Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 09.07.23: TikTok Music, Night & Day, Spotify, NTIA, BPI

By | Published on Sunday 9 July 2023

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

The long anticipated TikTok Music service launched in Brazil and Indonesia. It builds on and will ultimately replace Resso, the music service already operated by TikTok owner Bytedance in those two markets as well as India. Like Resso, TikTok Music has a number of social media style features. No free tier is available, presumably because the main TikTok app will be used as an upsell platform. In terms of catalogue, at launch licensing deals are in place with all three majors and indie label repping Merlin, even though Sony Music previously pulled its content from Resso. There is currently no word on how quickly TikTok plans to roll out the new service into additional markets. The launch of TikTok Music followed the unveiling a week earlier of another new app from Bytedance – Ripple – which is a music-making app currently piloting in the US which, among other things, will create an instrumental based on any melody the user hums into it. [READ MORE]

Manchester venue Night & Day is still battling a noise abatement order after a planned court hearing failed to go ahead. The order was issued by Manchester City Council in 2021 after a single noise complaint from a person who had moved into a neighbouring property. Night & Day’s management argue that complying with the order will make their business commercially unviable. The dispute initially got to the magistrate’s court in Manchester last November, but is still going through the motions, with a judge ordering back in March that more acoustic testing be undertaken in the venue. Another court hearing was then due to take place this week and – in a Facebook post – the venue said it hoped that would resolve the matter once and for all. However, the hearing didn’t go ahead, firstly to allow further out-of-court talks between the venue and the council, and then due to technical problems with a video link. Another hearing has now been scheduled for 21 Jul, but yet more acoustic testing is reportedly planned for September, meaning the whole case could as yet rumble on into the autumn. [READ MORE]

Spotify announced it will no longer accept payments via Apple’s transactions system. The streaming service actually stopped new subscribers from signing up via the Apple system back in May 2016, but some of the people who signed up prior to that date have still been making payments that way. Under Apple’s App Store rules, if Spotify wants to sell subscriptions through its iOS app, it has to use the Apple transactions system, which charges at 15-30% commission. Unable to swallow that commission, Spotify had to pass the extra cost on to the customer, making it look like its premium subscriptions were more expensive than those of Apple’s rival music service. That’s why it stopped allowing new premium sign-ups via its iOS app. More recently, Spotify has been asking law-makers to force Apple to drop its rules around in-app payments, arguing said rules are anti-competitive. Those Spotify subscribers who were still making their month payments via Apple will now see their accounts drop down to the free tier, after which they will need to resubscribe via Spotify’s website. [READ MORE]

The Night Time Industries Association confirmed it will seek a judicial review of the UK government’s current position on festival drug testing. The Home Office has been criticised by the live sector after it told organisers of Manchester’s Parklife festival that they needed a specific licence from the government department if they wanted to test any drugs confiscated during their 2023 event. Parklife, like other festivals, has been testing drugs onsite for a number of years in liaison with their local police force. The aim of the testing is to assess whether there are any substances in circulation that could pose heightened risk to those consuming them and – if so – to share that information with police, on-site medical personnel and festival-goers. There wasn’t time to secure a licence – which also adds costs and logistical challenges to the testing process – which meant Parklife couldn’t undertake any drug testing at this year’s edition. The NTIA and Parklife founder Sacha Lord argue that the Home Office’s position on this is reckless. In a legal letter they urged the government to alter its current position, adding that they will ask the courts to intervene if no such policy change occurs. [READ MORE]

Record industry trade body BPI confirmed that UK recorded music exports were up 20% last year to £709 million. That’s despite artists and labels in the Anglo-American music industries now facing much more competition in the global music market from artists and labels in a number of other countries and regions, especially South Korea and Latin America. The US remains the most important export market – it being by far the biggest recorded music market overall – with the UK industry seeing its revenues there increase 28% year-on-year in 2022. That was partly down the the strong value of the dollar against the pound, but also because of the success of British artists like Harry Styles, Glass Animals, Adele, Coldplay, Kate Bush and Sam Smith. Despite that ongoing growth, the BPI said that further government support is needed to help the UK industry top £1 billion a year in exports by 2030, which is a target the trade body has set. [READ MORE]

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