Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 23.07.23: TikTok, NME, AI, UK Music, Utopia

By | Published on Sunday 23 July 2023


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

TikTok announced it had agreed a new licensing deal with Warner Music. There has been much talk about the social media firm’s negotiations regarding its next round of music licences, with many in the music industry believing that its past deals – which were mainly lump sum fee rather than revenue share arrangements – were not generating enough income for the music community. TikTok and Warner said the new deal was a “first-of-its-kind partnership” that will “create new revenue, marketing, and insights opportunities for [the major’s] artists and songwriters”. It also covers other platforms run by TikTok owner Bytedance, including the new TikTok Music service which recently launched in Brazil and Indonesia and also started piloting in Mexico, Australia and Singapore this week. [READ MORE]

NME announced it is relaunching its print edition. After NME went online only in 2018, the media brand was acquired by Bandlab. It then launched a monthly print edition in Australia in 2020. That ceased publishing at the start of this year because – it said at the time – there were “new developments ahead for our global print strategy”. This new print edition, which will come out six times a year, is the fulfilment of that strategy, it being a global publication. It will be distributed in partnership with Dawsons, the musical instrument retailer that was recently acquired by Vista Musical Instruments, another subsidiary of the Bandlab parent company. [READ MORE]

The music industry issued more statements about the regulation of artificial intelligence. A group of organisations representing songwriters, performers and their collecting societies set out seven principles to guide lawmakers as they consider how to regulate generative AI, calling for copyright to be respected and no new copyright exceptions that might cover the training of AI to be introduced. Another group of music industry organisations joined with trade bodies for the film, photography, newspaper, magazine and book sectors in making demands of the institutions of the European Union, which are currently finalising an EU AI Act. The various copyright sectors want to ensure that transparency obligations for AI companies that were proposed by the European Parliament make it into the final version of the new act. That includes transparency about what datasets were used to train any one AI model. That is important because those datasets may well include copyright protected works. [READ MORE]

A new UK Music report confirmed that music tourism surged back last year following the impact of the COVID pandemic in 2020 and 2021. According to the cross-sector trade group’s number crunching, about 13.3 million British people travelled to another part of the country to attend live music events in 2022, with an additional 1.1 million international visitors coming to the UK to attend a festival or show. This created an economic boom for many towns, cities and regions around the UK, with total music tourism spending across the year reaching £6.6 billion. To continue to grow that economic impact, more support is needed for the music sector – UK Music added – from both national and local government. For the latter, it also published a toolkit to help local authorities develop music strategies. [READ MORE]

The management team at label services business Absolute announced they had reacquired the business from Utopia. In a statement they said: “Absolute’s original shareholders – Henry Semmence, Simon Wills, Debs Cutting and Mark Dowling – have taken the decision to reacquire 100% of the company from Utopia Music”. Absolute was one of a series of high profile acquisitions undertaken by Utopia during a period of rapid growth in 2021 and early 2022. However, that growth ended later in 2022, after which downsizing began within the main Utopia business. Then earlier this year two of its past acquisitions were sold, with ROSTR going back to its founders and Sentric Music being acquired by Believe. Shortly after it was announced that Absolute had been reacquired by its original shareholders, Utopia told staff in an internal memo that it was closing research and development units in the UK and Finland, with all that work now being undertaken by its main R&D hub in Sweden. That move will result in further job losses. [READ MORE]

READ MORE ABOUT: | | | | | | |