Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 16.04.23: Fix The Mix, Brixton Academy, AI, Ditto Music, Megan Thee Stallion

By | Published on Sunday 16 April 2023

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

A new report confirmed that female and non-binary producers, sound engineers and other studio personnel are still “vastly underrepresented” on the biggest music releases. The Fix The Music Annual Report – put together by the US-based organisation We Are Moving The Needle with support from two academic partners and utilising data provided by Jaxsta – reviewed the studio teams behind the most played music on five major streaming services last year. Across the board the number of female and non-binary producers and engineers involved is very low, although it differs from genre to genre. On the most played metal releases there were no female or non-binary people credited in key technical roles, whereas with dance they accounted for 17.6% of said roles. The report also noted “women and non-binary individuals are more highly concentrated within assistant roles than in key technical roles”, which might suggest that a more diverse mix of people is now entering the sector, although that trend is probably also “indicative of a glass ceiling preventing this demographic from an upward trajectory”. [READ MORE]

Lambeth Council confirmed it is undertaking a health and safety investigation into the fatal crowd crush that occurred at Brixton Academy last year. The London venue has been closed ever since two people died as a result of a crowd crush during a sold-old Asake show. The local authority that licenses the Brixton Academy has appointed the former CEO of Wandsworth Borough Council to lead its investigation, and he has “been working closely with the Metropolitan Police on this important work since the start of the year”. The council also said it is “reviewing licensable activities at the venue” in light of last December’s incident. Council boss Bayo Dosunmu said that, while he knew the ongoing closure of the venue was being “felt keenly by many people in Brixton and further afield”, nevertheless “we are acutely aware of our fundamental health and safety responsibility, and that this consideration overrides all others”. [READ MORE]

It emerged that Universal Music has written to the streaming services expressing concerns that generative AI makers might be scraping music on their platforms. Interest in and concern about AI tools that create music has spiked in recent months of course. One concern is that some companies are training their AI technologies by crunching data associated with existing songs and recordings without getting permission from whoever owns the copyright in those existing works. And they might be doing that by scraping the music and data on the streaming services. Universal urged said services to ensure they are blocking any such activity, adding: “We will not hesitate to take steps to protect our rights and those of our artists”. The FT first reported on that letter shortly after another stack of music industry organisations, including many from Europe, formally backed the recently launched Human Artistry Campaign, which is putting the spotlight on the copyright and transparency issues around generative AI. [READ MORE]

Ditto Music settled its lawsuit with Lil Yachty over the launch communications around music NFT start-up Opulous. The rapper objected to Opulous suggesting he was working with the new venture. He and his manager had met with the Opulous team – including Ditto and Opulous co-founder Lee Parsons – but said they never agreed to get involved. For its part, Opulous said it had got the required permissions to name-check Lil Yachty. Ditto was sued – as was Parsons personally – because they both shared the Opulous launch communications on their respective social media. The lawsuit was filed in California and both tried to have the case dismissed on jurisdiction grounds – with Ditto being a UK company and Parsons a British citizen – but that failed. Which meant the case proceeded. However, a new legal filing this week said that a settlement deal had been reached, though details of said settlement were not revealed. [READ MORE]

Megan Thee Stallion accused her label 1501 Certified Entertainment of basically squandering its funds to make itself “judgement-proof” in an ongoing legal battle. The core dispute between the rapper, real name Megan Pete, and 1501 is whether she has delivered the three albums she is obliged to provide the label via her record contract. That depends on whether you count 2021’s ‘Something For Thee Hotties’ – a collection of freestyles and rarities – as a proper album release. 1501 does not. The rapper also claims she is owed outstanding royalties, while 1501 reckons it is the one owed cash, because it is also due a cut of some of Pete’s other revenue streams under its deal with her. In a new legal filing, Pete’s lawyers claimed that “1501 has chosen to enrich itself and its consultants, leaving less than ten thousand dollars in the account”, so that if it loses in court it won’t have the money to pay any royalties or damages the rapper may be due. Those latest claims, 1501 insisted, are “without merit”. [READ MORE]

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