CMU Digest

CMU Digest 09.11.20: Live Nation, Spotify, EMMA, MegaUpload, Google

By | Published on Monday 9 November 2020

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

Live Nation’s quarter three financial report hammered home the continued impact of COVID-19 on the global live music industry. The live music giant’s summer revenues were down 95% year-on-year, resulting in losses of about $319 million. However, while acknowledging the massive challenges facing its sector and the continued uncertainty regarding when things might get back to normal, Live Nation had some positive spin for investors. The appetite for live music remained strong, it said, with most people holding onto tickets for postponed shows and many more buying tickets for 2021 festivals. And Live Nation was, it added, putting in place systems and technologies to make shows possible once COVID restrictions sufficiently lift, but while some social distancing rules remain in place. [READ MORE]

Spotify announced a pilot of a new service that will allow artists and labels to influence the streaming firm’s algorithm. With that algorithm ever more important in terms of driving listening and discovery on the market-leading streaming platform, having it also consider information provided by the music industry seems like a positive move. However, it will be a paid-for service, with artists and labels that use it agreeing to a discount on any subsequent royalties that are due from algorithm-initiated streams. Given the ongoing debate in the music community around streaming royalties – which many argue are already too low – Spotify’s suggestion it should get an extra discount did not go down well in some quarters. [READ MORE]

The European Music Managers Alliance launched a pan-European debate on the streaming business model. It put the spotlight on three specific issues: terms in legacy record contracts that many artists and managers argue are inequitable in the streaming age; issues with the payment of song royalties that result in a new black box and market share distributions of money; and the proposal to move to a user-centric rather than service-centric system for distributing royalties. EMMA said that a transparent trial of that approach should be launched, presumably the one Deezer is trying to get off the ground in France. EMMA’s statement came amid increased debate in the artist community in multiple countries about the streaming business model, with both platforms and labels getting criticised. [READ MORE]

The Supreme Court in New Zealand said MegaUpload founder Kim Dotcom could be extradited to the US to face charges of criminal copyright infringement. However, first the Dotcom team’s request for a judicial review of the original extradition hearings should be granted, despite lower courts saying such a thing would be “abuse of process”. Prosecutors in the US have been trying to extradite Dotcom and some of his former colleagues to face charges in an American court ever since they shut down the former file-transfer site following complaints from the music and movie industries that it facilitated and encouraged rampant copyright infringement. [READ MORE]

A court in Paris said that Google should not sell advertising on its search engine to platforms and companies that are selling concert tickets without the approval of the show’s promoter. France has much stricter rules regarding ticket touting than most other countries, with the selling or reselling of tickets without a promoter’s permission basically illegal. The new court ruling, following legal action from trade group PRODISS, confirmed that law also meant Google could not allow touts and touting platforms to buy their way to the top of Google search results – that being a preferred marketing tactic of many secondary ticketing companies. [READ MORE]

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