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Music Publishing At A Cross Roads How Streaming Is Transforming The Outlook For Music Publishers

Report by Mark Mulligan
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The 20,000 Foot View

Everything starts with the song yet music publishers have often been the last part of the digital equation.  Relative insulation from the effects of declining music sales have enabled publishers to have a far less digital centric worldview than record labels.   Streaming is now acting as a catalyst for great publisher engagement in the digital marketplace.  Historically music publishers have enjoyed a highly diversified revenue base with clearly demarcated rights.  But these analogue era delineations are being tested, often to breaking point, by new emerging digital use cases.  This coupled with songwriter dissatisfaction and calls for great transparency mean that the outlook for music publishing is much less straight forward than it was five years ago.

Key Findings

  • Global music publisher revenue grew from XXX billion in 2012 to XXX billion in 2014.  This XXX increase contrasts with a XXX decline in record label revenue over the same period
  • At the same time music publisher digital revenue share increased from XXX to XXX industry decline since 2000 has been a record label phenomenon with both love and music publisher revenue growing throughout most of the period
  • Performance royalties dominate music publisher revenue with XXX billion, XXX of the total and grew by XXX in 2014
  • The diversity of revenue streams means that music publishers were largely insulated from much of the digital disruption that drove down record label revenues
  • The accelerated decline in music sales that has accompanied the rise in streaming is now translating into declining mechanical royalties which now represent less than a fifth of publisher revenue
  • Sony ATV has a XXX market share while innovative independents Kobalt and BMG have both significantly grown market share
  • The music publisher royalty landscape is characterized by fragmentation, slow reporting cycles, lack of transparency and poor quality data
  • Innovations in reporting and music publishers’ push for a larger share of digital rights revenue will be key issues over the next few years 

Companies mentioned in this report: Sony ATV, Warner Chappel, Universal Music Publishing, Kobalt, BMG, Round Hill Music, PRS for Music, Spotify

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