|MONDAY 28 OCTOBER 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify has announced its third-quarter results, beaming that subscriber growth, gross margins and operating profit have all exceeded expectations. It also announced the retirement of CFO Barry McCarthy, which is the sort of thing investors care about, even if you don't... [READ MORE]|
Spotify trumpets podcasts growth, announces departure of CFO
The streaming service's monthly active users reached 248 million over the last three months - higher than predicted. Of that number, 113 are premium users. Year-on-year, paid subscriptions have grown slightly faster than ad-funded, although quarter-on-quarter it's the other way around.
Emerging markets continue to be key in that growth, especially Latin America and Southeast Asia. The former now makes up 22% of total users, making it the company's third biggest region, after Europe and the US. Meanwhile, it says, one key emerging market, India, where it launched back in February, "outperformed our forecast by 30%" in Q3.
Revenues were up for both the premium and ad-funded services, with an overall increase of 28% year-on-year to 1,731 million euros. Although the average revenue per user figure than many music industry people often obsess about was down 1% to 4.67 euros. This is partly due to the increased importance of emerging markets, where premium subscription prices are lower, though bundle and discount packages in more mature markets also hit the ARPU.
The company also recorded an operating profit, which is nice. Although in a letter to shareholders it noted that this was in part because "the decline in our share price in Q3 decreased operating expenses more than planned because of reduced social charges on stock-based compensation". However, it also said, "we would have been profitable even without this impact".
Elsewhere in the shareholder update, there was room for a bit of snarking at stock market predictions. Spotify noted that, although it had outperformed almost all expectations, its share price still fell over the last quarter. "The business is outperforming and the stock price is down 33% vs the consensus", it said. "Sometimes the stock price reflects the performance of the business and sometimes it doesn't. But eventually, it always does".
Rather than music, when it comes to content, Spotify continues to trumpet podcasts most loudly. It reckons that 14% of monthly active users are now engaging with podcasts on its platform - with listening hours up 39% on the previous quarter - and that those who do are converting from ad-funded to premium at an unusually fast rate.
"Some of the increases are extraordinary, almost too good to be true", it says. "We're working to clean up the data to prove causality, not just correlation. Still, our intuition is the data is more right than wrong, and that we're onto something special. So expect us to lean into our early success with podcasting and to share more insights with you when we've established causality".
Anecdotally, we've heard reports of some subscribers being disappointed to find that, when they switch to premium, adverts and other promotional content still appears in many podcasts, because of the way shows are delivered to Spotify - and other podcast platforms for that matter.
Podcast producers sell advertising and advertorial packages themselves, and include that promo content in their uploads, the platforms not generally providing any income to the podcast makers. There have been signs that Spotify is aiming to overcome this issue, but the company may need to do something pretty soon if podcasts are becoming a big driver of premium conversions.
With the Q3 results, Spotify also announced that Barry McCarthy will be stepping down as CFO in January. He will be replaced by Paul Vogel, who is currently Spotify's VP of FP&A, Treasury And Investor Relations. Pending shareholder approval, McCarthy will return to Spotify's board of directors, where he held a position before becoming CFO.
New Radiohead drum tech death inquest criticises "inherent deficiencies" in building of collapsed stage
Coroner Nicola Mundy concluded: "Inadequate advice coupled with wholly inadequate construction techniques led to the collapse of the roof system which led to Scott Johnson's death. It's quite clear from what I have heard that the design and construction itself had inherent deficiencies within them".
The latest hearing over the 2012 incident took place in Johnson's hometown of Doncaster, following previous inquests and a criminal case in Canada. Johnson and three others were trapped under steel scaffolding when the roof of the open air stage at Downsview Park in Toronto collapsed shortly before doors were due to open.
The show's promoter Live Nation, production firm Optex Staging & Services Inc and an individual engineer working on the show, Domenic Cugliari, were all charged under Ontario's Occupational Health And Safety Act. The case eventually reached court in 2015, but after various delays it was then abandoned in 2017 due to a new legal precedent in Canadian law designed to stop criminal cases from dragging on indefinitely.
Last year, a new inquest in Canada made various recommendations as to what regulators could do to stop such a tragedy from occurring again. However, nothing as yet has come of those recommendations.
Speaking at the Doncaster inquest, Johnson's father Ken welcomed the coroner's comments, saying: "It's exactly what we needed someone to say. At least that information now should help people to acknowledge the negligence. My wife, Sue, will never forgive them for what happened. My feeling is that I don't think any of them went out to kill Scott. They went out to do their job, but it wasn't done very well. I will continue to support any changes to the rules in Canada".
Also in attendance at the inquest were Radiohead, Keane and The Australian Pink Floyd Experience drummers Phil Selway, Richard Hughes and Paul Bonney.
Jammber launches app to manage song ownership from creation to royalty collection
One of various companies trying to ensure that better rights data is pumped into the system each time a song is written and recorded, the new app will track the people involved in writing and recording any new song and their respective ownership shares in it.
It will then automatically register the song with any relevant collecting societies in the US and Canada, and subsequently facilitate royalty collection. This can all be managed through an app now available for Apple iOS and Android devices.
"The song is at the centre of the universe of music, and ownership is at the centre of the song", says Jammber CEO Marcus Cobb. "It drives recognition, powers payments and royalties and even inspires further creation. When people are creating music together the conversations around ownership are incredibly nuanced".
He adds: "At Jammber we want to continually demonstrate how the psychology of great design can simplify complicated tasks and empower creatives and the entire industry to be more efficient. What makes Jammber Splits different is how simple it is to use while also being flexible. Anyone can get started within a few clicks. The idea of writing a song with your friends one moment and registering it to get paid the next moment from the palm of your hand was thought to be impossible until now".
"We built Jammber Splits with DIY creatives in mind but clean ownership data has broad industry impacts", he goes on. "Many times when a song is uploaded to the internet it has information about the artist performing it but no information about the songwriters or producers. As a result, the majority of global organisations spend between 15%-20% of their operating budget trying to identify rightsholders in order to get them paid from little more than a song title. A free ownership app available globally for Apple iOS and Android, in multiple languages, will bring down those costs for organisations all over the world".
For more information, click here.
eBay to announce plans for StubHub before end of January
The company has been pondering selling its secondary ticketing business for much of this year. As part of the release of its Q3 results, eBay said that it would tell investors what decision it has made regarding the possible sell-off of StubHub, as well as its Classifieds business, before its Q4 results are published in January.
Speaking to investors last week, eBay's interim CEO Scott Schenkel said: "We think [StubHub is] a wonderful asset that will continue to grow and has tons of opportunities, as a standalone [business] or as a part of our portfolio, and we will update you within the next three to four months as to the plans".
It was in January this year that a number of eBay investors penned a letter to the company offering options to boost the company's "floundering" stock price. This included offloading StubHub and Classifieds in order to focus on the core online auctions business. In March, eBay then announced a strategic review of its current assets, and in July it was reported that a number of potential buyers for StubHub had come forward.
"Extremely unwell" Elton John cancels US show
John said in a statement posted on social media: "It is with the heaviest heart that I'm forced to deliver the news that I am extremely unwell and therefore unable to perform at Bankers Life Fieldhouse tonight. I absolutely hate to let my fans down, but I owe it to you to put on the best show possible and unfortunately that's simply not possible".
He added that the concert would be rescheduled for a new date in March, after a run of shows in Australia.
The next date on the tour is tonight at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. No indication that the show may also be pulled has been given so far.
Krept & Konan postpone tour dates following knife attack
The rapper was "slashed" backstage at a BBC Radio 1Xtra live show three weeks ago, resulting in the event being ended early and the last two acts of the night not performing at all. In a message to fans on Instagram, he explained that ongoing "complications" related to his injuries meant that he would be unable to perform the upcoming shows as planned.
"I've been having complications with my leg since and have been back and forth to the hospital and doctors, my doctor has told me if I tour next month I could risk more complications", he wrote. "I need to make a full recovery because you know on tour it gets wild and what we have planned requires 100% strength".
"My health is priority so I know you'll understand", he went on. "Seven shows back to back in November is not physically possible for me. I don't wanna collapse on stage. So I've had to move the tour to January".
A show at the O2 Arena in London on 5 Dec, originally intended to close the tour, will remain unmoved and will now be the first date of the rescheduled run. The rest of the dates will now kick off at Stylus in Leeds on 21 Jan. All tickets will remain valid.
Here are the full revised dates:
5 Dec: London, O2 Arena
Krept & Konan have also released the video for new single 'G Love'.
Drum n bass duo Hybrid Minds have signed to Decade Management. "What Hybrid Minds have achieved to date off their own backs, on their own label, without a publisher, without management, and without any daytime radio play is frankly remarkable", says CEO Amanda Playle. "This is a real organic movement growing at a frantic pace".
LABELS & PUBLISHERS
UK collecting society PRS For Music is offering each of its members a free subscription to online mastering service Landr. They will receive access to the basic package for twelve months, plus a discount on premium tiers. "By collaborating with Landr, we are offering our songwriter, composer, producer and publisher members a valuable way to take their music one step further", says PRS Director Of Membership Claire Jarvis.
Liam Payne has released new single 'All I Want (For Christmas)'. It's a Christmas single. It's not even Halloween yet.
Ski Mask The Slump God has released the video for his single 'Nuketown'.
Rufus Wainwright has released the first single under his new BMG deal, 'Trouble In Paradise'. Of the track, he says: "'Trouble In Paradise' is about the fashion world but also applies to the state of the planet".
Church & AP have announced that they will release their debut album, 'Teeth', on 15 Nov. They've marked the occasion by releasing new single, 'Hello Hello'. "This song just further defines who we are as artists", says Church. "Young and confident. It's a simple premise that helps prepare our fans for the album. If not in sound then in subject matter".
GIGS & TOURS
Charlotte De Witte will be bringing her Kntxt night to London in December, with a show at Fabric on 14 Dec. More info here.
Because songwriters love streaming services so much, the Ivors Academy has announced that Apple Music will sponsor next year's Ivor Novello Awards. "This new relationship with Apple Music marks an exciting evolution for us", says Ivors Academy CEO Graham Davies. "We're THRILLED about bringing The Ivors to the fore for a new audience through the Apple ecosystem".
Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Kurt Cobain's cardigan sells for over $330,000
The stained, unwashed, cigarette burned cardigan had been given a top estimated price of $300,000. Darren Julien, CEO of auction house Julien's Auctions, described it as "the holy grail of any article of clothing that [Cobain] ever wore". I don't know, what about his Flipper t-shirt? Although things didn't go so well last time someone tried to capitalise on that.
Before the cardigan auction last week, its now former owner Garrett Kletjian warned in an interview with Rolling Stone that he'd found the responsibility of owning the garment overwhelming - hence his decision to sell the item he bought in 2015 for $137,500.
While it seemed like he was trying to warn people off from bidding, looking back it does now seem like a clever trick to build a bit of extra mystique into the cardigan's story. He's certainly been well-compensated for going to the trouble of keeping a thing in a safe for a few years.
It's not known who the new owner is. We'll have to wait and see how long they can keep hold of it before it all gets too much.