Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 26.02.23: Live Nation, Hybe, Lil Peep, TikTok, Spotify

By | Published on Sunday 26 February 2023

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

Live Nation set out five ways it would support increased regulation of the American ticketing market. The live giant said it would support a Fair Ticketing Act amid increased interest among law-makers in Washington regarding ticketing in general and Live Nation’s Ticketmaster in particular. It was in part responding to a letter sent by Senators Amy Klobuchar and Mike Lee to the US Department Of Justice urging the government department to continue investigating Live Nation’s dominant position in the American live entertainment sector, and the relationship between Live Nation’s tours and venues and its ticketing business. Live Nation said it would support a law forcing ‘all-in pricing’, so that all ticketing platforms had to declare the full cost of a ticket, including all fees, upfront. The other new regulations it backs relate to secondary ticketing, which Ticketmaster is still directly involved in within the US, though it’s less core to the wider Live Nation business. Alongside all this, Live Nation boss Michael Rapino used an investor update to big up his company’s support of artists, declaring “we invested $9.6 billion in putting on artists’ shows in 2022”. [READ MORE]

K-pop powerhouse Hybe completed its purchase of a 14.8% stake in rival South Korean music firm SM Entertainment. The shares have been bought from SM founder Lee Soo-man, with Hybe now keen to increase its stake to 40%, giving it control of the rival entertainment business. Confirming the share purchase had been completed, Hybe CEO Park Ji-won insisted that an alliance between Hybe and SM was good for both companies and for the K-pop genre in general, as together they would be able to compete better globally, and “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the world’s major record labels”. Management at SM remain opposed to the partnership though, with the company’s CFO Jang Cheol Hyuk calling it a “hostile takeover” that will disadvantage SM-signed artists. Responding to that claim, Park insisted that “we respect SM’s artists as much as we do our artists at Hybe – leveraging the expertise we have accumulated, we will do our best to create a brighter future for all artists under SM”. [READ MORE]

It emerged that the mother of Lil Peep has settled the wrongful death lawsuit she filed in the US against First Access Entertainment. Liza Womack sued First Access in 2019 accusing the management firm and its associates of negligence and other breaches of contract that contributed to her son’s death in 2017, claiming that those helping to manage the rapper’s career and live activity “allowed, normalised, and even encouraged and promoted” drug taking on her son’s tours, despite being aware of his addiction issues. First Access strongly denied the allegations of misconduct while also arguing that the negligence and breach of contract claims failed as a matter of law. The case was due to arrive in court next month but has now been settled. Terms of the deal have not been made public, though it looks like Womack will get control of the music her son released in partnership with First Access, she having previously re-released material Lil Peep originally put out before signing with the management company. [READ MORE]

The European Commission banned its employees from using TikTok on their work devices. The ban is designed to “protect the Commission’s data and increase its cybersecurity”, an email to the European Union institution’s 32,000 staff stated. The move comes amid increased concern among politicians and law-makers in multiple countries about what access the Chinese government may have to TikTok user-data via the video sharing platform’s China-based owner Bytedance. In the US, there have been similar bans on government employees using TikTok on work devices at a federal and state level, plus politicians on both sides of the political spectrum have called for tighter regulation of the data gathered by TikTok, with senators Richard Blumenthal and Jerry Moran repeating those demands in a new letter this week. For its part, TikTok continues to deny there are any issues with data gathered by its app, adding that the ban implemented by the EC is “misguided and based on fundamental misconceptions”. [READ MORE]

Spotify unveiled a new AI DJ that will curate and comment on tracks for its premium users, initially in the US and Canada. The new service will use the Spotify algorithm to select music that it thinks each subscriber will want to hear. But, not only that, the AI DJ will also speak to the subscriber – much like a radio DJ – but with automated speech relevant to the user and the music selected for them. Spotify said it will use AI to “scale” the expertise of its editorial teams on all things music, while an AI voice system that came to the company via its acquisition of Sonantic “brings to life stunningly realistic voices from text”. The initial voice that users will hear is based on that of Spotify’s Head Of Cultural Partnerships Xavier ‘X’ Jernigan, previously heard hosting one of the streaming firm’s podcasts. [READ MORE]

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