CISAC reports ‘sharp’ rise in collections in Greece and global music identifier system progress in annual report

CISAC's Gadi Oron.

France-headquartered International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) has published its latest annual report, which provides an overview of its work with its 227 member CMOs across the world.

Within the report, CISAC says that it has seen a “sharp” rise in collections in Greece, where it notes that five years ago, “the market’s collective management landscape was in turmoil”.

CISAC adds that “there was no properly functioning society” in Greece at the time and that “the market had effectively collapsed and music creators were missing out on tens of millions of euros due to them in royalties”.

MBW reported on Greece’s then scandal-hit authors’ rights sector at the time. The country’s major CMO, AEPI (the Hellenic Society for Protection of Intellectual Property), was investigated by the country’s Public Prosecutor in March 2017 after widespread allegations of corruption.

In early 2018, the Government permanently revoked the license of the (former family-run) AEPI and decided to set up a new state-owned authors society, called the EYED.

A key government official, Irini Stamatoudi, who was at the centre of efforts to rebuild the sector, then quit her job as head of the Greek Copyright Office (OPI).

In 2018, CISAC says that it launched a project to support AUTODIA, a small nonprofit CMO set up by a group of creators who left the former for-profit society AEPI.

CISAC notes that “the aim was to reboot the society, restore stability to the Greek market and establish a well-functioning entity compliant with CISAC’s professional standards. The ultimate objective was to revive the flow of royalty income to creators and publishers”.

AUTODIA is now a well-functioning society according to CISAC, with collections rising from a “negligible” €393,000 in 2017 to more than €16.4 million last year, with a 68% increase in 2022 alone.

Looking ahead, CISAC says the society forecasts “another big increase in 2023, with the next distribution in July expected to be nearly double that of July 2022”.

Elsewhere in its annual report, CISAC details its progress with its tracking system for musical works.

The ISWC, or International Standard Musical Work Code, is a code system that identifies musical works to help remunerate creators and publishers.

CISAC upgraded the system in 2020 and said it would improve the speed, accuracy and efficiency of its member organizations’ work in tracking creators’ works and ensuring royalties are properly paid.

“Use of the ISWC among societies and publishers has been steadily increasing, helped by educational efforts led by CISAC to help all stakeholders understand the benefits, as soon as possible in the value chain,” CISAC’s annual report, released Thursday (May 25), stated.

“The key objective now is that the ISWC is uploaded with songs to digital services providers, together with the recording information identified by its ISRC, the recording industry’s identifier.”

The report added: “In the last year, work has been stepped up to get the new system implemented across the whole music value chain and produce fairer remuneration for creators.”

The new, updated ISWC now features two services designed to help rights-holders track their works and collect remuneration.

The “resolution service” enables publishers to match the ISWC database against their own databases, validate existing ISWCs and retrieve ISWC codes that were missed in the system. That service is now being used by 11 publishers, and in 2022, it processed some 3.6 million submissions, with another 1.5 million processed in Q1 2023.

The “allocation service,” implemented by nine CISAC member societies so far, enables a new ISWC to be allocated as soon as the publisher has the musical work’s title and list of songwriters with their IP Name Number (a unique identifying code assigned by CISAC to each individual or entity involved in collective rights management).

The allocation service is now being used by 22 publishers, and 432,000 ISWCs were allocated through it in 2022.

The report noted “positive publisher feedback” about the upgraded ISWC system. It cited Matt Phipps Taylor, chief information officer at peermusic, as saying the independent music publisher was able to increase significantly its use of ISWCs across its back catalog.

“We began by integrating with the resolution service — we are now approaching 2 million requests made to the service and have already retrieved 1.2 million ISWCs into our system which we can now include in registrations and data files shared with partners and clients,” he said, as quoted in the report.

“We are also integrating the ISWC allocation service into our registration workflow, so that wherever possible we get an ISWC quickly assigned to a new work and included in the very first registrations we send to societies.”

“The debate on fairness in the streaming world is gathering pace. We need to keep looking at why music and creative works are systemically devalued.”

Björn Ulvaeus, CISAC

Spotify’s director of publishing operations, Magali Clapier, said the DSP “applaud[s] CISAC’s efforts to continue to modernize and share identifiers across the whole ecosystem, so that royalties can reach songwriters in a faster, more efficient and more accurate way. Specifically, we are thrilled to soon be active participants in the ISWC dissemination initiative and look forward to other similar data collaborations.”

Meanwhile, among the challenges CISAC’s report identified in the intellectual property arena today was the need to counter “the strong negotiating power of digital platforms.”

To that end, the report says CISAC has been using its seat at the table at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to call for action in five key areas:

  • “Undervaluation of music creators’ works”
  • “Widespread and unchecked copyright infringement online”
  • “Lack of transparency of algorithms that control the promotion and discovery of music”
  • “Meager royalties that cannot sustain the livelihood of creators”
  • “Non adoption of data and identifier codes that can facilitate the royalty payment system”

CISAC’s 2022 Global Collections Report, which analyzes royalty trends by type of content, region and income stream, showed that collections returned to growth in 2021, but were still 5.2% below pre-COVID levels that year.

“Today CISAC is working to address unprecedented issues now facing creators in the streaming world,” wrote Björn Ulvaeus, CISAC’s president and a member of ABBA, in the report’s preamble.

“First, we must accelerate the work to fix the metadata problem, so that works can be properly identified and their creators fairly paid. We have gained a real momentum on this now. CISAC’s upgraded ISWC is more widely adopted and engaged in by publishers and DSPs, and new collaboration projects have come from societies, for example JASRAC’s recent ventures in Asia,” he said, referring to the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers.

“The shift to digital is spurring collections growth globally, but at the same time posing unprecedented new challenges to the operations of many societies.”

Gadi Oron, CISAC

Ulvaeus continued: “Second, the debate on fairness in the streaming world is gathering pace. We need to keep looking at why music and creative works are systemically devalued. For example, the lack of recognition of the songwriter; the power of digital platforms; the erosion of subscription prices over many years; untransparent algorithms that influence our choices; and the split of the digital pie that is skewed against the songwriter.

“And finally, there is the vast impact of AI…. AI comes with its own set of problems — not least the copyright status of AI-created works. I believe this must be addressed at the highest level, including through a forum such as the United Nations.”

In his foreword to the report, CISAC General Director Gadi Oron wrote: “The pandemic may be over, but it is anything but ‘business as usual’ for the CISAC network. The shift to digital is spurring collections growth globally, but at the same time posing unprecedented new challenges to the operations of many societies. In this context, CISAC continues to work relentlessly to help deliver collections growth and provide essential business services to our members.”

CISAC is a network of 227 collective management organizations (CMOs) in 118 countries and territories, which collectively manage the rights of more than 5 million creators in the fields of music, audiovisual, visual arts, drama, and literature.

It was initially founded in 1926 by 18 authors’ societies from 18 European countries. It has since expanded to cover much of the world, and aside from its headquarters in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, it has offices in Hungary (European Affairs), Chile (Latin American and Caribbean Affairs) and Burkina Faso (African Affairs). In 2013, it opened an office for Asia-Pacific Affairs in Beijing.Music Business Worldwide

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