Music Publishing News: Apple Seeks to Break the Mold with Higher Streaming Royalties

By Songtrust

We’ve asked our friends over at Songtrust to compile a monthly round up of everything that happened in the wide world of music publishing. They are the experts in the subject — Songtrust works tirelessly to simplify royalty collection for artists, so it’s only best if you get it straight from the source! Without further ado, here’s the latest news in the world of music publishing from July and August.

Catch up on all the industry news in our Music Publishing News archive!

ASCAP and BMI each release statements against the Dept. of Justice’s decision to mandate 100% licensing

BMI also announced that it was taking legal action to challenge the decision in Federal Court, while ASCAP is taking “the lead for the two PROs in pursuing a legislative solution to ensure the continued availability of fractional licensing as well as other remedies to the outdated consent decree regulations that disadvantage songwriters and composers in the digital age.” In a letter to ASCAP members, President Paul Williams urged songwriters to stay united to fight the DOJ’s decision and lend their support to ASCAP and BMI’s initiatives.

What does that mean for musicians? If you co-write music, 100% licensing could mean that you’re subject to lower royalty rates depending on who your co-writers are and which Performing Rights Organization they’re affiliated with. ASCAP and BMI are both fighting this decision.

In the Copyright Royalty Board’s proceedings on mechanical royalty rates, Sony Music’s influence may be tempered

The National Music Publishers’ Association and the Nashville Songwriters Association have moved to exclude Sony Music Entertainment from participating in the Copyright Royalty Board’s proceeding to determine mechanical royalty rates for a variety of services. The NMPA/NSAI argue that because Sony is neither a licensor (i.e. music publishers) nor a licensee (i.e. digital services), it should not influence rate setting procedures, while Sony argues that it works closely with songwriters who have a direct interest in the rate. Sony’s proposed rate, while not released, is assumed to be lower than what the NMPA/NSAI are seeking.

What does that mean for musicians? Sony’s involvement in royalty rate proceedings could sway the Copyright Royalty Board towards rates that favor labels over songwriters.

Apple proposes new, higher royalty rate for on-demand streaming services

Apple has proposed a streaming royalty rate with the Copyright Royalty Board as part of a proceeding to set statutory rates for downloads and interactive streaming services. The proposed rate, intended to simplify the way on-demand streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify pay songwriters and publishers, is 9.1 cents for every 100 streams of a song. The New York Times speculates that the proposal was meant to target its competitor, Spotify, as it would significantly raise the rates the service currently pays, and its “freemium” model.

What does that mean for musicians? You would get paid $0.091 for every stream, rather than, for example, Spotify’s estimated rate of $0.007 per stream.

SESAC and SUISA create new licensing venture that administers rights for both companies’ repertoires on digital services

This new initiative, called Mint Digital Licensing, is in response to the European Commission’s wish for cooperation among music rights organizations to enable users to negotiate licenses with as few companies as possible. SUISA is the collecting society for Swiss songwriters, composers, and music publishers. This new joint venture will allow for better data management, improved transparency, and faster royalty payments, as SESAC advances in its “plan to build a multi-regional licensing platform at scale.”

What does that mean for musicians? Songwriters affiliated with SESAC or SUISA will now have their songs managed and licensed more efficiently, leading to quicker and more accurate royalty payments.

Sony Corp will take 100% ownership of Sony/ATV worldwide, bolstering the major music company’s market power

With the masters and the publishing that Sony controls, combined with its partial ownership of EMI Music Publishing, the European Commission’s approval of this acquisition sets Sony on track to quickly meet, or perhaps even surpass, UMG’s $5.7 billion combined publishing/master revenues last year. President of the National Music Publishers Association, David Israelite expressed his concern, saying that this acquisition is in the best interests of recorded music rather than songwriters, and that Sony Music is “driven by an outdated mindset that somehow if songwriters get less from digital music services there will be more for [its] record label.”

What does that mean for musicians? Sony Music is now an even bigger superpower and can use that to push for higher revenues for its labels and artists, at the detriment of its publishers and songwriters.

Canadian PRO SOCAN acquires Audiam

SOCAN, the organization representing the Canadian performing rights of more than 4 million songwriters and publishers, has purchased American music data firm Audiam. The acquisition, coming on the heels of SOCAN’s purchase of MediaNet, gives SOCAN a comprehensive database and metadata of all musical works and commercially released sound recordings, and the technology to connect the two, issue licenses, and properly pay rights-holders. This acquisition also means that SOCAN has expanded into the collection of mechanical licensing and royalty distribution in the US and Canada.

What does this mean for musicians? Similar to the SESAC/SUISA deal, this acquisition improves data management for songs and songwriters in North America, leading to quicker and more accurate royalty payments.

For more news on music publishing, check out our collection of music publishing articles on Flypaper!


Songtrust provides a technology platform that enables independent songwriters, artists, publishers, distributors, managers, and other music industry professionals to collect their publishing royalties worldwide. Our industry-leading online solutions simplify music rights management, including the administration of music publishing assets, performing rights, and digital licensing. Songtrust helps collect the royalties you’ve earned from airplay, streams, and live performances around the world with simple one-stop registration, no legal headaches, and all while maintaining 100% ownership of your copyrights.

Use Code SOUNDFLY10 to get 10% off your registration fee when you sign up for Songtrust, and begin collecting royalties on your tracks today!

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