Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 28.05.23: Sony Music, BOSS ACT, TikTok, YouTube, Ireland’s drug harm-reduction scheme for festivals

By | Published on Sunday 28 May 2023

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

Sony Music boss Rob Stringer expressed concern about both the current streaming business model and fraud on the streaming platforms. He was speaking to investors of parent company Sony Group. Echoing concerns previously expressed by the CEOs of Universal Music and Warner Music, Stringer noted the huge quantity of audio now being uploaded to the streaming services. The major record companies have recently started to argue that different categories of audio should be treated differently when it comes to sharing out streaming income each month, with mood music and background noise in particular getting a smaller cut of the money. The Sony boss confirmed he is “concerned that [streaming services] are watered down by low quality and meaningless volume which negatively impacts music fans and real artists”. And as for people and companies scamming the system to fraudulently pull money out of the streaming services, he added that that’s a practice that must be “eliminated through aggressive enforcement by [streaming services] and distributors, or by changing payment methods to better reduce the incentive for fraud”. [READ MORE]

US Congress member Bill Pascrell Jr introduced the latest version of his BOSS ACT that proposes new regulations for the American ticketing market. The lawmaker has been proposing new rules to regulate ticketing ever since 2009 when there was a mini controversy around the sale of tickets for Bruce Springsteen shows by Ticketmaster, when some fans were directed to the ticketing giant’s resale site even though there were still tickets available on its primary site. Ticketing has become a big talking point in US political circles of late following the issues last year around the sale of tickets to Taylor Swift’s current tour, again via Ticketmaster. As a result Pascrell’s proposed new laws are now called The BOSS and SWIFT ACT. Formally introducing those proposals into the House Of Representatives, the Congress member said: “At long last, it is time to create rules for fair ticketing in this country and my legislation will do exactly that for all the fans”. [READ MORE]

The US state of Montana was sued over its TikTok ban, by both TikTok and five TikTok creators. The governor of Montana, Greg Gianforte, recently signed into law a ban that will come into effect next year, making it illegal to distribute or download the video-sharing app within the state. It’s a response to widespread concerns in political circles that the Chinese government has access to TikTok user-data via its China-based owner Bytedance. TikTok denies there are any data security issues on its platform and claims that the ban in Montana attacks the free speech rights of American citizens provided by the First Amendment of the US constitution. To that end, it is seeking to block the ban through the courts. Five TikTok creators based in Montana have also gone legal, also claiming that the ban breaches their free speech rights. Responding to the lawsuits, the office of the state’s Attorney General, Austin Knudsen, which is tasked with implementing the ban, said: “We expected legal challenges and are fully prepared to defend the law that helps protect Montanans’ privacy and security”. [READ MORE]

A US judge declined to grant Maria Schneider’s ongoing legal battle with YouTube class action status. Musician Schneider argues that YouTube does not fulfil its obligations under American law to help copyright owners monitor and manage the unlicensed use of their content on the video site, because its Content ID rights management system is only available to bigger copyright owners and content aggregators. Independent creators must manually monitor and manage the use of their content and that system, Schneider and the other plaintiffs in the case claim, is defective. YouTube counters that its Content ID system is an industry-leading rights management platform and can be accessed by independent creators through distributors and aggregators. If Schneider’s lawsuit was granted class action status, all independent creators whose content has been uploaded to YouTube could benefit from any positive result in court. But judge James Donato said that the dispute wasn’t appropriate for a class action, because each individual copyright owner’s claims would need to be assessed separately. He added: “It has been said that copyright claims are poor candidates for class action treatment and for good reason”. [READ MORE]

Ireland’s Health Service Executive announced details of a drug harm-reduction initiative that will be running at music festivals across the country this summer. It includes a drug monitoring programme, via which festival-goers will be able to anonymously submit drugs to experts through surrender bins, especially substances that might be a cause for concern. Those drugs will be tested and if specific issues are identified – for example if drugs are circulating that are of a particularly high strength or have been mixed with other substances – real time alerts will be posted via social media. Professor Eamon Keenan – National Clinical Lead for Addiction Services at the HSE – said: “This approach will improve our drug monitoring capabilities and help to tailor our harm-reduction services in Ireland … We can access drugs in a safe, non-judgemental manner to quickly gain insight on what drugs may be in circulation and issue real time drug alerts about substances of concern to festival attendees via our social media channels”. [READ MORE]

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