CMU Digest

CMU Digest 14.06.21: Sony Music, COVID, Performer ER, Roblox, TikTok

By | Published on Sunday 13 June 2021

Sony Music

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

Sony Music announced it would start paying royalties to unrecouped artists with pre-2000 record contracts. Under conventional record deals, labels can recoup some of their upfront costs – including any cash advances paid out – from the artist’s share of subsequent income. For many artists, that money is never fully repaid meaning they don’t actually get any further royalty payments into their bank accounts. Artists and managers have long called on labels to write off unrecouped balances after a period of time, particularly as labels can go into profit on a deal long before an artist has recouped. Some indies – Beggars Group in particular – already do this. In a memo to artists on Friday, Sony said it would start paying royalties to artists on pre-2000 record deals even if they haven’t recouped, providing they’ve not been paid additional advances since 2000. [READ MORE]

The live sector expressed concerns about reports that the UK government is planning to postpone the lifting of COVID restrictions that would allow full capacity shows to return. The original target date for removing social distancing restrictions at gigs and events was 21 Jun, but that looks likely to be pushed back because of concerns over the new delta variant of the coronavirus. Reps for the live industry said that the government’s own Events Research Programme had demonstrated full capacity events did not, in fact, increase the risk of COVID transmissions, and demanded that ministers publish the full findings of that research. Meanwhile Andrew Lloyd Webber – who has a new theatre show due to open this month – said there’d be the “mother of all legal cases” if the government ignores its own scientific research and delays reopening full capacity shows. [READ MORE]

76 more artists signed the letter calling on the UK government to extend performer equitable remuneration to streaming. The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison and Tom Jones were among those newly backing the call to amend UK copyright law so that performer ER also applies to the making available element of the copyright. That would mean artists would receive a share of streaming monies linked to their tracks directly via the collective licensing system rather than via their label or distributor. Organisers of the #brokenrecord and #fixstreaming campaigns previously sent the letter to Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson back in April, but re-sent it with the new signatories, while also noting a report published by the World Intellectual Property Organisation which called for ER on streams. [READ MORE]

A group of US music publishers launched a $200 million copyright infringement lawsuit against online gaming platform Roblox. Announcing the litigation, the National Music Publishers Association said that the Roblox company had “made hundreds of millions of dollars by requiring users to pay every time they upload music onto the platform – taking advantage of young people’s lack of understanding about copyright – and then they take virtually no action to prevent repeat infringement or alert users to the risks they are taking”. The gaming company hit back insisting it effectively deals with all and any copyright complaints it receives relating to content on its networks, adding that the publishers’ lawsuit was based on a “fundamental misunderstanding of how the Roblox platform operates”. [READ MORE]

US President Joe Biden cancelled the TikTok ban instigated by his predecessor. Donald Trump issued an executive order banning US citizens and companies from transacting with TikTok and its China-based owned Bytedance last year, based on fears that the Chinese government has access to user-data gathered on the popular video sharing app. That ban never went into effect, though, because of legal action by Bytedance and a number of TikTok users. Biden’s government said that it was now cancelling Trump’s ban, although added that it was still investigating the risks of Americans using apps controlled by Chinese companies, including TikTok. Insiders said that Team Biden think a more rigorous approach is required to such an investigation before seeking to restrict the use of TikTok et al. [READ MORE]

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