CMU Digest

CMU Digest 03.08.20: COVID funding, Wiley, consent decrees, Triller, StubHub

By | Published on Monday 3 August 2020

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

Arts Council England published information on how cultural organisations hit by COVID-19 will be able to access previously announced sector-specific government funding. The music industry was pleased that ‘cultural organisation’ is being interpreted very widely, so that music companies that would never usually get ACE funding can apply. However, concerns were expressed that while music companies could benefit, individual music-makers and the industry’s large community of freelancers probably won’t. With shutdown likely for at least a few more months – plans to restart indoor performances in England have been postponed – industry groups called for freelancer support to be extended for the creative sector. [READ MORE]

The UK music industry criticised Wiley after he posted a string of antisemitic statements to Twitter over 48 hours last weekend. His Jewish manager confirmed he’d cut all ties with the rapper, Warner’s ADA said it would no longer distribute Wiley’s records, and his former label Big Dada announced it would donate all future royalties from the albums it released with him to organisations that fight antisemitism. Wiley’s tweets – and subsequent videos posted to Instagram and YouTube – also escalated the debate over the responsibilities of social media and user-upload platforms regarding hateful content and the people who post it. Many argued Twitter and Instagram had not responded quickly enough in removing Wiley’s posts, even though both platforms ultimately banned the rapper. [READ MORE]

The consent decrees that regulate American collecting societies BMI and ASCAP were discussed at a two-day hearing, staged as the US Department Of Justice reviews that regulation. The music industry wants the consent decrees simplified and ultimately phased out, but reps for various groups of licensees, such as the broadcasters, insist that the regulation should stay in place. Both sides presented their arguments at last week’s hearing. Although the music industry is united in wanting some reform of the consent decrees, there is some disagreement as to how and when that should happen. Music publishers want to be able to withdraw their digital performing rights from the societies – something not currently allowed – but the boss of BMI said that a big change like that should be phased in, otherwise it will provide ammunition to licensees who want more compulsory licensing. [READ MORE]

Music-centric video-sharing app Triller sued rival TikTok for patent infringement in the US, while also signing up a number of successful American TikTok creators as advisors and investors. These moves came as political concerns about what China-owned TikTok does with its user data escalated, with reports that the US government was now definitely planning to ban the app. That might be averted if current owner Bytedance sells the American side of the business to an American company, most likely Microsoft, though that deal could yet be scuppered because of recent remarks by Donald Trump to the effect that a ban was incoming whatever. Any TikTok ban would be a real boost for Triller, though it also hopes that snapping up TikTok talent will persuade consumers to switch apps. [READ MORE]

StubHub confirmed it was closing down its offices in the Asia Pacific and Latin America regions as it continues to weather the COVID-19 storm. Like all ticketing firms, StubHub has faced unprecedented challenges as the COVID-19 shutdown has extended, though arguably the challenges are even more acute for secondary ticketing outfits, with more links in the chain between promoter and ticket-buyer. Not only that, but StubHub’s cost-saving merger with new owner Viagogo has also been delayed because the UK competition regulator is yet to approve that deal. In an email to staff the firm said that the decision to close offices in Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea had “not been made lightly, nor easily”. [READ MORE]

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