Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 19.02.23: TikTok, DF Concerts, Viagogo, EU Copyright Directive, the 100% Venues campaign

By | Published on Sunday 19 February 2023

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

The Australian record industry hit out at TikTok’s recent decision to restrict access to some music to some users in the country. Those restrictions – which mean some users won’t get some tracks in the TikTok Sounds Library or in videos that previously utilised those tracks – are part of an experiment by the video sharing platform to test the role music plays in the wider TikTok experience. The music industry assumes that TikTok will use the results of that experiment to try to get a better deal in its ongoing licensing negotiations with the record companies. Although, the Australian Recording Industry Association said this week, no one will trust the conclusions of a TikTok controlled experiment about how music is used on TikTok. “It is frustrating to see TikTok deliberately disrupt Australians’ user and creator experience in an attempt to downplay the significance of music on its platform”, said ARIA boss Annabelle Herd. It should, she added, immediately “restore music access to all users and creators”. [READ MORE]

Scottish live music firm DF Concerts criticised proposals in Scotland to ban alcohol sponsorship. The ban is being considered as part a wider consultation on how alcohol brands advertise and market their products, with the Scottish government noting that “restricting alcohol marketing is identified as one of the World Health Organisation’s three ‘best buys’, the most cost-effective measures that WHO recommends to prevent and reduce alcohol-related harm”. DF – a Live Nation subsidiary – currently runs two festivals in Scotland, both of which have alcohol brands as partners. It also previously promoted the T In The Park event that was sponsored by Tennents lager. DF boss Geoff Ellis argued in a letter to the Scottish government that advertising and sponsorship are not the cause of public health problems related to alcohol, and that stopping live music firms from securing additional income through alcohol brand sponsorship would be “nothing short of disastrous for Scotland’s live music industry”. [READ MORE]

Viagogo was in court in New Zealand. The country’s Commerce Commission began legal proceedings against the secondary ticketing site back in 2018, claiming that it violates consumer rights laws in the way it promotes and sells tickets. Viagogo did ultimately make some voluntarily changes to its practices in New Zealand earlier on in its legal dispute with the regulator, after the Commission sought an injunction forcing those changes. But the legal action continued to go through the motions and has now reached court. A legal rep for the Commission said that Viagogo is primarily a platform used by commercial-level touts, some of whom use dubious tactics to source and sell tickets, and that both the touts and the platform fail to communicate the risks associated with buying touted tickets, that might be cancelled by a promoter. Viagogo’s lawyer denied that his client acts in an anti-consumer way, adding that while some touts may use dubious tactics to source tickets, anger over that should not be directed at the ticket resale platform. [READ MORE]

The European Commission referred six member states to the European Union courts for failing to implement the 2019 European Copyright Directive. That directive reformed European copyright law in numerous ways in a bid to make EU copyright systems work better with the digital economy. From a music perspective, it increased the liabilities of user-upload platforms that use music, and gave artists and songwriters new rights around transparency, contract adjustment and fair remuneration. The deadline for implementing the directive was June 2021, though only three EU countries met that deadline, partly because of the pandemic, and partly because of various complexities and controversies regarding the copyright reforms. However, all but Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Poland and Portugal have now amended their national copyright laws to comply with the directive. The EC is hoping legal pressure will speed up the process of implementation in those remaining six countries. [READ MORE]

The UK’s Musicians’ Union formally backed the 100% Venues campaign being run by the Featured Artists Coalition. That campaign is calling on all venues to allow artists to sell merchandise at their shows without having to pay any commission to the venue owner. With surging costs making the economics of touring tricky for many artists, merch income is increasingly vital to ensure shows and tours don’t make a loss. The MU’s Kelly Wood said: “To protect the viability of future tours and careers, we need consistent and fair terms for performers. Artists rely on a combination of income streams when on tour and any threats to these – such as unfair or unexpected commissions on merchandise – can have devastating effects”. Welcoming the number of venues already backing the 100% Venues initiative, she added: “We hope that this leads to more pressure for other venues to improve their terms and get behind the campaign”. [READ MORE]

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