CMU Digest

CMU Digest 20.12.21: COVID-19, Four Tet, Midem, Music Climate Pact, 300, Bruce Springsteen

By | Published on Monday 20 December 2021


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

The live and night-time sectors called for new financial support from government after the UK went into a pseudo-lockdown. Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson insisted that, despite introducing so called Plan B measures – including forcing clubs and some other venues to check COVID Passports – he wasn’t putting England back into full lockdown to fight the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus. However, both he and officials then issued various statements basically urging people to think very carefully before socialising in the run up to Christmas. Reps for the live and night-time sectors called this a quasi or pseudo-lockdown – clubs, venues, bars and restaurants are allowed to stay open, but people are being told to stay home. As a result, they added, new financial support measures are urgently required. Chancellor Of The Exchequer Rishi Sunak was in California as all this unfolded, though at the end of the week he insisted the government would continue to support negatively impacted sectors. That said, no specifics about what kind of support might be forthcoming were provided. [READ MORE]

The owner of Midem said it would no longer run the music business conference. The event had been a fixture of the music industry calendar for decades and, although attendance had slumped in the 2000s – as the record industry itself went into steep decline – in more recent years delegate numbers had been more stable. However, for the last two years the pandemic forced the event entirely online. An in-person edition was planned for 2022, but that will no longer happen, with owner RX France saying that “due to the lasting pandemic and following a review of its activity” it had “decided to no longer continue to organise the Midem event”. Talks are underway with host city Cannes about it taking over the event in some way, but it remains to be seen if the conference can be rescued in that way. [READ MORE]

Four Tet was given permission to amend his lawsuit against Domino to include new complaints in relation to the label removing his albums from streaming services. The musician is suing Domino over the royalty rate it pays on streams, which he argues should be 50% under his 2001 record deal, but which the label insists is 18%. As the dispute rumbled on, Domino removed his albums from digital platforms last month. It then sought summary judgement in its favour, saying that – although it still disputes Four Tet’s interpretation of his 2001 deal – it had offered to pay him what he would have been due at the higher royalty rate. With the disputed albums no longer streaming, that would mean there was no ongoing dispute for the court to consider. But Four Tet and his legal team now argue that the removal of the albums actually creates two new disputes: another breach of contact claim and a restraint of trade claim. After a hearing last week, the judge said that the musician could resubmit his lawsuit, but only to include the additional breach of contract allegation. [READ MORE]

All three majors and a number of indie record companies signed up to the Music Climate Pact. Initiated by the UK’s Association Of Independent Music in partnership with UK record labels association the BPI, the Pact seeks to align efforts already being made by music companies to reduce the environmental impact of the industry. Aiming to be collaborative among companies that are often seen as rivals, it provides shared goals and targets. Participating companies will work directly with climate experts to set targets on which they will report regularly. Members have also committed to sharing data, insights and resources with each other, as well as to provide support for artists to engage with and speak up about climate issues. [READ MORE]

The music industry wrapped up the year with two big deals being announced: Warner Music bought 300 for $400 million and Sony Music acquired the Bruce Springsteen catalogue for at least $500 million. The former deal brings the music company founded by former Warner execs Lyor Cohen and Kevin Liles in 2013 – which has had a long-term distribution partnership with the major – fully into the Warner empire. Liles will also become Chair and CEO of both 300 and the major’s Elektra Music Group division. Springsteen is the latest heritage artist to do a wide-ranging mega-bucks deal around his catalogue, selling both his recordings and songs catalogues to Sony, his career-long record label. At more than $500 million, it’s the biggest such deal to date. [300 DEAL] [SPRINGSTEEN DEAL]

READ MORE ABOUT: | | | | | | | |