CMU Digest

CMU Digest 24.05.21: AWAL, Triller, Events Research Programme, Vivendi, HD streams

By | Published on Monday 24 May 2021


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

The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority announced that it is investigating Sony Music’s acquisition of Kobalt’s neighbouring rights agency and AWAL label services business. The investigation was launched as the major announced it had now completed that acquisition. The deal further expands Sony’s distribution and label services operations, it already being a significant player in that market via its The Orchard division. The indie sector welcomed the news that the competition regulator would be investigating whether the deal poses any competition law concerns. [READ MORE]

Universal Music confirmed it had a agreed a new licensing deal with Triller. Earlier this year the major announced it was bailing on the video sharing app because “we will not work with platforms that do not value artists”. At the time Triller expressed surprise at Universal’s announcement, saying that while its initial deal with the music firm had expired, negotiations for a new deal were ongoing. It then added that those efforts to renew its deal were “just a formality and a courtesy” anyway and that, actually, it had “no use for a licensing deal with UMG”. But seemingly it did, in fact, have use for such a deal, stating last week that it now had renewed its agreement with the Universal record company and had also entered into a licensing arrangement with the Universal music publisher. [READ MORE]

It was reported that initial findings from the UK government’s Events Research Programme have increased optimism that full capacity live shows can return in England on 21 Jun. Researchers have been investigating how to ensure fuller capacity shows can return safely as COVID restrictions lift. According to The Times, that work has shown that attending a full capacity entertainment event puts people at no more risk of contracting COVID than going to a restaurant or shopping centre. That said, event organisers may have to implement some extra safety measures when fuller capacity shows return, at least while the vaccine roll out continues. [READ MORE]

Universal Music owner Vivendi said it might sell a further 10% of of the music company before listing it on the Dutch stock exchange. The French conglom will spin-off UMG as a standalone business later this year, with 60% of the major’s shares then being distributed to Vivendi’s current shareholders. 20% of the music firm is already owned by a consortium led by Chinese web giant Tencent. It was thought that Vivendi would retain ownership of the other 20%. However, the company has now said that – while it will definitely retain 10% of Universal – it might sell the other 10% to a US investor ahead of the stock market listing. If that deal doesn’t go through, it might instead sell that 10% on the stock market. [READ MORE]

Apple and Amazon both announced they would be making higher quality audio streams available at no extra cost. Apple Music will be offering a lossless audio option to its users for the first time from next month. To date higher quality audio has been seen as a premium product by streaming services, which have charged a higher subscription fee to those users who choose to access it. However, Apple will not be charging extra. Amazon, which has offered higher quality audio via its music service since 2019 but at a five pound mark up, quickly announced that it would now offer HD to all its music subscribers at no extra cost. Some in the industry criticised the move, arguing that charging a premium for better audio was a simple way to grow the digital pie that is shared out across the music community. [READ MORE]

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