YouTube Shorts Throws Down Challenge to TikTok, Hits 1.5B Monthly Viewers

As YouTube’s short-form video platform gains momentum against competitors like TikTok and Reels, more than 1.5 billion users view Shorts content every month, the company said on Wednesday.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai last shared in April that YouTube had 2 billion logged-in users each month, while YouTube Shorts averaged more than 30 billion daily views. The Shorts monthly viewership figures come in contrast to TikTok, which said it surpassed 1 billion monthly active users last September.

The YouTube figures account for logged-in users who have viewed at least one Shorts video on the platform in the span of a month, which doesn’t necessarily differentiate between users who are intentionally seeking out Shorts videos or those who accidentally happen upon them when using YouTube.

According to Tara Walpert Levy, YouTube’s vp of the Americas, YouTube creators who are uploading both short- and long-form content are seeing “better overall watch time and subscriber growth” compared to those only uploading in one format, though the company did not disclose specific figures.

“Longform content remains the best way for creators to deeply engage and develop long-term relationships with their audiences. But Shorts offer an exciting, new way to be a part of a viewer’s journey and to introduce themselves and their whole portfolio to new audiences,” Walpert Levy said.

“This approach is yielding real results.”

This article originally appeared in THR.com.

NMPA Announces Legal Campaign Against Unlicensed Apps at Annual Meeting

The National Music Publishers’ Association is going after apps that skim music from digital services without getting the necessary licenses.

On Wednesday (June 15), during the NMPA’s annual meeting in New York at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, the trade group’s president and CEO David Israelite announced a new copyright infringement lawsuit filed against the music video-making app Vinkle. This was the first action in a new campaign to bring the app sector into line with U.S. Copyright law, Israelite said, which will also include cease-and-desist notices sent to about another almost 100 apps that the organization believes are not properly licensed. These apps may integrate music through licensed streaming services, but do not have their own licensing deals with rights holders.

In a move that is bound to reverberate throughout the tech sector and likely to be well received by the music industry, Israelite said it is also including Apple and Google’s app stores in its campaign, sending them notices on the issue. He said those stores enable the apps that the NMPA says is disregarding copyright law.

“This is about the behavior of their app stores,” Israelite tells Billboard. “They are letting these apps scrape music off of their sites.” Both Apple and Google both offer music streaming services, he reminded members.

In order to illustrate how important this initiative is, Israelite said the NMPA’s past efforts in battling copyright infringement — which in many cases included legal battles against services that said that they didn’t need licenses for music —now include new services like exercise systems and gaming that contributed 29.11% of U.S. music publishing revenue in 2021.

In an effort to facilitate that apps get properly licensed and to help avoid lengthy and costly legal battles, Israelite said that the NMPA is partnering with Songclips, which provides a licensed solution for apps. The NMPA is also partnering with the ACT, the App Association, to help educate app makers about the legal requirements of music licensing. ACT claims it represents more than 5,000 app makers in Europe and the U.S.

“You can fight with the NMPA or come into being properly licensed with Songclips,” Israelite said of app makers. “Act will help its members make sure they know how to do [licensing] right.”

The NMPA has never lost a copyright infringement lawsuit, Israelite reminded the audience. In effect, the group is telling non-compliant app makers, “You can make a smart decision and get licensed, or shut down,” he said. “We expect to see quick results.”

In 2021, the NMPA says it calculates total U.S. publishing revenue at $4.7 billion. That breaks out to: 51% performance, 25.8% synch, 18.5% mechanical and 4.7% other.

Back in 2015, the U.S. music publishing industry generated about $2.5 million in revenue, so that means it has averaged 15.1% per year growth for an additional $4.7 billion since then.

The NMPA also collected $89.774 million for its members in 2021 through lawsuit victories and settlements, Israelite reported. That comes out to a 694.35% return on membership fees, he said. To date, these legal efforts have brought in nearly 1.126 billion.

Before announcing the campaign against unlicensed apps that will likely result in more revenue tomorrow, Israelite told NMPA membership that the most important issue currently facing music publishing is the Copyright Royalty Board battle with digital service providers for the royalties of today.

He reminded the audience that the NMPA went into Phonorecords IV — which covers the five-year period of 2023-2027 — pushing for the music publishing royalty formula to increase to 20% of revenue or 40% of what the service pay record labels, whichever is greater for the all-in pool that covers both performance and mechanical royalties. After the all-in pool is determined, public performance royalties would be subtracted and the resultant pool would then be measured against a pool created by multiplying the number of a service subscribers against $1.50, and whichever pool is greater would be the mechanical pool. Beyond that, the NMPA is also asking for a per-stream mechanical minimum of $0.0015 per play.

Those rates, which escalated each year in the 2018-2022 period in the initial CRB ruling, are supposed to be 15.1% of service revenue or 26.2% of what’s paid to labels for 2022. But the digital services successfully appealed the CRB determination, so the CRB rates for the period ending on Dec. 31, 2021, are still up in the air on remand.

In the meantime, digital services have taken varying stances on what rates to pay. Spotify and Amazon Music, for example, have reverted back to the 2013-2017 rates of 10.5% of revenue and 21% of payment to labels. (Those headline rates were carried over from the 2008-2012 Phonorecords I term when streaming was still in its infancy.)

If the digital services had paid at the levels determined by the CRB Judges before the appeal, and if the webcasters agreed to pay publishers the same rate they pay labels — the way its done in the rest of the world — those two things combined would have brought in another $1.2 billion to publishers last year, Israelite lamented.

Going forward, he said, the performance rights organizations would try to get their fair share of payment from radio services. Meanwhile, the Radio Licensing Music Committee filed a petition during or shortly after the meeting requesting consolidated performance rights organization rate proceedings before a single designated judge. That would, in effect, pit ASCAP and BMI against each other — a motion Israelite condemned during the meeting.

As for the current CRB trial, Amazon and Spotify are asking the CRB judges for the very same headline rates for Phonorecords IV that were in existence from 2008-2017. But Isrealite warned that’s worse than it seems and the digital services could be seeking the lowest rates in history thanks to huge carve outs and gimmicks to the definition of service revenue and expanded discounts that would reduce service revenue.

NMPA rate proposal, if granted by the CRB Judges, would generate $15.96 billion in all in mechanical and performance royalties from on-demand streaming services based on the the U.S. music industry’s projected growth for the next five year period, Israelite said. In contrast, Spotify and Amazon’s proposal would only bring in $8.016 billion. “What’s at stake?” Israelite asked. “$7.84 billion.”

Looking at the U.S. music industry by numbers, Israelite said that the NMPA counts nearly $9.775 billion in revenue brought in by 47 services fielding 151 tier models in 2021. But the big five — Amazon, Apple, Google, Pandora and Spotify account for 96% of revenue.

Of that total revenue, the services paid $5.728 billion to record labels, or 58% of revenue. Publishers, meanwhile, were paid $1.313 billion in mechanical and performance royalties, or 13.4%. Services retained $2.733 billion, or 28% of revenue, based on those calculations.

Making his case, for the first time ever, Israelite revealed royalty rates — combining both mechanical and performance — for each of the major services based on 2021 data from the Mechanical Licensing Collective. Here those are:

  • Amazon Music paid $2,285 for 1 million streams, or nearly $0.00229 per stream
  • Apple paid $1,916 for 1 million streams, or nearly $0.0012 per stream
  • Spotify paid tier handed over $1,160 for 1 million streams, or nearly $0.00116 per stream
  • Spotify’s ad-supported tier paid $745 for 1 million streams, or nearly $0.00075 per stream

These services account for 81% of the total U.S. subscriber base, according to the NMPA.

Moving forward, the NMPA says it plans on issuing a monthly report card of data just like this, providing analysis and raking on all the services using the MLC data.

Dua Lipa’s Dad Moves Festival From Kosovo Following Political Dispute

An international music festival founded by the father of singer-songwriter Dua Lipa to promote his native Kosovo has led to recriminations for the small European country after it lost the event to neighboring Albania.

The Sunny Hill Festival made its debut in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, in 2018 and took place again in 2019, bringing artists like Miley Cyrus, Calvin Harris, Martin Garrix and Action Bronson to one of Europe’s youngest and poorest nations. British-born Dua Lipa also was a featured headliner.

Dukagjin Lipa, the singer’s father and manager, said the festival brought Kosovo priceless publicity, including coverage in more than 500 international media outlets. The event was put on hold in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It is set to return this summer, but Lipa said late Tuesday that “after a long wait, many efforts, requests,” he’d made “a difficult but necessary” decision to stage the Aug. 4-7 event in Albania’s capital, Tirana. He said a political dispute between Kosovo’s ruling party and the one in power in Pristina prevented organizers from getting permission to put on the festival.

He and the festival’s other directors had spent three years trying to convince the national government to allow them to manage a 17-hectare (42-acre) area of parkland and to build the appropriate infrastructure for the annual festival. They also did not receive permits for the August festival.

Pristina Mayor Perparim Rama, of the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo, favored having the music festival. He accused the national government, which is led by the Self Determination Movement!, of delaying the decision and trying to change the city council’s decision.

Kosovo’s culture minister Hajrulla Ceku, said the holdup resulted from festival organizers seeking a 99-year lease. The government could not rush into such an agreement, and “the decision-making process needs time to be complete and not wrong or abusive,” Ceku said.

Lipa, however, attributed the delay to a power struggle between the ruling Self Determination Movement! and the Democratic League of Kosovo came “at the expense of the festival and the usefulness it creates for the state’s image and the values its society represents.”

Either way, the festival’s move has not sat well with people in Kosovo. Another opposition party, the Alliance for Kosovo’s Future, asked for the resignation of the government that “lost a festival which would promote Kosovo,” said Besnik Tahiri, a senior party leader.

Tirana Mayor Erjon Veliaj told The Associated Press his government immediately offered Albania’s capital “as a replacement in an effort to keep the international festival in a major Albanian city.” Ethnic Albanians make up a majority of Kosovo’s population.

As proof that the Summer Hill Festival is in the right place, the mayor noted that the European Union named Tirana as the EU’s Youth Capital for this. He also named several VIPs with Albanian roots, from the late comedian John Belushi to the late Mother Teresa, now known as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

“Dua Lipa and her festival do just as much, if not more, in promoting a nation that punches above its weight,” Veliaj said.

Dre & Vidal Sell Publishing Catalog to HarbourView

Alternative asset management company HarbourView Equity Partners announced Tuesday that it has acquired the publishing catalog of songwriting and production duo Andre Harris and Vidal Davis, better known as Dre & Vidal. Deal terms were not disclosed.

Dre & Vidal have written songs and produced for major artists including Jamie Foxx, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Musiq Soulchild, Robin Thicke, Fantasia and Charlie Wilson. Some of their biggest Hot 100 hits include “Caught Up” by Usher, “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)” by Chris Brown, “Oh” by Ciara, and “The Way” by Jill Scott.

HarbourView, founded by Sherrese Clarke Soares, launched seven months ago and has acquired 30 catalogs so far. Most recently, the company purchased Latin superstar Luis Fonsi‘s catalog.

DLA Piper served as legal counsel to HarbourView in the transaction. Dre & Vidal were represented by the Law Office of Brad A. Rubens, LLC.

Vidal opened up to You Know I Got Soul in 2012 and explained how he and Dre became a duo, “Me and Andre knew each other just from the musician scene in Philly and two of our uncles are best friends. My uncle was the music director for Phyllis Hyman, for the Winans, and just various artists. Those two were together; Andre’s brother played the bass with Andre’s uncle for the Winans. We kinda linked up during rehearsals here and there, and then we just started hanging out when we were teens.”

And speaking on breaking outside of the neo-soul genre they had been known for, he added, “We had a point where we were just stagnated as just being neo-soul producers. We just wanted to let everybody know that it wasn’t the case. We wanted to step outside the box even though we had been doing a lot of stuff, people just didn’t know it. The first thing that kinda made everybody say “Oh man!” was ‘Oh’ for Ciara. After we did that song, it was like “Uh oh”.

Radio Trade Group Seeks to Use Music Modernization Act Against ASCAP & BMI

The Radio Licensing Music Committee, which represents radio stations across the country, is taking a new tactic in its ongoing battle over songwriter royalties.

In an apparent move to throw a wrench into the proceedings at the National Music Publishers’ Association annual meeting in New York on Wednesday (June 15), the RMLC filed a petition in the Federal Southern District of New York to hold consolidated rate proceedings before a single designated judge. That would, in effect, pit performance rights organizations ASCAP and BMI against each other, if the motion is approved.

The RMLC’s move takes advantage of the Music Modernization Act that passed in 2018 and included a provision moving rate hearings for the PROs to a revolving roster of Southern District judges, if the PROs can’t reach agreement on rates with the RMLC. Traditionally, Judge Louis Stanto has heard rate trials for BMI and Judge Denise Cote for ASCAP. Now, by asking the court to designate a single judge, the RMLC’s plan appears to be to have BMI and ASCAP argue against one another over market share and thus what percentage of radio advertising each should be paid.

In response to the filing, BMI said in a statement, “We are astonished that the RMLC has decided to bring an unprecedented joint action against BMI and ASCAP, relying on a gross mischaracterization of the Music Modernization Act. We are also disappointed that the RMLC opted to commence this action rather than engage in negotiations with BMI. We will vigorously oppose the improper joint action and look forward to establishing the significant value of the BMI repertoire to radio before the BMI rate court.“

Likewise, ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews said in a statement, “The litigation filed today is squarely aimed at reducing what powerful RMLC radio stations pay songwriters, who are the lifeblood of the radio industry. The RMLC is weaponizing their market power to punish the songwriters whom it relies upon for its business. ASCAP will vigorously fight for the right of our members to be paid fairly.”

Robert Plant Says He Turned Down a Role in ‘Game of Thrones’

Could you imagine Robert Plant as a Stark or a Lannister? It was almost a reality.

During an interview this week for Apple Music 1, the Led Zeppelin icon told Canadian media personality George Stroumboulopoulos that he was offered a role in Game of Thrones. “I don’t want to get typecast,” the musician joked of his reasoning for declining the part.

“I started that s— — go back to ‘Immigrant Song’ and Led Zeppelin being part of cultural exchange in Iceland with the Icelandic government. So they didn’t know what they’d invited onto their little island,” Plant said.

“I love Western European history from maybe the Bronze Age up through all the old religion … when we were really in touch with our Earth,” he continued. “The Viking thing, the whole idea of playing in Iceland and experiencing this landscape and people. Yeah, I’ve got a lot to answer for, because I’ve never seen so many bands with double-bladed axes.”

As for what role he was offered in the wildly popular HBO series, Plant could not remember. “I got to ride a horse and go [lifts head],” he cheekily added.

The final episode of Game of Thrones, which aired on May 19, 2019, brought in a series record of 19.3 million viewers. The viewership for the episode, titled “The Iron Throne,” included 13.6 million people who watched the episode on HBO when it aired, making it the most-watched telecast in the network’s history, according to HBO. The rest were viewers who watched an encore presentation.

Watch the interview clip below.

Here’s What Cardi B Said She Would Have Done About Lizzo Lyric Controversy

Cardi B took to Twitter on Wednesday (June 15) to respond to a Twitter thread addressing Lizzo‘s recent lyric controversy.

A Twitter user named @FeministaJones wrote about the “Bodak Yellow” rapper’s ability to use an offensive word in a song without backlash, while Lizzo changed her “Grrrls” lyrics after receiving criticism for using an ableist slur in the opening verse.

“Cardi is slim and light-skinned,” the Twitter user wrote. “She will often ‘get away’ with more than other women, especially those who look like Lizzo, will. That’s the world we live in. People may get mad but I don’t care lol Colorism and fatphobia shape SO MANY reactions and extensions of ‘grace.'”

In response, Cardi wrote, “Ya will do mental gymnastics to include me in anything that people are getting dragged for …People have called me out for plenty of sh–.”

 

Cardi concluded with her take on the Lizzo situation. “Yall do it every week SOMETHINGS I apologize for & some things I will tell y’all TO SUCK DI– & personally If I was Lizzo I would of said SMD [suck my di–].”

On Monday, Lizzo revealed that she would be releasing a new version of “Grrrls” following the backlash. “It’s been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song ‘GRRRLS,’” she wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally).”

She continued, “I’m proud to say there’s a new version of GRRRLS with a lyric change. This is a result of me listening and taking action. As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.”