U.S. Music Publishing Rides Industry Growth, Posts Record Revenues

The U.S. music publishing sector grew at the same rate as the recorded music sector for “the first time in recent memory,” said National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) President David Israelite.

Speaking at the Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP) annual meeting in New York City last week, Israelite cited results from the most recent NMPA member survey, revealing that U.S. publisher members had revenue of $3.3 billion — up 11.8% over last year.

Of the revenue, Israelite said that 54.56% was derived from performance, 21.09% from synchronization, 6.59% from “other” and 17.76% from mechanical. In the performance segment, digital comprised 32.64%, while radio contributed 13.06% and TV 8.75%.

“This speaks to the diversity of income sources that music publishers and songwriters have that record labels don’t,” he said. “What’s amazing is that, despite that difference, our growth is is on par with what the RIAA reported.”

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), total revenues from recorded music in the United States grew 10% to $4.6 billion at retail in the first half of 2018. Streaming music accounted for three-quarters of industry revenues.

Publishers Enjoying “Diverse Income Streams”

Israelite noted that while record labels derived 86% of revenue from digital, he said music publishers have more diverse income streams driving their growth. He said that while U.S. record labels derived those revenues from digital sources last year, NMPA members – across online performance, mechanical and sync sources – only saw 32.6% of their money coming from digital platforms.

“The key takeaway is that the state of the industry is strong,” he said.

Israelite stated that the growth occurred outside the reach of last year’s efforts to restructure music publishing rights in the digital age. These efforts “are not yet baked in” to that growth, he said.

Table: Recent U.S. Music Copyright Reform Actions

Music Modernization Act (MMA)U.S. law that creates a formalized body run by publishers that administers the “mechanical licensing” of music compositions used by music streaming services (October 2018)
U.S. Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) IncreaseThe CRB published a music streaming royalty rate increase of 44% for songwriters and publishers by 2022 (February 2019)
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ReviewA DOJ review of consent decrees by ASCAP and BMI. Will determine whether the decrees should be maintained in their current form, modified, or terminated. (June 2019)

What to Know: Global Music Publishing

  • Market size is is expected to reach a compound annual growth rate of 6.1% during 2018-2025
  • The North America, Europe and Japan market will lead the way, followed closely by Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Middle East & Africa markets
  • The top three music publishers account for 50% of the market, with Universal Music Group the largest.

Source: Orbis Research