CMU Digest

CMU Digest 04.05.20: Live Nation, COVID-19, SXSW, Music Venue Trust, Spotify

By | Published on Monday 4 May 2020

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

It was announced that the nation of Saudi Arabia had bought a 5.7% stake in Live Nation. The live music giant’s share price has taken a hammering since the COVID-19 shutdown began, though management there have been keen to reassure investors that the company can weather the storm. Assuming it can – and given some smaller players in concert promotion, venue management and ticketing probably won’t, increasing Live Nation’s market dominance – buying its shares now could be a good long-term investment. Saudi Arabia, of course, is a controversial country, but the nation’s Public Investment Fund stressed that it planned to be a passive shareholder. [READ MORE]

A survey from Reuters suggested that many American consumers might stay home even after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted because of fears that the virus could return. Only 40% of the music and sports fans surveyed said they’d return to large-scale events as soon as they were staged again. Another 40% said they’d be willing to wait until a COVID-19 vaccine had been found, even if that took more than a year. Meanwhile a poll by talent agency group UTA found that 70% of those who had tuned into live-streamed shows since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic would be interested in accessing such online content again even once shutdown is over. [READ MORE]

Showcase festival and conference South By Southwest was sued over its decision to not offer cash refunds after it cancelled its 2020 edition. Ticket-holders were instead offered tickets to future editions. Although the event’s terms and conditions said no cash refunds would be available, two ticket-holders have gone legal arguing that policy is “unlawful, unconscionable and unenforceable”. Organisers of SXSW said they’d had to enforce their no refunds policy because of the huge financial pressure their company is under as a result of the COVID-19 caused cancellation. [READ MORE]

The Music Venue Trust launched a new campaign to try to save hundreds of UK grass-roots music venues at risk of closure because of the COVID-19 shutdown. In addition to existing fund-raising efforts, MVT is now urging artists to stage home-based live-streamed gigs in aid of their local or favourite small music venue. The organisation’s general #saveourvenues fund also got a boost in London with a £450,000 donation from a Bloomberg-backed cultural funding initiative organised by the capital’s mayor Sadiq Khan. MVT said that funding was a “major boost” but stressed that much more needed to be done to save venues all over the UK. [READ MORE]

Spotify was sued by a Canadian company for trade secret misappropriation and unfair competition. VoxTonePro claims that it was first to develop a self-serve audio advert production platform making it much easier and cheaper for companies to make radio-style ads. In 2016, its alleged, Spotify approached VoxTonePro about a possible partnership so that it could open up its ad sales platform to a wider range of clients. But, a new lawsuit claims, that was a ruse so that Spotify could access VoxTonePro’s trade secrets and get access to the back-end of its platform, allowing the streaming firm to build its own self-serve ad creation system. [READ MORE]