CMU Digest

CMU Digest 03.05.21: Tencent, Brexit, Downtown, Spotify, PRS

By | Published on Monday 3 May 2021


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

Reports suggested that Tencent could be forced to sell two of its music services by competition regulators in China. The Chinese web giant was one of ten internet companies fined nearly $80,000 on Friday by the country’s State Administration Of Market Regulation for failing to properly report acquisitions and joint ventures. Prior to that fine being confirmed, sources told Reuters that the Tencent group faced a much bigger sanction for anti-competitive behaviour – in the region of $1.5 billion – and that there might be additional orders regarding Tencent Music Entertainment, which dominates music streaming in China. That might include voluntarily giving up the exclusive rights it retains over some music catalogues in the country and even selling off two of its three streaming services. [READ MORE]

300 creative industry organisations signed an open letter to the UK government expressing concern over the lack of progress in tackling new Brexit-caused bureaucracy for British performers touring Europe. Despite ministers – including Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson – making commitments to address those new issues, the letter said “we are extremely concerned by the lack of progress which has been achieved over the last three months to unravel the mountain of costly bureaucracy and red tape which now faces the creative industries”. Because of Brexit, when COVID restrictions lift performers touring Europe will have to tackle different rules regarding visas, travel permits and equipment carnets in each EU member state. The open letter again set out the various things that the UK government should do to minimise the negative impact of those changes. [READ MORE]

Downtown sold its songs catalogue to Concord following a decision to entirely focus on its services business. The deal saw Concord acquire interests in 145,000 works. Downtown will no longer seek to acquire and own song rights, but will continue to provide publishing services to songwriters, with its current roster of admin clients unaffected by the deal. A new division called Downtown Music Services will bring together those publishing and admin services with the group’s label services company DashGo. The wider Downtown group also still operates a number of other music services companies including Songtrust, CD Baby and FUGA. [READ MORE]

Spotify announced price increases in a number of countries, including the UK. The market-leading streaming service has been under increased pressure from the music community for a while now to raise its subscription prices, which have been more or less the same since it first launched in the late 2000s. There have been a small number of increases in a small number of markets previously, but the latest round of price hikes seems to be confirmation that Spotify now recognises that more wide-ranging increases are necessary. That said, the new increases were mainly made to the prices of the company’s discount packages – like the Family and Duo plans – rather than its baseline premium rate. [READ MORE]

UK collecting society PRS confirmed that its royalty collections in 2020 were down because of COVID. The society actually distributed more money to its members last year than in 2019, however collections were hit by the pandemic meaning that royalty distributions this year and next year will be lower. Income from the live performance of music was down 79.1% over the year, while public performance and radio revenues were affected too. Digital income was up 5.1%, but that wasn’t enough to counter the COVID-caused declines, meaning total collections were down 19.7%. [READ MORE]

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