CMU Digest

CMU Digest 21.12.20: Tencent, Twitter, platform responsibility, Lil Wayne, Spotify

By | Published on Monday 21 December 2020


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

Vivendi confirmed that Tencent was acquiring another 10% of Universal Music. A consortium led by the Chinese web giant bought 10% of Vivendi’s music business at the end of 2019 with the option to subsequently acquire another 10% at the same price. That option expires next month and Vivendi has confirmed the coalition is taking it up, meaning Tencent and its partners will own 20% of the Universal Music Group. Vivendi still intends to sell further equity it is music company via an Initial Public Offering by the end of 2022, using profits to pay off debt and fund acquisitions. [READ MORE]

The CEO of the Recording Industry Association Of America hit out at Twitter for not doing enough about unlicensed music on its platform. RIAA boss Mitch Glazier was talking at a US Senate hearing focused on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the copyright safe harbour, and the quality of the takedown systems employed by different safe harbour dwelling websites. Arguing that such sites should operate a takedown-and-stay-down system, Glazier explained his organisation had had to send nearly 9000 takedown notices to Twitter relating to the same track because every time it was taken down it was immediately re-uploaded. [READ MORE]

The music industry welcomed proposals in the EU and UK to expand the responsibilities of internet platforms regarding illegal content on their networks, but said more needed to be done to make those proposals truly effective. Those plans are currently focused on extremist, violent and abusive content, and misinformation and disinformation, but the music industry hopes any new platform responsibility rules will also include further measures to crack down on copyright infringing content. The EU proposals also include new regulations to stop major US internet companies from unfairly exploiting their market dominance. [READ MORE]

Lil Wayne’s former manager and legal advisor sued the rapper for at least $20 million. Ron Sweeney says he played an extensive role supporting Wayne and his childhood friends Cortez Bryant and Mack Maine, who respectively worked as the rapper’s day-to-day manager and President of his Young Money label. That included coordinating Wayne’s long-running and successful legal battle with his label and Young Money business partner Cash Money. But he was ultimately sacked by Wayne, allegedly as a result of the interference of Bryant and Maine. Sweeney is suing for commissions, his cut of the Cash Money legal settlement money, and a cut of the $100 million Universal allegedly paid to acquire the Young Money masters. [READ MORE]

Spotify launched a new Songwriter Hub. It’s a page within the Spotify platform that brings together songwriter centric playlists and podcasts, and is another move to allow and encourage users to navigate the vast Spotify catalogue by songwriter. It’s also part of efforts to placate a songwriter community that has often been critical of the streaming firm and the royalties it pays, especially in the US where the dispute over the royalty rates paid under a compulsory licence continues. Spotify is one of the services appealing a decision by the Copyright Royalty Board to increase that rate, much to the annoyance of songwriters and publishers. [READ MORE]

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