‘The next 10 years in music hold a wealth of opportunity, but only if copyright, revenue collection and distribution catch up.’

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The following MBW op-ed comes from Roberto Neri, who was lately named COO at fast-growing music tech firm Utopia Music. Prior to becoming a member of the agency, Neri spent 20 years in publishing, most lately as EVP of Business Development at Downtown. Utopia, headquartered in Switzerland, has been hitting headlines lately with its (*10*) and monetary providers firm Lyric Financial in addition to a string of senior hires. The firm is constructing a platform that it says will convey “near real-time trust and transparency” to monitoring and distributing music rights and royalties.


There’s little doubt that, regardless of the pandemic, music is trying like a fairly profitable enterprise proper now.

Universal Music Group debuted on the stock exchange in September with a formidable $54.3bn valuation, which has since helped increase Warner Music Group’s worth by $4bn. 

At the identical time, heaps of massive cash offers are being signed to snap up music catalogues — a surge in curiosity that’s been led by Hipgnosis (which recently secured $1bn from investment house Blackstone to proceed its spending spree), with the likes of Primary Wave, Round Hill, UMG, BMG and KKR, and Sony additionally getting concerned.

Last yr, the IFPI mentioned world music trade revenues grew 7.4% to hit $21.6bn, marking a sixth consecutive yr of development, pushed by streaming. All of that is good and thrilling information.

However, we do know that development in revenues from music streaming is slowing and whereas there’s nonetheless heaps of potential in growing markets, subscription charges in locations like Asia, Africa and South America are significantly decrease than these in the Western world.

This is exemplified by MBW research that estimates that world subscription streaming annual common revenue per person (ARPU) fell by simply over $2 per head in 2020. 

As we word in our report with MIDiA Research, Growth From Transparency: Reframing the Value of Music Through Creator Rights, as these markets proceed to develop, there may be nonetheless alternative short-term for monetisation development in recorded music streaming and sync. 

“the music industry must look beyond streaming in order to continue capitalising on the great potential that’s currently being recognised by a wealth of investors and ensure its future.”

However, the music trade should look past that in order to proceed capitalising on the nice potential that’s at present being recognised by a wealth of traders and guarantee its future, while ensuring that creators, and not simply corporates, are benefitting, too. 

According to our analysis, whole retail revenues in the worldwide recorded music market have the potential to develop by 58% to achieve $61.7bn in 2028 — up from $39.2bn in 2021. This can be made up by:

  • Recorded music streaming $26bn (up 86% on 2020s $14bn worth)
  • Sync $5.8bn (up 66% on 2020s $3.5bn worth)
  • UGC and social $8bn (up 100% on 2020s $4bn worth)
  • Creator instruments (plugins, DAWs, VSTs and providers) $2bn (up 100% on 2020s $1bn worth)
  • Live streamed live shows $6.4bn (up 967% on 2020s $600m worth)
  • Fandom $5bn (up 900% on 2020s $500m worth)
  • Games $4bn 

As you possibly can see, longer-term development will come from UGC and social, creator instruments, livestream live shows, fandom and video games. Those latter classes take music into a extra experiential period, the place extra than simply the recording is monetised.


So what must be executed to assist this vital alternative? Firstly, the music trade shouldn’t be stifling new expertise. It’s fairly surprising that Twitch, which was based in 2011, is only simply securing licensing offers this yr.

We want to coach new gamers and onboard them into the music trade as shortly as we will in order for them to grasp the worth that music brings to their service and clients.

Secondly, each territory should respect, perceive and worth music copyright, which isn’t at present the case. Territories like India and China depend for a third of the world’s inhabitants and but don’t align with what’s in place elsewhere in terms of valuing the work of creators. 

As we put ahead in our report, there’s additionally a case for increasing music copyright to recognise the non-music exercise of a music creator in digital environments with the institution of a creator proper.

Today’s ubiquitous on-line world calls for a lot from creators who at the moment are anticipated to be current and energetic on a big range of platforms whereas additionally maintaining with their core perform of making and performing music. In doing so, music creators convey sizeable audiences to platforms, serving to to generate revenue, for which they usually don’t obtain a minimize of. 

“music creators bring sizeable audiences to platforms, helping to generate revenue, for which they often don’t receive a cut of.”

In music, creation, distribution, fandom and monetisation are fragmented throughout totally different locations (like streaming providers and social media platforms), so musicians can’t sometimes capitalise on this surroundings in the best way that, say, social media influencers can. If a creator proper was established, musicians would be capable of monetise their non-music exercise on all platforms, subsequently capturing the broader worth they convey. 


This would improve the quantity of revenue streams that will should be tracked and distributed globally, which brings me onto the music trade’s next barrier to development. When I began working in the music trade at PRS for Music in 1999, we had been working with tens of millions of traces of earnings. Last yr, PRS processed 22 trillion traces of earnings.

It’s an unimaginable quantity of knowledge that present antiquated revenue collection and distribution methods worldwide simply aren’t outfitted to course of. As our report factors out, this outcomes in a number of billions of {dollars} of unallocated royalties, unclaimed, with estimates pitting this at 15-30% of whole collections.

Overall, as a result of issues with this method, we predict that creators may doubtlessly be lacking out on 50% of their earnings (together with admin expenses). 

“antiquated revenue collection and distribution systems worldwide just aren’t equipped to process the amount of data that music consumption generates.”

In right now’s superior digital age, this isn’t adequate and poses a vital danger to music’s worth going ahead, particularly when these trillions of traces of earnings are only set to extend.

This is why, at Utopia Music, we’ve raised capital to construct strong and efficient options to this downside, which we’ll offer to collection societies worldwide. We consider there needs to be one underlying independently owned platform that providers everybody and guarantees ‘fair pay for every play’ in a well timed method.

Music Business Worldwide

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