CISAC 2021 Report: Pandemic Recovery in Live is Slow, Digital Collections Bolster Losses

In 2021, collections began to rise again after their all-time low the year before due to COVID-19 and its restrictions on travel and live music, according to the International Confederation of Authors and Composers Societies (CISAC). Still, in its annual report for 2021, CISAC has found music collections for its worldwide membership are still down 5.1% from pre-pandemic levels as live and public performance income struggles to regain footing. For 2021, collections totaled €9.58 billion ($11.33 billion) compared to €9.32 billion ($10.64 billion) in 2020.

However, there is reason to be optimistic for future reports: CISAC has found that concerts and festivals appear to be faring well in 2022 so far, and the tourism industry is eyeing 2023-2024 as a target for a return to normal collections. Japan in particular has become a thought leader in pandemic recovery, offering its citizens discounts, coupons and subsidies for domestic travel to stimulate the economy. This, CISAC says, helped the return of large scale festivals like Fuji Rock and Summer Sonic. In South America, major festivals and tours like Rock in Rio and Lollapalooza are also expected to have a strong impact on 2022’s forthcoming numbers for live music in its region.

Though in-person events were reported as off to a slow start for 2021, streaming and digital music income is “exceeding expectations” with a 27.5% increase in collections from €2.40 billion ($2.74 billion) in 2020 to €3.06 billion ($3.62 billion) in 2021. This makes digital income an unprecedented high 36.1% share of the total music collections for 2021. Futuresource, the company which provides the data for CISAC’s report, anticipates further grow with double digit hikes in music subscriptions year over year and that there will be over 1 billion music subscribers by 2026.

Subscription numbers for streaming video on demand (SVOD) are expected to falter amid inflation, recession and what they call the “cost of living crisis,” but subscriptions for music are expected to be more impermeable because users only need to pay for one service to receive a rapidly growing catalog of songs rather than paying for multiple services, each with exclusive, smaller libraries.

As Marcelo Castello Branco, CISAC chair of the board and CEO of Brazilian collection management organization União Brasileira de Compositores, wrote in his foreword for his report, “subscription prices are already undervalued and need to be raised.” His comments come just after Apple Music announced that it was raising its subscription price, as did YouTube for the price of its family plan earlier this month. More price hikes for music streaming subscriptions are expected in the coming months with some eyeing Spotify’s long awaited hifi tier as a way to up its price.

When speaking to Billboard about the report, Branco said, “as streaming services move into a more mature phase, it is the right time to review pricing policies for the future…We also need to keep the share of revenue paid to the songwriter constantly under review. This is a fundamental concern.”

Another concern flagged by CISAC leadership: data management or “metadata.” As digital becomes a more and more pivotal piece of rights holders’ income for mechanical and performance royalties, CISAC president and ABBA member Björn Ulvaeus says he estimates “hundreds of millions of dollars… is left on the table” when the data needed to identify and remunerate creators is incomplete or missing.

This can stem from ignorance on the part of composers, honest mistakes and typos, or incomplete information for songs that are released before samples and interpolations are properly cleared. Issues with metadata are expected to continue to rise if left unchecked as more and more artists and songwriters hold out on signing deals with companies who can handle these headaches for them, opting for the DIY route. Not to mention the sheer volume of songs being released has risen significantly in the past decade.

This year, Universal Music Group (UMG) CEO Lucian Grainge told a crowd at Music Matters, a conference in Singapore, that 100,000 new songs are added to streaming platforms each day, most of which are likely from do-it-yourself newcomers. While Ulvaeus notes that work to upgrade ISWC, the identifier for musical works, and educational initiatives like “Credits Due” are helping alleviate this problem, there is still a long way to go.

Certain collection societies are independently working on solutions to this issue. The newfound Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), which is not a member of CISAC, is attempting to match unclaimed mechanical royalties in the U.S. to their rightful owners. In Japan, rights society JASRAC has founded KENDRIX, a data exchange platform to protect authors from “impersonation and other abuses,” says its president Kazumasa Izawa.

Some countries, like South Korea, were greatly affected by systemic changes — some positive, some negative. KOMCA, the country’s collection society, proved to have a success story this year as changes in its digital collection rules led to increased promotion of music subscriptions by the major music platforms. However, in Bulgaria, authors are faced with continued “poor enforcement” of copyright ownership from its authorities, and in Argentina and Brazil, fluctuations in currency exchange rates left its composers and publishers negatively affected.

Brazil’s collection society found that half of the country’s musicians had lost all of their income due to lockdown restrictions over the last few years, and half of the musicians have been forced to find another professional activity.

Live income for 2021, CISAC found, grossed €1.49 billion ($1.76 billion), only up 0.1% from the €1.49 billion ($1.70 billion) made in 2020. Compared to 2019 levels, which Billboard reported as €$3.04 billion, the aftermath of a global pandemic remains stark.

Television and radio, also known as broadcast, income remains the highest revenue source for music publishing, bringing in €3.19 billion ($3.78 billion) for 2021, but its lead fell by 1.8% from 2020, giving way as users ditched their cable boxes and car radios in favor of on-demand listening and viewing options. This is the fifth successive year of steady decline for this category and weaker advertising rates in some markets have now translated into lower usage fees; still, it accounted for 38% of global collections. Digital only lags two percentage points behind it now.

Systemic shifts also led to two major bright spots in the steadily waning sector of broadcast income. Mexico’s broadcast collections rose by 47.8% after a judicial process concluded in the order for satellite broadcaster, SKY, to pay significant royalties in back payment to musicians. Spain’s broadcast income also rose 47.6% due to agreements signed with the main private TV networks in the country. Unlike many other regions, Spain’s advertising revenues were up in 2021 (though still well-below pre-pandemic levels).

CDs, video and vinyl experienced gains this year, up 3.1% from 2020’s €348 million ($397.21 million) to 2021’s €359 million ($424.66 million). Though it’s only 4.2% of total music collections, this small but gaining subset of the business is expected to grow as the vinyl boom continues. As Billboard recently reported, Nashville, Tennessee is ramping up production on new, higher capacity vinyl pressing plants to meet consumer demand after superstars like Adele and Taylor Swift sell massive swathes of vinyl to mostly American and European consumers.

CISAC also included a number of more minor forms of income for mechanical and performing royalties for the music business in its 2021 report as well:

  • Private Copying Assessment: this category rose an impressive 15.3% for 2021, from $283.0 million in 2020 to $338.31 million in 2021. This represents just 3.4% of the total CISAC society music collections for the year.
  • Sync: this is up 6.9% this year, from $30 million in 2020 to $33.12 million in 2021. This represents just 0.3% of the total CISAC society music collections for the year.
  • Rental and Public Lending: collections are down 16.4% this year, from $14 million in 2020 to $33.12 million in 2021. This represents just 0.1% of the total CISAC society music collections for the year.
  • Publication: collections are up 6.2% this year, from $6.45 million in 2020 to $7.10 million in 2021. This represents just 0.1% of the total CISAC society music collections for the year.
  • Repography: collections are up 38% this year, from $2.48 million in 2020 to $3.55 million in 2021. This represents less than 0.01% of the total CISAC society music collections for the year.

Looking at the largest countries by music collection size, the U.S. ranked No. 1 again for 2021 with a 23.6% market share, down from 2020’s 27% market share. It has grown collections by 3.5% and increased collections to €2.004 billion from €2.21 billion in 2020.

  • France, ranked No. 2 with a 11.2% market share, grew 5.4% to €951 million from €902 million in 2019
  • Japan, ranked No. 3 with a 9.6% market share, declined 2.8% to €818 million from €842 million in 2020.
  • The U.K., ranked No. 4 with a 9.6% market share, grew a whopping 33.1% to €813 million from €611 million in 2019
  • Germany, ranked No. 5 with a 9% market share, grew 4% to €766 million from €736 million in 2020
  • Italy, ranked No. 6 with a 3.6% market share went down -0.2% to €308 million from €310 million in 2020. That year the report showed Italy had fallen a precipitous 35.1% from €477.66 million in 2019
  • Canada, which switched with Australia to rise to No. 7 with a 3.2% market share, rose 14.0% to €268 from €242 million in 2020
  • Australia, which swapped with Canada to fall to No. 8 with a 3.1% market share, rose 9.1% to €264 million from €235 million in 2020
  • South Korea, which from No. 10 to No. 9 this year with a 2.4% market share, grew by 16% to €201 million up from €173 million in 2020
  • Spain, which rose to No. 10 with a 2.3% market share, rose 26.6% to €199 million from €184 million in 2020

A notable gain below the top ten countries is Scandinavia. Denmark, ranked No. 12, grew by 10.2%, Sweden, ranked No. 13, grew by 21.5%; Norway, ranked No. 18, grew by 33.5%; and Finland, ranked No. 19, grew by 9.4% for 2021. CISAC attributes this to the region’s high share of digital income compared to other countries which helped them weather the continued pandemic effects.

Below features a list of additional emerging markets that gained double digit growth in 2021. Though CISAC does not explain why each of these nations have experienced such success in the last year, the report does include that Indonesia, Thailand, and India’s growth can thank digital and streaming gains and that Mexico benefitted from the aforementioned settlement with broadcaster SKY.

  • Mexico, ranked no. 17, which gained 10% to achieve a 1.1% marketshare for 2021
  • China, ranked No. 22, rose a significant 12.3% to hold 0.6% marketshare for 2021
  • Czech Republic, ranked No. 24, grew 19.1% to achieve 0.5% marketshare for 2021
  • South Africa, ranked No. 26, grew 10.1% to hold 0.4% marketshare for 2021
  • India, ranked No. 28, grew a whopping 73.8% to hold 0.4% marketshare for 2021
  • Chile, ranked 32, grew 23.8% to hold 0.3% marketshare for 2021
  • Turkey, ranked No. 33, gained 37.1% to hold 0.3% marketshare for 2021
  • Malaysia, ranked No. 38, grew 31.3% to hold 0.2% marketshare for 2021
  • Thailand, ranked No. 39 grew 68.8% to hold 0.1% marketshare for 2021
  • Greece, ranked No. 43, grew 46% to hold 0.1% marketshare for 2021
  • Indonesia, ranked No. 46, grew 59.4% to also hold 0.1% marketshare for 2021

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