CMU Digest

CMU Digest 21.07.17: Viagogo, 1972, BBC, Spotify, Believe, Songkick

By | Published on Friday 21 July 2017


The key stories from the last seven days in the music business…

More pressure piled onto the most controversial of the secondary ticketing sites, Viagogo. It came as Ed Sheeran’s promoters confirmed they had cancelled 10,000 tickets bought for his 2018 UK stadium shows which they believed had been purchased by touts. Sheeran’s team have been working particularly hard to try and stop tickets to his shows being touted – work that has been called “a step-change” by National Trading Standards. Recognising that, secondary sites StubHub, Seatwave and Get Me In all agreed to block the resale of Sheeran tickets on their platforms, but Viagogo did not. Meanwhile two British MPs were confronted by security when they showed up at the new London offices of Viagogo to ask why the company refused to attend a parliamentary select committee session on touting earlier this year, and it emerged the Irish advertising regulator was investigating the company’s use of the word ‘official’ in its Google ads. [READ MORE]

The music industry welcomed proposed legislation in US Congress to tackle the 1972 quirk in American copyright law. US-wide federal copyright law only protects sound recordings released since 1972, the rest being protected by state-level copyright. That has been a particular issue when it comes to the royalties paid by online and satellite radio stations. Such services are obliged to pay artists and labels under federal law, so many webcasters have argued no royalties are due on recordings that pre-date 1972. The new bill proposed by Darrell Issa and Jerrold Nadler would ensure royalties were paid on all recordings still in copyright. [READ MORE]

The BBC revealed what it paid to on-air talent who are on salaries over £150,000.The highest paid star was Radio 2 breakfast show host Chris Evans who gets more than £2.2 million a year. The Beeb didn’t want to reveal this information but was forced to by the UK government. The figures don’t include fees paid to stars by independent producers or the BBC’s own commercial division BBC Worldwide. The disclosure revealed that male stars at the BBC generally get paid more than female stars, instigating further debate about the gender pay gap. [READ MORE]

Two new lawsuits were filed against Spotify over the mechanicals issue. Many streaming services in the US have failed to pay all the mechanical royalties due on the songs they have streamed, mainly because of the lack of a mechanical rights collecting society Stateside and the fact there is no central database of music rights information. But under US copyright law it is the streaming service’s obligation to work out who to pay whenever a song is streamed. A previous class action on this issue was settled, and the National Music Publishers Association also reached a deal with Spotify over unpaid mechanicals. But lawyers for Bluewater Music Services and Bob Gaudio say the NMPA settlement was unsatisfactory and their clients are now suing for damages. [READ MORE]

The boss of distribution firm Believe played down reports that the company was about to be bought by Sony Music. The possible Sony acquisition was reported in Japanese business newspaper Nikkei, and seemed to be a sign the major was still keen to grow its music distribution and label services interests. But Believe boss Denis Ladegaillerie said that while his company was in talks with various potential new investors to fund the firm’s next phase of growth, any reports that “we have concluded a deal with Sony to sell Believe are absolutely not true”. [READ MORE]

Warner Music acquired the data and recommendations side of the Songkick business. The Songkick ticketing platform, which grew out of Crowdsurge, was not part of the deal. Warner owner Access Industries was already a backer of Songkick/Crowdsurge, so the deal wasn’t entirely surprising, though the fact it only bought the original Songkick recommendations platform was interesting. The ongoing legal battle with Live Nation, in which the live giant is accused of anti-competitive behaviour, will stay with the independent Songkick ticketing business. [READ MORE]

• The Cambridge and Newport folk festivals allied [INFO]
• BMG announced a partnership with Pro Tools [INFO]
• Chrysalis signed the Everything But The Girl catalogue [INFO]
• Sony/ATV signed Maluma [INFO]

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