CMU Digest

CMU Digest 18.03.19: Apple, Spotify, Nirvana, Kanye West, UK Music

By | Published on Monday 18 March 2019


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

Apple and Spotify went to war after the latter accused the former of anti-competitive behaviour. Spotify filed a formal complaint with the European Commission arguing that Apple exploits its operating system and App Store to give Apple Music an unfair advantage. The streaming firm’s top gripe was the so called Apple Tax, ie the 30% it must pay its rival on in-app purchases. For its part, Apple said Spotify just wanted all the benefits of its platform and devices but without paying its way. It also referenced Spotify’s dispute with songwriters and music publishers in the US, arguing that its competitor was trying to short change many of its key partners. [READ MORE]

A war of words ensued over Spotify’s decision to appeal the US Copyright Royalty Board’s mechanical royalties rate increase. The streaming firm published a blog post to artists saying that it didn’t object to the top line increase – so that song rights will be allocated a 15.1% revenue share – but said that it had an issue with the specific rights that higher royalty rate covered. The National Music Publishers Association said Spotify’s statement was full of misinformation and spin, while many US publishers urged songwriters to back NMPA’s PR offensive against the streaming company. [READ MORE]

A designer accused of ripping off Nirvana’s famous happy face image on a grunge celebrating fashion line launched last year denied he had infringed the band’s rights. The Marc Jacobs fashion business questioned whether the Nirvana company even owned the copyright in the Kurt Cobain created image that was a staple of the band’s merch in the early 1990s. It then argued that the image on its Redux Grunge collection was sufficiently different to the original so as to not constitute infringement. [READ MORE]

Sony/ATV’s EMI Music Publishing filed legal papers in its contract dispute with Kanye West. The rapper is trying to get out of his current publishing deal, in part by citing the seven year limit put on services contracts by Californian law. EMI argues that publishing deals are not services contracts so the seven year limit does not apply. But more importantly, its contract with West specifically states that it is governed by New York law, so West can’t sue in a Californian court or cite Californian law. [READ MORE]

UK Music said that the UK government had missed a great opportunity to help music venues by not updating its business relief scheme in last week’s spring statement from the Chancellor Of The Exchequer. The relief scheme seeks to help small businesses on the high street, but music venues are excluded. There is now cross-party support in Parliament for extending the scheme to venues, but Chancellor Philip Hammond made no commitment to do so in his latest budget statement. [READ MORE]

The big deals from the last seven days in the music business…
• JYP Entertainment signed a distribution deal with The Orchard [INFO]
• Publisher S2 signed a worldwide administration deal with Universal [INFO]
• 7digital signed a deal with Music Powered Games [INFO]
• Q announced a partnership with the All Points East festival [INFO]
• TaP allied with The Weird & The Wonderful on an electronic division [INFO]
• BMG signed Cage The Elephant [INFO]

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