CMU Digest

CMU Digest 15.06.20: Black Out Tuesday, Viagogo, Tidal, AEG, Twitch

By | Published on Monday 15 June 2020

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

A series of changes and initiatives were announced to deal with racism and prejudice in the music industry, all in the wake of Black Out Tuesday. All three majors have now committed money for supporting such initiatives. BMG said it would review all the contracts linked to its music catalogues – especially those it acquired – looking for racial bias. One Little Indian rebranded as One Little Independent and Lady Antebellum as Lady A, because of the racist connotations of their previous names. There was a wider debate about ending the use of term ‘urban music’. And, in the UK, a new Black Music Coalition set out five things music companies should do straight away to tackle prejudice within their own organisations. [READ MORE]

The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority gave Viagogo five days to deal with the former’s concerns over the latter’s acquisition of StubHub. The CMA said that it was concerned that the merger of the two secondary ticketing websites would create an incredibly dominant player in the market potentially resulting in an increase in prices for consumers. Viagogo was asked to propose measures to alleviate those concerns. If it fails to do so, the CMA will instigate a more in-depth phase two investigation into the transaction. Viagogo and StubHub continue to operate as separate businesses globally pending the CMA investigation. [READ MORE]

It emerged that Tidal has been officially classified as a suspect by the Norwegian authorities that are investigating claims that the streaming service tampered with usage data relating to Kanye West and Beyonce albums over which it had exclusives. It’s alleged that, back in 2016, Tidal artificially boosted that usage data, which would have negatively impacted on the royalties received by other artists and songwriters. Norway’s economic crime agency has been trying to get access to various confidential internal documents from Tidal, with the streaming firm trying to stop that from happening through the courts. In was in a document published by Norway’s Supreme Court that it was confirmed that Tidal is officially suspected of gross data fraud by the crime agency. [READ MORE]

Live music giant AEG confirmed further cuts would be required to enable the company to navigate the COVID-19 shutdown, this time involving redundancies. It said that cuts made across the business earlier on during shutdown aimed to avoid staff reductions, but that “unfortunately it is [now] clear that this step is unavoidable”. The exact number of redundancies required is not yet clear – other staff may be furloughed or subject to pay cuts. The boss of the group’s touring division AEG Presents, Jay Marciano, also said that it remained uncertain how long it would take for the company to return to something like normal, adding “it appears large-scale events – the core of our business – will be the last to re-open”. [READ MORE]

Twitch said that it had recently received an “influx” of takedown requests from the music industry, which is why a number of prolific users of the live-streaming platform are now dealing with numerous copyright complaints over archive content. The rise of live-streaming during the COVID-19 shutdown has put the spotlight on which platforms have licences for music contained in content that is streamed and uploaded by their users. Where platforms are not licensed, streamers technically need to secure licences themselves. Amazon-owned Twitch needs to respond to any requests by music companies to remove videos containing unlicensed music to avoid being held liable itself for copyright infringement. [READ MORE]

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