The music business in 2020 experienced an unprecedented cacophony of events. Live music businesses tragically shuttered. A virtual performance market emerging. Yet despite it all, music lived on through streaming as it continued to be embraced by nearly every American with an Internet connection, even in the face of a global health crisis and massive economic disruption.
This is not the only 2020 storyline in music, but it is certainly one of the more hopeful: the full-fledged consumer embrace of streaming helped avert a total collapse of the music business. As one analyst put it: “streaming remains resilient,” with “music industry revenues [holding up] relatively well compared to other industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. The growth of digital streaming has allowed consumers to access and enjoy music regardless of social distancing restrictions.” …
The 2020 music streaming service is your record store, jukebox, speaker, FM radio station, mp3 collection, MTV, set of liner notes and smart music friend all wrapped together in one captivating experience. And critically, streaming services allow you to access all of that without leaving your home—a vitally important characteristic over the past year…
More than ever, I have grown to appreciate just how connected successes and failures are. Music’s resilience is impressive but not infallible.
We should be wary of rhetoric that essentially suggests burning the village in order to save it, or of proposals that ignore how the fundamental complexity of the business — including the balance of payouts to different rightsholders — contributes to the current economics for creators. Any honest reckoning of our business must examine what happens to the 69 cents of every dollar that digital music services pay to record companies, music publishers, and PROs.
For all of us who are part of the community supporting this artform that helped sustain us through this challenging year, our posture should be one of finding solutions and forging partnerships. That is ultimately the approach that resuscitated the music business from a decade-long decline, produced the durable foundation that helped sustain our community through this tumultuous time, and is one reason for continued optimism in the new year.
The U.S. Department of Justice recently convened a series of workshops to review “competition in licensing in public performance rights.” For a government agency considering seismic changes to music licensing laws, it was well-intentioned and an appropriate exercise. Regrettably, however, the conversation lacked the critical perspective of numerous voices, including the music streaming services and consumer advocates.
The discussion throughout the workshop, much like the larger ongoing conversation around music publishing reforms, repeatedly returned to calls for “modernizing” the Justice Department’s consent decrees that protect licensees and consumers from the anti-competitive effects of the two largest performing rights organizations (PROs) — ASCAP and BMI. The requests for “modernization” were virtually all premised on the need to address the innovations in music distribution made possible by digital music companies. Modernization is an important goal when outdated systems truly no longer work; as an industry we recognized that was the case in mechanical licensing and came together to pass the Music Modernization Act.
But let’s be very clear that the PRO consent decrees are not hindering the music industry or in need of modernization because they happen to have originated in the 1940s. The decrees aren’t unnecessary and outdated because they have been in place for decades. They have existed for decades precisely because of their ongoing value in ensuring fair and competitive access to music works. And they aren’t obsolete because of innovations in music distribution — improvements made possible because the consent decrees recognize that differences in distribution tech don’t equate to differences in licensing needs.
SiriusXM, the leading audio entertainment company in the U.S., announced today that it has entered an agreement with The E.W. Scripps Company (NASDAQ: SSP) to acquire Stitcher, a pioneer in podcast production, distribution, and ad sales. The transaction will advance and deepen SiriusXM’s position in podcasting, the fastest-growing sector in the audio entertainment ecosystem.
With the acquisition, SiriusXM’s combined properties will contain the largest addressable audience in the U.S. across all categories of digital audio – music, sports, talk, and podcasts. The transaction will also further extend the substantial reach of SiriusXM in the digital audio ad marketplace. The SiriusXM and Pandora owned-and-operated digital platforms, combined with the company’s exclusive ad sales arrangement with SoundCloud for the U.S., and the Stitcher and Midroll networks that are subject to the agreement, will reach over 150 million listeners. Upon completion of the transaction, SiriusXM will be better positioned to advance the podcast ad market and help solve some of its critical challenges through precision targeting, ad efficiency, and improved measurement capabilities via a streamlined ad marketplace.
It’s been less than a year since SiriusXM completed its $3.5 billion acquisition of streaming music service Pandora, but the two companies have already leveraged their collective assets to boost each other’s services.
More than three fourths of the American internet-using population over the age of 13 is now streaming music. That’s according to MusicWatch’s audiocensus Q2 2019 report on U.S. music consumption and listening habits, shared exclusively with Billboard in advance of its publication.
SiriusXM today announced its first step in a major commitment to delivering world-class content to the Pandora audience. SiriusXM is creating a dedicated Content Team focused on applying SiriusXM’s critically-acclaimed and proven model of curation and exclusive programming to the Pandora platform.
Revenue from music-streaming platforms now accounts for three-quarters of the music industry’s top line, as subscriptions to services including Spotify Technology SA, Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and others in the U.S. grew 42% in 2018 to top 50 million for the first time.
Fueled by tremendous creative output by groundbreaking artists and now more than 50 million paid subscriptions, the U.S. music industry experienced its third year of consecutive growth in 2018 with retail revenues up 12% to $9.8 billion. Streaming now comprises 75% of total industry revenues. Vinyl continues to be a bright spot for the physical market, up 8% to $419 million, the highest revenue level since 1988.
Amid an array of choice when it comes to platforms and devices for media consumption, one thing remains constant: Americans’ unwavering love for music. According to Nielsen, the music industry experienced significant overall growth in 2018, with total album equivalent audio consumption up 23% over 2017, driven by a 49% increase in on-demand audio song streams compared to last year.