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Warner Chappell Moves to ICE for Europe

Warner Chappell Music is moving all of its European online processing to ICE. After a 10-month review, the publisher is expanding its partnership with ICE, a joint venture of GEMA, STIM and PRS for Music that serves as a hub for publishing licensing, collections and payment processing for online uses of compositions in Europe and other markets.

A decade ago, the European Union opened the song-licensing market in Europe to competition by allowing any collective management organization (CMO) to license music for online uses across various markets. In other words, while the German CMO GEMA would maintain its offline monopoly in Germany, for example, it would compete with other CMOs to represent songwriters, publishers and other societies for online uses of their work. In practice, the serious competition takes place between the French CMO SACEM and ICE, a joint venture of GEMA, STIM (Sweden) and PRS for Music (U.K.). Other markets have opened to competition as well, although the U.S. is not one of them.

Universal Music Publishing Group works with SACEM, and ICE also works with Sony Music Publishing through SOLAR, which administers the company’s Anglo-American catalog. Warner Chappell had spread its rights over several different processing companies, but this deal means that all of its business in Europe, as well as some other markets, will go through ICE.

Although the scope of writer and publisher deals with CMOs vary, this one only involves processing, since Warner Chappell does its own licensing.

“In today’s digital music market, there are vast volumes of data to process, and we need to work with a reliable partner to ensure we’re delivering best-in-class service,” Warner Chappell co-Chair and CEO Guy Moot said in the announcement of the deal. “ICE has always proved to be an innovative and flexible partner, so we’re delighted to expand our relationship with them.”

The deal represents a significant, but not unexpected, win for ICE. “It’s a significant decision and we’re committed to continuing to deliver the best services on the market,” ICE chief commercial officer Ben McEwen said in the announcement. “Specifically in the area of online processing, we have led the way with initiatives such as multi-stage invoicing to maximize claims, alongside many other innovations in matching, reporting and quality assurance.”

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