CMU Digest

CMU Digest 30.03.20: COVID-19, self-employed, emergency funds, Lizzo, StubHub

By | Published on Monday 30 March 2020


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

The music industry continued to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 shutdown, which is now affecting the live sector, music retail, physical distribution, studios, music education and beyond. More festivals were cancelled – including The Great Escape, Isle Of Wight Festival and Download in the UK – while an increasing number of artists also announced that they were postponing planned album releases. The Musicians’ Union said its members had already lost an estimated £14 million as a result of the shutdown and the Music Producers Guild said its membership had – on average – lost 70% of their expected income. Meanwhile the Music Managers Forum and Featured Artists Coalition announced that their survey of 150 artists and managers had identified nearly £50 million in lost live income. [READ MORE]

For the UK music community, the government finally announcing support for the self-employed was a key development. Previous economic measures to help those negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis had focused on businesses and those in formal employment, but more than 70% of people in the music industry work on a freelance basis. The grants scheme for the self-employed was welcomed, though some concerns remain. The newly self-employed won’t qualify. Payments aren’t likely to come through until June. And those freelancers who pay themselves wages or dividends through a limited company are not covered. Further lobbying by music industry groups to deal with those issues will be required. [READ MORE]

A plethora of industry-led schemes were announced around the world to help those hardest hit by the COVID-19 shutdown. Collecting societies like GEMA in Germany, SACEM in France and PRS in the UK launched emergency funding schemes for their members. In the UK, Help Musicians and the Musicians’ Union launched similar initiatives. Spotify announced a fund-raising programme, which will see it match fan donations up to $10 million, with that money distributed via existing music industry charities, including the PRS Foundation in the UK and MusiCares in the US. Meanwhile artist and songwriter groups called for more support from the big corporate players in the music business, suggesting recoupment holidays and the redirection of unallocated streaming royalties to those most in need. [READ MORE]

Lizzo fired back in the ongoing copyright battle over her hit ‘Truth Hurts’. Three former collaborators argue that that track shares a key lyric with an earlier song they co-wrote, meaning they should have a share in the ‘Truth Hurts’ copyright. Lizzo admits that she first performed that lyric in the earlier song, which was recorded in those collaborators’ studio, but says they weren’t involved in the creation of that line. Calling recent legal claims from said collaborators “opportunistic and legally bankrupt”, Lizzo urged the judge overseeing the dispute to dismiss their copyright claim to her hit. She also disputes they have a claim to co-ownership of the earlier song. [READ MORE]

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority upheld a complaint over StubHub’s use of the slogan “guaranteed genuine tickets”. The ticket resale site used the slogan on a poster campaign last year. Anti-touting campaigners FanFair complained, arguing that – as a platform used by third party sellers – StubHub couldn’t guarantee that all the tickets being sold on its site were definitely genuine. And even genuine tickets resold on StubHub may be subsequently cancelled by promoters who forbid resale in their terms and conditions. StubHub argued that it had systems in place to combat ticket fraud and that its FanProtect Guarantee scheme meant buyers would get a refund if their tickets were cancelled. But the ASA said many people would assume “guaranteed genuine tickets” meant guaranteed access to a show, which StubHub is not able to ensure. [READ MORE]

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