CMU Digest

CMU Digest 05.07.21: HYBE, Brexit, Spotify Discovery Mode, Damon Dash, IMS stats

By | Published on Monday 5 July 2021

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

The founder of the recently expanded HYBE group announced that he was standing down as the firm’s CEO so he can focus on music production projects. Bang Si-hyuk will remain as Chair of the South Korean music business – best known as the company behind the BTS phenomenon – however Park Ji-won becomes CEO. The executive rejig follows HYBE’s recent acquisition of Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings business in the US. It was also confirmed that Braun will now co-run HYBE’s American operations with Lenzo Yoon. The company also confirmed a rejig of its Japanese operations which will now be headed up by Han Hyunrock. [READ MORE]

Chief Brexit negotiator David Frost finally attended a hearing of the UK Parliament’s culture select committee to discuss the new bureaucratic barriers facing musicians touring Europe. With no pan-European provision for visa-free touring included in the UK and EU’s post-Brexit trade deal, as COVID restrictions lift British artists will have to navigate new bureaucracy as they tour Europe, securing travel permits and equipment carnets in some countries. Frost was pretty blunt, saying that the EU’s proposal for how visa-free touring could be included in the deal conflicted with the UK government’s policy on ending freedom of movement. And while Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson previously said Frost would lead efforts to mitigate the impact of the new bureaucratic barriers, Frost himself was keen to stress that that was the job of the government’s culture and transport ministers. He also confirmed little progress has been made in that domain. [READ MORE]

TuneCore and its parent company Believe – as well as DistroKid – all provided official endorsements of Spotify’s Discovery Mode service. That service, currently being piloted by the streaming firm, allows artists and labels to influence the Spotify algorithm in return for accepting a lower royalty rate on any streams subsequently delivered. The scheme has been criticised by many independent artists and labels who see it as an attempt to drive down further the already low per-play royalties paid by Spotify. However, some music marketeers have been more positive about the service, and this week TuneCore, Believe and DistroKid all said that they’d participated in the pilot and seen various artists benefit, with total income increased despite the lower per-stream rates. [READ MORE]

Damon Dash formally hit back against the lawsuit filed against him by the label he co-owns, Roc-A-Fella Records. He is accused of trying to sell the copyright in Jay-Z’s debut album ‘Reasonable Doubt’ via an NFT drop. Although the label owns that record – and Dash owns a third of the label – he’s not in a position to sell the copyright. However, in his own legal filing Dash said he never tried to sell the copyright in Jay-Z’s record, rather he was looking to sell his stake in the label. He claimed that the lawsuit was part of an attempt by Jay-Z to stop Dash from selling his stake in the company, because his one-time business partner wants to acquire it for himself at a below market rate. He then said that the lawyer leading on the Roc-A-Fella lawsuit is also Jay-Z’s lawyer, which constitutes a conflict of interest. [READ MORE]

The International Music Summit’s annual review of the dance music industry reckoned that the sector saw its total revenues decline by 54% during 2020 as a result of the COVID pandemic. Much of those declines occurred in the live side of the industry, of course, with clubs closed and festivals cancelled across the world. Recorded music in general was up in 2020 on the back of the streaming boom, although the IMS report noted that dance and electronic music’s share of streaming consumption was down. Nevertheless, the dance music industry’s recorded music revenues topped $1 billion over the year. The review also reported that certain strands of the business, in particular DJ software and hardware sales, benefited from lockdown. It was also optimistic that the sector would bounce back as COVID caused restrictions start to lift. [READ MORE]

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