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Academic Talk - Digital Innovation And Music Licensing

When: Friday, February 7, 2020 - 12:00 to 13:30
Venue: SMU School of Law, 55 Armenian Street, Meeting room 5.04, Level 5, Singapore 179943


Worldwide recorded music revenues began declining in 2000. After hitting a trough in 2014, revenues have rebounded, reaching 18.9 billion USD in 2018 (Statistica, 2018). Growth in music streaming drives this recovery. I will open this talk by tracking streaming growth as a way to make sense of recent changes in the music business. Three other industries have expanded opportunities for music rights holders and their agents: Over-the-Top (OTT) television (e.g., Netflix), short video (YouTube) and videogames. According to Vulture Netflix had 1,000 shows in the production or distribution pipeline last year. Netflix is not alone: HULU, Disney+, Apple+, iQIYI and YouKu have all expanded total television programming. More programming means more soundtrack music. Supplying this soundtrack music to showrunners requires dealmakers. I will then turn to the evolving short video model. YouTube leads this market, but China’s TikTok has put forward an alternative approach. Music plays a central role on all of these platforms. To deal with the vast number of individual clips using music, platforms have employed innovative licensing procedures. Finally, I will examine music in videogames. This mature business continues to evolve. For instance, live-streaming of gameplay and live competitions have become enormously popular, and profitable, since 2015. These changes in industrial structure and processes create new opportunities for music professionals such as music supervisors, music agents and music managers. I will identify the best practices that have recently emerged to serve this demand with an eye toward adapting to ongoing changes.



Titus Levi has been a media scholar and teacher for 25+ years. Currently, he is an Associate Professor with the USC-SJTU Institute of Cultural and Creative Industry. Before this, he served as Visiting Scholar at Hong Kong Baptist University in The School of Communication and The School of the Arts. He has also taught at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and United International College in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province. In addition to working in academia, he has worked as a consultant. He has helped The Durfee Foundation redesign its arts grants programs, and also worked for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, helping them expand their capacities in festival productions by nonprofit arts producers. He has also worked for international organizations, such as the Social Science Academic Press, based in Beijing, Brill, based in Leiden, Netherlands, and the Negotiation and Conflict Management Group in Lagos, Nigeria. His work experience also includes extensive involvement in music, as an events producer and promoter with the California Outside Music Association and the Los Angeles Festival, a radio program producer and host with KUSC-FM and KPFK-FM, a writer for Downbeat, LA Weekly, OPtion (contributing editor), and Keyboard magazine (“Discoveries” new talent column). His PhD is in economics (UC Irvine), with a focus on regulation and technological change in the media industries. 



Kung-Chung LIU holds an LL.B. and LL.M. from National Taiwan University and a Doctorate from the Ludwig Maximilian Universitaet (University of Munich). He was a Research Fellow at Academia Sinica, Taiwan until 2017. In 2003, he was a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law of the National University of Singapore and a Visiting Senior Research Fellow for the IP Academy of Singapore. Professor Liu has served as one of the founding Commissioners of the National Communications Commission in Taiwan between 2006 and 2007. In 2014-15, he was a Visiting Professor at the School of Law, Singapore Management University, and the Founding Director of the Applied Research Centre for Intellectual Assets and the Law in Asia (ARCIALA). In addition, he has been co-appointed Professor at the Renmin University, China (2017), and the Graduate Institute of Technology, Innovation & Intellectual Property Management, National Chengchi University, Taiwan (since 2010).

The event is by-invitation only.

Last updated on 30 Jan 2020 .