|TUESDAY 24 JANUARY 2023||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify became the latest tech firm to announce a significant downsizing of its workforce yesterday, with a plan to cut about 6% of jobs within the company. This will likely result in up to 600 people departing the business... [READ MORE]|
Spotify confirms 6% reduction to its global workforce
In a memo to staff, Spotify boss Daniel Ek said that the firm's operating expenses have been growing considerately faster than its revenues of late, which would ultimately need to be addressed at anytime, but that need is more urgent in the current economic climate.
There have been various other efforts in recent months to cut costs, he added, but he has reached the conclusion that redundancies are now required. "To bring our costs more in line, we've made the difficult but necessary decision to reduce our number of employees", the memo stated.
"Over the next several hours, one-on-one conversations will take place with all impacted employees. And while I believe this decision is right for Spotify, I understand that with our historic focus on growth, many of you will view this as a shift in our culture. But as we evolve and grow as a business, so must our way of working while still staying true to our core values".
"To offer some perspective on why we are making this decision", he went on, "in 2022, the growth of Spotify's operating expenses outpaced our revenue growth by two times. That would have been unsustainable long-term in any climate, but with a challenging macro environment, it would be even more difficult to close the gap".
"As you are well aware, over the last few months we've made a considerable effort to rein-in costs, but it simply hasn't been enough", he then said. "So while it is clear this path is the right one for Spotify, it doesn't make it any easier - especially as we think about the many contributions these colleagues have made".
"Like many other leaders, I hoped to sustain the strong tailwinds from the pandemic and believed that our broad global business and lower risk to the impact of a slowdown in ads would insulate us", he continued. "In hindsight, I was too ambitious in investing ahead of our revenue growth. And for this reason, today, we are reducing our employee base by about 6% across the company. I take full accountability for the moves that got us here today".
The company-wide downsizing will be accompanied by a restructure at the top of the Spotify business, the main headline of which is the departure of Chief Content & Advertising Business Officer Dawn Ostroff. The teams she has overseen in that role will now fall under the remit of Alex Norström, who becomes Chief Business Officer. Meanwhile, the majority of Spotify's engineering and product work will now sit under Gustav Söderström, who becomes Chief Product Officer.
On that rejig, Ek wrote: "I'm happy to say that Gustav and Alex, who have been with Spotify for a long time and have done great work, will be leading these teams as co-Presidents, effectively helping me run the company day-to-day. They'll tell you more about what this means in the coming days, but I'm confident that with their leadership, we'll be able to achieve great things for Spotify".
"Dawn has made a tremendous mark not only on Spotify, but on the audio industry overall", he then added. "Because of her efforts, Spotify grew our podcast content by 40 times, drove significant innovation in the medium and became the leading music and podcast service in many markets. We are enormously grateful for the pivotal role she has played and wish her much success".
The memo also set out how Spotify plans to support those employees now facing redundancy, and finished with an optimistic rallying call from Ek aimed at those who will remain.
"In almost all respects, we accomplished what we set out to do in 2022 and our overall business continues to perform nicely", he said. "But 2023 marks a new chapter. It's my belief that because of these tough decisions, we will be better positioned for the future. We have ambitious goals and nothing has changed in our commitment to achieving them".
"We've come a long way in our efforts to build a comprehensive platform for creators of all levels, but there's still much to be done", he went on. "To truly become the go-to destination for creators, we need to keep improving our tools and technology, explore new ways to help creators engage with their audiences, grow their careers, and monetise their work".
"In fact, looking at our roadmap, with the changes we are making and what we have planned to share at our upcoming Stream On event, I'm confident that 2023 will be a year where consumers and creators will see a steady stream of innovations unlike anything we have introduced in the last several years. I will share more about these exciting developments in the coming weeks".
The announcement from Spotify follows similarly significant downsizing at many other tech companies in recent months, of course, including Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Meta. In the digital music space more specifically, both SoundCloud and Anghami reduced their headcounts last year.
Live Nation set to blame touts and bots for Taylor Swift ticketing meltdown at Congressional hearing today
Those issues - and the resulting hoo haa online - heightened the debate around Live Nation's dominance in the US live business, as a major promoter and venue operator, as well as the biggest player in ticketing via Ticketmaster.
This was good news for the live giant's critics, including those involved in a new campaign calling for regulators to further scrutinise the relationship between the different Live Nation divisions, and the ongoing impact of the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster more then a decade ago.
However, according to Billboard, Berchtold will tell senators that the problems that occurred when presale tickets for the Taylor Swift tour were sold via Ticketmaster's Verified Fan system had nothing to do with Live Nation's market dominance and everything to do with the pesky ticket touts.
Billboard has seemingly seen the opening statement Berchtold will deliver later today, in which he will say that touts - or scalpers to use the US term - employed bots to try to access tickets from the presale on an unprecedented scale. And while Ticketmaster expected the bots to be active as Swift's tickets went on sale, it did not anticipate that level of bot activity.
"We were hit with three times the amount of bot traffic than we had ever experienced", he will claim, "and for the first time in 400 Verified Fan onsales they came after our Verified Fan access code servers. While the bots failed to penetrate our systems or acquire any tickets, the attack required us to slow down and even pause our sales. This is what led to a terrible consumer experience that we deeply regret".
The use of so called bots by touts to hoover up tickets from primary ticketing sites is illegal in the US. With that in mind Berchtold - whose arguments are set to be backed up in a written statement from a certain Garth Brooks - will urge law makers to focus less on his company's market dominance and more on how to better regulator the touts.
Of course, unlike in Europe, where Live Nation and Ticketmaster bailed on their secondary ticketing businesses, in the US the live giant still operates its own ticket resale marketplaces. Though, presumably, Berchtold would argue that his company likes to work with good honest responsible touts, and not the big bad bot-happy brigade. Which may or may not work as an argument.
Also due to speak during today's Congressional session are Jack Groetzinger, CEO of Ticketmaster rival SeatGeek; Jerry Mickelson, CEO of Chicago-based promoter JAM Productions; singer-songwriter Clyde Lawrence; and Sal Nuzzo and Kathleen Bradish, who both represent think tanks with a focus on the free market and competition law.
GMR settles two radio firm lawsuits, but ploughs on with third
GMR - the boutique song rights society founded by veteran artist manager Irving Azoff in 2013 - settled its wider dispute with the US radio industry nearly a year ago, reaching a deal with the Radio Music License Committee which represents the radio sector in music licensing negotiations.
However, not all radio firms subsequently signed up for a GMR licence, resulting in the filing of lawsuits in October against One Putt Broadcasting in California, Southern Stone Communications in Florida, and Red Wolf Broadcasting, which operates stations in Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The litigation against One Putt and Red Wolf has now been settled. Terms of those settlements have not been made public, but GMR says both radio firms have now signed long-term agreements to license the songs repped by the society.
Meanwhile, in the legal battle with Southern Stone, GMR has made a new legal filing in response to efforts by the radio firm to get the lawsuit dismissed.
According to Inside Radio, Southern Stone urged the courts to dismiss the GMR litigation last month, arguing that the society has failed to provide any specifics about which of its stations played which GMR controlled songs on which dates. Key information about the copyright ownership status of the allegedly infringed works was also lacking, the broadcaster claimed.
"Plaintiff's complaint is a shotgun pleading that makes it impossible to determine whether a copyright infringement action has actually occurred", legal reps for Southern Stone wrote.
But those claims are "unfounded" and mere "distraction and obfuscation", GMR counters in a new legal filing. "GMR contacted defendants and offered them a licence at least ten times", the society says. "Defendants uniformly declined GMR's offers, choosing to persist in rampant and wilful copyright infringement".
"Since defendants repeatedly refused to pay for a licence to perform works written by GMR's affiliated songwriters, GMR had no choice but to bring this action for copyright infringement", it goes on.
So, in that particular case both sides remain forthright in their statements to the court. It remains to be seen if a settlement can nevertheless be agreed.
Birmingham label responds to copyright claim by Punjabi singer
According to Law360, in a formal response to that legal claim, Silver Streak director Kamraan Ahmed argues that his company owns the rights in the Rahi tracks that it has distributed to the download stores and streaming services.
That's on the basis that the label arranged for the recordings to be made, which would make it the default owner of the sound recording copyrights under UK law.
Ahmed's response also details previous disagreements between the label and Rahi over who has the rights to upload those recordings to YouTube and to claim revenues via the Google video site's Content ID system.
The label is now seeking confirmation from the court that it owns the rights in the tracks and is due any profits they generate.
Yes say "yes" to Warner Music rights deal
The deal is with Warner's Global Catalogue Division, the President of which - Kevin Gore - says: "My introduction to Yes came while working at a record store in Ohio in 1983. I loved the '90125' album and went to see the band live, where I was introduced to their catalogue of incredible songs. I've been a fan ever since and we're absolutely THRILLED and deeply honoured that the strong relationship between Yes and Warner Music will continue forever".
The band add in a joint statement: "The entire Yes family came together and worked enthusiastically with Warner Music Group to secure this historic deal, ensuring that these iconic recordings will continue to be curated in the optimum manner to delight their fans across more than five decades, while also finding and developing new audiences for this timeless music".
New rights management firm Interstellar Music Services formally launches and announces senior hires
Robinson, who has existing management and publishing businesses under the Interstallar name, has teamed up with investment fund and asset manager Sean Stockdale to launch the new music services venture which will, and I quote, "offer a new and tailored approach to rights management to generate more royalties for artists and songwriters at a pivotal point in their career".
The new hires are David Wille - formerly at Kobalt - who becomes Interstellar's Global Head of Sync And Brand Partnerships, and Sarah Bargiela - who joins from BMG - and will be the new firm's Head Of Copyright And Royalties.
Says Robinson: "Through my time in the industry, particularly as an artist manager, I have seen first hand how complicated it is for artists and their teams to ensure that their music is correctly registered and that they are benefitting from the value of their creations through the right licensing opportunities. It should not be so burdensome".
"Changing industry dynamics now mean that artists - rightly - have more choice and autonomy over how they can release and manage their music", he goes on. "We want to support this by providing a professional music rights management service that enables them to maximise the value of their creations without the need to relinquish any ownership of their work".
Stockdale adds: "Coming from outside the industry has given me a unique perspective on the challenges that exist in how music is valued and compensated. Not only are artists all individuals, so are the songs that they create; every copyright has different requirements and should be treated as such".
"As an asset manager", he continues, "it is my role to optimise the opportunities for the music we have the honour of representing, rather than simply telling artists to make more, try harder or change their process. The opportunities for music are vast and I believe it is time to work more proactively and to think creatively about how to place music on behalf of clients. The creators do their bit, then it is up to us to find the opportunities for their music, whatever their individual sound may be".
On the new hires, Robinson says: "Our mission, which is focused on putting the artists and songwriters first, is fundamental to the way we operate; to have industry professionals of the calibre of Sarah and David joining us at such an early stage is a real endorsement of the culture and service offering we have developed".
Superstruct Entertainment has acquired Spanish promoter The Music Republic, which - among other things - runs the Benicàssim festival on the Costa del Azahar. Music Republic founders David and Toño Sánchez will continue to oversee the company.
Primary Wave has acquired rights owned by Robby Krieger and the estate of Ray Manzarek related to their work with The Doors, including recording, song and merchandise rights and trademarks. "Our family has worked patiently to find the right partners to continue Ray's lifelong efforts in protecting and promoting his art", says the keyboard player's widow Dorothy Manzarek. "We are happy to have finally come to an agreement with Primary Wave".
Ultra International Music Publishing has renewed its publishing deal with songwriter and producer Zaytoven covering new work. "Ultra Music Publishing has been the only place for me", he says. "Our relationship has grown and flourished since the beginning of my career. 2023 marks a new partnership and I'm excited to take over the world!"
BMG has promoted JoJamie Hahr to EVP Recorded Music for Nashville. "It's a privilege and a blessing to work with our extraordinary artists and our BMG family every day", she says. "BMG truly puts artists and their music first, and I'm extremely proud of what we all continue to build together in Nashville and beyond".
Public Image Ltd have released the video for their potential Irish Eurovision entry 'Hawaii'. Whether or not the band go through to the big song contest will be decided on 3 Feb.
Kali Uchis has confirmed that she will release new album 'Red Moon In Venus' on 3 Mar. New single 'I Wish You Roses' is out now.
Dave Okumu And The 7 Generations have released new single 'Black Firework' from their upcoming album 'I Came From Love', which is out on 14 Apr.
GIGS & TOURS
Wizkid will play Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London on 29 Jul. Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Kygo has announced that he will play London's Gunnersbury Park on 12 Aug, with support from MK, Sofi Tukker and Frank Walker. Tickets go on sale on Friday.
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
1975 fan pays for "nicest message" from Matt Healy on Cameo - except it's actually Matt Heafy from Trivium
Peppard explained in a video on TikTok that he'd been scrolling through Cameo - the service where fans can pay for personalised video messages from celebrities - and discovered that The 1975's Matt Healy was on there. Perfect, he thought, O'Reilly loves Matt Healy. What could be better? Especially as they're just about to go and see The 1975 perform live.
"I went on Cameo, as you do, to look at the options", explains Peppard. "And suddenly, Matt Healy shows up, and I'm like, 'No way he's doing Cameos for $75'. I was like, 'That is wild. That is wild'. So I jump at it, just go bam, bam, bam, type in a message - I'm like, 'I need to get this as soon as possible before it isn't real anymore'".
"A couple of days later, I receive this", he adds, before revealing that in his haste he'd actually paid for a message from Matt Heafy, frontman of metal band Trivium. "So yeah, enjoy Matthew Heafy from the band Trivium give the nicest message anyone has ever received on Cameo".
He then shared the video, which is indeed very nice, and in which Heafy runs through a list of the things the two friends both share in common, while also mentioning the upcoming gig they will be attending together.
The key to this being that Heafy is clearly not aware that he was not the singer who was expected to be delivering this message. His band is also touring Europe at the moment, meaning the request to mention of an upcoming show in the message didn't raise any red flags.
Don't worry though, Heafy isn't just a nice guy when people are paying him to be. After Peppard's video went viral, he shared the mea culpa on his own Instagram profile in good humour.
"This made my day", he wrote. "Thank you to Stereogum for tagging me in Post-Party's video about a Cameo that was meant for Matt Healy".
What is the moral of this story? Read people's names very carefully. Or don't, and you might have found a new way to help people discover your own band.