Agreement allows songwriters, publishers to share video revenues

The digital music-rights landscape is shifting again, this time through a pact unveiled Tuesday between Universal Music Group and the National Music Publishers’ Assn. that calls for songwriters and publishers to share in revenue from musicvids for the first time.

The groundbreaking accord comes after much lobbying by the publishers org. That UMG would spearhead the pact is not a surprise as it is the industry-leading music conglom and it is partnered with No. 2 diskery Sony Music Entertainment in the musicvid-centric online service Vevo.

The deal acknowledges the changing musicvid biz and the emergence of videos as a significant music-delivery format and not just mere publicity tools. With musicvid plays diminished to a trickle on traditional TV outlets, the lion’s share of vid exposure now comes online through Vevo and YouTube. YouTube is closely partnered with Vevo in several endeavors.

UMG-NMPA agreement comes in the immediate wake of another paradigm-shifting deal for the music biz. Earlier this month, radio giant Clear Channel agreed to pay royalties for terrestrial and online airplay to Nashville label Big Machine, home of the top country acts Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts and Tim McGraw ( Daily Variety , June 6). Clear Channel operates the booming IHeartRadio Web platform in addition to an array of terrestrial channels.

UMG’s pub agreement will be offered to all NMPA member music publishers on an opt-in basis. Under terms of the deal, pubberies will grant synch rights for works embodied in the videos and receive royalties based on a percentage of UMG’s receipts. Cleffers and publishers will also receive retroactive compensation for past use in the firm’s videos.

Arrangement extends into other media with compensation for ringtones, dual discs, multi-session audio and locked content product.

Further details of the agreement, including percentages due the writers and publishers and details of the retroactive payments, were not made immediately available. The NMPA said member publishers will receive particulars in the coming weeks, and details will be posted on its site and that of the Harry Fox Agency, which will administer the deal.

NMPA prexy-CEO David Israelite said in a statement: “This is a model example of how record labels along with songwriters and music publishers can move forward together to ensure that the licensing process is more effective and efficient, and that all creators are fairly compensated.

“The agreement announced today is an important first step in resolving industrywide musicvideo issues,” Israelite added. “UMG deserves credit for being the first record label to partner with the entire songwriting and music publishing community through this model licensing deal.”

A UMG spokesman had no additional comment.

Announcement of the UMG-NMPA agreement came three days before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s scheduled antitrust subcommittee hearing on UMG’s pending $1.9 billion purchase of EMI Music’s label assets.

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