The Indian Performing Right Society Limited (IPRS), a representative body of music composers, lyricists, and publishers, creates a new benchmark, by distributing royalty amounting to Rs. 325Crs in the past two years. The last two years have been challenging across various sectors. The music and entertainment industry were no exception. During this challenging time, IPRS aided its members with royalties when other sources of income got restricted.
Capturing the worldwide study, CISAC has just released its Global Collections Report for 2021 (based on 2020 collections data). As per the report published, The Indian Performing Right Society Ltd. (IPRS) ranked as the 6th largest Society by revenues in the Asia-Pacific region, out of 11 Societies featuring in the Top 50. The Paris-based International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) is the apex body of 232 Authors’ Societies in 121 countries representing more than 4Mn creators.
As per CISAC Global collection report 2021, IPRS emerges strongly in revenue collection in these testing times. Worldwide royalty collections for creators of music, audio-visual, art, drama, and literary works fell by 9.9% in 2020, with losses amounting to more than €1 billion because of the global pandemic.
Further, Pop Diaries interacted with Mr. Rakesh Nigam, CEO of IPRS and Mr. Björn Ulvaeus – President of CISAC. Please find the excerpts from the interview.
Why have local creators suffered in terms of income?
Mr. Rakesh Nigam, CEO of IPRS, shared “Since the pandemic, we have seen a boom in content consumption from digital mediums, mainly because of video on demand and audio streaming services. Increased digital collections have partly cushioned the decline of revenue from other traditional sources and public performance. However, the growing demand for digital content has not benefitted all creators equally. Within the overall trend, a disproportionately large majority of creators rely on the local usage of their works on stage and broadcast on air. These creators have witnessed little or no compensation from increased digital revenues. The increase in digital consumption has been of more advantage to International rather than local creators. The local creators still majorly depend on live shows, concerts, festivals, and local events as their major source of earnings. In many countries dependent on tourism, facilities such as hotels, restaurants, festivals, and cultural gatherings represent the biggest source of public performance income, which have also been majorly hit during the pandemic, affecting the earnings of the local creators.
Hence, the increase in online uses of works benefitted a small minority, while the majority of creators rely on live performance and therefore lost income. The reopening of cultural spaces will offer a breath of fresh air to the public and creators alike. But two years of struggle have left wounds that will take many years to heal.”
What kind of issues/challenges were posed worldwide on royalty collection during the global pandemic?
Mr. Björn Ulvaeus – President of CISAC shared “As the pandemic has highlighted, digital – and most of that is streaming – is now without doubt on course to being the most important revenue stream of the future.
That is in itself very exciting. Subscription streaming has helped us claim back the online world from piracy, and it’s created wonderful opportunities for artists. But the problem is that digital, though it might be working for some, is not delivering enough for the music creator.
This is really about the historical treatment of the songwriter as the subordinate partner in the creative chain. It has always seemed to me inequitable and unfair that the very person at the start of the process, the songwriter or composer, has been consigned to such a secondary role when it comes to rights and remuneration.
These creators are where our creative industries start. When music lovers search on Spotify, they are searching for songs, not artists. That is what the latest data shows.
These issues were always there, but they have become even more critical as songwriters increasingly turn to digital to pay for their livelihoods. In this way Covid-19 threw a massive spotlight on existing inequalities and flaws in the existing digital market.
So, we must address that, and I feel we are starting to change attitudes. Suddenly there is an unprecedented focus on creators’ rights. There is greater awareness now of the “song economy” – that is one of the “silver linings” to Covid.
Policy makers are also taking a keener interest. In the UK, the parliamentary enquiry into streaming has given great scrutiny to the lack of fairness in the digital market. I think this whole process in the UK has thrown a very welcome spotlight on the issue I think is it time for parliaments in other countries to take a similar look at music streaming and make sure songwriters and composers get fairly rewarded.”
Other than Cinema, which other entertainment medium suffered during COVID?
Mr. Rakesh Nigam, CEO of IPRS, shared “Live and public performance, representing 17% of all income in 2020, have felt the worst of the pandemic worldwide. These revenue streams saw their value plummet 45.4%, from EUR2.9bn to EUR1.6bn, in 2020. In many countries dependent on tourism, facilities such as hotels and restaurants represent the biggest source of public performance income. Restrictions on travel, with flight cancellations and extra border requirements, all contributed to the decline.
Radio stations have been more affected by the pandemic than cinema and TV channels. In 2020 CISAC members declared an average 7% decline in collections from the radio while TV sank only 2%. Goldman Sachs’s “Music in the Air 2020” report estimates that before lockdowns, 40% of music listening took place at work or in the car which was largely affected because of severe lockdowns and travel restrictions. Radio consumption has also shifted online with podcasts, filmed shows available on YouTube, and exclusive content.”
How did OTT platforms turn out to be the best alternative for film distributors?
Mr. Rakesh Nigam, CEO of IPRS, shared, “Due to the impact of COVID, many production companies had to widely release their content via OTT platforms only as there was no viable alternative. There were delays of blockbuster films globally that could attract massive viewers had seen their launch getting delayed because of uncertainty regarding the opening of cinemas. The resulting drop in collections from cinemas could only be sustained if the trend of release on OTT continued. Film shootings and production companies had managed to keep up to the schedule and this resulted in an expected excess of films for release in 2021-2022. In this context, OTT platforms not only ended up being a good alternative for distributors but also became the only solution when partly or fully dormant cinemas still could not absorb the high supply of new films.”
How important are rights of authors?
Mr. Björn Ulvaeus – President of CISAC shared “You could say my own song-writing career has been case study in the importance of copyright. Everything we achieved with ABBA was founded on copyright and authors rights. This is what I would want for other creators, and why I would like to help CISAC and its members in their work to support creators across the globe.”
What is the importance of authors societies?
Mr. Björn Ulvaeus – President of CISAC shared “CISAC and the authors societies have an extremely important job, and the pandemic highlighted that. They work to support music creators and to make sure the global network of societies functions efficiently and ensures fair payment of songwriters.”
What was the revenue collection of IPRS since the pandemic?
Mr. Rakesh Nigam, CEO of IPRS, shared, “Capturing the worldwide study, CISAC released its Global Collections Report for 2021 (based on 2020 collections data). As per the report published, The Indian Performing Right Society Ltd. (IPRS) ranked as the 6th largest Society by revenues in the Asia-Pacific region, out of 11 Societies featuring in the Top 50. The Paris-based International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) is the apex body of 232 Authors’ Societies in 121 countries representing more than 4Mn creators. In terms of collections for music rights from the Top 50 societies around the world (representing 99% of total collections for this category), IPRS ranked 32nd in 2020 with collections of €20m. This compares with 47th position in 2018 with collections of just €5.6m”.