Business News CMU Digest

CMU Digest 29.05.22: Sony Music, Music Venue Trust, festival diversity, Travis Scott, BBC

By | Published on Sunday 29 May 2022

Sony Music

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

Sony Music announced it was expanding its commitment to pay through royalties to unrecouped heritage artists. Last year Sony became the first major to commit to pay royalties to heritage artists on pre-2000 record contracts who had never recouped. That meant those artists would actually receive their share of any monies generated by their recordings in their bank accounts, rather than that money being used to pay off past advances and other recoupable costs incurred by the label. Both Warner Music and Universal Music then followed Sony’s lead. This week Sony said that that commitment would now apply to any unrecouped artist who did their original deal more than 20 years ago, meaning artists who did their deals before 2001 already qualify, and a new group of unrecouped artists will become eligible to receive new royalties each year. [READ MORE]

The Music Venue Trust launched a new initiative which seeks to buy the properties currently rented by grassroots venues around the UK. The organisation said that the fact most venues do not own their properties “underpins almost every other challenge” those venues face. To address that issue, MVT has launched a charitable community benefit society called Music Venue Properties that will seek to raise money from music fans and ethical investors, and then use that money to buy properties that house venues. Nine venues have been identified to benefit from a pilot scheme to prove that the concept works, six in England, one in Scotland and two in Wales. Those who invest in MVP will help secure the future of a network of grassroots venues whilst also receiving a 3% APR return on their investment. [READ MORE]

A new BBC study found that just 13% of headliners booked to play the UK’s biggest festivals this summer are female. Nearly 75% of headline acts are either male solo artists or all-male bands, while 12% are bands featuring a mix of male and female performers. This means that, at the headliner level, festival line-ups aren’t really any more diverse than five years ago, despite various initiatives to boost diversity. That said, many festivals – especially those that signed up to the PRS Foundation’s Keychange initiative – are now achieving more gender diversity across their wider line-ups, with some already achieving the Keychange ambition of a 50/50 male/female split. Some argue that – depending on genre – at a headliner level festivals don’t necessarily have a very diverse pool of artists to choose from at the moment – accounting for the disappointing headliner stats – but that all the recent diversity initiatives will hopefully change that in the years to come. [READ MORE]

It emerged that Travis Scott has been added as a defendant in a negligence lawsuit over a stampede that occurred at the 2019 Rolling Loud festival in Miami. Festival-goer Marchelle Love first sued in relation to the festival in 2020, claiming that she was injured during a stampede that occurred as Scott performed his headline set. Her original lawsuit mainly targeted those involved in organising the festival and its security, but an amended complaint also argues that Scott himself acted negligently by “verbally and physically inciting the crowd to engage in a mosh pit and other hazardous activities”. Those claims come as Scott battles hundreds of lawsuits in relation to the fatal crowd surge that occurred at the 2021 edition of his own festival, Astroworld in Houston. Scott’s reps said Love’s allegations misrepresented what happened at the 2019 festival, and her revised legal complaint was a “blatant, cynical attempt to attack Travis”. [READ MORE]

BBC boss Tim Davie set out a grand plan to make the broadcaster “digital-first”. The plan is partly about future proofing the British public service broadcaster as more and more consumers expect content to be available online and on-demand, but it’s also partly about saving money after the UK government announced it was freezing the licence fee for two years, meaning the BBC’s core income stream will decline in real terms. Under the plan, the BBC will start to prioritise its iPlayer platform and Sounds app over its more conventional linear TV channels and radio stations. It will also produce less original content overall, and will ultimately make some of its channels online-only. In music, that means the BBC will be looking to further enhance its Sounds app. Plus, on the classical side, Davie admitted that the BBC will be allocating less budget to its orchestras and other performing groups, hoping to plug the gaps via other funding. [READ MORE]

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