Business News Week In Five

CMU Digest – 19 Jul 2013

By | Published on Friday 19 July 2013


The five biggest stories in the music business this week…

01: There was an awful lot of Spotify chatter. Which made a nice change from all the Pandora-dissing. It was all kicked off, of course, by Radiohead and Atoms For Peace collaborators Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich who announced that they were pulling content by their respective side-projects (ie non-Radiohead catalogue) off streaming services in protest at the tiny royalties they pay out to new artists (particularly focusing on Spotify).

Streaming music platforms had been set up to mainly benefit the big rights owners, they argued. Cue everyone on the internet having an opinion about the state, growth, future and ethics of the streaming music market. Even after CMU Editor Andy Malt had clearly said all that needed to be said on the matter. Radiohead manager and Spotify fan Brian Message basically told the BBC that he and his most famous client might just have to agree to disagree on the matter. CMU reportCMU Editor’s Letter

02: There were settlements in the digital royalties dispute domain. Both actually happened last week, but emerged in the last seven days. American rocker Eddie Money and Doobie Brother Michael McDonald had both sued their former labels – Sony and Warner respectively – for a bigger cut of digital royalties, part of an industry-wide debate on whether heritage artists should be paid a lower ‘record sale’ royalty or higher ‘licensing/other revenue’ royalty on download sales, when their record contracts make no specific references to digital. A stack of artists are suing on the issue after Eminem collaborators FBT Productions won a bigger cut from Universal Music. The majors do seem keen to keep this debate out of the courts, and both Money and McDonald settled their respective lawsuits in the last fortnight. Michael McDonald reportEddie Money report

03: Several US web giants made commitments regards advertising on piracy sites. AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo and Google all signed up to a voluntary initiative to try to stop piracy websites from profiting from ads sold by the web firms’ respective ad networks. The presence of advertising managed by the big ad networks on piracy sites has been a top gripe of the content industries in recent months. The US government welcomed the web company’s new commitments in this domain, while the record industry said they were pleased with the development but would wait to see what results it delivered. The movie industry meanwhile moaned that the initiative still relied on the copyright owners spotting the ad-carrying piracy sites in the first place. CMU reportThe Inquirer report

04: A Rolling Stone cover caused controversy. The music magazine put a photo of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover with the headline “The Bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster”. The mayor of Boston called the move “at best ill-conceived”, while others said the magazine was exploiting a tragedy to sell more copies. The music title’s editors said they thought the article “falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage”.  CMU reportGuardian report

05: A privacy group hit out at Jay-Z’s Samsung app. It followed criticism by some fans that the app, which gave Samsung phone owners free access to the rapper’s new album ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’, asked for too much personal information. The Electronic Privacy Information Center asked the FTC to investigate, saying the app “deprived users of meaningful choice regarding the collection of their data, interfered with device functionality, and failed to implement reasonable data minimisation procedures”. Samsung denied any wrongdoing. Meanwhile, Jay-Z (or Jay Z now, apparently, according to Billboard editor Joe Levy), topped the Billboard albums chart and scored the highest number of Spotify streams in a week, despite giving his new record away to a million data-sharing Samsung customers. CMU reportBBC report

On the CMU this week, we chatted to Live Nation COO Paul Latham about the recently launched UK Music Skills Academy, and to the main man Avicii. As I said, CMU Editor Andy Malt pondered on the Spotify debate, while Team CMU got about with approving in a groovy fashion Paula, Oh Land, Mazzy Star and Emilie Nicolas. And at CMU HQ, the air conditioning unit struggled to keep up.

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