U.S. Publishing Revenue Grew Nearly 11% to $6.2B in 2023, NMPA Reveals at Annual Meeting

June 27, 2024

The New York event honored songwriters including Lana Del Rey, featured a fireside chat with WMG CEO Robert Kyncl and revealed the organization's latest moves against Spotify.

During the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) annual meeting on Wednesday (June 12), the trade organization said it had calculated total U.S. publishing revenue at $6.2 billion in 2023, up 10.74% from the previous year.

The event, held at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York, is thought of as a state of the union for the U.S. music publishing business. During the presentation, it’s also common for NMPA president/CEO David Israelite to announce major actions it’s taking against tech companies on behalf of publishers. This year, he targeted Spotify, sending an official complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as well as letters to the attorneys general of nine states and a list of consumer groups — urging them to stop Spotify’s efforts to bundle music and audiobooks into its premium tiers. It’s the first time the NMPA has involved the FTC in its fight with a tech company.


For publishers and songwriters, Spotify’s decision to include audiobooks in its premium tiers and categorize those tiers as “bundles” — a type of plan that qualifies for a discounted rate on U.S. mechanical royalties given that multiple products are offered under one price tag — means a lower royalty rate for music given that both music and audiobooks must now be paid out from the same royalty pool. In May, the NMPA launched its war with Spotify by sending a cease and desist letter to the streamer for allegedly hosting lyrics, music videos and podcast content that contain their members’ copyrighted musical works without proper licenses.

In Wednesday’s FTC complaint, the NMPA says Spotify “has deceived consumers by converting millions of its subscribers without their consent from music-only subscriptions into ‘bundled’ audiobook-and-music subscriptions, publicly announcing increased prices for those subscriptions, failing to offer an option for subscribers to revert to a music-only subscription, and thwarting attempts to cancel through dark patterns and confusing website interfaces.” (For more on this, check out Billboard‘s full coverage of the FTC complaint here.)

Aside from Israelite’s big announcement, the event also honored top songwriters for their contributions to the music business — including an opening tribute to songwriter and outgoing NMPA board member Ross Golan. The NMPA also issued awards to Lana Del Rey, this year’s Songwriter Icon recipient, and Savan Kotecha, winner of the Non-Performing Songwriter Icon award. Elsewhere, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” was honored with NMPA’s Iconic Song award, featuring a performance of the song by Ingrid Michaelson.

The event additionally featured fireside chats with Robert Kyncl, CEO of Warner Music Group, and Shira Perlmutter, register of copyrights and director of the U.S. Copyright Office.

NMPA’s annual meeting comes amidst a busy year in the music publishing business. At the start of 2024, the MLC, which collects and distributes U.S. mechanicals, began its first-ever redesignation process — a routine five-year review of its operations to determine if any changes need to be made to the organization.

The same month, UMG pulled its music catalog from TikTok, including its publishing interests, alleging that the short-form app did not pay the “fair value” of music while also raising concerns regarding AI and artist safety. The NMPA showed its support for UMG regarding the move and even joined the music giant by letting the NMPA’s model license with TikTok, used by a number of indie publishers, lapse at the end of April. (UMG and TikTok eventually made a deal.)


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