In the new issue of Music Week, Robert Ashcroft – CEO of pan-European digital licensing body ICE – has revealed that they have quietly sealed a total of 44 licences, covering all major digital music providers.
Previously, ICE – a joint venture between the UK’s PRS For Music, Germany’s GEMA and Sweden’s STIM collection societies – had not publicly announced any deals since Music Week broke the news of its agreements with Google Play Music and SoundCloud in 2016.
Ashcroft said NDAs prevented him from discussing whether the deals had secured improved terms for songwriters and publishers, who have long complained about being treated as second-class citizens by some streaming services. However, in the interview, Ashcroft hailed improved relations with digital giants, with even YouTube showing signs of “working together”.
“Over the years, we have seen the share going to the publishing and songwriting side of the business increase compared to what it was,” Ashcroft said. “The market structure, plus the investments [in infrastructure] that we’ve made have proven to be beneficial for songwriters.”
Despite stressing that more work needs to be done, Ashcroft said he was optimistic following the manner in which YouTube and rightholders are currently working together in dealing with issues concerning song identification.
“What you see us doing now is working together to solve the technology problems, data problems and so on on both sides,” Ashcroft said. “We’ve got stuff to do on the [song] identifiers side, they’ve got stuff to do on transparency and technology. To say that we’re working together might be a little enthusiastic but we’re definitely circling the problem and [approaching] it together.”
Yesterday (January 22) YouTube announced it had become a registration agency for the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) scheme, which helps identify artists, songwriters and other contributors to creative works. You can read more about it here.