CMU Digest

CMU Digest 13.09.21: AWAL, COVID Passports, economics of streaming, Viagogo, Quad9

By | Published on Sunday 12 September 2021


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

The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority said that Sony Music’s purchase of Kobalt’s label services business AWAL raised competition concerns. The regulator reckons that AWAL was one of the few independent music distributors able to compete with the majors, which means it becoming part of a major music rights company “could lead to worse terms for artists and less innovation in the music sector”. Sony – which said that the CMA’s findings were “perplexing” – must now propose concessions to address the regulator’s concerns, or a more in-depth phase two investigation into the acquisition will be launched by the CMA. [READ MORE]

The night-time and live music sectors expressed concerns about the new COVID Passport requirement voted through by the Scottish Parliament. Clubs and some other venues in Scotland will have to check the COVID vaccination status of all customers from next month, only admitting those who have been double vaccinated. The Music Venue Trust criticised ambiguities in the proposed new rules regarding which specific venues and businesses will be affected, while the Night Time Industries Association said that those new rules meant an already fragile night time economy in Scotland is now on a “dangerous path to devastation”. Similar rules were meant to be coming into force in England at the end of the month as well, but that plan has now seemingly been abandoned. [READ MORE]

The Featured Artists Coalition and Music Managers Forum published a white paper on the UK Parliament’s inquiry into the economics of streaming. It set out the two organisations’ priorities as the government prepares to respond to the report published by Parliament’s culture select committee earlier this year. That included measures to address issues around record contracts and artist royalties; song royalty chains and the streaming black box; and transparency and streaming service advances. [READ MORE]

The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority approved the sale of StubHub International by Viagogo to an American investment entity called Digital Fuel Capital. Having bought its main rival StubHub in February 2020, Viagogo subsequently agreed to sell all but the North American division of its acquisition in order to address competition concerns raised by the UK regulator. The CMA said that a combined Viagogo/StubHub would be too dominant in the British ticket resale market. Needless to say, Viagogo welcomed the approval of its deal to sell StubHub International, which brings to an end the CMA’s investigation of its merger. [READ MORE]

A not-for-profit DNS resolver called Quad9 appealed a web-blocking injunction secured against it by Sony Music in Germany. Using a DNS resolver or a virtual private network are both ways that users can circumvent web-blocks that have been implemented by internet service providers to stop people from accessing copyright infringing websites. It is therefore unsurprising that copyright owners are now seeking injunctions forcing DNS and VPN services – as well as ISPs – to do some web-blocking. But in its appeal Quad9 argues that a DNS resolver like itself “is the wrong place to try to apply legally mandated controls”. [READ MORE]

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