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The independent music publishing sector generated €2.43bn in revenue in 2022 according to IMPF’s Global Market View

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The independent music publishing sector continued to grow in 2022 with estimated revenues of €2.43bn, an 16.8% growth year-on-year, despite a slight drop in market share to 26.7%, compared to 27.1% the year prior, according to the fourth edition of the Global Market View for Independent Music Publishing issued by the Independent Music Publishers International Forum (IMPF).

The document, sponsored by Musixmatch and authored by Emmanuel Legrand, Editor of Creative Industries News, was issued on April 25 at the organisation’s 2024 General Assemblies; a two-day event hosted by IMPF in Dublin. (The report can be accessed here)

Itt is the only report that looks exclusively at the independent music publishing industry and its international impact and position. IMPF said the report provides “in-depth, authoritative insight into the value of the independent music publishing business and the sector’s influence on the global modern music ecosystem.” The latest report covers 2022, which is the last full year of data available.

Early champions of emerging creators

“It’s a pleasure to show the continued growth of our sector and the ongoing dominance of the independent music publishing community in terms of market share,” said Annette Barrett from Reservoir Music, and President of IMPF. “It is, however, also important to acknowledge independent music publishers’ as the early champions of emerging creators, and as their first professional affiliates.”

IMPF’s Annette Barrett

Added Barrett, “Wherever we operate, we are usually the strongest supporters of local talent covering a wide range of musical genres, including those at the fringes that don’t necessarily make the headlines or the big numbers. Our latest Global Market View shines a light on all these facets of our thriving community.”

Aman Khullar, General Counsel, Musixmatch said: “Musixmatch is a proud supporter of the independent music publishing community. The latest edition of the IMPF report shows the importance of independent music to the music ecosystem in all its forms including the growing importance of lyrics to music and other digital services.”

Drive fair value for rights

He added: “We enjoy working with independent music publishers on a daily basis to help distribute their lyrics and other data and drive fair value for their rights in the global market. Our relationship with independent publishers is central to our business, and the IMPF’s support has been crucial to help facilitate two-way conversations with our independent publisher partners. We look forward to working together in the future.”

Here’s a summary of the report (verbatim):

> The global environment

The music publishing market has returned to growth mode after the Covid pandemic, which impacted some of the main sources of revenues for publishers, mainly public performances in public spaces and businesses and the live sector.

The publishing business has benefited in the past two years from a series of positive factors:

– The constant growth of the digital market, with streaming, in particular subscription- based streaming, going from strength to strength and irrigating virtually every country in the world. This has created streams of revenues in markets that were not previously monetised, in particular Asia, Africa and South America. This trend was confirmed by the recently released IFPI recorded music figures for 2023 (see here).

– The drive fair value for their rights commercial and non-commercial radio and TV, in particular during the pandemic, ensuring that public performance revenues remained at a high level.

– The live sector returning to its previous levels, after almost three years of disruption, fuelled by successful global tours by top artists.

– The growing penetration of video streaming platforms, financed by advertising and other subscription video on demand (SVoD) services around the world, has offered new opportunities for licensing music, which have turned into new streams of revenues.

> Four key takeaways:

1 – The independent music publishing sector continued to grow in 2022 with a growth rate of 16.8% in value to €2.43bn, despite a slight drop in market share.

2 – The independent music publishing sector taken as a whole remained bigger than the biggest music publishing company.

3 – Revenues of the independent music publishing sector doubled in the five years up to 2022, from €1.25bn to €2.43bn.

4 – Estimates for 2023 suggest that the growth rate of the publishing sector is going to be at minimum 8-12% and may be more depending on the state of the sync market after the Hollywood strikes.

> The global value of the music publishing business

The global music publishing business is made of a myriad of companies of all sizes, from one-person operations to multinational firms present in dozens of countries. Regardless of their size, music publishers share the same function — representing authors and composers.

Their business model relies on three pillars — royalties that go through the global system of collection management organisations (CMOs); direct licensing agreements with users of music; and ancillary revenues (sales of sheet music; neighbouring rights; etc).

The first stream of revenue is quantifiable, since it derives from the global collections from the CMOs that are part of CISAC. In the absence of a recognised data compiling tool, the second stream can be extrapolated from the financial filings of publicly quoted companies. There is a distinct lack of data on global ancillary publishing revenues.

For the past few years, IMPF has used a template that incorporates several sources of data and extrapolation to calculate the global value of the sector. Excluding BMG and Kobalt’s share (which each have a market share abouve 5%), the independent music publishing sector accounted for 26.7% of the global music publishing business (slightly down from 27.1% the previous year), according to estimates from Music & Copyright (M&C), which determines global music publishing shares based on revenue received by each company (see here).

This means that independent publishers are still the largest entity in the sector, ahead of the largest major publisher, Sony Music Publishing.

According to economist Will Page, the global value of the music copyright-related market was €38.9bn ($41.5 billion) in 2022, with music publishing accounting for €14.5bn ($15.5 billion), up from $13.5bn in the previous year, having gained $2 billion year year-on-year.

Will Page splits music publishing revenue between direct licensing revenue at €3.7bn ($4.1bn) and revenues going through the network of music collection societies at €10.83bn ($11.4bn).

Global music collections going through the CISAC network of CMOs, experienced a 28% growth in 2022 compared to 2021 (and 21.4% above 2019) to €10.83bn, which was characterised by a significant drop in revenues due to the pandemic compared to 2019 (see here).

CMO’s income is usually split 50-50 between songwriters and publishers — in this instance that would equal €5.41bn ($5.7bn) in music publishers’ revenue. And the same amount is distributed to songwriters.

The two streams of revenue (direct licensing at €3.7bn and CMO-sourced revenue at €5.41bn) combined would amount to €9.1bn ($9.8bn), and 26.7% of that amount would put independent publishers at €2.43bn ($2.61bn), up 16.8% from €2.08bn in 2021.

In the five years since IMPF first started calculating the value of the independent music publishing market in 2018, the value of the sector has almost doubled from €1.25bn to €2.43bn.

(Source: IMPF)

Between 2021 and 2022, independent music publishers have seen their revenue grow, despite a slight drop in market share. This highlights the impressive recovery of the music publishing market in 2022, a trend that has continued in 2023.

“This independent music publishing business has been growing for the past few years,” said Molly Neuman, CMO, Downtown Music Holdings, Member of IMPF. “Doubling revenues in five years is significant. We are less affected by market changes because we have a diverse mix of revenues, and we are seeing significant improvements in digital revenues.”

She added: “This has been a positive factor, even though we are far from the levels of digital revenues enjoyed by the recorded music industry. This trend is likely to continue, but we need to ensure that this expanded market benefits all the different music genres, and discoverability will be one of the key challenges of the future.”

> Agents of cultural diversity

The value of the independent sector cannot just be reduced to its sole monetary value. The music publishing sector — the business structures that look after the compositions on behalf of authors, composers, and songwriters — is one of the key players in the identification and development of music talent.

Music publishing companies are established in all the main markets and are active contributors to cultural diversity by ensuring that new and established talent gets support at a local and global level.

Independent music publishers contribute to local economies, pay taxes, invest in talent, hire and train skilled staff, set up rights management infrastructures, provide advice to authors, composers and songwriters and execute local and global strategies to grow their businesses.

“Independent music publishers are active economic and cultural actors and, while our reach is global, we operate hand in hand with members on a local level as well,” said Annette Barrett. “All our members have strong ties with the country they operate in — they work with domestic artists, musicians and studios, hire and train local staff, pay taxes, and contribute overall to the cultural fabric of their country. This myriad of local companies that we represent are the fertile ground upon which cultural diversity in songs and music can grow and talent can blossom.”

> A strong potential for growth

The outlook for 2023 and beyond remains positive. The sector has weathered the aftermath of the pandemic, which still had an impact over the 2021 and 2022 figures, and the music business has returned to growth, with an even greater emphasis on digital revenue.

The growth in the recorded music sector in 2023 (up 10.2% according to figures from the IFPI) will be echoed in the publishing sector, as it reflects growth in music streaming revenues. CISAC figures regarding the evolution of global collections in 2023 will be published in October 2024.

A number of collective management organisations have released their 2023 results, and their growth rates are in the 8-14% bracket. SOCAN (Canada) revenues were up 8% year on year, SGAE’s (Spain) were up 11.9%, GEMA’s (Germany) up 8.4%, and ASCAP (USA) up 14.1%. In addition, The MLC in the US has distributed in 2023 royalties up 35% compared to the previous year.

Moreover, music publishing’s traditional revenues from public performances and revenues from radio and TV should remain steady, if not growing, while the live music sector continues its return to pre-pandemic levels.

The report estimates that the global music publishing market should grow by 8-12% in 2023, and even more if the sync market has recovered from the Hollywood strikes that brought TV and film production to a standstill for close to five months.

“The music publishing sector has survived and come out stronger from the pandemic, thanks mostly to the global development of streaming and its impact on our bottom line,” explained Filippo Sugar, Chairman and CEO of Sugar Music, and member of the Board of Directors of IMPF. “Our sector has become increasingly more complex, with an expanding number of revenue streams, but it has created a far more solid business, as these figures show. After a few years battling the elements, the whole sector is enjoying some much welcome tailwinds.”

> Methodology

To determine what is an independent music publisher, IMPF used the same benchmark that is used by independent music labels’ trade organisation IMPALA to determine what is an indie label — namely a company whose market share at a global level does not exceed 5%. This excludes two key players — BMG and Kobalt — in addition to the three majors — Sony Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group and Warner Chappell Music.

In the absence of industry-wide data driven research, the report has been established through the compilation of existing data and statistics on the music publishing sector sourced from music industry trade publications, existing reports, and other sources such as data provided by music publishers’ associations.

Figures have been taken from reports and news sources such as CISAC’s “Global Collections Report”, CSDEM’s “Baromètre de l’édition musicale”, IFPI “Global Music Report”, NMPA’s Annual State of the business address, MIDiA Research, Music Business Worldwide, Music & Copyright and Will Page’s yearly report on the value of the music copyright-supported industry.

The report is also based on multiple discussions and interviews with music publishers from around the world, which helped inform the information and the views expressed in the report.

One of the most important sources of data was CISAC’s Global Collections Report, which compiles the domestic collections reported to CISAC by its member societies. These figures document the value of the music publishing business that goes through the collective management system, which continues to represent the majority of the revenues for songwriters and publishers.

The figures in this report cover the year 2022, for which there is a full set of data, including the streams of revenue going through the network of collective management organisations.

The figures in this report are in euros and are an estimate that give an order of magnitude of the music publishing sector in general and of the independent music publishing community in particular. Since the methodology and the sources of data have been consistent over the past three reports, they give a sense of scale and allow to look at trends of time and place

The development of local talent and the role of independent publishers in this creative process merits specific, data-driven research to document the depth of the work done by publishers in general, and independent publishers in particular.

Emmanuel is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist, blogger and media consultant, specialising in the entertainment business and cultural trends. He was the US editor for British music industry trade publication Music Week. Previously, he was the editor of Impact, a magazine for the music publishing community (2007-2009), the global editor of US trade publication Billboard (2003-2006), and the editor in chief of Billboard’s sister publication Music & Media (1997-2003).

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