Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 27.02.22: Live Nation, Utopia, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Astroworld, Megan Thee Stallion

By | Published on Sunday 27 February 2022

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

Live Nation was upbeat as it published its quarter four and full year financials for 2021. The COVID pandemic still had a big impact on the live music giant last year, with its total 2021 revenues coming in at $6.27 billion, compared to $11.55 billion in 2019. However, that was still a threefold increase on 2020, showing that the live sector’s revival did get underway last year, particularly in the key US and UK markets where COVID restrictions started to lift in time for much of the summer festival season and autumn shows. The surge of the omicron variant of COVID-19 at the end of the year did result in a new flurry of cancellations, but overall the latter part of 2021 wasn’t all doom and gloom. Meanwhile, ticket sales and brand partnership deals for 2022 are looking very healthy, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino added, meaning that – while some COVID restrictions remain in many countries – he is increasingly confident “that we will have a record year in 2022”. [READ MORE]

The ever acquisitive Utopia acquired Absolute Label Services. It’s the third of three significant acquisitions of UK-based independent music companies by the music business start-up in just over a month, it having already bought the Proper Music Group and Sentric Music. Absolute provides a wide range of distribution, marketing and other services to independent artists and labels, and it will now become a key part of Utopia’s own music distribution division, alongside the operations of Proper, which is best known for distributing physical music product across the UK. [READ MORE]

The estates of former Jimi Hendrix Experience members Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell asked a New York court to dismiss legal action filed by the Hendrix estate. UK-based companies representing the estates of Redding and Mitchell reckon they have rights in and are due royalties from the Jimi Hendrix Experience recordings, and they have sued Sony Music through the English courts, because the major distributes that catalogue. But the Hendrix Estate and Sony Music in the US argue that Redding and Mitchell gave up any rights in that music in agreements signed in the early 1970s and have asked the New York courts to confirm those agreements are still in force. The Redding and Mitchell companies counter that this is a dispute over English copyrights in the English courts and that the New York courts therefore do not have jurisdiction to intervene. [READ MORE]

It emerged that the judge overseeing the Astroworld lawsuits has issued a gagging order restricting what those involved in the litigation can say about the cases. Ten people died and hundreds more were injured during a crowd surge at last year’s Astroworld festival in Houston, Texas. Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against the festival’s founder and headliner Travis Scott and its promoters, Live Nation and Scoremore. 387 lawsuits relating to the Astroworld tragedy have been consolidated, so to make it easier to manage the legal action, with judge Kristen Hawkins overseeing the proceedings. She is restricting what plaintiffs and attorneys can say in public about what is already very high profile litigation in a bid to ensure a fair trial if the cases should ever end up before a jury. [READ MORE]

Megan Thee Stallion returned to court in another dispute with her label 1501 Certified Entertainment. The rapper previously went legal over allegations 1501 was blocking her from releasing an EP and a BTS collaboration, with the court quickly ordering that the label allow those releases to go ahead. Then in October last year 1501 took up a second option stemming from its 2018 deal with the rapper, meaning she must now provide them with another album to release. She argues that last year’s freestyle and rarities compilation ‘Something For Thee Hotties’ was that album – because it fulfils the definition of ‘album’ in her deal, ie it’s longer than 45 minutes – but the label says that release doesn’t count and new material is still required. The rapper wants the court to confirm she is right. [READ MORE]

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