Gadi Oron

CISAC: 'future of music depends on creators getting paid'

Gadi Oron, director-general of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), talks to M about the latest global royalty figures and outlines the key challenges facing creators in the digital music industry.

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 27 Oct 2015
  • min read
The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) latest Global Collections Report, published today, has recorded a 2.4 percent rise in music royalty collections in 2014 to €6.9bn.

We chat to the organisation’s director-general Gadi Oron to find out what the numbers show us and learn the key opportunities and challenges facing music creators.

Oron is a specialist in international copyright law, working extensively across the creative industries and, in particular, the music industry.

He joined CISAC in 2012 as general counsel and took over the position of director general in September 2014.

What’s your overall feeling about the Global Collections Report this year?
We are very happy with the figures, which represent strong growth for creators.

We see from the report that the performing right did particularly well across the board – now bringing in €6.2bn. What contributed to that?
I think that’s one of the most encouraging findings in the report as performing rights make up our core business. We saw an increase of 3.8 percent, and now just under 80 percent of all our royalties come from performing rights.

I’d say the same of our geographical regions. If you look for example at Europe, it’s a market where collective licensing, particularly in music, is very much developed. The growth rate was more than four percent – that’s very good news for us.

What are the key challenges to maintaining this growth – looking particularly at the UK and Europe?
There is an ongoing revision of the legislative framework at the European Commission - there are different ideas being discussed. Some of them concern music and others are more universal and are focused generally on the ability to license digital services.

I think it’s very important that we get it right. At the end of the day, the creators are the weakest link in the digital market – even though they are also the most important link.

A key problem I’m seeing in Europe today is that the legislative framework, which needs to be clarified and updated so any digital service provider that commercially benefits from creative content pays – and pays adequate remuneration to creators.

I don’t think that’s happening today. The biggest challenge is to create an environment where creators get what they deserve from digital services.

You said that creators are the weakest link in this situation – can you elaborate on that?
What we are seeing is very successful online platforms building their businesses on the backs of creators, yet when it comes to paying them, it’s a major challenge. For example, in the UK there’s a pending case between PRS for Music and SoundCloud – it’s a good example of the massive challenges our societies face these days when gathering royalties and extracting value for their members’ rights.

We’re working closely with the collecting societies, we’re lobbying governments. The potential in the digital market really depends on ensuring creators get paid.

What do you think of the European Commission’s Digital Single Market? How will it affect digital music across the continent?
We welcome the initiative and think it’s good the European Commission is looking at the market. It’s a good opportunity to fix what’s wrong. There have been some positive statements in a recent report from the Commission including the need to clarify the position of online players. I hope the Commission will address this and the European institutions will deal with this in a meaningful way. The future of the digital market for creators depends on their ability to get proper remuneration.

In the digital music section, the report mentions a few artists who have removed their works from Spotify and/or created their own alternative streaming platforms. You mention that this drives fragmentation of repertoire – could you explain this a little more?
We are all aware that the potential, and the future, is in the digital market. We are in a transition period where we’re all adjusting and imposing licensing solutions and experimenting with new market realities. I can understand why some artists did what they did. I believe they would not be in that position if they were paid properly but I hope they will be able to get paid properly and our societies will be able to get paid fair remuneration.

One of the things we’ve tried to do with this report is enhance the level of detail we provide on the digital market. There are some interesting facts there. Obviously we report on the fact there’s been more than 20 percent year-on-year growth in the digital market – but it still brings us to 7.4 percent of overall royalties, which is clearly not a lot.

There’s more that could be done if we get the legislation in place, if our societies can collect fair remuneration and if there’s some public education to articulate the importance of creativity and the need to use legitimate services – I think that combination will help us grow digital collections even further.

Looking ahead, what are the key opportunities for the music industry?
I think the opportunities are huge. In Europe – a mature market with collecting societies in almost every country – we’re still seeing healthy growth rates and that’s very promising. There is still huge potential there – and this potential can be found in the digital market.