Monday, January 29, 2018

Insights Blog: Five key CMU Insights copyright slides | UNLIMITED | CMU

The CMU Insights seminars kick off again next week with three sessions looking at music rights, providing a beginner’s guide to copyright, an introduction to music licensing and an overview of the music rights sector.

Ahead of all that, here are five key slides presented during these seminars and what they tell you about the music rights business.

Copyright protects various kinds of creative work and UK law specifically identifies eight types as shown in the slide above.

The music industry primarily deals in three of these. Lyrics come under ‘literary works’, compositions under ‘musical works’, and sound recordings are, well, ‘sound recordings’. These are separate copyrights. Which means a recording of a song with lyrics contains three distinct copyrights – one in the lyrics, one in the music and one in the recording.

The music industry tends to group the lyrical and musical works together and refer to them as the ‘song rights’ or the ‘publishing rights’. These are then kept distinct from the sound recording copyrights, usually referred to as the ‘recording rights’ or the ‘master rights’.

The music rights sector can then be split into two, with the music publishers monetising song rights and the record industry the recording rights.


Copyright is all about control. As a copyright owner you get to control what happens to your song or your recording. UK copyright law provides copyright owners with six specific controls as shown in the slide above.

In the music industry, the reproduction and distribution controls are often grouped together and referred to as the ‘reproduction rights’ or ‘mechanical rights’. Meanwhile the performance and communication controls are often grouped together and referred to as the ‘performing rights’ or ‘neighbouring rights’.

Copyright makes money whenever someone else wants to exploit one of your controls. They have to come to you for permission, which you then sell them. This is licensing.


Sometimes the music industry licenses as one through the so called ‘collective licensing system’. In those scenarios, a licensee deals with a collecting society rather than each individual rights owner.

There are three main collecting societies in the UK. PPL represents recording rights. PRS represents the performing rights in song rights. And MCPS represents the mechanical rights in song rights. Though PRS and MCPS work closely together, with the former administrating the latter’s rights.

The above slide shows the key scenarios when collective licensing applies in the UK and which societies are involved when.


It’s easy to think that recorded music is now all about streams, but that’s not true – physical product and downloads remain significant revenue streams, plus monies coming in from radio and public performance are also increasing year-on-year.

The above slide shows the approximate split of worldwide recorded music revenues for 2016. We still await final global figures for 2017. Streaming becomes a bigger deal each year of course, but that doesn’t mean CDs and downloads are gone and forgotten. Or at least not yet!

The two blocks on the right hand side represent radio and public performance (the bigger one) and sync (the smaller one).

Sync is a bigger deal for music publishers than record companies (this slide represents record industry revenues) and any one sync deal can be worth significant sums. But overall sync is a much smaller part of the recorded music business than you probably think.


It is streaming that is booming and which is helping the record industry go back into growth. Though to be sustainable long-term, the streaming services need to sign up many more paying users. How long can the Spotifys of this work maintain current growth rates?

Many people feel that a weakness with the streaming market today is that there are free services and ten-pound-a-month services, but nothing in between. There’s a huge market that would potentially pay something for streaming music, but not as much as ten pounds a month. How do we reach those people?

Most streaming services currently offer discount packages of course. But many reckon new mid-range services are required, that are better than the free platforms, but offer less catalogue and/or functionality than the ten-pound-a-month set ups, which could be used to hook in more mainstream consumers.

Some companies are already dabbling in this space – Amazon most notably – though it seems all is still to play for in the mid-range streaming market.


Places on the CMU Insights music rights seminars are £49.99 per person per session, or you can get into all three for just £125. Click here for more information and to buy your tickets


No comments: