CMU Digest

CMU Digest 29.06.20: Live Nation, COVID-19, Viagogo, Trax Records, SoundExchange

By | Published on Monday 29 June 2020

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

Live Nation backtracked somewhat on proposed changes to artist contracts post-COVID-19. Following a backlash to the widely circulated memo that set out changes Live Nation planned to make to artist contracts in 2021 – including reduced fees and increased risk for artists – the boss of one the live giant’s festival divisions, C3 Presents, insisted that the document contained proposals not take-it-or-leave-it new terms. Despite that backtracking, two artist advocacy groups in the US called on Congress to investigate how Live Nation was “exploiting” the pandemic and its “multi-market monopoly” to force less favourable terms onto performers. [READ MORE]

The UK music industry reacted negatively to the government’s latest announcements on the COVID-19 shutdown. Although a change to social distancing rules in England will allow some bars and restaurants to re-open on 4 Jul, theatres and venues will still be banned from staging live performances. Ministers did publish a ‘road map’ for resuming live entertainment, but many in the industry said that just stated the obvious and – with no timeline or even target dates included – was pretty useless. Industry reps are increasingly calling for sector-specific financial support to help live entertainment businesses survive as their shutdown continues with little clarity on when things might get back to normal. Many fear that the re-opening of bars and restaurants, and the live performance road map, will be used to justify phasing out even the general financial support schemes that some live music companies have been able to utilise. [READ MORE]

The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority announced it was launching a more in-depth phase two investigation into Viagogo’s acquisition of StubHub. The regulator had given the secondary ticketing company five days to come up with a “clear cut” solution to address its concerns about the merger, which will result in one company totally dominating the already controversial ticket-resale market. With no such clear-cut plan forthcoming, the more detailed investigation will now begin. The CMA could ultimately demand remedies from Viagogo or even seek to the block the merger of the two companies, in the UK at least. [READ MORE]

Two pioneers of Chicago’s 1980s house scene sued a record label also very much associated with that genre, Trax Records. Although a number of artists linked to Trax have complained about unpaid royalties over the years, the lawsuit filed by Larry Heard and Robert Owens said that the label didn’t even have the rights to exploit most of the records it released by Heard, some of which were collaborations with Owens. The lawsuit focused in the main on the limitations of a number of contracts Heard signed in the mid-1980s. The duo are seemingly suing Trax over all this now because of support from their current publisher, UK-based TaP Music. [READ MORE]

US collecting society SoundExchange and a plethora of music industry trade bodies called on the American government to include performer equitable remuneration in any new trade deal with the UK. The demands relate to how the British government has implemented international treaties when it comes to the money performers receive when the performing rights in recordings are exploited. Under US copyright law, no royalties are paid at all by AM/FM radio stations and public spaces that play recorded music. As a result, American performers can’t share in the monies collected by the UK record industry from radio and public performance. But SoundExchange argues that that is an incorrect implementation of the agreements that link all of the world’s copyright systems together. The UK is currently busy trying to get a post-Brexit trade deal with the US agreed. [READ MORE]

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