Music publisher Kobalt has launched what it calls the world’s first ‘global, direct, digital mechanical and performing rights society’. The new venture is based on the existing operation of AMRA (American Music Rights Association), which Kobalt acquired last year. What other music publishers make of a publisher owned collection society remains to be seen – but the new service promises two services to clients: (i) licensing of AMRA publisher members’ Anglo-American repertoire to DSPs operating in multiple territories and (ii) collection of writer’s share of public performance monies on behalf of AMRA writer members. AMRA plans to collect from th likes of YouTube and Spotify globally rather than in individual territories and promises to be “the most efficient way to handle the ‘high volume/low transactional value’ of music repertoire in a streaming world.”
AMRA says this:
“Despite the fact that the major digital music platforms today are all global companies (i.e. Spotify, YouTube, iTunes, etc.), the music industry traditionally collects its revenue at the local and regional levels. This ‘local’ approach creates glaring inefficiencies for all sides: the digital platforms are challenged to clear licenses locally, while the rights holders face an increasingly complex and fragmented collections process, causing needless delays and often inaccurate reporting.
AMRA, on the other hand, takes a global, direct approach to digital licensing, collection and administration, all driven by the most advanced rights management platform, KORE™. This streamlined model allows AMRA to increase efficiencies, combating the large margin of uncertainty, delay and error that exists in the current fractured system. Global and direct, AMRA is able to provide its publisher clients with the most transparent and accurate reporting in the industry.”
“We fundamentally believe that technology is the only way to systematically improve the process of collecting writer performance revenue from local societies around the world.
Traditionally, not only has the writer performance share been an inefficiently collected income stream for rights owners, but also opaque, with little to no transparency or detailed reporting.”
Some of the criticisms levelled at the music industry in the digital age have been those directed at outdated and ineffective licensing models – especially where internet start-ups are looking at a global market, whereas as rights owners, often territorially limited collection societies, are mandated to licence within their national borders only. Early entrants in the music sphere spoke of the need to negotiate with hundreds of different organisations each offering ‘blanket’ licences for just one country – to run a global music streaming service. It took Spotify two years to negotiate basic clearances – as the pirates made merry!
Its a really interesting development – although I wonder what comparison with BMI might tell us – remember BMI was founded by the National Association of Broadcasters to provide a lower-cost alternative to ASCAP in the US as radio developed (against the fear then would be that radio would weaken record sales – how wrong was that!). Competing against the strongly established ASCAP, BMI sought out artists that ASCAP tended to overlook or ignore (blues, jazz, R&B, country and rock n roll) and BMI also purchased the rights to numerous catalogues held by independent publishers or whose ASCAP contracts were about to expire, offering an enhanced compensation rate which helped less-established songwriters.
Efficient global licensing collecting in the era of a digital world wide web does seem to make a lot of sense (hence the failing of the Global Repertoire Database looking even more foolish) and logically perhaps we only need one global CMO licensing and collecting in the future, although that brings up a host of other issues such as regulation.
My article from 22 May 2012 on the 1709 Blog http://the1709blog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/is-it-time-for-super-society.html.