CMU Digest

CMU Digest 25.05.30: ERA, Copyright Office, Spotify, Q magazine, 6ix9ine

By | Published on Monday 25 May 2020

Entertainment Retailers Association

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

The boss of the UK’s Entertainment Retailers Association joined the discussion over streaming royalties. The digital pie debate has erupted again in recent weeks as many artists have seen their key revenue generators – eg touring, studio work, teaching – stop overnight as a result of COVID-19. Those artists reckon they do not get a fair share of the one revenue stream that has been resistant to shutdown, ie streaming. The debate is complex because of the way streaming works, but on social media and in the mainstream press it often ends up as Spotify-bashing. Hence why ERA’s Kim Bayley stepped in to defend the streaming services, arguing that the real issue is how the 70% of streaming revenues paid to the music industry get shared out. The industry should sort that out, she said, while remembering “you don’t mend a #BrokenRecord by smashing the record player”. [READ MORE]

The US Copyright Office finally published its long-awaited report on the copyright safe harbour, based on research that began back at the end of 2015. It noted that the safe harbour in America’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act aimed to balance the interests of technology companies and copyright owners, concluding that that balance had been “tilted askew” against the interests of rights owners. That said, the Office isn’t proposed a radical overhaul of the safe harbour, but suggested various ways US Congress might want to clarify or fine-tune the concept, which reduces the copyright liabilities of internet firms. The music industry welcomed the report and said it proved Congress now needed to reform the safe harbour. [READ MORE]

Spotify countersued an American indie label which it previously kicked off its platform. That label – Sosa Entertainment – sued Spotify last year accusing it of “unfair and deceptive practices”. In its countersuit, Spotify accused Sosa’s owner Jake Noch of being a “fraudster”, claiming that it removed his recordings from its service because of evidence he had been fraudulently boosting the number of plays of his own tracks. For his part, Noch called Spotify’s allegations “laughable and blatantly false” and said that he looked forward to his day in court. [READ MORE]

Bauer Media confirmed that two of its music magazines were among ten titles that could be closed as part of a review of its publishing portfolio. Both Q and Planet Rock magazine could be closed, sold or merged as part of the review. The media firm said that COVID-19 has made the already challenging business of magazine publishing even more challenging. Both print and online media face those challenges, of course. New figures from the UK’s Association Of Online Publishers this week showed that its members’ online advertising income was down in the last quarter of 2019, ie even before COVID-19 struck. An analyst from Deloitte who works with the AOP on its stats also told the Press Gazette that subscriptions were likely to become more important for online media in the year ahead. [READ MORE]

Billboard’s chart rules were back in the spotlight as rapper 6ix9ine lashed out after his new single didn’t get to the top of the Hot 100 singles chart. He basically accused Billboard and the management team of Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber of employing dodgy tactics to get that duo’s new charity single to number one. Billboard, Grande and Bieber all hit back, pointing out that 6ix9ine’s impressive streaming stats were global, not just in the US, so didn’t assure him the number one position in the Hot 100. It also emerged that Grande and Bieber had done a sneaky last minute CD single sale on both stars’ websites that helped them to the top of the chart, but that online promotion was within current Billboard chart rules. [READ MORE]

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