Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 16.10.22: TikTok, BMI, IMPALA, Animal Collective, Afrochella

By | Published on Sunday 16 October 2022


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

It was reported that plans by Bytedance to expand its music service Resso into new markets still face “significant hurdles”. There has been much chatter about the TikTok owner’s ambitions to take its music service global and to more closely integrate Resso with TikTok itself, so that when tracks go viral on the latter people go and listen to them on the former. The Wall Street Journal confirmed that Bytedance is in talks with the music companies about that expansion, but that there remain a number of sticking points. TikTok is clearly now an incredibly important marketing platform for the music companies and Bytedance will be trying to exploit that to get a better deal around Resso. However, the music industry already reckons TikTok should be paying more under its licensing deals and will be hoping that the Resso negotiations can be used to get that revenue stream up too. [READ MORE]

US collecting society BMI announced plans to shift to a for-profit business model. BMI – like most of the music industry’s collecting societies – is currently a not-for profit organisation. Although, whereas most societies are owned by their members – which might be artists, songwriters, record labels and/or music publishers – BMI is actually owned by a group of broadcasters, because it was originally set up in the 1930s by the radio industry as a rival to the other big US song rights society ASCAP. Those owners recently considered selling the organisation, but that’s not happening. However, BMI’s board reckons that if it shifts to a for-profit model it will be able to bring in investment from third parties to help fund growth and development, including the development of its technological infrastructure. [READ MORE]

IMPALA reaffirmed its opposition to the performer equitable remuneration principle being extended to streaming. The pan-European trade group for the independent music community published a new statement about the ongoing economics of streaming debates following a recent review of its digital strategy at the Reeperbahn festival. Among other things, it urged those EU member states yet to implement the 2019 European Copyright Directive, and the reforms it makes to the copyright safe harbour, to hurry up and do so. It also called on European governments to provide more financial support and tax breaks to the record industry. As for the debate within the music community around artist remuneration, IMPALA again urged labels to pay “fair contemporary digital royalties” to all artists, but said that an ER system whereby artists automatically get a cut of the digital pie via the collective licensing system is “simply not equitable”. [READ MORE]

Animal Collective announced they were cancelling their upcoming European tour because they were looking at “an economic reality that simply does not work and is not sustainable”. The American band added that: “From inflation, to currency devaluation, to bloated shipping and transportation costs, and much much more, we simply could not make a budget for this tour that did not lose money even if everything went as well as it could”. They are not the first band to talk about the economic challenges of touring at the moment. Those current challenges are partly a hangover from the COVID lockdowns, partly the result of the wider economic issues that are occuring at the moment, and partly because lower and middle-level touring has always operated with pretty tight profit margins, meaning that when costs go up across the board but ticket prices can’t be increased accordingly, shows can quickly become loss-making. [READ MORE]

Coachella owner Golden Voice sued the owners of the Ghana-based Afrochella festival. It’s the latest in a number of lawsuits pursued by Golden Voice against other events that use the ‘chella’ brand in their name. It’s interesting that Golden Voice has gone legal against a festival that is based on an entirely different continent, although Afrochella’s organisers have seemingly been staging events in California under that name too. Meanwhile, in Ghana, they have allegedly sought to trademark not only the Afrochella brand, but also the Chella and Coachella brands. As a result, Golden Voice has filed lawsuits in both the US and Ghana. [READ MORE]

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