The National Music Publishers’ Association’s (NMPA) first-ever Virtual Annual Meeting was held Wednesday (June 10). NMPA President & CEO David Israelite detailed revenue analysis from 2019 showing strong growth in certain sectors and interviewed songwriter Ross Golan, Peloton’s Emma Lovewell and Gwen Riley, and honored country music legend Garth Brooks.
In his annual State of the Industry address, Israelite released new data and insights from the past year. Publishing industry revenue from 2019 was $3,719,796,271, representing an 11.55% growth rate from 2018 to 2019. When that revenue was broken down, performance continued to be the most dominant category making up 52.30%. Sync followed with 22.69%, mechanical with 18.53% and miscellaneous made up the remaining 6.48%. Israelite’s key takeaways were that 2019 represented the fifth consecutive year of significant growth. Additionally, sync and mechanical revenue grew faster than performance, primarily because streaming continues to grow at a fast pace and more and more of that revenue is being categorized as mechanical because of recent successes at the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) and how it is divided. Additionally, sync revenue has benefitted from some of the landmark deals that NMPA and other publishers have done, which are staring to pay off. Israelite also reinforced that new revenue sources are critical to the industry’s future such as mass synchronization, in-home fitness, and more as traditional models such as physical and digital downloads continue to diminish.
RIAA Chairman & CEO Mitch Glazier spoke about the work his association is doing to globally combat piracy during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also discussed the need for reform in the wake of the recent U.S. Copyright Office’s report on Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) saying, “the services that should be responsible parts of the ecosystem who can voluntarily come in and protect music have refused so far to do so in a way that really protects creators—that protects songwriters and artists.”
NMPA EVP & General Counsel Danielle Aguirre and Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) CEO Kris Ahrend were also interviewed. Aguirre, who serves on the board of the MLC, discussed the MLC’s progress thus far with Ahrend, who reinforced that, “our mission is fundamentally to ensure that creators, and their partners—their publishing companies—are paid properly.” When asked about how COVID-19 has affected the MLC’s development timeline, Ahrend assured that, “the coronavirus has not impacted our timeline, we are still laser focused on being ready to fulfill all of our obligations as of the license ability date next January.”
In an interview with Israelite, songwriter Ross Golan was optimistic about how songwriters and publishers have adapted to virtual songwriting during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “there’s an efficiency to writing online that I think songwriters are starting to find. So even if in the beginning they may have been reluctant to do sessions via Zoom and otherwise, I find that songwriters are starting to not only embrace it, but they’ve succeeded at it. You know a song like ‘Stuck with You’ with Justin Bieber and Ariana was recorded and released within eight days. So there’s an efficiency from the inception of a song, the mixing, mastering of a song, and the release of a song.”
Adding to the industry analysis, Israelite interviewed David Bakula, SVP of Analytics, Insights and Research at Nielsen Music who said that the pandemic and subsequent quarantine had shifted how consumers listen to music. Bakula reported that an increasing number of consumers are adding music subscriptions and they are more likely to continue to pay in the future. Additionally, country music has been the best performing genre during the period, but children’s and classical have also done well.
The virtual meeting culminated with the honoring of Garth Brooks who discussed the importance of NMPA’s work to protect songwriters saying, “it’s the greatest thing that anybody can call you, is a songwriter.” He added, “we’re the seed, we’re the fragile, but we need to be the most protected or there is no plant.” After performing a section of his iconic song “The River” acoustically, Brooks accepted his NMPA Songwriter Icon Award in the name of his longtime publisher Bob Doyle.
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