Nov 25, 2023 5 min read

CMU Digest: Spotify confirms changes to pay-outs, music-makers criticise government AI meeting + more

In this week's digest: Spotify confirms the changes it is making to the way it shares its revenues with the music industry, the Council Of Music Makers hits out at a government meeting on AI that excluded music-makers, Live Nation is accused of “egregiously stonewalling” a Senate committee + more

CMU Digest: Spotify confirms changes to pay-outs, music-makers criticise government AI meeting + more

Spotify confirmed the changes it is making to the way it shares its revenues with the music industry. It said changes were necessary because "three particular drains on the royalty pool have now reached a tipping point", those being stream manipulation, functional audio and the millions of tracks uploaded by "non-professional artists". The streaming firm is ramping up its efforts to combat stream manipulation and will introduce new rules that will reduce the amount of money that goes to functional audio like white noise and bird song. Most controversial, though, is the 1000 plays a year threshold that a track will have to pass to be allocated any money at all. That change will see money diverted away from grassroots artists so to benefit, Spotify insisted, "emerging and professional artists". Though the majority of that cash will likely end up with superstars and major labels.

Spotify confirms changes to its payment process - including the 1000 plays a year threshold
Spotify has confirmed the changes it is making to the way it pays out royalties each month, with new policies around stream manipulation and functional audio, and the 1000 plays a year threshold that tracks must pass to earn anything at all

A number of musicians, as well as music industry veteran Jimmy Iovine, were subject to lawsuits filed under New York's Adult Survivors Act. The act provided a twelve month window during which victims of sexual assault or abuse could file new legal proceedings even if alleged incidents occurred sufficiently long ago that a legal claim would usually be barred by the statute of limitations. In the final days of that one year period lawsuits were filed accusing Axl Rose, Sean Combs and Anti-Flag frontman Justin Sane of sexual assault, and Iovine of sexual abuse and harassment. All the accused have denied the allegations against them. The litigation could put the spotlight more generally on sexual misconduct in the music industry. A lawyer working for Sane's accuser told reporters: “I predict that in five years the music industry will be viewed the same way as the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts - a powerful force that also enabled and shielded sexual predators for decades”.

Axl Rose and Jimmy lovine sued as deadline for lawsuits under New York’s Adult Survivors Act approaches
Guns N Roses frontman Axl Rose and Interscope co-founder Jimmy Iovine have both been sued as the deadline for lawsuits to be filed under New York State’s Adult Survivors Act approaches
Diddy and Justin Sane sued over allegations of sexual assault ahead of today’s Adult Survivors Act deadline
Both Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and Anti-Flag frontman Justin Sane have been sued over allegations of sexual assault under the New York Adult Survivors Act

The UK's Council Of Music Makers hit out at a government-convened meeting on AI attended by all three major record companies but no music-makers. The meeting was chaired by UK Culture Minister Lucy Frazer and looked at the impact of AI on the creative industries. Reps also attended from the movie, photography and book sectors. However, there was just one representative for individual creators rather than corporate rightsholders, Nicola Soloman, who is CEO of the Society For Authors and also chairs the cross-artform Creators’ Rights Alliance. The CMM said in an open letter that it was "hugely concerned that the government is forming a roundtable which only gives one single seat to a representative of all creatives across all media, but has three seats for executives from major record companies. This is profoundly unbalanced and tone-deaf”.

Council Of Music Makers criticises lack of music-maker representation at government roundtable on AI and the creative industries
The Council Of Music Makers has expressed concern about a government roundtable on the impact of AI on the creative industries taking place today which involves all three major record companies but no music-makers

Live Nation was accused of “egregiously stonewalling” an investigation in the American Senate into "abusive consumer practices". With the ticketing sector back in the political spotlight in the US, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee On Investigations is looking into what impact the dominance of Live Nation and its Ticketmaster subsidiary has on the live entertainment market. It this week subpoenaed the live giant in order to access internal documents to help with its inquiry, with committee chair Richard Blumenthal stating: "Live Nation has egregiously stonewalled my subcommittee’s inquiry into its abusive consumer practices - making the subpoena necessary". A Live Nation spokesperson insisted that the company had "voluntarily worked with the subcommittee from the start", but said that it needed reassurances about confidentially before handing over all the requested documents.

US Senate committee subpoenas Live Nation to access documents for its investigation into “abusive consumer practices”
A committee in the US Senate has accused Live Nation of “egregiously stonewalling” its investigation into “abusive consumer practices” and has sent a subpoena to the live giant demanding access to documentation about its ticketing business

London Mayor Sadiq Khan blocked plans for an MSG Sphere venue to be built in Stratford. MSG wanted to build a high-tech Sphere complex, like the one it has just opened in Las Vegas, alongside the Olympic Park in East London. Its plans were approved by the authority that oversees developments in and around the park, but Khan's approval was also required. There was plenty of opposition to the proposed new venue from local residents, in particular over the LED skin that would turn the building into a giant screen pumping out imagery and advertising. "The amount of light pollution that it would cause for Stratford residents, its huge electricity bill and associated lack of 'green' credentials", were all reasons why Khan decided to block the venue. MSG said it was disappointed with the Mayor's decision but would now focus on "forward-thinking cities" that are eager to host Sphere venues.

London mayor blocks MSG’s grand plan to build a Sphere venue next to the Olympic Park
London mayor Sadiq Khan has blocked plans to build an MSG Sphere venue in Stratford concluding that the proposed entertainment complex - covered in an LED screen - “would result in an unacceptable negative impact on local residents”
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