AGM & Board election
The IMPALA AGM took place at Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg on Thursday 24th September. A new 26-strong IMPALA Board was elected for a term of two years, with three new members: Nuno Saraiva, representing Portuguese association AMAEI, Kasper Find, representing Denmark’s DUP, and Andreas Ryser, representing IndieSuisse. Jonas Sjöström, representing Playground Music Scandinavia, Edel and Swedish association SOM, was re-elected to President. Kees van Weijen, representing [PIAS] Rough Trade Distribution Benelux and Dutch association STOMP, was re-appointed Chairman, and Geert De Blaere, representing Belgian association BIMA, was re-elected as Treasurer. All three will continue working alongside Executive Chair Helen Smith.
The following Board members were elected:
See the press release here.
- !K7, represented by Horst Weidenmüller
- 8Ball Music, represented by Robin Van Beek
- AIM, represented by Alison Wenham
- AMAEI, represented by Nuno Saraiva
- Beggars Group, represented by Martin Mills
- BIMA, represented by Geert De Blaere
- Cooking Vinyl, represented by Martin Goldschmidt
- Cosmos Music Group, represented by Fredrik Ekander
- DUP, represented by Kristoffer Rom and Kasper Find (with one of them as Board member and the other one as observer)
- Edel, represented by Jonas Sjöström
- Epitaph Europe, represented by Roger Dorresteijn
- Everlasting Records, represented by Mark Kitcatt
- FONO, represented by Larry Bringsjord
- IndieCo, represented by Tapio Korjus
- IndieSuisse, represented by Andreas Ryser
- Kobalt, represented by Johan Ekelund
- [PIAS] Music Group, represented by Michel Lambot
- [PIAS] Rough Trade, represented by Kees van Weijen
- Playground Music, represented by Jonas Sjöström
- PMI, represented by Francesca Trainini
- SOM, represented by Jonas Sjöström
- STOMP, represented by Kees van Weijen
- UFI, represented by Noemi Planas
- VUT, represented by Christof Ellinghaus
- Wagram, represented by Stephan Bourdoiseau
Next Board meetings
The next IMPALA Board meetings will take place on Thursday 14th January at Eurosonic Noorderslag in Groningen.
IMPALA kicked-off its 15th anniversary celebrations at Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg in September.
A special edition of the Album of the Year Award was handed over to Christof Ellinghaus, whose artist Caribou is the latest winner with his album “Our Love”. IMPALA also sponsored VUT’s Best Newcomer award which went to Antilopen Gang. Next up was Amsterdam Dance Event and an IMPALA 15 panel with Geert De Blaere, Kees van Weijen, Maykel Piron and Helen Smith. Some interviews were also published about the organisation’s first fifteen years (see here and here)
Over the next year, a series of branded initiatives will take place, with special editions of the Album of the Year and Outstanding Contribution awards, as well as a one-off award which will recognise young independent labels across Europe.
Outstanding Contribution Award
This year’s announcement of the IMPALA Outstanding Contribution Award winner took place on 17th December. The winner was elected by a jury of IMPALA Board members and is Eurosonic Noorderslag. The physical award will be handed over to a Eurosonic representative at the festival in January. See our press release here.
Album of the Year Award
We are currently putting together the shortlist for the Album of the Year Award. This year only releases on labels who are fifteen or younger are eligible, as part of our IMPALA 15 campaign. The shortlist will be announced in the new year.
IMPALA Sales Awards
The call for registration for IMPALA sales awards will now stay open till next year, so please send us your information if you haven’t done so already. Registrations apply to both albums and singles on all formats including physical, downloads and streams, and of course you can use local rules to convert streams. The award levels are IMPALA Silver (20,000+), Double Silver (40,000+), Gold (75,000+), Double Gold (150,000+), Diamond (200,000+), Platinum (400,000+) and Double Platinum (800,000+). To register your award, please visit the IMPALA website (http://www.impalamusic.org/node/10) or contact the IMPALA secretariat (email@example.com). Registration levels for this announcement have been quite low compared to previous announcements, so please make sure to get your artists registered.
Strengthening capacity of independent trade associations
Having awarded donations to strengthen the capacity of more than 20 independent territorial associations in Europe and elsewhere, distribution of the first installment of capacity building funds to national associations is ongoing.
The implementation of the agreement concluded by IMPALA and Merlin with Warner Music Group to divest assets to the independents is still ongoing, with the IMPALA and Merlin management boards holding almost weekly calls for over year now to monitor progress. In order to close the process as soon as possible, IMPALA and Merlin have discussed proposals with Warner to try and finalise the divestments package.
Performance Rights Committee
Helen attended a meeting of collecting societies hosted in Madrid by IFPI in October, along with other members of IMPALA’s collecting societies meetings including Charlie Phillips from AIM/WIN. The next meeting will take place in May. As usual, please let us know if you have any issues you would like to see raised.
Collecting societies committee
IMPALA’s collecting societies committee met in Hamburg to discuss, among other things: local issues in Spain and Portugal, setting up a major/independent helpdesk to settle double claims more quickly, and database issues. The next meeting of the IMPALA committee took place in Lisbon on 19th November and included meetings with local collecting societies.
Merlin members elected a new board in October, including five European members - Martin Mills (Beggars Group), Emmanuel De Buretel (Because Group), Horst Weidenmueller (!K7), Michel Lambot (PIAS) and Erik Brataas (Phonofile). Following its agreement with Soundcloud in June (Press release here), Merlin is now in talks with Spotify to renegotiate their agreement. They are also in discussions with a number of other services (Deezer, Mixcloud, BeatPort, etc.).
As a reminder, Merlin also has a fund for sponsorship of trade association events and awards. For more information, please contact Merlin directly.
On Youtube, we decided to withdraw the complaint to allow us, and the Commission, to focus on other priorities. At the same time, we told the EU about YouTube’s ongoing behaviour towards those who have not signed up for YouTube Red, including the threats to withdraw content. We pointed out that it shows a pattern of behaviour and we will also use this as an example in the EU’s other investigations into online platforms (more on this in EU Political News).
To move discussions forward on the future of WIN, IMPALA has proposed an interim solution for 6 months maximum for a balanced international working group to obtain approval from the community for a set of proposals on structure, governance, budget etc. IMPALA’s WIN committee is working on concrete proposals and will participate in a meeting of the working group at the end of January 2016 in London.
Work is also still on-going on WINTEL, the WIN market research project, with WIN’s consultant MIDiA Research currently going back to some national associations for more information.
IMPALA’s committee is participating in the review of applications to run an international playlisting project for the independent community, with several committee members in the review team which is being organised by AIM/WIN. A shortlist has been drawn up.
Negotiations with the majors/IFPI
Talks with IFPI on improving co-operation are ongoing. This includes involving independents in all key local commercial decisions, as well as through specific projects such as closing the “value gap” (under-licensed services), getting a seat for independents on the board of IFPI and setting up a “help-desk” to simplify and speed up the process for solving double-claims due to incorrect registration, etc.
As you may remember, IMPALA, along with the rest of the worldwide music community, has been calling - for some years now - for the .music domain name to be attributed to ‘community-supported’ applicants, i.e. applicants which have signed on to a set of guidelines drafted by the music community (e.g. respecting copyright, etc.). There is still one chance for a community-supported applicant to win, which we should find out shortly. We have repeatedly raised our concerns with international body ICANN, the EU and other participants about the importance of community applications. If no community application prevails, the .music domain name will go to auction.
MIDEM 2016 will take place from Friday 3rd June to Monday 6th June 2016 and we are currently negotiating our partnership terms.
The secretariat finalised its partnership with Eurosonic, which will see the IMPALA Board meeting take place in Groningen on 14th January 2016. This partnership includes two panels, a reception as well as media placements.
Digital Action Plan
IMPALA’s Digital Action Plan continues to be our main reference in terms of political work. Physical copies of the Digital Action Plan are still available; please feel free to claim yours by contacting the IMPALA Secretariat.
EU POLITICAL NEWS
Our political work remains focussed on implementing our Digital Action Plan. Our main goals are to secure the value of music in the digital market and to ensure independents are dealt with properly. The EC recently presented its copyright plans which attracted a lot of attention. Key issues we have been working on are on the table at EU level, such as the value gap, the relationship between platforms and small suppliers, liability of platforms and better enforcement of rights. These subjects are being adressed along with taxation and competition issues as part of the Digital Single Market strategy which remains a key political driver for the EU. Finally we are also making progress towards an industrial policy for culture with both the Commission and the Parliament looking at this now.
Our main focus here is the EC loan guarantee scheme due to start in 2016. We urge members once again to get in touch with their banks to get them interested. We also continue exploring other possible sources of funding, including loan guarantees specifically designed for independent labels and a new EU music programme, which the Commission has started discussing.
The loan guarantee instrument will run from 2016 to 2020. As always, if you haven’t done so already, please contact your national banks now to see if they are interested in taking part in the scheme. Banks will be selected by the European Investment Fund. We are also investigating options for our own scheme to improve capacity within the sector.
Possible new EU programme for music
As mentined above, the Commission is working on a possible programme for music, similar to MEDIA which already supports the audio-visual sector. This is something which IMPALA has been pushing for and we participated just last week in a series of workshops in Brussels on this subject. We may see pilot projects over the next couple of years, with a full programme in 2020.
Two of our Digital Action Plan's subjects are moving forward here, with the EC planning action on VAT and on tax avoidance. We want the EU to end VAT discrimination between different cultural goods, and to introduce greater fiscal fairness to lift the burden from smaller actors.
As part of its bid to reform VAT, the EC is consulting on VAT payments on cross-border e-commerce transactions. Responses will feed into a proposal to be tabled by the EC in the second half of 2016 as part of the Digital Single Market strategy. IMPALA’s action plan recommends reducing VAT on music and applying low VAT rates to all cultural goods.
Fighting tax avoidance
In its bid to fight corporate tax avoidance, the EC relaunched its proposal for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB), initially put forward in 2011 but dismissed by some member states. The idea is to have one set of rules for companies to use to calculate their taxable profits across the EU, which would also make it easier for companies to operate across borders.
We celebrated the 10th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention on cultural diversity, which was a good opportunity to renew our calls around this topic. Also very useful is a new study on the creative economy, reflecting IMPALA’s and UK Music’s call to amend international statistical codes to improve institutions' understanding of creative sectors and music in particular. This would be very helpful as the Commission and the Parliament are finally looking at the idea of an industrial policy for culture, which is one of the main calls in our action plan.
EP creative industries intergroup
The creative industries parliamentary intergroup, which supports our call for an industrial policy for culture and for safeguarding copyright, hosted an event in Strasbourg to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention on cultural diversity (more on this below).
10th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention
The UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions was adopted 10 years ago. While celebrating the anniversary of this key milestone, IMPALA has been urging the EU (including through our Digital Action Plan) to take the lead with concrete implementation, especially of the principle of fair and equitable access to the means of production, dissemination and distribution of culture. See IMPALA’s statement here.
EC study on measuring creative sectors
KEA, a Brussels-based consultancy, recently completed a study for the EC on how to improve data collection and analysis in the cultural and creative sectors. The study finds that the sectors’ economic and social value is largely underestimated and, in line with IMPALA’s Digital Action Plan and UK Music’s position, it recommends amending existing international statistical codes in relation to music, when a revision of classifications (ISIC/NACE) takes place in the relevant international bodies. The aim is to make sure music is properly measured as a distinct sector. The study and KEA’s press release are available here.
As culture was succesfully excluded from the Commission's negotiation mandate with the US, we keep an eye on angles such as intellectual property and digital. On the EU-Japan agreement, we are working with other cultural organisations on performance rights and copyright term.
The EU and US finished their 11th round of talks on the transatlantic trade agreement (TTIP). Progress has been rather slow since the discussions started under the previous Commission, and conclusions are not expected any time soon, with some even doubting the overall feasibility of such an agreement. In early December, Commissioner Oettinger confirmed that there will not be a separate chapter on digital and that data protection would not be affected.
The EU and Japan are also negotiating a trade agreement. Alongside IFPI and FIM, the international musicians’ union, IMPALA is calling for Japan to introduce full public performance rights and to extend the duration of their copyright term for sound recordings.
Our work here is mainly about reinforcing rights and closing the value gap. The EC included this issue in a Communication laying out its plans for copyright. The value gap is also covered in a consultation on online platorms along with the 'power gap' between platforms and suppliers (more on this below in 'Digital'). With the next EC proposals expected to be published at in spring 2016, we are in direct contact with EU officials, and we also work as part of coalitions with other cultural organisations.
EC copyright plans
The EC recently published its plans for the ‘modernisation of the European copyright framework’ in the form of a Communication (see IMPALA’s press release here). The plans are based on 4 main pillars:
1. Ensuring wider access to content across the EU, with a series of initiatives focused on the audiovisual sector (including through a Regulation on portability, more on this below);
2. Work on exceptions for education and research & private copying (EC will assess need for action to ensure PC levy system works correctly across Europe and that levies are efficiently distributed);
3. Sharing of value: this has to do, among other things, with what we call the ‘value gap’. The EC will consider by spring 2016 if measures are necessary to level the playing field between different players distributing copyrighted works and make sure right holders are in a position to negotiate on a fair basis with online services. One possible option is to clarify the rights of ‘communication to the public’ and ‘making available’. The EC says it will also consider whether solutions are needed to increase certainty, transparency and balance around the remuneration of authors and performers;
4. Enforcement: the EC is bringing stakeholders together to get them to agree on self-regulatory measures, possibly complemented by legislation, to effectively put in place so-called ‘follow-the-money’ mechanisms to end the flow of money to commercial-scale copyright infringing websites. A consultation is open until April 2016 (see “Enforcement”).
We continue to make progress on the ‘value gap’ question which is gathering momentum. As indicated above, the EC covers the issue in its Communication on copyright. We are also addressing it as part of our response to the EC consultation on online platforms, and keeping members of the European parliament updated, as they are currently finalising their report on the Digital Single Market strategy (more on this below) and will be responsible for amending the EC proposals. We are also working with other cultural organisations on this issue.
Portability of content
Alongside the Communication on copyright, the EC presented a Regulation on the portability of online content services, which is meant to ensure consumers can access their content when travelling abroad. This is the first real piece of copyright-related legislation to come out of the EC’s Digital Single Market strategy announced before the summer. Portability is more of an issue for the audiovisual sector, but it is important for the music sector too and we will monitor details of this proposal as they are being discussed to check that they are fully in line with the ability to license music on a territorial basis. This proposed Regulation will need to be amended and adopted by the European Parliament and member states.
IMPALA continues to take an active part in key alliances such as “Creativity Works!” (CW!). CW! organises regular events such as workshops at the Parliament, networking receptions, and high-level meetings with decision makers. It has also stepped up its presence on twitter. A CW! statement on the EC’s copyright plans can be downloaded here. IMPALA participated in a CW! press briefing about this, which led to articles in the European and international press including the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Politico, EurActiv, Contexte and Agence Europe.
Parliament report on the Digital Single Market
The European Parliament’s internal market and industry committees are leading the work on a joint report on the EC’s Digital Single Market strategy. The cultural and legal committees are responsible for certain aspects of the report, including copyright. IMPALA, along with other organisations, is in touch with MEPs about the report. The indicative date for the final vote is 18th January 2016.
Our co-operation with artists and performers continues, with many common points addressed in a meeting with key groups recently, including transparency and accountability. We looked at the new French Memorandum of Understanding, as well as WIN's Fair Digital Deals Declaration which was the trailblazer, and more generally the collaborative work between independent labels and artists. We also had a frank exchange on performers' call for a new right.
Performers continue their call for a new right in Brussels and also nationally. Basically the request is for an unwaivable right to receive equitable remuneration for the making available of their performances on demand. This is not a new issue as we have mentioned many times before. The current campaign ‘fair internet for performers’ was launched in the summer, as noted in the last newsletter. We are of course in regular contact with performers’ organisations and members of IMPALA’s copyright committee met with artist/manager/performer groups in London in November where we had a very fruitful, and frank exchange of views.
In France, a Memorandum of Understanding was adopted in October. It was signed by labels, collecting societies, performer organisations and online music services. Some of it was inspired by WIN’s Fair Digital Deals Declaration adopted last year. The next step is looking at possible minimum remuneration and local negotiations are taking place on that now. The Memorandum of Understanding also deals with broader questions such as the protection of rights, making the value chain more transparent, improving diversity and reinforcing smaller players. IMPALA welcomed the memorandum, you can see our statement here.
Building on our strong visibility in the digital market debate, we are addressing copyright and competition issues via an EU consultation on online platform. We also contributed to a UK consultation on online platforms and the EU Digital Single Market. In the wider digital debate, we are monitoring the EU's work on digital contracts and on new rules to abolish roaming costs and introduce net neutrality.
EC consultation on online platforms
A public consultation on “the regulatory environment for platforms, online intermediaries, data and cloud computing and the collaborative economy” is open until 30th December. This is in the framework of the Digital Single Market Strategy. It is a very important consultation as it addresses key issues on which IMPALA has been seeking action through its Digital Action Plan and through the YouTube complaint:
IMPALA will send a response to the consultation and members can also do the same here. The consultation is available in all 23 languages of the EU.
- the need to clarify that online platforms engaging in distribution cannot try to claim to be covered by so-called “safe harbours” (i.e. the ‘value gap’);
- the power of platforms vis-à-vis small suppliers and the impact on negotiations:
- copyright infringement and the overall question of the liability of platforms.
UK consultation on online platforms & the EU Digital Single Market
In the UK, the House of Lords has completed a public consultation on online platforms and the EU Digital Single Market. In coordination with UK Music (whose members include AIM), IMPALA submitted a contribution highlighting the ‘value gap’ and issues related to the power of platforms (the ‘power gap’).
With the US launch of YouTube RED (a subscription service covering all YouTube content) and YouTube Music (an app for accessing music on YouTube RED or on the freemium platform) came news of yet another round of tying, take-it-or-leave-it terms and content removal threats. While Merlin members are covered for this service through the deal signed last year, these new examples highlight a wider issue and are clear illustrations of problems related to the power of certain platforms, such as unfair trading practices. We informed the EU to help it keep up with its competition monitoring and will use it as an example of an ongoing pattern of abuse.
Digital contract rules
The EC recently adopted two proposals in the field of contracts, one on the supply of digital content and one on the online sale of goods. Consumers are supposed to benefit from a higher level of protection (reversal of the burden of proof for defective products purchased online, clearer rights for digital content) and businesses will be able to supply digital content and sell goods online throughout the EU based on the same set of contract rules.
New rules on roaming and net neutrality were adopted at the end of October. The initial ‘telecoms single market package’ proposed under the previous Commission was much broader, but only these two issues survived the legislative process. Roaming charges will decrease in 2016 and should disappear as of June 2017, although some say the rules are not tight enough and some roaming surcharges could survive past this deadline. The principle of net neutrality is now enshrined in EU law, which means that blocking or throttling of online content, applications and services are prohibited, and that there can be no paid prioritisation of traffic (although reasonable day-to-day traffic management is allowed). Some groups are saying that there are loopholes which will allow telecom operators to circumvent the regulation.
Court ruling on EU-US data sharing
The EU Court of Justice struck down the EU-US data sharing agreement known as ‘safe harbour’ (not the same safe harbour which applies to certain types of hosting services). It ruled the 15 year old agreement illegal on the basis of inadequate protection given to Europeans’ data once transferred to the US. This agreement, which allowed companies to transfer consumers’ personal data from the EU to the US if they vouch for adequate privacy standards concerns more than 4,000 companies. While they wait for a new safe harbour agreement, those companies have to find alternative ways to legally operate in the EU.
After 4 years of discussions, an agreement on data protection was reached by the EU institutions. It will set common standards across Europe.
With our YouTube complaint now withdrawn, we are keeping the EC updated of market developments on an informal basis. The problems raised in our complaint are specifically adressed in the EU's online platform consultation (more on this in 'Digital') so we are now dealing with those through this initiative. We are also monitoring the Commission's inquiry into the e-commerce sector and ongoing cases specific to Apple and Google.
The Commission’s e-commerce inquiry continues, with the goal of building a detailed picture of the competitive conditions in the sector, for both goods and digital content. We met the case team earlier this year.
A preliminary report will be published by the Commission in the middle of next year. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to comment on it before the Commission produces its final report. From there, the Commission will decide how to prioritise enforcement against possible anti-competitive agreements that could risk fragmenting the Digital Single Market.
Apple - streaming
Although nothing is official, it appears the EC may not have found evidence of collusion between majors and Apple to ‘kill’ freemium. The EU will, however, continue to monitor the streaming market. Separately, the EU asked Spotify and other music streaming services for information about restrictions Apple places on apps offered through its mobile App Store. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is also investigating whether Apple’s treatment of rival streaming music apps in the App Store violates antitrust laws.
Apple – tax probe
The EC is likely to fine the Irish government following the probe into its tax arrangements with Apple, which provide an advantage amounting to state aid, and are against international guidelines. The EC’s enquiry relates to the Irish branches of Apple Sales International (ASI) and Apple Operations Europe. Apple could face a hefty fine if Ireland ultimately loses and is forced to recoup tax from the company. The EC has not yet indicated a timeline for its official decision.
The Commission is assessing Google’s last submission on search and shopping before deciding on the next steps in the framework of its competition case against the company, but may well move to formal proceedings involving fines if no solutions can be found. Google’s conduct in relation to its Android operating system is also being investigated, as well as applications and services for smartphones and tablets.
"Follow the money" is our main focus here. In line with our Digital Action Plan, the trend in EU institutions is to encourage this approach. It is covered in the EC's copyright Communication and in a public consultation launched last week.
EC Single Market strategy
On 28th October the Commission published its Single Market strategy (aka “Internal Market” strategy) consisting of a set of targeted actions on consumer issues, SMEs and start-ups, services and mobility of professionals. The strategy includes a review of the enforcement of EU intellectual property rules in line with the “follow the money” approach, in parallel with the Digital Single Market strategy, which also tackles the subject (more on this below and in ‘Copyright’).
The EC is consulting stakeholders on a possible memorandum of understanding committing signatories to work together on implementing the “follow-the-money” approach to stop the flow of money to websites making money off infringing works. Advertisers and payment providers should be involved.
As part of its Digital Single Market strategy, the EC recently published a public consultation on ‘the evaluation and modernisation of the legal framework for the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR)’. The aims of the consultation include gathering experience and opinions about the “follow the money” initiatives in the area of IPR enforcement. The EC will gather information until 1 April 2016 (more information here) to assess whether the legal enforcement framework is still fit for purpose.