CMU Digest

CMU Digest 10.02.19: Warner Music, Spotify, YouTube, Cox Communications, buyout deals

By | Published on Monday 10 February 2020

Warner Music

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

Warner Music announced plans for an initial public offering, taking the mini major public again. The music firm has been in private ownership since current owner Access Industries bought it in 2011. Through the share sale, Access and its boss Len Blavatnik will be hoping to capitalise on the renewed interest in music rights among the investment community which has been caused by the streaming boom. Though, as with Vivendi – which is in the process of selling off shares in Universal Music – Access intends to retain a controlling stake in its music business. [READ MORE]

Spotify made another podcasting acquisition as it announced its latest user stats. The new buy was The Ringer, best known for its sports-based podcasts. The streaming firm said the purchase was part of its bid to “expand our sports and entertainment offerings”. In its latest investor briefing Spotify confirmed that it ended last year with 271 million users, of which 124 million are paying subscribers. [READ MORE]

Google shared financial data for its YouTube division for the first time. The video-sharing platform generated $5 billion in ad income in the last quarter of 2019 and $15 billion over the year in total. That was actually less than many investors had assumed, though growth levels in the YouTube business are significantly higher than in the core Google search business. The web giant also revealed that there are now 20 million subscribers to YouTube’s premium services, which include YouTube Music. [READ MORE]

Cox Communications formally filed its appeal over the $1 billion copyright case pursued against it by the record companies. Last year the majors successfully argued that the US internet service provider should be held liable for its users’ copyright infringement. Cox urged the judge to intervene, especially over the $1 billion damages bill, which the ISP said was “shockingly excessive and unlawfully punitive”. [READ MORE]

The Deputy Chair of UK song rights collecting society PRS used a speech at a conference in Brussels to criticise the rise of buyout deals when audio-visual producers commission original music for their productions. Composer Simon Darlow noted that producers seeking ownership of the mechanical rights in commissioned works is now very common in the US and the UK, and starting to appear elsewhere in Europe too. Meanwhile some producers are controversially seeking control of the performing rights as well, especially in the US. Darlow said the songwriting community must come together to resist this trend. [READ MORE]

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