CMU Digest

CMU Digest 06.09.21: Apple, PayPerformers, Universal Music, disability study, Primephonic

By | Published on Monday 6 September 2021


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

Apple announced that ‘reader apps’ like Spotify will be able to include links to alternative payment options from next year. The tech giant is making a change to its App Store rules to allow such links as part of a settlement with the Fair Trade Commission in Japan. It addresses one of the gripes app makers like Spotify have long had with Apple’s App Store, where not only must in-app payments be taken using Apple’s commission-charging transactions platform, but you can’t currently sign-post other payment options outside the app. Spotify welcomed the rule change, but said other issues remained and Apple continued to act in an anti-competitive way. One other big App Store rule critic – Fortnite maker Epic Games – won’t benefit from the change, because ‘reader apps’ cover subscription content services like Spotify and Netflix but not gaming platforms. [READ MORE]

The PayPerformers campaign said that the current “contractual system” for sharing out streaming income with performers isn’t working. This followed the publication of a new CMU guide to how performers are paid – or not – when recordings or productions on which they perform are made available via music or video streaming services. Currently how performers share in monies generated by Spotify, Netflix et al depends entirely on their deals with record labels and TV/movie producers. Actors and session musicians often get no share under those deals. Featured artists in music do get royalties, but how that works is complicated. PayPerformers argues that the best way to get performers paid would be to introduce an equitable remuneration right for streaming like the one that currently exists for broadcasts. [READ MORE]

Vivendi confirmed it had sold another 2.9% of the Universal Music Group to a Bill Ackman-led investment entity. The original plan was to sell 10% of UMG to Ackman’s special purpose acquisition company Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, but investors and regulators expressed concerns about that deal and it was abandoned. Ackman then announced he’d instead by 7.1% of UMG via his Pershing Square Holdings investment firm, though it was known Vivendi still wanted to sell the full 10%. Ackman has now bought the other 2.9% via a set-up called PS VII Master LP. UMG will be listed on the Dutch stock exchange this month, with 60% of its shares distributed to Vivendi shareholders. The remaining 40% will be held by a Tencent-led consortium (20%), the Ackman ventures (10%) and Vivendi itself (10%). [READ MORE]

A new study led by artist manager Ben Price showed that many music industry professionals with non-visible disabilities do not disclose details of their conditions to employers and colleagues, usually because of a fear that doing so would make them seem less capable, or result in them receiving less future work, or in experiencing other kinds of discrimination. Of 150 music industry people surveyed who identified as having a disability or long-term health condition, 71% said their impairment or condition is non-visible. Of those, 88% revealed they ‘sometimes’ or ‘never’ disclose the impairment or condition to those who they work with, with 69% of this subset admitting that this had put their health and safety at risk. [READ MORE]

Apple announced it had bought classical music streaming service Primephonic. It plans to use the expertise of the acquired company to develop and launch a new standalone Apple Music app for the classical genre, with better browsing and search capabilities by things like composer and repertoire. It’s long been agreed that the mainstream music streaming platforms aren’t great if you primarily listen to classical. That said, in the short term Primephonic users will have to make do with a mainstream platform. They will be initially shifted over to the main Apple Music app, albeit with Primephonic’s playlists and exclusive content also included. The tech giant hopes that offering six months of free subscription will keep those users sweet until the standalone classical app is ready. [READ MORE]

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