CMU Digest

CMU Digest 01.11.21: CISAC, Universal Music, COVID Passports, Epic Games, Genius

By | Published on Monday 1 November 2021


The key stories from the last week in the music business…

CISAC confirmed that the world’s song right collecting societies collected 10.7% less money in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Royalties from the live and public performance of songs were down 45.2% because of the COVID-caused shutdown of venues and other businesses that play music. However, broadcast royalties were only down 4.4%, a smaller decline than expected. That, coupled with a 16.2% increase in digital income, meant the overall decline was considerably less than what was feared a year ago. However, those countries where live and public performance income is usually particularly strong – especially in Europe – were hit harder by COVID, with Italy’s collections down 35.1%. [READ MORE]

Universal Music published its first financial results since listing as a standalone business on the Dutch stock exchange. Total revenues for the third quarter of 2021 were up 16.1% year-on-year to 2.15 billion euros, with total earnings up 12.1% to 426 million euros. Recorded music revenues were up 15.5% to 1.71 billion euros, while the major’s publishing business saw revenues rise 19.8% to 363 million euros. Premium streaming continues to power the growth, although Universal said that income from free streaming services is also increasing at a decent rate. Physical revenues were also up 8.9% thanks to the vinyl revival and direct-to-fan sales. [READ MORE]

A leaked UK government report suggested that COVID Passports could actually contribute to a rise in coronavirus infections. Currently in England it is up to individual venues and clubs whether they check a customer’s vaccination and/or COVID status at the door. However, mandatory checks – which are currently in force in Scotland and Wales – could as yet be introduced in England if COVID infections spike during the winter months. But the new report suggested that if venues and clubs were forced to check COVID Passports – but other hospitality businesses were not – then such checks would just push more people to pubs and bars where there are fewer measures in place to mitigate the spread of the virus. Thus COVID Passports could have the opposite effect than desired. [READ MORE]

Epic Games hit back at attempts by Apple to postpone a US injunction that will force a change to the tech giant’s App Store rules. The Fortnite maker sued Apple claiming those App Store policies are anti-competitive. Although most of Epic’s arguments failed in court, the judge overseeing the case did order Apple to allow all app makers to sign-post payment options outside their apps, where they don’t have to pay any Apple commissions. The tech giant is already planning to allow content apps like Spotify to add such sign-posting as a result of a regulatory intervention in Japan, however the injunction would also benefit gaming apps like Fortnite. But with both sides appealing the ruling in the Epic v Apple legal battle, the latter wants the injunction postponed. However, Epic said that the injunction should go into force now, even while the wider judgement is appealed. [READ MORE]

Lawyers for Genius attempted to get the lyric site’s lawsuit against Google reinstated. Genius accuses Google and/or the lyrics aggregator it uses – LyricFind – of taking content off its website for the info boxes that appear in the Google search engine when you search for a specific song. However, the content being allegedly lifted is lyrics, and Genius doesn’t own the copyright in said lyrics, the songwriters and music publishers do. Genius argued that it could still sue Google and LyricFind for breach of contract, because its terms of service prohibit the lifting of lyrics off its site. However, Google successfully got the lawsuit dismissed on the basis it was a copyright case without a copyright owner. Genius is now asking the Second Circuit appeals court to overturn that dismissal. [READ MORE]

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