CMU Digest

CMU Digest 27.09.21: Universal Music, Economics Of Streaming, Creators’ Earnings, Twitch, Yout

By | Published on Monday 27 September 2021

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

Universal Music listed on the Dutch stock exchange in Amsterdam, with its share price immediately surging. The listing was a long-time coming, with previous owner Vivendi seeking to cash in on the wider record industry’s streaming-enabled revival. 60% of the stock in the new standalone Universal Music Group was distributed to Vivendi’s current shareholders. A Tencent-led consortium controls 20% and entities linked to hedge fund manager Bill Ackman another 10%, leaving Vivendi itself with 10%. The share price surged 38% during the first hours of trading, giving the music major a market capitalisation of 45 billion euros. [READ MORE]

The UK government responded to Parliament’s report on the economics of music streaming. Ministers called the report produced by MP’s on Parliament’s culture select committee a “key moment for the music industry”. However, they declined to instigate any of the copyright law reforms the MPs proposed, in the short term at least, instead concluding that more research needs to be done to assess the possible impact of those reforms. To do that a music industry contact group will be formed by the government, alongside two working groups, one focused on data and the other on transparency. Another proposal in the committee report was that the Competition & Markets Authority investigate the dominance of the majors in the music sector. Ministers asked the CMA to consider that proposal. [READ MORE]

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office published a report called ‘Creators’ Earnings In The Digital Age’. Based on extensive research by a team of academics, the IPO-commissioned report was made available shortly after the government’s response to the culture select committee’s report on streaming. It echoes some of the conclusions of the parliamentary report regarding the challenges artists and songwriters face trying to make a living from their music-making, although it considered in more detail how that is partly down to the unprecedented amount of competition that now exists in the music and wider creative industries. The IPO report also counters the common narrative that digital companies and record labels have cashed in big time on the streaming boom while everyone else has seen no benefit, presenting a more nuanced interpretation of the data. [READ MORE]

The US National Music Publishers Association announced a deal with Twitch. The trade body had been a particularly vocal critic of the Amazon-owned livestreaming service, which has some licensing deals covering the music that appears on its platform, but not many. NMPA boss David Israelite specifically hit out last year when Twitch claimed in a blog post that it is tricky to get music licences sorted because not all the streams on its platform contain music. But that’s true of most platforms that stream user-generated content, he pointed out. However, as a result of the new partnership deal agreed between the NMPA and the livestreaming service: “Twitch will provide new opportunities to music publishers who will be offered an opt-in deal allowing for future collaborations to bring new facets to both the gaming experience and songwriter exposure”. [READ MORE]

Stream-ripping site Yout re-filed its litigation against the Recording Industry Association Of America. It sued after the trade body tried to have its website removed from the Google search engine. Yout says the RIAA has misrepresented its technology, and that it is incorrect to say that it violates US copyright law by “circumventing a technological protection measure put in place by a copyright owner”. After its initial lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice, Yout was allowed to update and resubmit its claim. In the new lawsuit it explains how easy it is to grab a permanent download of a YouTube stream through the Chrome browser, arguing that its website simply automates that process, rather than doing anything sneaky to pull MP3s out of the Google-owned video site. [READ MORE]

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