U.S. Music Publishing Revenue Grew 19% to $5.6B Last Year

June 15, 2023

During the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) annual meeting on Wednesday (June 14), the trade organization said it calculated total U.S. publishing revenue at $5.6 billion in 2022, up from $4.7 billion in 2021 — a more than 19% increase year over year.

During his presentation at the meeting, held at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York, NMPA president/CEO David Israelite further noted that $5.6 billion figure does not include monies likely owed to publishers after the Copyright Royalty Board’s recent ruling upholding a rate increase for streaming services, rising gradually from 11.4% to 15.1% of service revenue for the 2018-2022 period. Once that increase is retroactively applied later this year, publishers’ should see a substantial additional payday.

Based on revenues earned in January and February 2023, compared to the same two months from 2022, Israelite said publishing earnings are up 27% so far this year. That’s due to a number of factors, including an increased royalty rate from streaming services that’s now set at 15.1% of revenue in 2023 and will increase gradually to 15.35% in 2027. Streaming services raising their subscription prices have also contributed to higher revenues, as well as growing diversity in publishers’ revenue streams.

Since 2014, when U.S. publishers earned $2.2 billion, annual revenues have grown more than 160% overall, according to the NMPA.

Breaking down revenue categories, performance royalties made up 48% of revenue — dropping below 50% for the first time. That fall in percentage, however, was “because the growth in other categories has been so significant, specifically with regard to synchronization,” Israelite said. Synch revenues made up 26.07% of earnings, mechanical 20.27% and other 5.37%.

Elsewhere during the event, NMPA executive vp/general counsel Danielle Aguirre announced that the organization had also distributed $66 million to its members from legal recoveries and settlements last year. “This is equal to a 456% average return on your dues,” she said, adding that the amount collected brings the NMPA’s all-time legal recovery number to $1.2 billion.

In a blockbuster announcement, Aguirre also revealed that NMPA members were suing Twitter over allegations of widespread copyright infringement, with dozens of music publishers seeking hundreds of millions in damages for infringing over 1,700 songs. If the claims are proven, the social media giant could be forced to pay as much as $255 million in damages.

Apart from Israelite’s state of the union address, which provided publishers with key analysis on the successes and pitfalls of the previous year, the meeting also doled out awards to several individuals. Among them, the organization honored RIAA chairman/CEO Mitch Glazier with the NMPA Industry Legacy Award, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois with the NMPA President’s Award for his leadership in passing the Music Modernization Act and the CASE Act, Brandi Carlile with the Songwriter Icon Award and Ashley Gorley with the first-ever NMPA Non-Performing Songwriter Icon Award.

Coming out to perform in honor of Carlile was Allison Russell, who performed Carlile’s “This Time Tomorrow”; and Brandy Clark, who performed Carlile’s “You and Me on the Rock.” Coming out for Gorley was special guest Luke Bryan, who performed two Gorley-penned hits: “What Make You Country” and “Play It Again.”

This story is developing.

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