Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 14.08.22: Pollen, Spotify, HitCo, BPI, Taylor Swift

By | Published on Sunday 14 August 2022


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

Ticketing and travel company Pollen confirmed it had fallen into administration. It followed months of speculation about the future of the company which, despite announcing $150 million in new investment earlier this year, had come under increased criticism online. Criticism came from both consumers regarding communication about and the issuing of refunds for cancelled events, and employees regarding poor communication in relation to the firm’s financial problems, especially after more than 150 staff members were let go in May and salaries subsequently went unpaid on pay day. Employees were told a big deal was on the horizon that would fix things, but in a statement this week the company confirmed a bid to sell the entire Pollen group had failed and that administrators from Kroll had now been called in to restructure the business. [READ MORE]

Spotify launched a new website that is selling tickets direct for a small number of US shows. Although Spotify has long pushed tickets at subscribers via both its app and email, based on what music any one subscriber listens to, those tickets have previously been sold by one of the streaming firm’s ticketing partners, such as Ticketmaster. The new website basically sees Spotify become a ticket agent itself. Although that website is currently only dabbling in ticket pre-sales for a small number of artists, and Spotify stressed this was very much a pilot, and may or may not result in the company seeking to move more into primary ticketing in the future. [READ MORE]

Multiple sources said that Concord was acquiring HitCo, the most recent music business founded by record industry veteran LA Reid. It’s the company Reid co-founded after his somewhat abrupt departure from his last major label job at Sony Music, which followed complaints from a female colleague of “unlawful harassment”. At the time Reid insisted he had supported women in the music industry throughout his career, but added “if I have ever said anything capable of being misinterpreted, I apologise unreservedly”. Since its launch in 2018, HitCo has – among other things – collaborated with a number of artists who had worked with Reid in his previous major label roles, including OutKast’s Big Boy, Fifth Harmony’s Dinah Jane and Jennifer Lopez. [READ MORE]

UK record industry trade body BPI said that British record labels together spent £494.8 million on A&R and marketing last year. The industry’s A&R spend specifically, at £358.1 million, has risen 106.6% over the last five years, which is nearly two-and-a-half times more than the UK recorded music market’s revenue growth, those revenues having increased by 42.9% since 2016. Record labels often point to figures like these when taking part in the digital pie debate, in order to defend why – out of artists, labels, songwriters, publishers and streaming services – labels often see the biggest slice of streaming revenue. That – labels would argue – is because they are still the primary investors and risk takers in new artists and new music, and the figures published by BPI last week – they would add – show that that investment and risk is both significant and growing. [READ MORE]

Taylor Swift submitted a statement to court in the ongoing song theft legal battle over ‘Shake It Off’. She is accused of ripping off the key lyrics of her 2014 hit – about players playing and haters hating – from an earlier 3LW song ‘Playas Gon Play’, written by Sean Hall and Nathan Butler. The lawsuit was initially dismissed on the basis the lyrics the two songs share are too generic, but it was reinstated on appeal, and efforts by the Swift side to get it dismissed for a second time have so far been unsuccessful. In the new court papers, Swift described how she had heard people talking about players playing and haters hating during her school years, and that that is where the idea came from for the lyrics in ‘Shake It Off’. She added that she had never heard of ‘Playas Gon Play’ or 3LW prior to Hall and Butler’s litigation, adding that she did not consume pop music media around the time the earlier track was released back in 2001. [READ MORE]

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