CMU Digest

CMU Digest 10.05.21: AIF, PRS, Apple, Live Nation, Vimeo

By | Published on Monday 10 May 2021


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

The UK’s Association Of Independent Festivals warned that 76% of the British music festivals still scheduled to take place this year could cancel this month unless the government introduces some kind of state-backed insurance. That’s despite the fact that – if the current plan for relaxing COVID rules is achieved – those festivals would be able to go ahead this summer. But with the risk that COVID restrictions could as yet extend, and with no cancellation insurance available on the commercial market, many festival promoters can’t afford to keep on spending money on their 2021 editions when a last-minute cancellation is still a possibility. The industry has been calling on the UK government for months to follow the lead of some other countries in offering festivals state-backed insurance. AIF also reported that 26% of the festivals that had been due to take place this year have already cancelled, with many of those events specifically blaming the lack of insurance for their decision to abandon their 2021 events. [READ MORE]

UK collecting society PRS announced more details about its licence for ticketed livestreamed shows. As livestreaming gained momentum during the COVID lockdown, attention fell on how organisers of those shows could get a licence covering the song rights being exploited in their streams. Last year PRS said it was consulting with its members in a bid to offer a one-stop-shop licence for such activity. It then circulated proposed rates for that licence, charging 8% on the first £50k of revenue, then increased percentages on subsequent income, so that on anything over £450k it would be 17%. Those rates were widely criticised by artists, managers and promoters, who pointed out that the rate on real-world live shows is 4%. In the wake of that criticism, PRS invited submissions from stakeholders and staged a series of roundtables. Based on that, it has now formally launched its livestream licence with a single rate applied to all revenue. The long-term rate is TBC, however for shows that take place during the pandemic it will be 10%. That decision has also been criticised, with many pointing out that while higher level shows are better off under the revised system, middle-level shows are actually worse off compared to what was proposed last year. [READ MORE]

Apple’s App Store rules were back in the spotlight on both sides of the Atlantic. In Europe, the European Commission published its preliminary view as part of an ongoing investigation into those rules, stating that it believes Apple is distorting the market. That investigation was initiated by Spotify which complained that Apple’s rules mean that it can only take in-app payments via its iOS app if its uses Apple’s commission-charging payments system, and it can’t even advise users on where they can pay elsewhere on the internet. The same grievance is the subject of a big court case that kicked off in the US last week, only there it is ‘Fortnite’ maker Epic Games taking on Apple’s App Store policies, accusing the tech giant of anti-competitive behaviour. For it’s part Apple has defended its rules both the in context of the EU investigation and as part of its legal battle with Epic. [READ MORE]

Live Nation said it was optimistic that the live sector’s recovery would get underway in the coming months, especially in key markets like the US and the UK. The live music giant expressed its optimism after confirming that it had experienced another incredibly challenging quarter at the start of the year as the COVID shutdown extended in many countries. Q1 revenues were down 76% year-on-year, although they were up 34.2% compared to the last quarter of 2020 amid hopes that live shows and festivals will start to return this summer. The company’s CEO Michael Rapino added that vaccine roll-out efforts in the UK and US have increased his confidence that a recovery is now possible this year, adding that the huge appetite among consumers to return to live shows presents big opportunities for the live industry for the latter part of 2021 and especially 2022. [READ MORE]

The Italian record industry began legal proceedings against video sharing website Vimeo, claiming that it doesn’t do enough to remove and block unlicensed music on its platform. It’s not the first time the record industry has sued Vimeo over the effectiveness of its takedown systems – which it is required to operate to avoid liability for any copyright infringing material uploaded by its users – though the previous unsuccessful litigation was in the US. The Italian industry is supported by global record label trade group IFPI in its new lawsuit, which stated: “Vimeo has fallen short of its obligation as an online content sharing service to take effective steps to prevent unlicensed music from being made available on its site”. [READ MORE]

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