CMU Digest

CMU Digest 22.06.20: Apple, Live Nation, COVID-19, EMI Records, The Carters

By | Published on Monday 22 June 2020


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

Spotify welcomed the news that the European Commission is formally investigating Apple’s app-store rules. It argues that Apple acts in an anti-competitive way by forcing app makers to take in-app subscriptions via its transactions platform, charging a 15-30% commission, and by then also banning said app-makers from sign-posting other ways to subscribe that avoid the commission. The rules make it harder for Spotify to compete on the iOS platform with Apple’s own music service. Spotify said that the EC launching an investigation into those rules was “a good day for consumers”. Apple responded that EU officials were “advancing baseless complaints from a handful of companies who simply want a free ride”. [READ MORE]

A Live Nation memo circulated outlining changes the live music giant wants to make to artist contracts post the COVID shutdown. Following weeks of talks between promoters and agents, that memo – mainly focused on festivals – demonstrates how Live Nation will seek to reduce the fees paid to and increase the liabilities incurred by artists once the live industry starts to return to normal. In particular, if a second spike in COVID cases or a return of more extreme physical distancing rules results in more shows being cancelled, artists will not be paid their guarantees or fees. Artists will also have to pay the promoter double their fee if they cancel a show and will be told to get their own cancellation insurance. Although possibly targeted more at premiere league artists, concerns were expressed regarding how the new terms could negatively impact those lower down the artist hierarchy who have already been hit hard by the shutdown. [READ MORE]

There was increasing calls for the UK government to introduce sector-specific COVID-19 support schemes for the music and wider creative industries. The National Outdoor Events Association – which includes promoters of and suppliers to music festivals among its membership – said that its industry was “on the brink of permanent demise” as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. The Creative Industries Federation predicted a “cultural catastrophe” unless government stepped in with specific financial support for the various creative sectors, especially those built around live performance. And the Music Venue Trust said £50 million was needed to ensure the UK’s grassroots music venue network could survive to the end of September, when it’s hoped some level of gigs can return. [READ MORE]

Universal Music announced it was relaunching EMI Records as a standalone UK label. Despite a much hyped announcement, actually the mega-major is simply rebranding its existing Virgin EMI division, with that unit to be known as EMI Records, but with Virgin Records remaining as an imprint. Universal acquired both the EMI and Virgin label brands when it bought most of the old EMI recorded music business in 2012. The announcement followed the news that Ted Cockle was standing down as President of Virgin EMI. The revamped EMI Records will be headed up by current Decca Records boss Rebecca Allen. [READ MORE]

Beyonce and Jay-Z were accused of using the spoken word element of their 2018 collaborative track ‘Black Effect’ without permission. The voice heard at the start of that record is that of Dr Lenora Stines, a choreographer who helped the musicians recruit dancers when they filmed a promotional video for their album ‘Everything Is Love’. Stines says that she didn’t even know her comments about what the word ‘love’ meant to her were being recorded, let alone that that recording would form part of a track. And while she did sign a contract with the duo, she says that she didn’t know what was in that contract, that she was assured it simply related to her possible appearance in the promo video, and that the musicians’ reps denied her request to have a lawyer review the document before signing it. [READ MORE]

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