”

One of the world’s most iconic guitar manufacturers, Gibson may run out of money very soon as debt payments loom.

Gibson’s doors may soon close after over 100 years making top-quality guitars for everyone from the world’s biggest guitarists to bedroom guitarists. They’ve managed to get themselves caught in a big ball of debt with $375 million in repayments due by July 23rd.

Kevin Cassidy, a senior credit officer at Moody’s Investor Services, says: “If this ends in bankruptcy, he will give up the entire company. Some type of restructuring will be necessary. The core business is a very stable business, and a sustainable one. But you have a balance sheet problem and an operational problem.”

Gibson haven’t had the greatest few years recently with their financials brought into question following the sale of it’s Memphis factory and ending development on their Cakewalk music program. Then later last year they announced a new range of candy Les Paul’s with a hefty price tag which makes a bit more sense now.

Next week Gibson Brands are due to report their fiscal, third-quarter figures to shareholders next week. Their post notes: “Bond owners will be watching for an improvement in the company’s electronics business, which has been built up in the past few years via debt-fuelled acquisitions but has been sales slump of late. Still, even a solid turnaround on that front won’t be enough for Juszkiewicz to avoid difficult conversations.”

Apple Music just hired a writer from Billboard, XXL, Complex

Apple Music have hired an experienced music journalist to helm the editorial ship in Apple’s music streaming fleet.

Apple have hired adept journalist Alex Gale to take on the head position of their editorial department. Gale has years of journalistic experience under his belt at numerous music publications such as Billboard, Complex, Vibe, and XXL.

Gale will be overseeing all the wordy stuff that you see across Apple’s various music platforms; Apple Music, iTunes, and Beats 1. According to Variety’s report on his hire, Gale will also be involved in some video projects. Gale will work under Jen Robbins, the director of project management and editorial at Apple.

Earlier this week Apple revealed it’s first subscription numbers since last year, with 36 million now subscribed to Apple Music. Apple last talked numbers when they announced they 30 million subscribers last September, suggesting that Apple Music is gaining over a million subscribers each month.

Billboard, Hollywood Reporter, and others merge into new ‘Valence Media’ company

Billboard and other big media companies have come together to become one big unified company.

Film, television, news, all come together in a new partnership that sees 3 of media’s biggest companies join together. The new ‘Valence Media’ company is made up of the Billboard and Hollywood Reporter Media Group, Dick Clark productions, and Media Rights Capital (MRC) – a film and television studio.

The companies revealed the merger last Thursday, hoping that bringing their different areas of talent into a joint effort can enhance their film & television production, publishing and hosting live events. Each company will remain it’s own brand with independent leadership but work under a larger whole with better connections and resources.

Valence will be led by 2 of MRC’s co-founders Asif Satchu and Modi Wiczyk who will serve co-CEOs of Valence. Todd Boehly will serve as the chairman of Valence. Wiczyk said to Variety: “What we have as a foundation from day one is expertise and relationships across film, scripted TV, live events and digital media. That’s a great base to build from.”

Streaming royalties to rise almost 50% for songwriters, US Copyright Board declare

After almost a year of discussion over music streaming rates it has been decided that songwriter’s rates will rise 50% in the next 5 years.

Last march the United States Copyright Royalty Board began talks over the legal royalty rate for songwriters when their music is streamed in the US. On Saturday their decision was finally issued and in a triumph for musicians the board have decided that the rates will be raised by 50% over the next 5 years. Additional good news for artists on streaming services the Copyright Royalty Board have also changed how songwriters are paid mechanical royalties.

National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) president and CEO David Israelite said: “We are thrilled the CRB raised rates for songwriters by 43.8% – the biggest rate increase granted in CRB history. Crucially, the decision also allows songwriters to benefit from deals done by record labels in the free market. The ratio of what labels are paid by the services versus what publishers are paid has significantly improved. resulting in the most favourable balance in the history of the industry.”

The new rates mean songwriters will get $1 for every $3.82 to labels. Israelite added that an “effective ratio of 3.82 to 1 is still not a fair split that we might achieve in a free market. The bottom line is this is the best mechanical rate scenario for songwriters in U.S. history, which is critically important as interactive streaming continues to dominate the market.”

Steaming services are yet to respond to the changes which will affect all of the top services including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Tidal, and all others streaming in the US. Although the Copyright Royalty Board’s decision can be challenged and the larger companies were likely fighting the change, it’s unlikely this will go to court for an appeal.

Sony/ATV chairman and CEO, Martin Bandier said: “As the leading music publisher, we believe that overall this is a very positive ruling by the CRB as it will deliver an unprecedented topline rate increase for songwriters and publishers over the next five years. While we are disappointed not to get the per-stream rate that we wanted, the planned rate increases go a long way to fairly compensate our songwriters for the essential contribution they make to streaming’s success story.”

Warner offer to buyout employees as music streaming becomes priority

Warner Music Group have placed their bets on music streaming being the next big thing, but that may see some employees left jobless.

Warner are offering to buyout employees who still work with physical music. Warner Music Group have reportedly offered payments to around 130 employees that still work with physical music.

Nielsen Music that Warner Music saw a steep decline of 19.6 percent in their CD sales for 2017. According to a report by Billboard Warner have sent ‘buyout letters’ to roughly 130 employees that deal with physical music from WEA – the global distribution, marketing, sales, and research branch.

It’s part of the major label’s larger plans in targeted reduction of their costs. Their total reduction hopes weren’t specified but they are expected to redirect the savings into their music streaming business which is booming (in case you didn’t know).

In a followup letter from WEA president Tony Harlow, he said: “WEA has always been at the forefront of evolution in the industry, and the current shift towards digital and streaming is no exception. As our business continues to evolve, and in order to maximise our artists’ impact globally, we are realigning resources within WEA.”

Fortunately it is a voluntary buyout so you can choose to stay if you wish, Warner are clearly just seeing that the future might not be bright for non-digital markets. Harlow continued that it was to give “valued colleagues in those areas of WEA the opportunity to make choices of their own.”

7digital sign contracts with popular music store 8tracks and others

7digital have signed new contracts with MediaMarktSaturn and 8tracks with new opportunities on the horizon.

7digital have confirmed new contracts with two big new businesses. 7digital, provider of music to stores and services around the world, is expanding their agreement with MediaMarktSaturn whilst entering new territory with their 8tracks partnership.

With MediaMarktSaturn 7digital are extending their existing agreement which currently includes the transfer of their German music service Juke to the 7digital platform. MediaMarktSaturn are also 7digital’s largest shareholder and their new contract contains a “significant setup fee for work done in 2017 and ongoing monthly recurring revenues”.

The company’s new contract with 8tracks will see them provide their music and services to the popular digital music service. 8tracks platform is based around music discovery with playlists curated by groups of people. The deal will last for at last one year and 7digital hope that it will “contribute to 7digital’s revenues for 2018 and beyond.”.

7digital CEO Simon Cole said: “The further development of our relationship with MediaMarktSaturn strengthens an already fruitful relationship with a key player in Europe’s electronics and entertainment retail market, and further underpins our 2018 revenues.”

7digital also revealed a bunch of client services they are working towards launching:

Progress continues to be made with regards to publicly launching other client services. Technology leader Altair Engineering, Inc. launched its service WEYV in the U.S. on 5th December. WEYV is a platform for streaming audio and visual content, for which 7digital provides access to music and technology services.

French company Deedo SAS launched its pan-African music service in France, Senegal, Mali and Ivory Coast. Launches in a further 23 territories are planned by 2020, including 16 in Africa, 5 in Europe, the USA and Canada. 7digital provides technology, access to music and web app development for the Deedo service.

German broadcaster Klassik Radio has also launched its radio streaming service ‘Klassik Radio Select’, focusing on classical and associated genres. 7digital provides Klassik Radio with access to music under a deal announced in Q1 2016. Klassik Radio has significant support from the industry and has to date announced several long-term license agreements with music labels Universal, Sony and Naxos.

will.i.am’s company just bought and earbud company because it’s still not dead

will.i.am won’t give up on his dream of being relevant in the world of technology and his company i.am+ are looking to Bluetooth earphones to make it for them.

Makers of Bluetooth earbuds, Earin just got purchased by will.i.am’s tech company that he for some reason owns. i.am+ (yes, incredible name, we know) probably used some of their $117 million+ in funding to purchase the Swedish ear-focused audio company.

Earin have won awards for their earbuds which are designed with subtly, quality and style. They have been acclaimed for the scope of quality within such a small product. will.i.am’s company on the other hand have created some failed tech wearables and are currently developing a voice-powered AI because there isn’t already a bunch of them made by massive tech companies.

The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed but Earin’s established brand and quality product could be one of the first positive things to come from i.am+, because they didn’t develop it themselves. That’s not to say Earin’s earphones are infallible, they have been criticised for weak connections, battery life and a limited set of features – all things I’m sure i.am+ can degrade that further.

Jokes aside Earin’s second product, the M2, saw it’s first showcase since last years CES which seem to improve upon all the issues of their first earbuds. With the amount of time it’s been in development you’d expect that it might be a fairly better product. Hopefully they can maintain legitimacy with will.i.am now running the show.

Facebook sign licensing deals with major rights-holders Kobalt, GMR, and SESAC

Facebook are fixing their issues with music copyrights one step at a time and some big new licensing deals mark a big step.

Facebook have faced criticism for the rife infringement of music copyrights on the world’s biggest social media platform. They’ve recently been signing deals with the major labels, Universal and Sony/ATV are now pinned, in an attempt to resolve their issues at last, and new deals with major rights-holders mark their next step towards taking music seriously and not undercutting artists.

Earlier this week Facebook revealed that they had finalised a deal with Global Music Rights (GMR), Irving Azoff’s US Performing Rights Organisation. This is the first-ever user generated content deal for GMR who represents writers and performers like Pharrell, Drake, Bruno Mars, Bruce Springsteen, and more. Irving Azoff said: “Our partnership with Facebook reflects that when music is valued properly, it’s easy for both sides to view it as a win-win.”

As well as GMR Facebook signed deals with Kobalt Music Publishing and SESAC’s HFA/Rumblefish this week. The head of Commercial Music Publishing Partnerships at Facebook, Scott Sellwood said: “Facebook and SESAC’s HFA/Rumblefish are excited to offer the vibrant independent publishing community the opportunity to participate in a new licensing program with Facebook. The program will enable users to upload and share videos with music on Facebook, Instagram and Oculus and allows publishers to be compensated for the use of their music.”

NMPA President & CEO David Israelite adds, “This new partnership between Facebook and the music publishing industry is a great step forward for the platform and for songwriters. Music provides value to Facebook and its users and ensuring that the creators of that music are compensated is paramount. We appreciate Facebook’s willingness to recognise the economic contribution of songwriters as well as its effort to create a system that properly streamlines payments moving forward. Other digital services should take note and follow suit.”

It seems that Facebook are taking music licensing fully seriously now and with all of their new deals we could soon see music on Facebook, but legitimately. This means artists, writers and rights-holders will finally be paid for uses of their music, creations, and copyrights on the social media giant.

LiveXLive have completed their acquisition of Slacker Radio

LiveXLive have taken over Slacker Radio, the streaming service that specialises in allowing users create their on personalised stations.

Slacker Radio is one of the lesser known streaming services but shouldn’t be ignored with 1.5 million monthly unique users and over 400,000 paying subscribers. They offer both ad-supported streaming and on-demand access with a paid subscription with a library of over 13 million tracks.

LiveXLive have now confirmed their acquisition of the streaming service and their plans for it. LiveXLive plan to combine the content programming teams from both companies with the aims of building a network of audio and video channels across a variety of devices including TV apps and in-car audio systems.

CEO and Chairman of LiveXLive Media, Robert Ellin said: “LiveXLive is leading the evolution of the music business and we believe Slacker is a perfect complement to our video platform. We look forward to working with the Slacker team as we combine the best audio and video content across live and recorded music. By combining LiveXLive’s leadership in music festival streaming and our massive music video content with Slacker’s proven audio platform, we immediately expand our reach and dramatically accelerate our ability to deliver world-class music related entertainment across platforms – on a global scale.”

LiveXLive are currently a live music based company which create and stream festivals, club events, concerts and more. They claim that their influencer network includes 85 million total followers. LiveXLive are partnered with a number of the largest global brands including Tesla and Samsung.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.