Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 22.01.23: Brixton Academy, Amazon, BBC Introducing, Apple, PRS Foundation

By | Published on Sunday 22 January 2023

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

The Brixton Academy had its licence suspended for another three months following the fatal crowd crush at an Asake concert last month. The London venue had already announced it would not re-open until at least mid-April even before Lambeth Council confirmed that the licence suspension – first put in place shortly after the crowd crush incident – was being extended. Police are still investigating what led to the incident which resulted in two deaths and many more injuries. A BBC report this week claimed that the Asake show was under-staffed and that some security people at the venue were known to be involved in the sale of fake tickets – in doing so allowing potentially hundreds of extra people into the building – both of which possibly contributed to the tragedy. [READ MORE]

Amazon announced it was increasing the price of its Music Unlimited service in the US and the UK. In doing so, Amazon is following Apple’s lead, so that 9.99 subscriptions will become 10.99. The music industry has been calling for some time for the baseline price of streaming subscriptions to be increased, the 9.99 price point having been standard since Spotify type services first launched in the 2000s. Because of inflation that means the baseline price of streaming has been going down each year, reducing the total revenues in which the music industry shares. Some services, including Amazon, have previously increased the pricing on some bundled and discounted subscription packages, but the increase in the baseline price is significant. Spotify is expected to follow. [READ MORE]

Music industry groups wrote to the BBC board to express concern about changes being made to the BBC Music Introducing new talent initiative. Those changes are being caused by cutbacks across the BBC’s network of local radio stations, which will see local stations in the same region share programmes for chunks of each day. BBC Introducing is built on 32 local shows that air on that network. The people behind each of those programmes have strong connections with their respective local music communities, including local artists and venues. It’s feared if the total number of Introducing shows is reduced those connections will be lost, hindering the wider scheme. BBC bosses also amended their local radio cutback plans slightly this week, though those tweaks are unlikely to allay concerns in the music community about the future of BBC Introducing. [READ MORE]

Spotify and Deezer both signed an open letter calling on the European Commission to urgently end the “abusive behaviours” of Apple. The music services and other app-makers object to Apple’s App Store rules, especially those in relation to in-app transactions. They argue those rules are anti-competitive. Spotify previously instigated a competition investigation into those rules within the European Union, with EU investigators raising various concerns about Apple’s policies in May 2021. Meanwhile the new EU Digital Markets Act will arguably require Apple to change some of its practices. In the letter to the European Commission, Spotify et al urged the EU to urgently complete its investigation and to ensure Apple is forced to comply with the DMA swiftly. “The time has come for urgent action from the EU to end Apple’s abusive behaviours”, they concluded. [READ MORE]

UK collecting society PRS announced a new agreement with the PRS Foundation that will safeguard the talent development charity’s core funding. Last year PRS said that it would have to cut the funding it provides to the charity it set up in 2000 from the current £2.5 million a year to £1 million a year. That was because the funding comes from interest earned by PRS on royalties awaiting distribution, and low interest rates coupled with faster royalty distribution meant there was less money available. However, with interest rates rising again and a new model agreed around the Foundation’s funding, PRS will now be able to continue supporting the charity at the current level or higher. [READ MORE]

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