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German Collection Org GEMA’s Payments Hit €893 Million, Songwriter Payouts Called ‘Horrific’

The German collection society GEMA is reporting solid growth as total revenues earned for its worldwide rights-owners reached €893.6 million euros in 2014, an increase of 4.8 percent over the…

The German collection society GEMA is reporting solid growth as total worldwide revenues earned reached €893.6 million euros (about $950 million) in 2014, an increase of 4.8 percent over the previous year.

Three sectors made it all possible: music licenses, totaling €340.6 million (2013: €326.6), TV and radio synchs €287.3 million (2013: €292.2) and streaming, at €44.8 million (2013: €26.4). Costs were reduced 0.5 percent, to 15.4 percent (15.9 percent in 2014). GEMA was able to increase its streaming revenues due to new contracts with the various services. However, not everyone is happy with how the agency is splitting the payouts between rights owners, songwriters and publishers.


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Dr. Rolf Budde, president of the German Music Publishers Association (DMV) and member of the GEMA advisory board, told Billboard: “Publishers are decidedly uncomfortable with the fact that the holders of master rights are receiving more than fifteen times the amount that authors and music publishers are given. The massive imbalance between the payouts which Spotify and its peers issue to labels on the one hand, and to authors and publishers on the other, is horrific.”

He added, “Considering that, following a slump in CD sales, the download market, which has so far been relatively stable, is now also sagging, it is even more important for this disparity to be addressed. To this end, we will be taking the necessary action.”

Budde said Spotify will be discussed “in great detail” at the DMV’s upcoming annual meeting, to be held April 21-22. He also said that Germany and the European Union must follow the U.S. Senate’s lead and begin hearings on reforming copyright laws.

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Despite a further decrease in the record business, the earnings were still relatively strong, at €109 million (2013: €110.4). As has been the case, Germany’s physical business totaled 75 percent of the market, a decrease of just 1 percent compared to the previous year.

GEMA represents the copyrights of about 69,000 members (composers, lyricists and publishers) as well as about 2 million rights-owners all over the world.

Overall, Germany’s economy grew 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 from the quarter before. So far this year, official figures show German industrial production rose 0.2 percent in February compared to January. The increase beat expectations among market analysts.