|Title:||Economics of music publishing: copyright and the market|
|Citation:||Towse, R. (2017) Economics of music publishing: copyright and the market. Journal of Cultural Economics, 41, 403-420|
|Link(s):||Definitive , Open Access|
|Key Related Studies:|
|Linked by:||Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (2021), Towse (2020)|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||The study consists of a historical analysis of the development of the music industry and accompanying changes in copyright law.|
|Data Type:||Secondary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:|
“The paper argues that the paradigmatic shift from the sale of printed music to exploiting and managing musical rights that took place in music publishing during the early years of the twentieth century was due to the changing market rather than to changes in copyright law. On the one hand, copyright law was ineffectual in controlling piracy throughout the nineteenth century, and on the other hand, performing rights were ignored by music publishers for over 70 years; these points suggest that copyright was not the main reason behind the success of the industry. Rather than leading entrepreneurially (the current view of dynamism in the creative industries), publishers ‘followed the money’ and adapted their business models only when new streams of income from new forms of exploitation through sound recording, broadcasting and film became available as a result of exogenous technical progress. Publishers were locked-in to sales revenue as their business model, though when switching to the new business model of rights management took place, the costs seem not to have been greatly significant. The paper takes an historical approach to the development of music publishing viewed through the lens of present-day issues. The research has resonance for the transition from sales to licensing digital works that is taking place in the creative industries today and puts into perspective the relative significance of market forces and copyright law in the process.”
Main Results of the Study
The study finds the biggest change in the orientation of music publishing at the turn of the 20th century, and as amplified at the turn of the 21st. At this point, music became widely available in secondary markets, such as broadcasting, public performance in venues, and social media.
The development of collecting societies offered composers and song writers the opportunity to earn income independently of a publisher, whilst also leading to the establishment of royalty contracts as an industry norm.
The study challenges the assumption that copyright and business models go hand in hand. Instead, in the case of the music industry, change was affected by new technologies leading to differences on the demand side, rather than the supply side of the market. The study also observes that throughout the development of the music industry, copyright’s ex post response to change has always resulted in the law ‘bringing up the rear’ rather than leading from the front.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Whilst the study does not make any explicit recommendations for copyright policy (which is necessarily ex post intervention with new technologies and as such likely to lag behind), the author notes that without the intervention of competition law further concentration is likely to occur in the music industry.
Coverage of Study