Companies within the US music publishing market fared well during the recession, but the rise of digitally distributed music is forcing many operators to evolve.
Facing rising competitive pressure, the music industries are becoming more flexible, adapting business models in order to meet consumers' rapidly changing needs.
The US music publishing industry is in the midst of an important transition. Falling physical album sales over the past five years have forced publishers to seek out new revenue sources and become less dependent on their traditional licensing platform.
To meet the changing needs of the consumer, music publishers are continuously cultivating licensing agreements with newer revenue streams like mobile outlets, digital streaming services and wireless music subscription services.
In the music industry, a music publisher (or publishing company) is responsible for ensuring the songwriters and composers receive payment when their compositions are used commercially.
Through an agreement called a publishing contract, a songwriter or composer "assigns" the copyright of their composition to a publishing company. In return, the company licenses compositions, helps monitor where compositions are used, collects royalties and distributes them to the composers.
Royalties are earned in various ways, including each time a song is downloaded on iTunes, sold on an album, reproduced in a live concert or played on the radio, a television show, a movie or through other media outlets.
One sign of the recent struggles within the market, is the increasing number of merger and acquisition activity within the industry in recent years. To compensate for a smaller pool of willing clients, major players such as Sony and Vivendi have turned to acquiring smaller, profitable competitors.
On a larger scale, Sony recently purchased competitor EMI's publishing arm, which will increase its market share significantly. While market share concentration is still moderate, it will likely increase in recent years.
Even with some expected challenges, the future remains bright for the US music publishing industry. Over the five years to 2017, revenue is expected to grow moderately, with the digitisation of music availability continuing to aid industry growth.
For more information on the US music publishing market, see the latest research: US Music Publishing Market
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