CMU Digest

CMU Digest 27.07.20: Q, COVID-19, Viagogo, TikTok, Burger Records

By | Published on Monday 27 July 2020

Q Magazine

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

It was confirmed that the next edition of Q magazine will be the last. Publisher Bauer Media began reviewing the future of ten titles, including Q, back in May. With that review underway, the Q team expected the last edition of the magazine to be the last. But then Bauer announced it was in talks to sell the title. However, those talks did not result in a deal, meaning it will now close, making the next issue the grand finale. Like all music magazines, Q has seen its print circulation slump over the last two decades, while making money from online journalism remains a challenge, with Facebook and Google competing for ad spend and consumer magazines in the main yet to find an effective online subscription model. The COVID-19 shutdown has made things even more challenging, hence the closure now. [READ MORE]

The music industry welcomed a report from Parliament’s culture select committee on the COVID-19 crisis. MPs made various recommendations, including that the government’s general COVID support schemes for companies and the self employed be extended for those in the creative industries who are still likely to be in shutdown this autumn. They also called for the current gaps in support for freelancers to be addressed; for the recent VAT cut on tickets to be extended from six months to three years; and for the government to instigate a discussion on how streaming income is shared out between stakeholders in the music community. Meanwhile the dance music sector called for the government to confirm that clubs and electronic music events will be eligible to apply for the £1.57 billion being made available to COVID-hit cultural businesses. [READ MORE]

Viagogo was accused of misclassifying cancelled festivals as postponed events so that it doesn’t have to offer cash refunds. According to a Which? report, because tickets for the cancelled 2020 editions of the Reading, Leeds and Wireless festivals can be exchanged for tickets for the 2021 editions, Viagogo is telling people who bought their 2020 tickets via its platform that those are postponed not cancelled shows. Therefore its guarantee to offer a cash refund on cancelled events does not apply. But the organiser of those festivals, Live Nation’s Festival Republic, stresses that the 2020 events are in fact cancelled. Those who bought tickets from the promoter’s primary agents can choose between a cash refund or a 2021 ticket. [READ MORE]

TikTok announced it had agreed a licensing deal with the US National Music Publishers Association. Publishers allied with the industry organisation can now choose to opt into that deal if they so wish. Although TikTok has been busy negotiating deals with numerous record labels, music publishers and collecting societies, legitimising the music included in videos uploaded to its platform, the NMPA deal is interesting because only recently the trade group was criticising the super popular video-sharing app. In April, it told the FT that around 50% of the music publishing sector was yet to get a deal with TikTok, even though their songs were appearing within the app, and that legal action could follow as a result. But the new deal presumably means any talk of NMPA-led litigation is now off the agenda. [READ MORE]

US independent label Burger Records shutdown after numerous allegations of predatory behaviour towards young girls were made against both the company’s staff and some of the acts signed to the label. The company initially cut ties with two of the acts accused of bad conduct, but accusers then said that the label’s own culture facilitated the abuse. Next it said that it was going to radically overhaul its operations, with founders Lee Rickard and Sean Bohrman stepping down and Jessa Zapor-Gray coming on board as interim president to reform the business. But she then announced that she had decided such reforms were not going to be possible. Bohrman then told Pitchfork that instead the label would shutdown entirely. [READ MORE]

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