CMU Digest

CMU Digest 11.02.19: Copyright Directive, HMV, Spotify, Termination Rights, NMPA

By | Published on Monday 11 February 2019

European Commission

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

Music industry consensus over the European Copyright Directive collapsed. Trade groups representing record labels and music publishers suddenly announced that they no longer supported the directive – which includes the safe harbour reform that the industry has long lobbied before – because of text changes recently made in the EU Council. UK trade bodies for artists, songwriters and managers accused the corporate side of the music industry of suddenly changing its tune because it is unhappy with various articles that will increase performer and creator rights. Meanwhile GESAC, which speaks for song right collecting societies, also called for the EU to plough ahead with the directive and its safe harbour reform. [READ MORE]

HMV UK was bought out of administration by Sunrise Records saving 100 stores, although 27 HMV and Fopp shops will now close. The Canadian retailer, which previously took over 70 former HMV stores in Canada, emerged as a late bidder for the UK company. Its owner, Doug Putman, said music would be at the heart of his HMV business, with a particular push on the vinyl side. Whereas in Canada the old HMV stores were turned into Sunrise shops, the HMV brand will remain in the UK. [READ MORE]

Spotify published its latest financial report that revealed the company made a profit in the final quarter of 2018. Though the streaming firm said it was likely to remain loss-making overall this year, despite continued impressive growth in premium subscriptions. It also confirmed it had bought two podcasting companies – Gimlet and Anchor – increasing its involvement in the making and distribution of podcast content. [READ MORE]

Two potentially explosive lawsuits were filed in the US testing the termination right under American copyright law. The termination right allows songwriters who assigned their copyrights to another entity to reclaim their US rights after 35 years. There has been much debate over whether that right also applies to artists, which depends on how your define record contracts Stateside. The new lawsuits – which target Sony Music and Universal Music – seek judicial confirmation that artists as well as writers can reclaim old copyrights from their business partners. [READ MORE]

The National Music Publishers Association claimed that its bid to run the new mechanical rights collecting society in the US had “overwhelming” industry support. The new society is being set up following last year’s Music Modernization Act and should simplify the way streaming services pay mechanical royalties to songwriters and publishers. There are two groups bidding to set up the society which both need to submit proposals to the US Copyright Office by 21 Mar. The one which can demonstrate the most industry support should get the gig, hence the NMPA’s boast. [READ MORE]

The big deals from the last seven days in the music business…
• AEG Facilities and SMG announced a merger [INFO]
• BMG partnered with SESAC on licensing in India [INFO]
• Mad Decent partnered with Big Deal [INFO]
• The Bank partnered with Kobalt’s AWAL [INFO]
• Decca Publishing signed Actress [INFO]
• Sony/ATV signed Cathy Dennis [INFO]
• Big Machine signed Sheryl Crow [INFO]
• Warner/Chappell signed Joe Kearns [INFO]

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