Business Matters: Make No Mistake, EU Copyright Extension Is Good for Record Labels, Too

Business Matters: Make No Mistake, EU Copyright Extension Is Good for Record Labels, Too

Business Matters: Make No Mistake, EU Copyright Extension Is Good for Record Labels, Too

Make No Mistake, EU Copyright Extension Is Good for Record Labels, Too
-- Artists and performing musicians are feeling the love in the European Union while record labels are being a bit overlooked. If you've read news reports about the EU's decision to extend the copyright term for sound recordings, you've undoubtedly been informed of the good the extension will do for the artists and musicians who performed the songs.

The EU adopted a directive to extend copyright term for sound recordings to 70 years from 50 years -- a big victory for record labels who would have soon faced some very popular recordings passing into the public domain.

But the BBC, The Independent, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Dow Jones and many other media outlets didn't portray the extension as a win for record labels. The fact that record labels that own sound recordings will be affected by the extension was either omitted from or barely mentioned in many stories. If there was any reference to record labels, it was usually the legal term "producer." And let's be honest, how many people reading those articles know that producer means record label?

Why would reporters miss this elemental aspect of the story? The usual reasons, probably -- pressure to publish too quickly, if not laziness -- and perhaps a smart PR strategy that emphasizes the human element to copyright terms. Trade groups announced the news with a strong emphasis on the extension's benefit to aging musicians. Reporters took the message given them without adding much individual thought.

It's quite an oversight, frankly. With so much press attention going to the sale of Warner Music Group and the current bidding for EMI, you'd think more people would recognize the importance of copyright to the value of music companies. At least the New York Times' article on the extension noted the importance of catalog sales to major labels.

As IFPI chairman Placido Domino put it, "The decision to extend the term of protection for recordings in Europe is great news for performing artists." And who could argue? Without the extension, musicians who were in their twenties would be pensioners in their seventies when their royalty checks stop showing up. This extension will allow them to enjoy royalties further into their lives. It would be hard to find a person who would not support that outcome. And it makes for a good story -- although an incomplete one.

But the press releases issued by the IFPI and Impala emphasized the extension as a win for performers even though both groups represent music companies (the producers), not performers. And both press releases actually left out the words "sound recordings" (perhaps that's nitpicking on my part, but it's a crucial element to the news story).

The BPI press release was more balanced, however. It referred to the extension of "the term of copyright in sound recordings" and correctly noted that record labels will benefit from the extension.

Aside from the New York Times, some of the more accurate coverage of this news has come from tech blogs such as Wired UK. This makes sense - the restrictions of copyright law are a hot-button topic in technology circles. These pundits been critical of content owners' efforts in everything from Google's book-scanning project to anti-piracy tactics, and they tend to frown upon the current length of copyrights in music.

Orchard Launches Marketplace
-- The Orchard has launched a new product called Marketplace for its music and video clients. Marketplace gives discounted sales, marketing and business tools for artists and labels in a single platform. "In its newly-launched Marketplace, The Orchard has created a dynamic and powerful ecosystem of tools that artists and labels can leverage to grow their businesses," says Aleks Jakulin, President and Co-founder of Ganxy.

For the launch of Marketplace, the company has partnered with Moontoast, FanBridge, SoundCloud, Songpier, BandRx, Dropcards, Mobile Backstage, Ganxy and a handful of others. Upcoming Marketplace partners include Mobile Roadie, SoundOut, Gigaboxx and Link-Busters. (Press release)

NARM Launches
-- NARM launched on Monday. Formerly called Digital Think Tank, is the home of the trade group's digital initiatives. You can read blog posts about such topics as an introduction to the International Standard Recording Code and get information on upcoming events. NARM has really beefed up the number of webinars it presents with the likes of Nielsen, Parks Associates and various industry experts -- free to NARM members and about $30 for non-members. And you can get information on NARM's work groups for such topics as Digital Supply Chain, Product Development, Metrics & Sales Analysis and Music Subscription.

8tracks Announces Partnership with SoundCloud

-- 8tracks now has a partnership with SoundCloud that will give 8tracks users access to millions of SoundCloud tracks with which they can make mixes. 8tracks is a cool music service that plays multi-songs mixes (with 8 or more tracks, thus the name). Listening to the songs is like listening to non-interactive Internet radio. To create a mix, just upload the tracks (or select from SoundCloud), add description and art and publish to the 8tracks platform. Because mix creators use descriptive tags for their mixes - rock, alternative rock, dance, rap, happy, indie and so on - listeners can navigate the sea of mixes by selecting the genre they'd like to hear. 8tracks also makes discovery easy by allowing listeners to view the most popular and recently uploaded mixes.

8tracks was founded in 2008 and has announced only a seed funding of $300,000. It launched an iPhone app in April of this year. According to reports an Android version will arrive later this year.