Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Midem 2012 (part 3) -- Progress towards a global repertoire database

By Emmanuel Legrand

If songs are at the core of the music business, the way in which these songs can be identified has become a crucial issue for the industry.

The new digital eco-system has created an infinity of new uses for songs, and made the complex process of identifying works even more relevant. In other words, the metadata that is attached to songs is the crucial element that will allow songs to be identified and, eventually, remunerated.

As a result, one of the most ambitious projects undertaken by the music industry in recent years has been the building of a global repertoire database (GRD) that will regroup in a comprehensive and standardised manner all the music works created in the world.

The GRD, as it is known, was given a full review at Midem on Tuesday Jan. 31, during the International Publishing Summit organised with ICMP, the global organisation for music publishers.

“If GRD did not exist, it would have to be invented,” joked moderator Stephen Navin, chief executive of the UK’s Music Publishers Association.

The project, started in 2008, is moving on, and in February, recommendations should be published by consultancy group Deloitte on the way forward to building this database. A working group, encompassing rights holders and technology companies has been working for the last couple of years.

“There are still a lot of issues up in the air, noted Jane Dyball, SVP international legal and business affairs at Warner Chappell Music, who added that there was “a real commitment to make it happen”. For Dyball, the GRD will will be a much-needed tool at the service of rights holders and digital services alike; even if the road to get there might be a bit bumpy. “Anything that changes status quo presents some concerns to some people,” she said. “What we have to do as a group is always to focus on the opportunities.”

Jez Bell, director of licensing at Omnifone, agreed with Dyball that there was always a risk for the process to slow down or stop, but it has not happened so far. For Bell, the different stakeholders working on the project “managed to maintain momentum throughout process – it gives us confidence that something is going to happen.”

Sacem’s director of organisation and information systems Michel Allain outlined the vision behind the project. “We have a consensus on what it will be and what it will not be,” he said. There were, he added, three keywords to explain what the project is about. First, it is a database, no less but no more, in that it is not a distribution system or an accountancy system. Second, it is global and has the ambition to cover all territory and all usages. And last, it is authoritative.

At the end of the process, the GRD will be, according to Allain, “a unique place where you can have data that is accurate and has been validated”.

There are still challenges: for example, how can the database deal with various languages, and what will be the place of domestic repertoire in the project. Another issue, says Omnifone’s Bell, are funding issues.

On the upside, the GRD should give online platforms the tool to process payments to rights owners “quicker and more accurately”, according to Omnifone’s Bell.

The same theme was picked by Karen Buse, director of international at PRS for Music in the UK. For Buse, it is about “the quality of data”, which will allow for “speedier and more accurate distribution for our members”.

Speaking from the perspective of a technology company and users of content, Sami Valkonen, head of international music licensing for Android at Google, the GRD will be about “efficiency in paying invoices”. “Imagine a world with GRD in which we can simply go to the GRD and pay and process quickly,” he said.

For Valkonen, one of the challenges faced by the proponents of the GRD is the governance and ownership structure. Valkonen goes as far as saying that the GRD should be seen “as a public good that benefits everyone. “There should not be anything in GRD that is proprietary,” he said. For him, it should be there, funded and available to everyone. 

This topic, it is understood, is one that creates friction within the GRD group, since both publishers and collecting societies are known to view their data as “proprietary” rather than a “public good”. And, according to one person aware of the situation, some rights societies have seen with moderate enthusiasm Google acquiring rights management company RightsFlow and integrate it into YouTube to serve as back office for royalties tracking and payment. “They fear that combined with the GRD, Google could compete directly with rights societies for the collection and distribution of royalties,” explained the expert.

Another fear is that the GRD would first and foremost be a vehicle for the big publishing companies. But the participants to the panel tried to lift that perspective. “This levels the playing field for the small publishers and the smaller societies,” said Bell. In addition, he said, the fact that CISAC is part of the discussions ensures that in the end, the repertoire from all the different rights societies should also be taken in to account.

Veteran publisher Ralph Peer II, chairman and CEO of US-based peermusic, concurred. For independent publishers like him, the GRD creates indeed a level playing field that “will be useful to the indie community”. But Peer warned that the GRD could also fail if the infrastructure is built and nobody joins in and provides repertoire.

Dropping for a while his neutral hat of moderator, Stephen Navin assured the audience that “all publishers are absolutely committed to the database” and that it will become a reality.

Reflecting the general mood in the room, PRS for Music chairman Guy Fletcher spoke from the audience and said that it was absolutely crucial that the project came to fruition. “It cannot be a no go: let’s get on with it and do it.”

(For those who were not there -- and those who were -- the complete Midem coverage can be found on the trade show's blog)

If you found this post informative, you might be interested in the following stories:

Midem 2012 (part 2) -- The European Commission promises new rules on pan-European licensing by 2013

By Emmanuel Legrand

Time may be of the essence, but European institutions work within a different time frame than the rest of the world.

That was pretty obvious at the very informative session ‘Lost Property: The Future of Collective Rights Management in the EU’ presented by German authors’ society Gema at Midem on January 30.

For authors’ societies, the most important person on the panel was Kerstin Jorna, the deputy head of cabinet of European Commissioner Michel Barnier at the European Commission in Brussels. Jorna is one of the policy-makers who is in charge of drafting European legislation dealing with copyright. And if there is one sector in need for such thing, it’s collective management, so that users of music repertoire and those who license it can navigate within clear boundaries within the European Union.

“We want to create a digital single market for the benefit of all. We need security for the market between those who create, those who invest [in creation], and those who enjoy [these creations],” said Jorna.

That’s a declaration of intent, since the Commission created havoc a few years back by ruling that reciprocal deals within rights societies were anti-competitive. The situation screams for a clear EU legal framework for pan-European licensing in which rights societies can operate with a set of rules, content users can apply for licenses that gives them access to the repertoire they need, while creators can get compensation. Such document was expected from the Commission for the past two years. Last year at Midem, Barnier said it would happen by the end of the year, then it was pushed back to 2012. 

When asked by session moderator Manfred Gillig-Degrave, editor-in-chief, of German trade magazine Musikwoche, what would be the Commission’s schedule for such a framework, Jorna rolled out the following agenda: by April, Barnier will present a text on pan-European licensing, opening a period during which the proposed legislation with be discussed by stakeholders, before being presented to the European Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, for final adoption in 2013. That is, if nothing derails the process… 

“We hope that a consensus will emerge towards 2013,” said Jorna, and as she said so, someone shouted from the back of the room, “in 2020?”, which made the audience laugh, but also highlighted the frustration from many within the world of collective management who consider that the European Commission has not reacting quickly enough and is leaving the sector in a state of limbo. 

The CEO of GEMA Harald Hecker welcome the process initiated by the Commission, but reminded Jorna that “we need to act very very fast – time is of the essence here.” For Hecker, societies need this framework because they are dealing with “more and more international users who are asking for cross-borders licenses”.

Added Hecker, “Collecting societies need the legal framework for two reasons: we have to create a level playing field for fair competition – in the EU you have 27 rules for societies and we need harmonisation of these rules. Without these rules there is no fair competition. And we need legal certainty. As of today, there is no cooperation with societies because we don’t know what we can do and what we cannot do.” 

The urgency was also felt in the comments made by Ansgar Heveling, member of the German Bundestag. “We need fast review from the EC about the way in which it will go,” he said.Kenth Muldin offered a double perspective, as CEO of Sweden’s STIM, which he described as “a small society from a small country’, and as chair of the board of CISAC, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers.

As a representative of STIM, Muldin welcomed “the initiatives form EC to get a level playing field for small societies to participate” and speaking with his CISAC hat, he said that the organisation, which regroups 230 societies from around the world, will very closely analyse the proposed legislation.

“Europe still represents over 65% of the income for creators and publishers,” said Muldin, “so it is quite natural that whole world is watching closely what happens in Brussels, and also watching the planning of what will happen in Europe. Similar situations occur all over the world: the abolition of borders will happen globally.”

Giving the perspective of the creators, Alfons Karabuda, executive chairman of Europe’s association of composers and songwriters ECSA, told the audience that creators welcome competition between societies, if it meant to provide a better service to users and to their members, but not if it applies to rates because it will mean less revenues in the end for creators. Karabuda also made a plea in favour of collective management.

“We need a healthy competitive market and we need also a place for composers who do not have a place in the commercial arena,” said Karabuda. “Collective management societies are the ones that can treat repertoire equally. We welcome the initiatives [from the Commission] and would be glad to be part of the creation of this framework because we fear that if not seen from the authors’ perspective, it will not be a long term solution.” 

(For those who were not there -- and those who were -- the complete Midem coverage can be found on the trade show's blog)

If you found this post informative, you might be interested in the following stories:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Midem 2012 (part 1) — Things seen and heard in Cannes

It’s the same old song: each year the music industry flies to the South of France to attend Midem, the international music market, conference and festival. It is the place to be to take the pulse of the industry. Here’s a review of a few things seen and heard in Cannes for this 46th Midem.

Getting used to the new settings 

Midem has changed. A complete re-jig of the event took place, under the aegis of new director Bruno Crolot, who replaced last year Dominique Leguern at the helm of Midem. Entrance is now through the recent extension and not through the Palais itself. The basement of the Palais des Festivals in Cannes is no longer hosting stands but is the conference hub. Stands are all in the upper level of the Riviera extension, which is an improvement because there’s access to the outside world (the Cannes harbour...), but since it’s raining it does not make much of a difference anyway. MidemNet, the new media conference does not exist any more, and has been replaced by a series of events focusing on all the different aspects of artists’ career, including brands, new media, etc. It takes a while to figure out how to navigate between the different stages but once you get the drift it works.

Kobalt’s Ahdritz is King of the Croisette

Hard to avoid the new player in town: Kobalt. The London-based rights management organisation company has re-positioned itself as a global music service company for the 21st Century, beefing up its team in the process with the addition of heavy hitters such as former Sony Music International president Richard Sanders, former SoundExchange CEO John Simson, the ex cofounder of digital music company PlayLouder Paul Hitchman, and a few others. Founder/CEO Willard Ahdritz, who graced the cover of Billboard (‘Saint or Sinner?’ was the headline) last week, is leading a revolution in music rights management and has the ambition to become a global leader in services to artists. Last year, Kobalt sent 12 people to Midem. This year, many more were in Cannes to meet their colleagues for the first time, and there was 20 of them. That’s probably that more than all the majors combined!

Scene from the Croisette 

Two publishers — one from Germany and the other from Canada — meet for the first time in front of the Palais. They are introduced by yours truly. A quick chat ensues. Very quickly they start talking about songwriters, songwriting camps, hits, artist development. Exchange info about their respective companies. Inquire about publishing partners they have in their respective countries. Share the view that sub-publishing for the sake of adding catalogues has little interest in itself aside from financial reasons. Agree that what matters is how well is the partner plugged into the local scene. And decide to have a business meeting the following day. Could not illustrate better why publishing is still a people’s business. It’s about relationships, and about finding likeminded people you want to work with.

A&R is passé!

The award for the most intriguing acronym goes to Ralph Simon who announced the end of A&R and the start of the era of I&R... Innovation and Repertoire. This new concept coined by the chairman emeritus of the Mobile Entertainment Forum is certainly intriguing. Please Ralph, can you explain what you mean by that?

Playing softball with US legislation

An American friend who is quite knowledgeable about life around Capitol Hill in Washington, DC described the recent defeat of the film (MPAA) and recording industries (RIAA) in their attempt to get the SOPA and PIPA legislations through Congress as the result of a typical 20th Century approach by these industries. The plan, he said, was to get a couple of sponsors in Congress to endorse a legislation that the industry lawyers probably have written themselves, get it through the appropriate committees, build bi-partisanship to support the bills, and get it approved by Congress. “They were playing softball, and did not expect to find people playing hardball on the other side,” said my friend, “and they lost”. Meanwhile, he added, the whole creative sector was caught in the storm and suffered from collateral damages. So in his eyes, it is going to be very difficult for the creative industry to go back before Congress with any bill of this kind that will be seen as infringing on people’s freedom. 

Commerce or chaos: Why copyright still matters online?

That was the enticing title of probably the most interesting session at Midem so far. And intriguingly, it was also the least advertised and took place in a small press conference room. It involve, among others, U2 manager Paul McGuinness and Robert Levine, the author of ‘Free Ride’. It was a fascinating dialogue about the rise of internet companies as the new masters of the world, and their relationship with the creative sector.  Some blogs have covered it quite extensively and McGuinness was once again in great form. “Google are bastards that respect copyright,” joked Levine, who added that what companies on both size want is “to maximize revenues and provide returns to their shareholders”. To which McGuiness added that ISPs, Google and other tech companies should be “more generous” because it is in their “interest that the flow of content will continue, and that won't happen unless it's paid for”. Reflecting on the recent SOPA/SIPA debacle in the US, McGuinness noted that Google “were able to turn their entire network in to a lobbying device”. “We were outnumbered,” he added. McGuinness, who also manages PJ Harvey, said that if his artists’ names were Google, the results would provide a “shopping list of illegal opportunities” by linking to sites offering illegal music. “They have done nothing meaningful to discourage that,” he quipped.  
Last but not least, McGuinness expanded on rumours that Google could be planning a worldwide database of content. “If successful, it will compete with rights societies worldwide,” he explained. “This should be the golden age of rights societies; they ought to have become dominant forces in our industry and I am sorry to say that they have missed that opportunity. Maybe that will produce at least a way in which they could give back. Nobody doubts on their capacity to gather data about consumers.”
Vintage McGuinness!

Rumours, Rumours 

A rumour on the Croisette is that EMI Music Publishing could leave CELAS, the structure set up to represent its Anglo-American catalogue for online and mobile exploitation in Europe, to solely offer its repertoire through PRS for Music. CELAS is jointly owned by the UK’s PRS for Music and Germany’s GEMA. Such a decision by EMI Group CEO Roger Faxon, as the company is about to be acquired by a consortium led by Sony/ATV, could radically shake the publishing industry and complicate the integration of EMI into Sony/ATV.  

Mitterrand introduces the CNM 

French Minister of Culture Frédéric Mitterrand (he is the nephew of the late French Socialist president Francois) paid his traditional visit to Midem. It is probably his last as national elections will take place in April and it is quite likely that, whoever wins, he will not be part of the new cabinet. This time, Mitterrand had a real project to announce: the launch of the CNM – National Centre for Music, a new organisation that will regroup under one same roof over a half-dozen existing bodies that are active (and provide funding) in the fields of live music, music production, export, video production, information centres, etc. The agreement between all the parties was signed at Midem January 27 and Mitterrand called the moment historical. All this considered, this is probably the case. It unites a whole range of activities that were previously spread between multiple players, and will be able to put back into the music eco-system some €120-150 million per year. The financing comes from various sources, from taxes to contributions from various schemes such as the home tape levy. 
For outsiders this would look like a lot of hot air, but the model it will try to emulate is that of France’s CNC, which has been instrumental over the years in financing French cinema, and helping the local film industry to be Europe’s film leader. Most people I spoke to after the event see the CNM — whose existence was decided by president Nicolas Sarkozy — as a good step forward with an organisation that will have a real capacity to help the music market in the current difficult times. For a lot of foreigners this is seen a good illustration of the Gallic special way of doing things and another example of France’s cultural exception... But it could also serve as a inspiration for other countries.

...and pins a medal on Shakira’s bustier

It is a regular fixture at Midem: each year, the Minister of Culture pins medals on the chest of international and local artists. Over the years, the likes of Peter Gabriel or Donovan were at the receiving end of these accolades. This year, it was the turn of French singer Patricia Kaas and Colombian superstar Shakira (present for the NRJ Awards). There was an awkward moment when an infatuated Mitterrand could no resist a long digression about himself that was stoically and politely listened to by Shakira (and her parents). You can be a politician and still be a fan!

Give Bieber a peeing break! 

As we were sharing a few jokes and drinks with friends in the lobby of the Carlton hotel on Saturday evening, we were suddenly pushed away by some minders with respectable muscles and radio earpieces (you know, the kind of guys you see in movies or in TV shows). As we were making way for what we knew would be one of the stars who performed at the NRJ Awards, a horde of screaming young (and not so young) people followed what appeared to be Justin Bieber as he was on his way to... the toilets. Bodyguards had to block the access to all these leeches trying to make a pic of the young singer with their mobile phones. A mob. Insane. It made me feel for the kid. He might be talentless, but at least he should be allowed to piss in peace!

(For those who were not there -- and those who were -- the complete Midem coverage can be found on the trade show's blog)

If you found this post informative, you might be interested in the following stories:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Music Crossing Borders (part 2)

By Emmanuel Legrand

In this second part, I outline some of the findings of the report ‘Music Crossing Borders: Monitoring the cross-border circulation of European music repertoire within the European Union’ produced on behalf of the European Music Office and Eurosonic Noordeslag. (The report can be downloaded in full in pdf format at EMO’s web site).

Countries surveyed

Since we could not monitor the whole of Europe, we selected a sample of EU countries that we thought would give a good balance between North and South, small and big States, and with different languages. We opeted not to analyse the UK market since a lot of data is already available elsewhere. However, monitoring UK repertoire in these six countries and on a pan-European level, as well as repertoire from other sources is the purpose of the whole study.

The six countries chosen were:
n          France
n          Germany
n          The Netherlands
n          Spain
n          Sweden
n          Poland
n          + Pan-European perspective (based on Nielsen’s pan-European charts)

Nielsen data

Since Nielsen monitors radio plays throughout Europe, from some 1,000 radio stations, and tracks legal downloads sales, we elected to use their data for the study.
The data considered for the study includes:
n Top 200 Airplay, which identifies the most played songs on European radio stations based on the number of plays (Plays) per tracks and on the overall audience reached (Points)
n Top 200 Digital, which lists the most downloaded track sales.
Both sets of charts were available on a country-by-country and on a pan-European level.

The period considered is a full year that runs from 1st September 2010 to the 31st August 2011.

A few words of caution: The Top 200 charts highlight of the most played songs from a sample of European station and the most downloaded tracks (tracks and not full albums!), so it does not reflect the whole market since it does not monitor what happens below, which is probably where a lot of activity with European artists is taking place, but it gives a good indication of what consumers have been exposed to or bought, or at least the top crop.

The other aspect is that Nielsen’s pan-European charts are aggregates that add up the results achieved by tracks in each country. The cumulative process tends to favour US acts who chart in all countries.


Each track was tagged with:
n Nationality of the artist (artists are identified by their country of birth: K’naan is from Somalia even though his career was started in Canada, Rihanna is from Barbados, Gotye is from Belgium although his career is from Australia, etc…)
n Language of the song
n Label the artist is signed to (or the local licensee)

In each country, and on pan-European, level I have calculated the following shares:
n % of repertoire by origin (local, EU, UK, US, RoW)
n % by language
n % by record company

Share of EU repertoire in Airplay and Digital charts

This table highlights the shares of EU repertoire in each of the six countries surveyed in Airplay and Digital. It was obtained by adding all Airplay Plays, Airplay Points and Digital Downloads garnered by artists from the European Union and matching them with the total number of Plays, Points and Downloads. The same process was used with the pan-European Top 200 Airplay and Digital charts.

In all six countries surveyed the share of EU repertoire exceeds the 50% mark in Airplay (except for Germany, at 45%) and falls slightly off the mark with Downloads, except for Sweden and the Netherlands.

This shows a rather healthy level of penetration of EU repertoire throughout the countries surveyed. The lower shares for Digital could be explained by the fact that US acts have in general been topping the Digital charts and enjoying bigger volumes of digital sales.

Sweden has the highest Digital share of all countries surveyed. Poland’s 20-point difference between the Airplay and the Digital share could be explained by the fact that an important legal digital platform is missing from Nielsen’s sample.

On a pan-European level, the Airplay share of EU repertoire at 36% (Plays) and 37.7% (Points), and that of Digital (39%) are significantly below the shares obtained in each individual country in both fields. This can be explained by the nature of the aggregate pan-European charts. The system tends to favour tracks that are played or sell across the board, which is usually the case with US repertoire.

Overall, EU repertoire seems to fare quite well in the countries surveyed but once local and UK repertoires are taken out of the equation in each country, the share of EU repertoire is rather low (see table below).

This table shows that EU repertoire other than local and British barely reaches 10% in countries like France, Germany and the Netherlands in Airplay and is closer to 5% in Sweden. For Downloads that share is between 9 and 15%, with Sweden at 7.9%.

EU repertoire crossing borders

This table shows the number of artists from EU countries crossing borders in Airplay or Digital in any of the six countries surveyed and in the pan-European charts.


n Only 15 out of the 27 European Union countries manage to secure a presence in Airplay and Digital charts in six EU countries surveyed. That number is even lower when considering that Polish artists only score in Poland, the Czech Republic has only one entry (in Poland) and Austria only has one artist in the listings (in Germany).
n So most European repertoire in the various countries comes from 12 countries, of which only eight have artists featured in all six surveyed countries and in the pan-European charts: Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden and the UK.
n Only four countries are present in both the Airplay and the Digital charts of all the countries surveyed: Belgium, France, Sweden and the UK. On a pan-European level, two countries have entries in Airplay only (Denmark, Italy) and ten in both Airplay and Digital (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the UK).
n Denmark, Spain and Finland are relatively well positioned in most countries, albeit with only a few acts. But Italy is virtually absent from most listings.
nMost of Europe’s Eastern and Baltic countries are absent from the listings (Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia). Ditto for ‘smaller’ EU countries (Luxemburg, Cyprus, Malta). Greece also fails to appear in any of the listings.

Analysis by repertoire from EU countries: UK
n British music enjoys a “second to the US” status in all six countries surveyed and on a pan-European basis. The UK remains the EU’s largest single talent contributor, providing the biggest bulk of artists crossing borders, with 86 different artists, which is as much as the five next EU countries combined. UK acts and covers a wide diversity of music genres, from mainstream pop to R&B, alternative and dance.
Jessie J's album 'Who Are You'
n However, the table shows that although artists such as Adele – 2011’s best selling act – and a few others such as Coldplay, Taio Cruz, Jessie J and James Blunt feature in all the countries surveyed, the bulk of UK artists have patchy successes throughout Europe. In the class of 2010/11, new artists with a pan-European footprint include Taio Cruz, Tinie Tempah, Jessie J and Eliza Doolittle.
n Establishing new artists in Europe remains a challenge for the UK music industry.

Analysis by repertoire from EU countries: France
nWith 26 artists, France comes as a distant second in the number of acts crossing borders.
n Dance DJ David Guetta scores up to eight different tracks in the various charts and leads a pack that includes many electronica/dance acts (Bob Sinclar, Martin Solveig).
n But the presence of proponents of traditional French chanson like ZaZ and R&B with Ben L’Oncle Soul can also be noted. Some artists only cross to neighbouring French-speaking countries: Christophe Mae, Jenifer, etc.
n Poland and Spain look like the two countries most open to French repertoire.

Analysis by repertoire from EU countries: Germany
n With 20 artists, comes third in number of acts crossing borders, but very few of these acts cross the borders of more than two or three countries.
n New names (former Eurovision winner Lena Meyer-Landrut, singer R.I.O., R&B singer Oceana, dance act Laserkraft 3D), established acts (dance trio Cascada, alt rockers Guano Apes) and oldies (Alphaville, Boney M, Modern Talking, Fools Garden) constitute the mix of Germany’s success.
n However, no act manages to cross over to more than two countries surveyed, with Poland and the Netherlands are the most open to German repertoire, with nine and four artists charting, respectively. France only welcomes one German act, and so does Sweden.

Analysis by repertoire from EU countries: Sweden
n Sweden confirms its position as one of the leading exporters of music in Europe with a series of successes, mainly in the Dance genre. It manages to score a total of 14 artists in the various charts surveyed.
n The main Swedish artists with pan-European traction are newcomers Swedish House Mafia, winners of the EBBA 2012. Their debut album ‘Until One’ charted in several EU countries, providing to hit singles, ‘One’ and ‘Miami 2 Ibiza’.
n Swedish DJ Tim Berg, under his own name or the alias Avicii, scored a pan-European hit in 2010 with ‘Seek Romance’ and renewed the feat in 2011 with ‘Fade Into Darkness’.
n Meanwhile, R&B singer/songwriter of Congolese ascendance, Mohombi, has several hit singles from his debut album ‘MoveMean’.

Analysis by repertoire from EU countries: Romania
n Overall, Romania places seven artists in the various listings, with at least two of them enjoying pan-European success.
n Pop act Alexandra Stan scored one of the biggest hits of 2010 with ‘Mr. Saxobeat’, which charted in many EU countries, topping the German and Italian singles charts.
n Pop/Dance phenomenon Inna, whose 2009 single ‘Hot’ and debut album of the same name were both pan-European hits, scored particularly high in France’s charts.
n Producer Edward Maya, whose track ‘Stereo Love’ was one of the biggest hits of 2009, is still in the listings.

Analysis by repertoire from EU countries: Ireland
n U2 continues to be Ireland’s biggest music export with followers in France and Spain.
n Polish radio stations have a continued interest in The Cranberries and Ronan Keating, although they do not have new material.
n A new generation of Irish acts is bubbling under, exemplified by EBBA 2009 winners The Script, who continue their European campaign with success, and twin brothers Jedward, who find fans in Germany and Sweden.

Analysis by repertoire from EU countries: Spain
n It seems that Spain’s vibrant music scene experiences problems to export its music.
n Only two nationals feature in the various charts surveyed, and one of them, Enrique Iglesias, manages his career from the United States where is signed to Universal Music.
n The other act is Catalan DJ/Producer Sak Noel, who enjoyed a true pan-European hit with his track ‘Loca People’, released in 2011, which went to No.1 in the UK charts.

Analysis by repertoire from EU countries: Belgium:
n As a regular supplier of European repertoire, Belgium scores a few successes outside its borders with previous European Border Breakers Award winners Stromae and Milow, who are present in all the charts of the countries surveyed, and with this year’s EBBA winner Selah Sue
n The Netherlands, France and Poland appear to be the EU countries most open to Belgian repertoire.

Analysis by repertoire from EU countries: Denmark:
n Cross-border acts include pop artists: Rasmus Seebach, Mads Langer, Medina; dance: Safri Duo; and metal: Volbeat.
n But the success of these artists is patchy and none of them scores in all countries.
n Danish repertoire tends to fare better in neighbouring countries such as Sweden or Germany.

Analysis by repertoire from EU countries: The Netherlands:
n Loona (‘Vamos A La Playa’), and metal band Within Temptation enjoy success throughout Europe.
n But the real breakthrough in recent years for Dutch music has been the rise of Caro Emerald, an EBBA 2011 winner, who has been building a following throughout Europe, especially in Germany.
n The winner of the EBBA 2012, DJ and producer Afrojack is among the seven acts from the Netherlands featured in the various listings surveyed.

Analysis by repertoire from EU countries: Finland:
n Main exports remain metal acts (Apocalyptica, The Rasmus and its frontman Lauri Ylonen) and rockers Sunrise Avenue, which are charting in four of the six countries surveyed.
n The most open country to Finish repertoire appears to be Poland.

Analysis by repertoire from EU countries: Czech Republic:
n Only one artist from the Czech Republic features in the overview: Pop singer-songwriter Ewa Farna, who is from the Polish minority in the Czech Republic. Her albums in Czech have been re-recorded in Polish and released in Poland.

Analysis by repertoire from EU countries: Italy:
n Italy continues to rely heavily of the dance scene for exports, as exemplified this year with the likes of Alex Gaudino and Ricky L.

EU countries without any artists crossing borders are:
Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia.

n The study documents a significant lack of cross-border success within the EU for the European repertoire. It is as if all markets were operating within in a fragmented Europe and in a non-synchronised manner for European repertoire, whereas artists from the US can claim a single market for their music.
n European repertoire fares quite well on a national level with local repertoire but the number of European artists capable of transforming a local success into a cross-border success is quite limited.
n The only music that crosses borders without limitations is US-based repertoire.
n Even UK repertoire has difficulties crossing borders, as few British artists enjoy pan-European success.
n Countries from Southern and Eastern/Central Europe are less likely to have cross-border successes than countries from Northern Europe.
n However, Romania is becoming a significant source of repertoire.
In each European country, English-language repertoire heavily dominates the airwaves and digital downloads, with shares of local language music varying by country, but never over 25%.
n European music genres that cross borders are usually in the Dance and Pop fields.
n US acts that fare well on a pan-European basis are in the R&B, Hip-Hop, Dance and Pop field.
n Rock, as a music genre, is almost non-existent in the European listings.

n European artists do not enjoy the same level playing field as Anglo-American repertoire, which has traditionally been enjoying sales and radio airplay on a pan-European scale;
n It makes it more difficult for European artists and their professional entourage to build pan-European strategies both for recordings and live tours.
n It limits the potential stream of revenues that artists could expect from operating in the EU.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Europe’s music scene – A mosaic of talent united by one language (part 1)

By Emmanuel Legrand

It’s never been easy for European artists to find their own market in Europe, and it is certainly not getting any easier.

That’s what I have discovered by spending the most of the past three months preparing a 120-page report on the circulation of European repertoire within the European Union, to be unveiled Jan. 12 in Groningen at the Eurosonic Noordeslag conference/festival. (The report can be downloaded the EMO web site)

During my years at Music & Media (and way before my time), we were constantly monitoring and documenting the way local talent throughout Europe was crossing borders – there even was a specific chart for that, the Border Breakers Chart, which eventually led to the creation of the European Border Breakers Awards, also a fixture at Eurosonic Noordeslag, but that’s another story. What the Border Breakers showed were attempts from European artists to build careers in Europe, alongside Anglo-American acts that usually ruled the charts.

There has been a great period, from the late 80 to the beginning of the new Century when European acts were capable of crossing borders in a grand scale. It was the era of the Ramazzottis, the Manu Chaos, the Cardigans, the Daft Punks, and of the various waves of Eurodance and Europop acts.

But if European talent still shines (just have a look at this year’s winners of the EBBA Awards), market conditions have changed. Record companies – especially majors – do not have the incentive to push European acts since the financial rewards can be minimal when the required marketing costs are still high. And indies have scarce resources.

So this report was borne out of the frustration of not being able to correlate what we intuitively knew about the way the European market operated and facts documenting the situation. The European Music Office and the folks at Eurosonic Noordeslag – in partnership with research company Nielsen – have teamed to finance and present this study researched and written by yours truly.

Since we did not have the resources for full-scale report on Europe, what we did here was to select six countries – France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden – that would represent the various parts of Europe and analyse the state of European repertoire in these country over a period of a year.

The data we used was supplied by Nielsen in the form of the Top 200 most played songs on radio and the Top 200 most downloaded tracks in each country too, plus the Top 200 most played songs and downloaded tracks on a pan-European scale. This is obviously selective and does not represent the full picture, since a lot takes place at the fringes, but we thought that it would quite appropriately represent the songs most heard on the radio and the tracks consumers voted for through their wallets by downloading them on legal platforms.

Each track was tagged with the artist’s nationality, the language of the song and the label distributing it. Then I proceeded to identify the various repertoires country by country and on a pan-European level. For each country (and for the pan-European data), the analysis includes:
Ø   Share of local repertoire
Ø   Share of EU repertoire
Ø   Share of EU repertoire excluding local repertoire
Ø   Share of US repertoire
Ø   Share of local language
Ø   Share by record company
Ø   Number of different countries featured in each country’s Airplay and Digital charts
Ø   Presence of EU countries in the Airplay and Digital charts in the countries surveyed.

The picture it paints is on one side quite positive – overall, European talent tends to take over 50% of these tracks – and on the other side one that is not so positive – once you’ve taken out domestic repertoire and UK repertoire out of the equation, there is not much going on from other European artists.

In fact, Europe as a single music scene, where any artists from Spain singing in Spanish would find a similar welcome in Sweden as to the one they receive in Sevilla or Salamanca, does not exist – but Europe does exist as a single market for English-language repertoire.

Europeans remain strongly attached to their own national cultures and this applies to the music they listen to. There are also regional or national idiosyncrasies – Spain continues to support a busy flamenco scene, France’s chanson is mostly for local consumption, Germany has a healthy schlager business (and so does the Netherlands) – that re-enforce such feeling.

The picture painted through this survey shows that in each country there is a solid local market for domestic artists, and most of these artists do not cross borders, especially if they sing in their local language. There are very few chances for artists singing in French, Italian or Spanish – let alone Swedish, Polish or Finnish – to cross borders. These artists will see their musical playground limited to their own borders, regardless of the music genre.

For cultural as well as historical and sociological reasons, Europeans do not embrace their neighbours’ cultures when they are expressed in their national languages. This trend is strengthened by the way radio operates – it is a medium of instant gratification: listeners who like the music stay, others leave. One “wrong” song can mean a loss of audience. Hence the tendency for radio programmers to go for songs or artists already having a tested market and coming in a fully compelling package.

The direct effect is that it tends to favour Anglo-American repertoire, especially the one from the US which crosses the Atlantic with an impressive, already tested marketing and creative clout. As a result, Europe as a music market is a one-language region, plus local languages.

As the survey shows, the only truly pan-European successes are (if we exclude this year’s phenomenal success of Adele and the ubiquitous French DJ David Guetta) imports from the US. For the period concerned by the survey (2010/2011), the top of the charts were dominated by Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Lady GaGa and Black Eyed Peas, among others. These are artists whose songs travel and cross borders.

European artists can achieve cross-border activity too, but it is less of a given, even if the songs are in English and the acts British or Irish. Besides, the question is whether it is a one-off or the building of a career. Adele is obviously the prime example of an artist who appeals to all European audiences. Fellow Brits Taio Cruz and Tinie Tempah seem on the same path as they are building pan-European following. French superstar DJ David Guetta is now in the same league as US artists, with global releases and sales in the millions.

Once in a while, a hit single can come from any parts of Europe, cross borders and reach the top of the charts (Spanish DJ Sak Noel’s ‘Loca People’ is a good example). Recently, there has also been the addition of Romania as a source of European repertoire. With acts such as Alexandra Stan, Inna and Edward Maya, Romania has graduated to the top of the music charts. The coming years will tell if they will be able to sustain a career at this level.

Caro Emerald
But for most European artists – even the ones singing in English – building a pan-European career is often a one-market-at-a-time effort. Caro Emerald developed out of her native Netherlands to neighbouring countries, and eventually reached the UK. Belgium’s Selah Sue has used France as the launch pad for her international career, and after setting up a good following in continental Europe, she is now turning her attention to other markets such as the UK, Japan and the US. In France, ZaZ and Ben L’Oncle Soul have become two of the hottest Gallic exports, which is all the more exemplary since they both sing in French.

What unites Emerald, Sue, ZaZ or Ben L'Oncle Soul is not that they have had instant hit singles, but that they built up from the buzz around them, and have reached out directly to their audiences through live appearances, wherever it was possible.

There’s always a way!


Below is the Executive Summary of the study (which will be available for download on EMO’s web site from Jan. 13). In a second blog post I will go more into the findings of the study.

"Music Crossing Borders -- Monitoring the cross-border circulation of European music repertoire within the European Union"

Executive Summary

The study on the circulation of European repertoire within the European Union was commissioned by the European Music Office and Dutch conference and festival Eurosonic Noordeslag. Its purpose is to analyse the flow of repertoire between EU countries, based on statistical data on radio airplay and digital downloads.

The main findings are the following:
  •    European repertoire fares quite well on a national level with local repertoire but the number of European artists capable of transforming a local success into a cross-border success is quite limited.
  • The only music that crosses borders without limitations is US-based repertoire.
  •  Even UK repertoire has difficulties crossing borders, as few British artists achieve pan-European success.
  • Countries from Southern and Eastern/Central Europe are less likely to have cross-border successes than countries from Northern Europe.
  • However, Romania is becoming a significant source of repertoire.
  • In each European country, English-language repertoire heavily dominates the airwaves and digital downloads, with shares of local language music varying by country, but never over 25%.
  • European music genres that cross borders are usually in the Dance and Pop fields. US acts that fare well on a pan-European basis are in the R&B, Hip-Hop, Dance and Pop field.
  • Rock, as a music genre, is almost non-existent in the European listings.

Whilst these findings do not come as a surprise, the study highlights the difficulties for European repertoire to travel within the continent at a scale previously unnoticed.

Whereas radio stations are the gateways to the European mass market, live music is the key to reach new audiences and so is the new digital media landscape.

We would recommend policy-makers to focus their attention on the following policies:
  • Support for the live music sector, with a special focus on new talent and on festivals.
  • Financial schemes to support cross-border promotions and marketing campaigns.
  • Create incentives for radio stations to broadcast and promote EU repertoire.
  • Build awareness on European repertoire through viral digital campaigns.
  • Create a European Observatory of Music to monitor on a constant basis the state of European repertoire.