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Note to Motion Picture Academy: Rethink Your Attitude About Music Scores

Article by Jon Burlingame for Variety

Just how important is music to movies?

Not too important, according to the producers of the upcoming Academy Awards, who have decided to relegate the score Oscar — along with seven other categories — to an off-air segment prior to the three-hour telecast.

It is a slap in the face to the hundreds of composers, arrangers, orchestrators, musicians, engineers and other professionals whose work provides the emotional foundation for so much of today’s cinematic storytelling.

Anyone who saw “Dune” in a theater knows that it was an immersive experience of sight and sound, the latter led by an evocative, powerful soundscape created by musicians and singers. Even if you watched “Encanto” at home on Disney Plus, you were entranced from start to finish by the authentic musical sounds of Colombia. The music of “Don’t Look Up,” “Parallel Mothers” and “The Power of the Dog” was also recognized by Oscar’s music branch as making a significant contribution to what we watched and how we felt during those films.

Read the full article at https://variety.com/2022/awards/opinion/oscars-original-score-music-left-off-telecast-1235188124/

“The Minions Do the Actual Writing”: The Ugly Truth of How Movie Scores Are Made

By Mark Rozzo for Vanity Fair

Creating music in 21st-century Hollywood, as a composer for an Emmy-winning cable series put it, “feels like an underground, a real pimp situation.” He talked about long hours, low pay, and working under a martinet “lead composer”—his boss—who delegated the actual work of writing and recording. “One time he had a meltdown because the director was coming to hear what he had come up with and he didn’t have anything to play him,” the composer went on, “because my computer had all the music on it and it was on the fritz!” He laughed—c’est la guerre. But the irritation and dismay were palpable. Another Hollywood composer summed up the widespread feeling among the men and women who do the day-to-day work of bending melody, harmony, and rhythm to match pictures on a movie or television screen: “There’s no contract, there’s no union. You’re completely beholden to working with someone who’s completely unethical or not.”

“The ultimate perquisite of a composer’s life,” said Henry Mancini, “is being able to make a living doing what you truly love to do: create music.” Mancini, who scored such films as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther, and Victor/Victoria, winning four Oscars along the way, belongs to an all-time pantheon of film composers that includes Bernard Herrmann, John Williams, and, more recently, Hans Zimmer. We don’t talk about film composers much, but their work is essential to the cinematic experience. Try to imagine Psycho without Herrmann’s stabbing violins or Inception without Zimmer’s gut-rattling BRAAAM. As the director James Cameron once put it, “The score is the heart and soul of a film.”

“I can COUNT THE NUMBER of mainstream Hollywood composers that I KNOW write all their music themselves ON ONE HAND.

Lately, in the streaming era, composers themselves are talking more and more about making a living. With an increasing share of their work moving to streaming, film composers are seeing their royalty earnings dwindle to “pennies on the dollar,” as more than three dozen of them put it last August in an open letter to ASCAP, BMI, and the other performance-royalty organizations, or PROs, that collect and distribute revenues to songwriters. “This raises serious concerns for the future financial outlook for all composers,” the letter declared.

Worse still, some streamers, most notably Netflix, are defaulting to work agreements that cut out royalties entirely. Such agreements are known as buyouts—work-for-hire deals that offer a lump payment and no back end—and they deprive the composer of any share in the ongoing success of a hit series or movie. In 2019, a group of award-winning composers—including Carter Burwell (who has written the score for nearly every Coen brothers movie), Joel Beckerman (CBS This Morning), John Powell (the Jason Bourne franchise), and Pinar Toprak (Captain Marvel)—launched Your Music, Your Future, an initiative aimed at raising awareness about buyouts. So far, nearly 19,000 people have signed on.

Read the full article at https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2022/02/the-ugly-truth-of-how-movie-scores-are-made

AT LEAST $5 BILLION WAS SPENT ON MUSIC RIGHTS ACQUISITIONS IN 2021. COULD 2022 BE EVEN BIGGER?

Article by Murray Stassen for Music Business Worldwide

MBW’s Stat Of The Week is a series in which we highlight a single data point that deserves the attention of the global music industry. Stat Of the Week is supported by Cinq Music Group, a technology-driven record label, distribution, and rights management company.

The music rights market was on fire in 2021.

MBW estimates – based on confirmed prices and information from industry sources – that at least $5.05 billion was spent on catalog and music rights acquisitions across the 60-plus big-money deals we reported on during last year.

That figure includes deals for individual catalogs sold by artists and songwriters, plus acquisitions of music rights portfolios (including those owned by active labels/publishers) by companies from other companies.

For clarification, the latter category included deals such as Warner Music Group‘s $400 million acquisition of 300 Entertainment, Concord’s $400 million acquisition of Downtown‘s catalog, Sony Music Group‘s nine-figure acquisitions of Todd Moscowitz’s Alamo Records and Brazilian label Som Livre, plus Kobalt‘s $1.1 billion catalog sale to KKR venture, Chord Music.

Close to half of MBW’s estimated $5.05 billion total sum – some $2.33 billion – was spent on acquisitions of rights directly from artists, songwriters and/or their estates.

And the pace (and price) of such deals is accelerating: In December alone (excluding WMG’s $400 million acquisition of 300), deals worth at least $720 million were struck for artist and songwriter catalog sales.

At least $500 million of that December tally came from Bruce Springsteen’s confirmed sale of his entire masters-plus-publishing catalog to Sony Music Group (and Eldridge Industries), the first time the half-a-billion dollar mark has been crossed for the catalog of an individual artist.

Could there be a bigger individual artist catalog deal in 2022? And could the massive total amount spent on catalogs in 2021 be surpassed this year?

There’s a good chance that it might.

The 2022 rights M&A market kicked into action last week Monday (January 3) with the news that Warner Music Group, via its Warner Chappell Music subsidiary, had acquired the global music publishing rights to David Bowie’s song catalog.

The price of the deal was in the region of $250 million.

We also learned last week that US songwriter and performer John Legend had sold his songwriting catalog for an undisclosed fee to BMG and KKR.

That transaction took place in September 2021, suggesting that MBW’s $5.05 billion estimate above might just be the tip of the iceberg; clearly, as in the case of Legend’s sale, our number doesn’t take into account those artists/writers who sold a catalog… but decided to stay quiet about it.

As we prepare for another potentially seismic year for the catalog deals market, below MBW has printed a big list of pretty much all the music rights acquisitions that hit MBW’s headlines in 2021, inclusive of many prices that were confirmed or – via MBW sources – rumored at the time.

This list primarily formed the basis for our headline calculations in this story.

Before we get into all of that, though, a few important caveats on our number above, and our list below:

  1. The below is certainly an extensive list, covering as it does the vast majority of M&A music deals covered by MBW in 2021, but it’s not an exhaustive one. There will be a few big money catalog deals, for example, that were never confirmed or announced at the behest of the writer/artist in question, which likely add up to hundreds of millions of dollars;
  2. We have discounted two huge 2021 music biz deals from our list/calculations, on the basis that they were acquisitions of music companies that were not rights-ownership-led: The first is HYBE’s $1 billion acquisition of mega-manager Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings (which included rights via Big Machine and other Ithaca holdings, but appeared to be primarily led by Braun’s artist management facility); the second is Sony Music Group’s $430 million acquisition of Kobalt’s AWAL and Kobalt Neighbouring Rights, neither of which was a music rightsholder. Where possible, we also haven’t included acquisitions where no underlying rights were purchased (e.g. BMG‘s acquisition of Mick Fleetwood’s personal royalty stream for his recordings);
  3. We’ve only included deals where the buying party acquires a sizable stake in the rights in question.

View the full article here: https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/at-least-5-billion-was-spent-on-music-catalog-acquisitions-in-2021-could-2022-be-even-bigger

Streaming Music Subscriptions Grew 26% in 2021, With YouTube Music as Fastest Growing DSP in the West

Article by Chris Willman for Variety

A study released by Midia Research shows that worldwide streaming subscriptions grew by a healthy 26.4% in the second quarter of 2021, standing at 521.3 million subscribers at the end of that period, an increase of 109.5 million from the year before. But that growth didn’t necessarily come via the usual DSP suspects.

Spotify continued to have by far the highest market share among streaming services, with its 31% slice of the pie being more than double the 15% claimed by the nearest runner-up, Apple Music. With Spotify adding more subscribers than any other service in the 12 months leading up to the middle of 2021, “there is no risk of Spotify losing its leading position anytime soon,” wrote Midia’s Mark Mulligan. But, he cautioned, “the erosion of its share is steady and persistent,” since Spotify had a 33% share at the same time a year before and 34% in 2019.

So who’s benefitting most from the industry’s gains? Midia points to the momentum belonging to YouTube Music, which still has a modest share — just 8% of the market — but which grew by more than 50% during the 2020-to-2021 Q2 period. “YouTube Music was the only Western DSP to increase global market share during this period,” Mulligan writes.

The news was also fairly good for second-place Apple Music, which saw gains of 25%, versus Spotify’s 20% growth.

“But the biggest subscriber growth came from emerging markets,” Midia points out. Two services that are only available in China, Tencent Music Entertainment and NetEase Cloud Music, together account for 18% of the global streaming market — and those two combined added 35.7 million subscribers during the 12 months measured. (Tencent has 13% of the worldwide market, and NetEase is at 6%.)

And whatever Cold War fears may be arising at present about Russia, streaming is getting hotter in that country. “Yandex, in Russia, was the other big gainer,” Mulligan writes, “doubling its subscriber base to reach 2% of global market share.”

Midia’s report cautions that the 26.4% global growth in subscribers doesn’t translate to that big of an increase in revenue. The reason for a disparity, Mulligan writes, is due to “the rise of multi-user plans and the growth of lower-spending emerging markets.” Still, he adds, “growth in monetized users represents the foundation stone of the (DSP) streaming market. So, accelerating growth at this relatively late stage of the streaming market’s evolution is clearly positive.”

The full report is only available to Midia subscribers, but Mulligan’s summary, and an accompanying pie chart showing the market share of the different services, can be found here.

Production Music is a Billion-Dollar Business

Production music is a $1 billion global industry “hidden in plain sight” that is ready for its close-up, according to Joe Saba, who promises to deliver just that with the fourth annual Production Music Conference, Oct. 4-6 at the Loews Hollywood Hotel.

Saba, who is vice chairman of the Production Music Association, notes that this is the first time the trade group has put a value on the production music sector, which supports “tens of thousands of songwriters, composers and musicians” as well as ancillary businesses like recording studios, rights administration and software services.

Loosely defined as pieces primarily composed for visual and marketing media that can be re-used across multiple projects and mediums, production music is today ubiquitous on screens that span in size from Imax to mobile.

More info can be found here.

Broad Grant of Rights

BE INFORMED WHEN NEGOTIATING: AVOID BROAD GRANTS OF RIGHTS

In negotiating with television networks over the use of your music, you should be very aware that the networks are pushing for and are regularly utilizing the broadest possible grant language in their contracts with music providers. While these clauses may appear like harmless boiler­plate at first glance, they are a trap that could lead you to granting away far more rights than you ever anticipated and with no additional payment for doing so.

For example, one of the major networks uses language pursuant to which the music provider grants “rights in all media worldwide now known or hereafter devised, whether known or unknown, including, but not limited to, Free TV, Cable (basic and pay subscription), VOD, HDTV, Digital TV and DBS, Radio, Internet (streaming and download), Wireless platforms or Devices (now known or hereinafter devised), with such rights granted in transit and in perpetuity.”

If you enter into a contract containing such broad grant language, you should be aware that you risk granting away all of your exploitation rights in the music at issue. For years, broad grants of rights clauses have been litigated in the Courts, with the grantor usually losing and the grantee usually winning. These cases often involved whether a grant of motion picture rights included video rights (which were unknown at the time at the time of the grant). The Courts often look at this broad language and conclude that grantor clearly had no intention to retain any rights and find that everything was conveyed. This is a result that you obviously want to avoid at all costs.

How do you do it? Some members have some very specific language that they seek to negotiate. Try to be very clear about what you are granting. Also end your grant clause with language such as: “All rights not specifically granted above are reserved to the Grantor.” Years ago, a famous songwriter included that language in a grant he made to a motion picture company to use his music in a film. At the time, videos were unknown. When, many years later, the motion picture company sought to use his music in the video version of the film, he was able to prevent it from doing so based on the retention language. Naturally, an additional and substantial fee was negotiated for the use of the music in the video.

If a network is persistent in its requirement that the broad language be utilized and you feel that you have no choice, at least attempt to make sure that you will receive additional compensation in the event that some new or unforeseen media comes into existence during the life of the grant. For example, try to add a sentence that provides that “Any use of the music in media which is not specifically described herein shall constitute an additional and new use and will require a separ­ate license, to be negotiated in good faith with [Grantor].” While such language may not be accepted, it could possibly result in a higher license fee.

In short, avoid giving your music away for free. Use specific grant language and broad retention language wherever possible.