Music Publishing News: Changes at Facebook and YouTube Look Promising for Musicians

Lyor Cohen
Lyor Cohen, founder and CEO of 300 Entertainment. Photo courtesy of Route Note.

By Songtrust

Every month, our friends at Songtrust compile a monthly round up of the most noteworthy developments in music publishing. Catch up on all the industry news in our Music Publishing News archive!

YouTube names Lyor Cohen, founder and CEO of 300, its new Global Head of Music

YouTube has named founder and current CEO of 300 Entertainment Lyor Cohen its new Global Head of Music. While he will remain 300’s largest individual investor, Cohen will step down from his day-to-day responsibilities as CEO in December of this year. At YouTube, Cohen will inherit the large task of repairing the company’s relationship with the music industry, and “accelerating growth in a fair way for everyone,” said Chief Business Officer, Robert Kyncl.

What does that mean for musicians? YouTube has been the target of music industry criticism for the last few months for allegedly using legal loopholes to allow copyright infringement to occur on its platform. This new hiring decision leaves the music industry hopeful that the platform is serious about making YouTube work for everyone’s benefit.

BMI’s rate-court judge has ruled against the Department of Justice’s 100% licensing decision

Judge Louis Stanton stated that “the consent decree neither bars fractional licensing nor requires full-work licensing,” which is exactly the opposite of what the DOJ argued in its controversial ruling earlier this summer. NMPA president and CEO David Israelite lauded the decision, saying, “thanks to the courage of Mike O’Neill, BMI, and the entire songwriting and music publishing community, the DOJ’s disastrous views on 100% licensing have been rejected by a federal judge. This is a huge win for songwriters and a huge win for the rule of copyright law.”

What does that mean for musicians? The DOJ’s consent decree threatened the way music has been licensed worldwide for years and will potentially devalue licenses and discourage collaboration between songwriters who are affiliated with different PROs. This ruling is the first step in protecting the rights and creative process of songwriters and rightsholders.

Why Facebook seeks to hire a Director of Global Music Licensing Partnerships

Facebook is searching for a Director of Global Music Licensing Partnerships, a move that industry executives view as a sign that the social network has decided to become more directly engaged with the music community. Responsibilities of the role include leading music licensing strategy negotiations with global rightsholders and being a source of deep insights about the music ecosystem.

Songtrust’s own Joe Conyers stated, “This is the response to Facebook realizing it needs to improve its relationship with the industry. They face the eventuality of our entire industry realizing how much money we are losing from the cannibalization of YouTube via Facebook Video. If they want to be a real player in video, they need to fairly treat copyright holders.”

What does that mean for musicians? Songwriters are currently not being compensated for video plays that occur on Facebook using their songs. This new hire shows that Facebook is ready to get serious about paying songwriters for the value they provide to its service.

Recording artists join to support an appeal of last year’s “Blurred Lines” ruling

Hundreds of musicians, including Hans Zimmer, R. Kelly, and Linkin Park filed a brief in support of the appeal of last year’s “Blurred Lines” ruling. The song was found to be in violation of copyright based on its atmospheric similarity to Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.” The concern with the judgement, which awarded Marvin Gaye’s descendants $5.3 million in one of the largest damages in music copyright history, is the possibility of its “adverse impact on the creativity of future artists and on the music industry in general.”

What does that mean for musicians? The decision in this lawsuit threatens the creativity of songwriters in that it sets a precedent that songwriters can be sued for creating a song that sounds “similar” or copies the “vibe” of another work. Overturning this decision will allow songwriters to be influenced by other artists in their work, without fear of being sued.

The Music Publishers Association joins Operation Creative, an initiative designed to prevent websites from providing unauthorized access to copyrighted content.

The Operation Creative initiative, launched in April 2014, is a partnership between the City of London Police and the UK advertising industry and supports approximately 1.7 million jobs in the creative industry in the UK. The MPA is the seventh partner to join Operation Creative, and says the partnership will “strengthen and elevate [their] involvement in combating piracy, in particular with regards to sheet music, which is unique to the music publishing industry.”

What does that mean for musicians? This partnership further protects creators in the UK from copyright infringement by the illegal distribution of their work without compensation.

National Music Publishers Association and Nashville Songwriters Association International submit new copyright royalty rate proposal

For digital licensing, the NMPA/NSAI are proposing a “three-pronged” formula to the Copyright Royalty Board to determine mechanical rates, with the enacted prong being whichever formula results in the most revenue at the end of each month. The two organizations are still petitioning the Copyright Royalty Board to eliminate Sony Music’s competing proposal from consideration in the rate-setting process.

What does that mean for musicians? If the new proposed rates are approved, songwriters will be paid higher rates for streams on on-demand digital services such as Spotify and Apple Music.

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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