CMU Digest

CMU Digest 18.05.20: Keep Music Alive, AIF, UK Music, Warner Music, Canadian web-blocks

By | Published on Monday 18 May 2020

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

The Musicians’ Union and Ivors Academy in the UK called on government to intervene in the digital pie debate. The two organisations said that the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted inequities in the music industry. As touring and teaching revenue streams dried up overnight, many artists and songwriters couldn’t rely on the one revenue stream that has been most resistant to the COVID-19 shutdown – ie streaming – because the labels keep the vast majority of that money. It’s time to ‘fix streaming’, the MU and Ivors say, and their Keep Music Alive campaign calls on government to undertake a review of how streaming monies are shared out. [READ MORE]

The Association Of Independent Festivals said that as many as 92% of its members could go out of business this year without “meaningful action” from the government. It said at least 90% of British music festivals would have to cancel this year as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown and, on average, those cancellations would cost each of its members about £375,000. For independent festival companies – operating on tight profit margins already and with only these cancelled events as revenue generators – that would be enough to make them go under. Meanwhile many such companies are falling between the cracks of existing government support schemes. AIF said its members need “urgent support now and ongoing support after lockdown ends and restrictions are eased”. [READ MORE]

Cross-sector trade group UK Music called on the British government to set up a specific taskforce to help the music business navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. It said that the government’s announcements on the easing of social distancing restrictions lacked the kind of clarity that was urgently needed by the music industry – especially the live sector and high street music retailers. The trade group said it was also concerned government support schemes could end before the music industry has recovered from shutdown. To that end it proposed a government taskforce that could specifically consider music industry challenges. [READ MORE]

Warner Music confirmed that it has received approval for its Initial Public Offering on the Nasdaq stock exchange in the US. The major announced plans for an IPO back in February, but those plans were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Current owners Access Industries are seeking to capitalise on renewed interest in music rights by selling a slice of its music company. Confirmation that the IPO was proceeding coincided with rumours that the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, known to be interested in buying into entertainment businesses, had expressed an interest in buying some or all of the Warner Music Group. [READ MORE]

The music industry requested the right to intervene in a Canadian court case that is testing whether web-blocking should be allowed in the country. The first use of the anti-piracy tactic in Canada occurred last year when a court issued an injunction ordering internet service providers to block piracy site Some ISPs – those that also operate cable TV networks – had actually requested the injunction, but another net firm, TekSavvy, is now appealing it. Global trade bodies for the record companies and music publishers have asked to be recognised as intervenors in the case so they too can present arguments in favour of web-blocking. [READ MORE]

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