CMU Digest

CMU Digest 26.10.20: COVID-19, Viagogo, Channel 4, Ed Sheeran, Culture Recovery Fund

By | Published on Monday 26 October 2020


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

The UK live music industry said nearly 170,000 jobs in the sector will be lost by the end of 2020 unless the government provides additional support. A new report from new live industry trade group LIVE reckoned that grants from the Culture Recovery Fund – which distributed some of the £1.57 billion in sector-specific COVID support for the cultural and heritage industries – saved about 10,000 jobs in live music. However, with COVID restrictions extending and the government’s general COVID support schemes reducing in value, challenges remain. The key problem is that many live businesses are technically allowed to operate under current rules, but – with social distancing requirements – realistically can’t do so in a commercially viable way. The industry wants government to recognise this and make top level COVID support available to all live music companies. [READ MORE]

The UK competition regulator said it still believed the merger of Viagogo and StubHub would result in a “substantial lessening of competition in the online secondary ticketing market”. That was the provisional finding of the Competition & Market Authority’s more in-depth phase two investigation into Viagogo’s purchase of its rival. The regulator proposed two remedies: either that Viagogo divest itself of StubHub entirely, or it put together a partial sale that would likely involve selling on aspects of the Viagogo business as well as aspects of the StubHub business. Viagogo and any other interested groups now have until 12 Nov to respond to the provisional findings. [READ MORE]

Channel 4 spoke out in support of the director of the documentary ‘Leaving Neverland’ as he faces new legal pressure from the Michael Jackson estate. Dan Reed is making a second film about the two men who accuse the late king of pop of child abuse. That programme will follow the two accusers’ most recent legal action against two of Jackson’s companies. The Jackson estate is trying to stop Reed from filming court hearings in those cases, while also seeking to subpoena documents relating to the documentary and forcing the director to provide a deposition. Channel 4, which has commissioned the second ‘Leaving Neverland’ film, said: “We oppose these efforts to suppress journalism [and the estate’s attempts to prevent] Reed from further informing the public about these matters of vital public importance”. [READ MORE]

The ongoing Ed Sheeran copyright case was postponed because of COVID-19. Sheeran has been sued by the estate of Ed Townsend over allegations his 2014 hit ‘Thinking Out Loud’ ripped off Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’, which Townsend co-wrote. The case was due in court next month, but Sheeran’s lawyers argued that COVID travel restrictions would make it difficult for their client and his team to travel from the UK to the US. The judge overseeing the case admitted that – because New York’s court are operating at reduced capacity – there was a chance the court hearing would be postponed anyway. Given the challenges Sheeran et al face getting to New York, he said he would postpone the court hearing now until next spring. [READ MORE]

A number of organisations called on Arts Council England to explain the criteria used for deciding who should receive Culture Recovery Fund grants to help them survive the COVID-19 shutdown. The Night Time Industries Association said it was “shocked and dismayed” that dance music venues Printworks, The Egg, Studio 338, Oval Spaces and The Pickle Factory had been refused funding, and that it was “concerned with regard to eligibility and fair consideration around the types of businesses and the criteria they have been measured against”. Meanwhile ticketing firm Skiddle publicly asked why its competitors Resident Advisor and Ticketline had received significant grants when they had been led to believe ticketing outfits were not eligible, as the Fund was primarily for venues and event organisers. [READ MORE]

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