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Not All Music Is Worth The Same

by Stuart Dredge, Musically, May 10 and 26, 2023

Two topics loomed large in Warner Music Group’s quarterly earnings call on May 9. First, CEO Robert Kyncl’s views on current payout models in music streaming, and second, his thoughts on the impact generative AI will have on WMG, its artists and the wider music industry.

“Every stream is valued in exactly the same way, and that doesn’t seem like something that is aligned with the way the world works,” said Kyncl.

In his opening remarks for the call, Kyncl said that WMG “has started to experiment with different streaming models” with some services, although he did not identify specific partners. One is already known – SoundCloud, whose ‘fan-powered royalties’ WMG adopted in July 2022.

(...) As for generative AI, Kyncl warned that “it needs to be put into proper context. Framing it only as a threat is inaccurate” while promising that WMG will nevertheless “vigorously enforce our copyrights, and our rights to name, image, likeness and voice” – and will also lobby energetically for legislation around the world to back this up.

ABBA legend Björn Ulvaeus raises the point of fairness in streaming.

“We need to keep looking at why music and creative works are systematically devalued,” wrote Ulvaeus. “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.”

Ulvaeus also addressed the debate around generative AI.

“I like AI-powered tools and I use them, and I am convinced they will help creators improve their works. However, AI comes with its own set of problems – not least the copyright status of AI-created works.”


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