Streaming up 60% in Universal Q1 2016 revenues
Universal Music Group’s (UMG) revenues were €1.2 billion in the first quarter of 2016, up 0.6% at constant currency year-on-year (up 1.9% on an actual basis). Recorded music revenues grew 0.5% at constant currency, thanks to the growth in subscription and streaming revenues – up 59.7% – despite an accelerated decline in download sales and a continued decrease in physical sales. Music publishing revenues grew 0.3% at constant currency, while merchandising and other revenues declined by 6.9% at constant currency due to lower touring activity. Recorded music bestsellers for Q1 16 included carryover sales from Justin Bieber and The Weeknd, as well as new releases from Rihanna and Japanese artist Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi. UMG’s income from operations was €102m, up 18.6% at constant currency compared to the first quarter of 2015 (and up 15.8% on an actual basis) after adjusting for restructuring charges, as a result of lower operating expenses due to a softer release schedule compared to the first quarter of 2015. UMG’s EBITA was €79m, marginally down 0.2% at constant currency compared to the first quarter of 2015 (and dipping 4% on an actual basis) as the benefits of higher revenues and cost savings were offset by increased restructuring charges.
BBC White Paper – what to expect
The Conservative Government is set to lay out a “major overhaul” in how the BBC is run in its White Paper. Overseeing the corporation’s charter renewal is Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, who will unveil the government proposals for the BBC's future later. It is expected that the licence fee will run for 11 more years, rising in line with inflation, while the charter renewal period will be extended to 11 years to avoid clashing with election campaigns. Stars with salaries of more than £450,000 will be made public, while diversity measures will be “enshrined” in the charter to make sure the BBC reflects its audience both onscreen and off. The White Paper is also expected to set out plans for a “new, strong unitary board” in charge of the BBC, with half the board members decided by the broadcaster, along with some government appointments. Ofcom will take on the role of final arbiter on complaints about impartiality and accuracy (which at the moment are handled by the BBC Trust). Previously rumoured content such as TV scheduling involvement or giving money to other broadcasters is absent, with it thought that the Government is trying to avoid another row. Newsnight's political editor Nicholas Watt said: “It's got the junior doctors on its back, it's got the teachers on its back. And the crucial thing they want to be able to say tomorrow is, yes we are protecting the BBC's historic independence." (BBC)
Artists press Congress to pass the Fair Play Fair Pay Act
Over 40 artists from all music genres and generations — including T Bone Burnett, Rosanne Cash and Four Tops’ Duke Fakir — took over Capitol Hill yesterday (May 11) in Washington, DC for Fair Play Fair Pay Day to gain support for a legislation that would introduce for the first time performance rights for sound recordings on terrestrial radio. “The first amendment gives us the freedom of speech and also says that all Americans have the right to petition the government for addressing grievances,” said songwriter, performer and producer T Bone Burnett during a press conference held in one of the Congress buildings. "That's why were are here today, as creators and artists petitioning our government demanding changes in our music economy that is not working something that is not working, petitioning this Congress to step up and update these obsolete laws that have made such chaos on the business side of music.” What is not working, according to artists present, is the absence in US copyright law of remuneration for artists, musicians and record labels when radio station play music over terrestrial networks. The artists also pressed Congress to “fix” the safe harbours provisions in the 1998 DMCA legislation. The Fair Play Fair Pay Day was organised by musicFIRST, a coalition of organisations representing musicians, recording artists, managers, record labels and collecting rights societies, including indie labels body A2IM, artist union SAG-AFTRA, The Recording Academy, the Society of Singers, and neighbouring rights society SoundExchange. The press conference was attended by Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who introduced last year the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, known as H.R. 1733, and the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Rep. John Conyers, as well as Darrell Issa, a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary and Chair of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, who recently endorsed the bill. “It is critical that any reform must ensure that artists be compensated for their works,” said Nadler. “We are not pushing for a radical agenda but we want to bring the USA in line with the rest of the world. We will continue to work to make sure that the law finally respect the rights of music creators."
Tencent-backed music streaming platform planning US IPO – report
A music streaming service is planning an IPO in the US, according to sources. China Music Corp., which backed by Tencent, owns online Chinese music services Kugou and Kuwo. It is said to be raising $300 million to $600m in funds, while Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have been hired for the IPO, which is said to be planned for the end of the year. China has proven a difficult territory for other services to break – Spotify is yet to launch there, although Apple Music has. (WSJ)
Uptown Funk, Taylor Swift, Sony/ATV win at BMI Pop Awards 2016
BMI celebrated the songwriters and publishers behind the year’s most-performed pop songs at the 64th Annual BMI Pop Awards, held May 10 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Taylor Swift was presented with the first Taylor Swift Award, a special award bearing her name in recognition of her incomparable creative and artistic talent and influence on music lovers around the world. The pop star also took home the coveted BMI Pop Songwriter Of The Year title once again, for penning four of the year’s most-performed songs from her hit album 1989: Bad Blood, Blank Space, Style and Wildest Dreams. Songwriting visionaries Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil were awarded the BMI Icon Award for their contributions to the craft. Throughout the evening, the 50 best performing songs in BMI’s vast catalogue were named, leading up to the announcement of the BMI Pop Song Of The Year. Jeff Bhasker, Devon Gallaspy, Trinidad James, Mark Ronson, Lonnie Simmons, Rudy Taylor, Charlie Wilson, Robert Wilson and Ronnie Wilson shared that honour for Grammy-winning hit Uptown Funk. Sony/ATV Publishing claimed the prestigious BMI Pop Publisher Of The Year. The 64th Annual BMI Pop Awards were hosted by BMI president & CEO Mike O’Neill and vice president of writer/publisher relations Barbara Cane.
BPI announces AGM and summer reception
The BPI’s annual general meeting and summer reception will take place on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 at The River Rooms, County Hall, London. The day, which will feature a to-be-revealed keynote speaker, will be hosted by Ged Doherty (chairman, BPI & BRIT Awards) and Geoff Taylor (chief executive, BPI & BRIT Awards). The day will comprise an annual members’ conference, the AGM (including elections to BPI Council) and the summer reception, with drinks and performances from artists yet to be announced.