CMU Digest

CMU Digest 20.09.21: RIAA stats, Apple, COVID Passports, Little Mix, StubHub

By | Published on Monday 20 September 2021


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

The US record industry saw 27% growth in the first half of 2021, the Recording Industry Association Of America confirmed. That growth – which is in retail value, wholesale revenues were up 25% – was mainly powered by the ongoing streaming boom. Social media, video-sharing and fitness apps all contributed to 26% growth in streaming income for the US recorded music sector, although premium services still generate 78% of streaming monies. Physical sales were also up – vinyl in particular, jumping 94% year on year – although that was partly due to the negative impact the COVID shutdown had on the sale of CD and vinyl in the same period in 2020. [READ MORE]

A US judge said that Apple must allow all app makers to include links to alternative payment options within their iOS apps. The ruling came in the legal battle between the tech giant and Fortnite maker Epic Games. The wider judgement favoured Apple, but the ruling on alternative payment links was a win for Epic and other app makers like Spotify, who have long criticised the App Store rules which say that all in-app payments must be made via Apple’s commission charging transactions platform, and that alternatives cannot be sign-posted. That said, Apple had already announced a rule change regarding alternative payment links for so called ‘reader apps’ like Spotify, and – anyway – Epic, Spotify and others really want a much bigger rule change, allowing them to take in-app payments via their own transaction platforms. So the app maker v App Store dispute continues. [READ MORE]

The UK government confirmed that clubs in England will not be forced to check COVID Passports on the door, though such a requirement is still part of a ‘plan B’ that might be employed this coming autumn or winter if there is another spike in serious COVID cases. Since COVID rules relaxed in July – allowing clubs to reopen and full capacity gigs to return – it has been up to each venue and promoter to decide whether to check a customer’s vaccination or COVID status. But such checks were due to become mandatory for night clubs and some other venues in October. That will still happen in Scotland, but not England. Reps for the night-time sector welcomed the decision not to introduce a COVID Passport requirement south of the border, but said keeping it as part of plan B measures meant there was still too much uncertainty for the clubbing industry. [READ MORE]

A UK court ruled that a Little Mix promoter discriminated against three deaf ticket-buyers for failing to provide them with a British Sign Language interpreter for all aspects of one of the group’s shows in 2017. The three deaf women all attended a Little Mix concert in Sussex, each accompanying their children. After the threat of legal action, promoter LHG Live agreed to provide a BSL interpreter, but only for the headline set, not the support acts. Further litigation was then filed after the show, arguing that LHG Live had failed to fulfil its obligations under the 2010 UK Equality Act. A judge has now agreed with that argument, adding that “the fact that [LHG] appeared to have given no thought whatsoever to the possibility of deaf people attending one of their concerts” was concerning. [READ MORE]

StubHub confirmed a series of legal settlements with Attorneys General in the US over its refunds policy during the COVID shutdown. The secondary ticketing website changed its policies once show cancellations and postponements started to spike in spring 2020 as the COVID pandemic escalated. Despite previously promoting its guarantee to refund all monies on any cancelled shows, the new rules meant that – unless local laws obliged a cash refund – StubHub would instead provide a voucher worth 120% of the original ticket price. Attorneys General in multiple US states investigated that policy change and various claims by ticket-buyers that it violated consumer rights laws. StubHub last week said that, as of May this year, it had started offering cash refunds again to anyone who bought tickets for cancelled shows prior to the policy change in 2020, and a series of agreements with Attorneys General have now made that commitment official. [READ MORE]

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