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Songtradr Acquisitions; Twitch Takedowns; Worries About Warner Bros Discovery
From The Sync Journal - Important News, Analysis and Trends in the Fast Changing Sync Licensing Industry
Songtradr’s Acquisition Spree
Songtradr is in the news this week for acquiring another company. In fact, since 2019 the company has been on an acquisition spree.
Songtradr is a music licensing marketplace where music creators are able to license their music to brands, TV, film supervisors and other’s looking for music.
Looking at the types of companies they’ve been acquiring is very insightful. It seems they are working to position themselves at the center of B2B in the Sync Licensing Space.
Their shopping spree started in 2019 with the purchase of Big Sync Music. Big Sync is a full service, creative music licensing agency that works directly for brands and ad agencies.
That same year, Songtradr invested in music data company Jaxta. Jaxta works with labels and distributors to create the official database of music industry credits.
In 2020 they purchased CueSongs a UK Sync Licensing Company founded by artist Peter Gabriel.
Apparently, that was just the warm up because in 2021, Songtradr has shifted into high gear - completing four acquisitions before mid-year!
In March they purchased Song Zu, an award winning music and sound design company.
A month later, they followed that up with a purchase of music technology and data company, Tunefind. Many sync artists know Tunefind as the go-to site for identifying songs that have been licensed in different TV episodes.
That very same month, they also snatched up Pretzel, a service that provides cleared music for live-streamers (Twitch).
And now, it’s being reported that Songtradr just acquired MassiveMusic. The global company creates music for advertisers, brands, media and technology companies.
Whew, that’s a lot of shopping. It appears Songtradr is trying to cover a lot of ground: sonic branding, advertising, TV and even Twitch. As a Pro subscriber to their service, I’m personally curious as to their vision and what this means about the future of the service. Still, I think we all should be paying attention as this company apparently has a lot of financing behind it and it doesn’t seem to have any competitor in its race to take over the entirety of the B2B sync marketplace.
Publishers Come For Twitch
Twitch reported in early June that it received about 1000 take down notices in one week.
This was reported in an email sent to its users. The issue centers on gamers using the copyrighted music during live streams which are later archived.
What we’re seeing over and over again, is a technology based industry that evolves much faster than the laws that regulate them. In this case, streamers are able to use copyrighted music in live streams 100% legally. A perfect example is a DJ doing a live set on Twitch - this set may include dozens of copyrighted songs.
As I understand it, live streams like this are considered performances and therefore they fall under the jurisdiction of performance rights organization (BMI, SESAC, & ASCAP here in the US). This is seen the same as a band playing a cover song in a club. As long as the club pays its PRO fees, there’s no problem. The only requirement for this type of performance is for Twitch to pay the annual fee that gives it access to the the copyrighted material in each of these catalogs. Supposedly, they are doing that.
However, once that same video footage is archived, the law looks at the use totally differently. Now, it is a segment of recorded video utilizing commercial music (in the eyes of the law, it’s the same as a movie or TV show that includes commercial music). This type of usage requires a synchronization license. There are separate licenses required for both the actual recording as well as for the associated copyright. And these licenses don’t have preset fees or one stop administrators like a performance rights organization. No, rather, Twitch would need to negotiate with the all of the rights holders individually to set a price for a license.
This is why I say that, in my opinion, the struggle for media companies these days is that technology companies (used to moving a light speed) are hampered by copyright law that was never meant to be simple nor flexible - and, arguably, not even meant to be easily understood.
For now, it seems Twitch users have a few options:
Stream music as they see fit but be sure to edit the recordings before it’s archived.
Twitch is working out deals with some independent distributors (including Empire and DistroKid) to allow their catalogs to be used on the platform. Still, from what I see, these only allow for live streaming and not VOD (Video On Demand).
Other companies like Riot Games are also providing royalty free music that users can take advantage of.
Warner Bros. Discovery - A Merger Worth Watching
The uber interesting streaming wars are leading to lots of acquisitions and mergers. One that I’m watching with interest is the Warner Bros Discovery merger announced at the beginning of June.
AT&T chose to spin off WarnerMedia which contains Warner Bros., DC Comics, HBO, CNN and more. Discover is actually taking over the new company and Discovery’s CEO David Zaslav will be in charge.
You can find lots of information about the merger online. Here’s a good article to get you started.
There are a couple of reasons why we should be paying attention to this.
The first is pretty straight-forward. The streaming wars mean a serious push for lots of content. Zaslav has said that the new company will put $20 billion per year toward new content. That’s a clear intention to compete with Netflix’s output.
Lots of new content from Warner Bros Discover, Netflix, HBO Max, Disney Plus and more mean lots of music needed to support all of this content. I believe, on that front, the future seems pretty bright for music makers.
Now the second reason why I’m watching this is a little more layered.
This merger basically turns Discovery into a bigger company, keeping the CEO David Zaslav in charge. So, it makes me wonder if Discovery’s culture and priorities will also dominate internally.
Why is this important? Because just less than two years ago, Discovery tried to push through a policy that would’ve forced composers to give up all U.S. based performance royalties (past and future).
So, will a new, stronger company with more influence feel more emboldened to pursue profits over the cries of the niche composer community? I hope not. But I am paying attention. And I hope you are too.