World Intellectual Property day 2015: A change in the tide for music?

World Intellectual Property day 2015: A change in the tide for music?


Author: Laura Harper

On 26 April, World Intellectual Property Day will celebrate music with the aim of promoting discussion of the role of IP in encouraging innovation and creativity.

As a part of this, there will be discussions across the globe exploring some of the challenges and subsequent changes shaping the music industry today.

A key change in the music industry

One of the key changes in recent years has been the way that we can access music. Streaming has becoming one of the most popular ways to access music with 60 million users signed up to industry leader Spotify.

However, many artists didn't feel that letting the general public listen to their music for free was fair on the artist. With this in mind, last month, American rapper and producer, Jay Z, launched a rival platform called 'Tidal' - with the view that through this service (with no 'free' option), artists would be paid for their work. At $20-per-month, Tidal promises exclusive content and videos that other streaming services will not have access to. Artists, such as Rihanna, Usher, Madonna and Beyonce have all aligned themselves to Tidal, with Jay-Z saying the platform was going to 'forever change the course of music history', 'allowing art to flourish'.

Industry concerns

However, not all artists are as keen on the idea. Lily Allen, in particular, was keen to point out potential legal implications, saying on twitter that the service could be counter-productive in terms of encouraging piracy as the $20 a month fee could make the music content on Tidal less accessible to fans of all demographics.

She tweeted to her 5.11m followers: 'He's (Jay-Z) taken the biggest artists & made them exclusive to TIDAL (am I right in thinking this?), people are going to swarm back to pirate sites in droves sending traffic to torrent sites. Up and coming (not yet millionaires) artists are going to suffer as a result. my concern is that Tidal may set emerging artists back.' Members of bands such as Mumford and Sons and Death Cab for Cutie have also voiced concerns over how this sort of service will affect emerging, independent and underground artists.


The effect of Tidal on the music industry is of course dependent on its success. After a brief spell in the US iPhone top-20 download chart, the app has now fallen out of the top 700; therefore its impact remains to be seen.

Shoosmiths intellectual property team includes leading professional advisors who help businesses in the creative industries and provide specialist advice to those in the music industry. For more information about intellectual property matters, please get in touch.


This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

About the Author

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Laura Harper


03700 86 5881

Laura is an experienced intellectual property lawyer. She helps businesses and professionals, reliant upon the intellectual property which they produce, to protect and commercialise their products and services. She is a leading professional advisor to businesses in the creative industries and digital sectors.

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