White Sky Royalties Update – Issue #8

News and views from the money side of music


Putting the Band Back Together.

What a month in music industry data analytics … Phew!

As many of you have probably seen, Citigroup released an 88 page report on the state of the music business. You can read it for yourself right here:

Of all the points made in the report, the one that grabbed the lion’s share of the media’s attention was that only 12 percent of all the revenue in the music industry ends up going to artists.

The immediate reaction before reading the article was “OK, how can Citigroup have any idea what artists are making from private, individual agreements with labels, agents and promoters?” Well, they don’t. There’s a lot of guess work going on but let’s leave that aside for now.

Their proposed solution to this imbalance in revenue sharing rings out a lot like the other voices in the media-tech world right now: Disintermediation. Take everyone out from between the artist and fan, then the artist will take home all the money. Well, of course. It’s logical to say that if you give out fewer slices of the pie, you get to have more pie. Fine. But the idea of achieving this through further vertical integration just screams winner takes all. Their ideal scenario seems to be that the label, promoter, retailer and distributor become one entity. Less “value leakage” apparently, and the artist sees more of the money.

OK, but at what cost? Is this where we will see companies like Amazon and Google really running away with the industry? They already have the licenses in place with the current content owners, (Google is even positioning itself for the end of that paradigm with its United Masters effort.) They have the physical warehousing and delivery systems for any kind of merch activity. They have their own streaming platforms, their own digital delivery systems (smart speakers/screens, casting devices, phones, smart earbuds, etc.) Google even has it’s own mechanical royalty collection company! And they both have a truck load of user data. Just wait for one of them to buy Live Nation (or whatever Live Nation/Sirius/iHeartRadio becomes,) or a competitor and draw a line under the whole damn thing. Congratulations, super mega-corporation, you are the music industry.

All that aside, the report has some really great data analysis and serves as a good Music Business 101 guide. I recommend you give it a look and I’ve also linked a few articles below.

In other news:


  • PPCA registration deadline — 31st of August: Make sure all new recordings are registered with PPCA to be involved in this years distribution! Get them in here if you’re an artist, or here if you’re a label. If you’re not yet a member of PPCA, artists can register here and labels here.

Feel free to reach out if you need some help with the registration process and as always, don’t hesitate to touch base for any other royalty related questions. We’re always happy to chat!