Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 09.04.23: Spotify Live, Own Own Venues, YouTube-dl, Google, Rock Sound

By | Published on Sunday 9 April 2023

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

Spotify confirmed it is shutting down its standalone live audio app Spotify Live. It was meant to be a competitor to the buzzy-for-a-while Clubhouse and was built on the back of Locker Room, a sports-centric chat app that Spotify bought in March 2021. Originally called Spotify Greenroom, the app became Spotify Live last year when some of its functionality was also added to the main Spotify platform. Confirming the somewhat expensive experiment that was Spotify Live is now over, the streaming firm said: “We believe there is a future for live fan-creator interactions in the Spotify ecosystem; however, based on our learnings, it no longer makes sense as a standalone app. We have seen promising results in the artist-focused use case of ‘listening parties’, which we will continue to explore moving forward to facilitate live interactions between artists and fans”. [READ MORE]

The Music Venue Trust announced that the Own Our Venues programme it initiated is now entering the venue-buying phase. MVT launched Music Venue Properties last year with the plan to buy the freeholds on a number of buildings currently used by grassroots venues, removing the insecurity that comes with venues being dependent on commercial landlords. MVP then set about raising the money it needed to buy its first set of buildings. Although it didn’t raise as much money as originally hoped, the initiative nevertheless secured £2,318,210 from 1261 individual investors. With that in mind, the board of MVP has agreed to move onto the next phase of the scheme and buy some venues. Those who invested will now get a “clear modelled plan” for how that will be achieved. Welcoming this development, MVT CEO Mark Davyd said: “I am immensely proud of my team for once again proving that the grassroots community are the people who can get it done”. [READ MORE]

The record industry welcomed a ruling in the German courts stopping the distribution of stream-ripping software youtube-dl. Stream-ripping remains a top piracy gripe of the music industry and the record labels previously tried to get the code for youtube-dl removed from developer platform Github. They were initially successful, though Github restored said code after a bit of a backlash. In Germany, the record labels went legal to try to get the youtube-dl web-page taken down, it being hosted by German company Uberspace. And the Hamburg Regional Court has now obliged. Welcoming the ruling, IFPI boss Frances Moore said: “The decision from the Hamburg Regional Court builds on the precedent already set in Germany, further indicating that hosting stream-ripping software of this nature is illegal. We continue to work around the world to tackle the issue of stream-ripping which diverts revenue away from those investing in and creating music”. [READ MORE]

Anti-touting campaigners welcomed a ruling in the French courts regarding ticket touts and Google ads. France’s Court Of Appeal ruled on whether the country’s strict laws regulating ticket touting mean that Google should not allow secondary ticketing sites to buy their way to the top of search lists on its French site. The likes of Viagogo and StubHub have long relied on Google advertising to drive traffic, with critics arguing that – because that means touted tickets often come top in Google search results – it tricks consumers into thinking those platforms are official sellers. Following legal action from live industry trade group PRODISS, a court in Paris ruled in 2020 that the country’s ticket touting laws did indeed mean that Google should not allow secondary ticketing sites to buy search-based ads. The tech giant appealed, but that ruling has now been upheld in what PRODISS called a “landmark decision” in favour of “protecting the rights of the promoters and the rights of the audience”. [READ MORE]

Music magazine Rock Sound confirmed it had a new owner. That follows fears at the start of the year that the title was facing closure. An official statement said: “As you may have seen, Rock Sound was set for closure back in January and the editorial staff were suddenly let go by the publishing company. It was a huge shock to us all and really gutting to see a brand we care so much about nearly disappear”. The new owner is Whynow Media, a company that grew out of the website, which launched back in 2019 covering film, music and culture at large. Now also operating other platforms and providing media services, Whynow describes itself as a “full service publishing, podcasting and production house”. It buying RockSound begins “a whole new era” for the magazine, the official statement added, before concluding: “We couldn’t be more excited about the future as we approach our 25th anniversary in 2024. See you out there”. [READ MORE]

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