CMU Digest

CMU Digest 28.06.21: Events Research Programme, Sony Music Australia, Damon Dash, Universal Music, #LetTheMusicMove

By | Published on Sunday 27 June 2021


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

The UK government finally published the findings of the first phase of its Events Research Programme, which is investigating what measures should be employed to allow the safe return of full capacity shows as COVID restrictions are lifted. Ministers initially resisted calls for the findings to be made public amid allegations Number Ten Downing Street was suppressing publication, instead offering non-committal timelines. The sudden publication followed legal action from the live music and theatre industries. The findings that have been published mainly confirm facts and figures that had already been discussed by ministers in the press. Live industry reps said that the findings demonstrate that full capacity shows can return without any significant increase in COVID infections, and with that in mind they demanded that the government now confirm that current COVID restrictions stopping such shows will definitely be lifted on 19 Jul.

Sony Music announced that the long-standing CEO of its Australian division, Denis Handlin, was departing the company with immediate effect. The announcement followed reports that an investigation was underway into a toxic corporate culture at Sony Music Australia. As Handlin’s departure was confirmed The Guardian published a report in which former employees talked about sexual harassment at work events, intimidating behaviour, alcohol abuse and the unfair treatment of women in the workplace. As the week progressed two other Sony Music Australia execs – including Handlin’s son – were reportedly put on indefinite leave, while a Sydney law firm said some ex-staff members were now considering legal action. [READ MORE]

A court in New York issued a temporary injunction banning Damon Dash from putting on sale an NFT linked to Jay-Z’s debut album ‘Reasonable Doubt’. The injunction was sought by the label Dash co-founded and still co-owns with Jay-Z, Roc-A-Fella Records. It claimed that Dash recently tried to sell the copyright in ‘Reasonable Doubt’ via an NFT drop and – while that sale was called off – it suspects he’ll have another go at some point. Although Dash has a stake in Roc-A-Fella, it added, which in turn owns the copyright in ‘Reasonable Doubt’, that doesn’t allow him to auction off those rights. Dash told TMZ that he never actually tried to sell the copyright in the Jay-Z album and was instead auctioning off his share in the label. He now has until 1 Jul to formally respond to the court. [READ MORE]

Vivendi’s shareholders approved the company’s plan for spinning off Universal Music as a standalone business listed on the Dutch stock exchange. That means that 60% of the shares in the standalone music business will be distributed to Vivendi’s current shareholders. Another 20% will be controlled by the Tencent-led consortium that bought into Universal Music at the end of 2019. Vivendi itself will retain 10%, with the other 10% set to be bought by US-based special purpose acquisition company Pershing Square Tontine Holdings Ltd, which also this week finalised its $4 billion share purchase deal with Vivendi. Universal is now expected to list on the Euronext stock exchange in Amsterdam in September. [READ MORE]

The UK music industry launched a new campaign urging the government to act urgently to mitigate the impact of the new post-Brexit bureaucratic barriers facing British musicians touring Europe. When COVID regulations finally lift, those musicians will face new visa, permit and carnet requirements when touring to some EU members states. The #LetTheMusicMove campaign specifically calls for financial support for affected touring artists, measures to overcome restrictive ‘cabotage’ rules on UK vehicles touring Europe, a viable long-term plan for removing the new bureaucracy, and a commitment to ensure European artists have reciprocal freedoms and access to perform at UK venues and festivals. [READ MORE]

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