How Music Can Help Turn the Tide of 2020

2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenges, a year of economic and social turmoil with the world as we know it being turned on its head.

It’s hard to think of a single industry that hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic, and marketing is no exception. Brand chiefs have had no easy task, first and foremost contending with reduced spend across the board. According to the Advertising Association and WARC, ad spend in the UK is set to decrease by a whopping 15.6 per cent in 2020 to £21.4 billion, a drop of almost £4 billion.

And alongside budget cuts, CMOs have had another major obstacle to overcome this year. With new restrictions announced almost weekly and social distancing now an intrinsic part of daily life, marketers have had to invest both time and money into repurposing existing campaigns in order to realign the message and tone to meet new COVID guidelines. Any pre-existing advert that displayed large groups of people together, for example, is likely to have been removed or edited to adhere to social distancing messages and rules. Moreover, given the changing mood of the nation, advertisers have had to adjust campaigns in order to avoid potential criticism around insensitive or ill-judged messages.

In a sector that thrives on ingenuity and creativity, never before has the creative game been downplayed in such a dramatic way, with belts being tightened and campaigns adjusted across the board.

An untapped opportunity

Among all this however, there exists an untapped resource through which brands and creative agencies can make back money; through recouping music royalties used within advertising campaigns.

Our analysis of the industry suggests that there is hundreds of millions of dollars of performance royalties a year available for music used within advertising, and yet only about 20 per cent (between $100 - $200 million) is accurately reported and paid out to the rights owners. That leaves over half a billion dollars unclaimed every year, with brands, agencies and musicians considerably out of pocket.

Not only is this a hugely valuable opportunity for brands to recoup significant amounts of money from existing media spend, at a time when marketing budgets are under threat, but it's also an opportunity to ensure that the composers in their supply chain are being fairly paid for the music they have created. And with two thirds of musicians considering leaving the industry due to lack of work following lockdown restrictions, never has it been more important to ensure the correct reimbursement for the music they have helped to create.

Data-driven technology

Make no mistake – as it currently stands the recouping of music ad royalties is a complex process, with the system not meeting the brands’ needs, while being ill-suited to the different international markets in which brands and advertisers operate. Moreover, the numerous different stakeholders involved – from brands and agencies to musicians and composers, through to the various media platforms that might be playing the tracks – only add to the complexities surrounding the process.

What’s clear however is that, with advancements in technology and the availability of multiple data sources, the process of music tracking can be dramatically simplified.

Through the use of Big Data, Melos is helping brands to automatically monitor not only where but how often their adverts are being played, which enables Collection Societies to accurately distribute music royalties to brands, to creative agencies and to musicians. Not only can this vastly increase annual royalties from commercials to brands and composers, but it can also result in payments from multiple international markets.

In simple terms, data-led technology can deliver unsurpassed results for brands, ensuring the accurate music reporting of adverts across the world, which not only benefits the brands themselves but also the musicians they work with. And in a year like 2020, never has this been more welcome.


Richard is the CEO of Melos Publishing