SoundExchange expands into publishing rights with acquisition of Canada’s CMRRA

US recorded music licensing body SoundExchange is making its first move into the world of publishing rights, MBW can reveal.

According to our sources, the Washington D.C-based organization has fully acquired mechanical rights collection agency CMRRA (Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency Ltd.).

The deal will bring together the management of a vast tranche of Anglo-American sound recordings and music publishing repertoire.

The two companies are expected to continue to be run separately, but with increasing collaboration behind-the-scenes.

Toronto-based CMRRA licenses mechanical/reproduction music rights across streaming platforms and physical formats, in addition to broadcast (including both satellite and analog services).

Performance rights organization SoundExchange paid out a record $884m in digital royalties to artists and labels in 2016 – up 10% year-on-year.

SoundExchange has been thriving of late, but its business model faces some threats: its biggest source of revenues, Pandora, is failing to grow its listener base – and recently inked direct licensing deals with labels for the first time.

CMRRA’s closest equivalent in the US is the Harry Fox Agency – which grants the majority of mechanical licenses in the States.

Harry Fox was acquired by private collection/licensing group SESAC in 2015 from its previous owner, the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA).

SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe told MBW last year: “It’s kind of undeniable that there are many benefits to globalizing data, and globalizing royalty payments.

“I’m not suggesting SoundExchange is intending to become the single point of anything in the world, but the more we can all work together and have coordination across borders, the better it is for everybody.”

Huppe claimed that SoundExchange owned “the best sound recordings database in the world – sourced from master owners, not from third parties”, with more than 30m sound recordings attached to over 20m unique ISRC codes.

“We believe that data like ISRCs is the oil in the engine that makes everything in the music business run a lot better,” added Huppe.

“There are a lot of people out there who, when they have a resource like our database, would hold it close and leverage it for their own gain.

“We believe that metadata is something that should flow freely. We believe that people in the music industry should succeed or fail in the industry based upon business models, talent and their service – not because they have access to data others do not.”

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