FRIDAY 23 OCTOBER 2020 COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM
TODAY'S TOP STORY: The UK competition regulator has concluded that a merged Viagogo and StubHub would likely result in a "substantial lessening of competition in the online secondary ticketing market" in the provisional findings of its phase two investigation. Of the two proposed remedies, one basically involves calling off the Viagogo and StubHub merger entirely... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES UK competition regulator remains opposed to Viagogo/StubHub merger after phase two investigation
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DEALS Calvin Harris sells songs catalogue to investment firm Vine for a reported $100 million
US music data firms come together in new joint venture

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LABELS & PUBLISHERS Sony/ATV to merge production music divisions
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INDUSTRY PEOPLE Vick Bain joins Attitude Is Everything
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GIGS & FESTIVALS Ozzy Osbourne postpones farewell dates (for the third time) to 2022
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ONE LINERS Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Stormzy, more
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AND FINALLY... Jack White buys Edinburgh busker a new guitar, after his is smashed in the street
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SECRETLY DISTRIBUTION - DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER (LONDON)
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UK competition regulator remains opposed to Viagogo/StubHub merger after phase two investigation
The UK competition regulator has concluded that a merged Viagogo and StubHub would likely result in a "substantial lessening of competition in the online secondary ticketing market" in the provisional findings of its phase two investigation. Of the two proposed remedies, one basically involves calling off the Viagogo and StubHub merger entirely.

Viagogo announced that it was buying rival StubHub from its previous owner eBay in a $4 billion deal last November. The transaction was then completed in February, but by that point the UK's Competition & Markets Authority had already confirmed it was looking into the merger.

In June, the CMA announced that it was sufficiently concerned about the impact the deal could have on the secondary ticketing market in the UK that it was launching a more in-depth phase two investigation. It subsequently emerged that Viagogo had already offered to sell off StubHub's European operations in a bid to allay the CMA's concerns, but that hadn't been sufficient to stop the phase two investigation getting underway.

In the provisional findings of that phase two inquiry, the CMA says that further investigation has confirmed that "Viagogo and StubHub are close competitors in an already very concentrated market with no significant additional competitors. They are the only two companies of material size in the UK's secondary ticketing market with a combined market share of more than 90%".

The merger of the two services, therefore, "is likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition in the online secondary ticketing market". Therefore "the CMA is concerned that the merger could lead to increases in fees for customers, including fans, who resell or buy secondary tickets to live events. The CMA also found that the merger could result in a lower quality of service and reduced innovation in the sector".

No one really denies that a combined Viagogo/StubHub will totally dominate the for-profit resale market in the UK. So the question throughout this investigation has been whether Viagogo/StubHub is also competing with and therefore constrained by other websites or ticket sellers, including face value resale sites, social media and classified websites where tickets might be resold, real world ticket touts, and the primary ticketing market.

For Viagogo/StubHub, trying to convince the CMA that it competes with the big primary ticket agents was always its best shot. Although that argument was pretty much rejected by the regulator at the end of phase one of its investigation, and no evidence presented in phase two has shifted its position on that point.

In a summary of its provisional phase two findings, the CMA writes: "The parties [ie Viagogo and StubHub] argue that primary ticketing platforms act as a significant competitive constraint on their business because ticket buyers do not always distinguish between primary and resale tickets, and primary ticketing platforms are increasingly engaging in dynamic pricing (where the price can vary with demand) and slow release of tickets (which might lessen of the flow of tickets into secondary channels)".

However, it goes on, "our analysis shows that, on average, there is a very considerable difference in the prices at which tickets are sold between the primary and secondary channels. This suggests that for the majority of ticket sales on the parties' sites, the price of primary tickets does not act as a competitive constraint on the price of secondary tickets, and hence on the parties' fees and other terms to buyer and sellers".

"With respect to dynamic pricing in the primary channel", it then adds, "the evidence indicates that it represents a very small proportion of primary sales in the UK. Although dynamic pricing in the primary channel might reduce the attractiveness of the secondary market to resellers, and hence reduce market liquidity, it would not affect the degree of competition in the provision of uncapped secondary ticketing platforms services, which is the focus of our inquiry".

And in conclusion, it says: "Our provisional view is that, while there are several important interactions between primary and secondary ticket sales which could have a significant impact on the parties' business, they will not materially constrain the ability of the parties to increase fees or worsen non-price terms following the merger".

Based on the provisional findings, the CMA sets out two possible remedies. The first would involve Viagogo selling off the global StubHub business entirely. That's basically the regulator saying it will approve the merger if Viagogo calls off the merger.

The second would involve a partial sale. Although given that the CMA has already rejected a sale of StubHub Europe as a possible solution, that would need to be a significant partial sale, and would likely involve carving off operations from both the StubHub and Viagogo businesses, parcelling them together, and then seeking to sell that off. Which sounds like a messy solution.

This is, of course, a provisional ruling, and all parties now have another opportunity to respond.

The chair of the CMA's inquiry group, Stuart McIntosh, said yesterday: "The evidence we've seen so far consistently points in the same direction – that Viagogo and StubHub have a market share of more than 90% combined and compete closely with each other. We are therefore concerned that their merger could lead to secondary ticketing customers facing higher fees and lower quality services. We're now inviting comments on our provisional findings and possible remedies".

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Viagogo told reporters: "The CMA always considers a full range of remedy options for the UK market, and in the case of the Viagogo/StubHub merger, this is no different. Our intention remains to provide event-goers in the UK with the best possible service, and while we disagree with the provisional conclusion that the deal would reduce competition, we look forward to working with the CMA to deliver a comprehensive solution which addresses their concerns".

Offering a view from the other side of the debate, Adam Webb from the anti-touting campaign group FanFair stated: "Though poorly-timed and focussed predominantly on the US market, Viagogo's $4.05 billion acquisition of StubHub raises acute competition concerns in the UK. We are pleased the CMA has recognised this. Ultimately, the merger would bestow a hugely controversial business monopoly status in this country, and risk unpicking some significant progress made over recent years to clean up the secondary ticketing market. We now look forward to submitting further views to the CMA about both their findings and potential remedies".

The often controversial Viagogo has continued to face regulatory hurdles in multiple countries in recent months, even while it battles with the major challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown of live entertainment.

Earlier this month it was announced that a federal court in Australia had fined Viagogo AUS$7 million as part of the legal case pursued against it by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission. The fine followed a court ruling last year that the secondary ticketing firm had made false or misleading representations and "engaged in conduct liable to mislead the public".

Meanwhile, at the end of last month, the Irish government approved the wording of new laws that will pretty much ban the resale of tickets for profit in the country. Those new laws have been a long time in development, having begun as a private members bill in the Irish parliament. But the legislation is now seemingly a priority and could be passed into law this year.

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Calvin Harris sells songs catalogue to investment firm Vine for a reported $100 million
Calvin Harris has sold his music publishing catalogue to media and entertainment investment firm Vine Alternative Investments. Details of the deal have not been disclosed, but Variety reckons Harris is now walking around with $100 million in his pocket. I hope he's got a big pocket.

Not being a music publisher itself, Vine has secured the services of Sony/ATV to administer the 150+ song catalogue. This shouldn't be too much of a stretch for the company, as it has already been repping Harris on the songs side for nearly fifteen years.

"Vine's process was extremely smooth", says Harris's manager Mark Gillespie. "We valued their quick response time, exceptional knowledge of the space and straight-forward approach. We are very comfortable that they will be great stewards of the catalogue".

This is the second songs catalogue purchase for Vine this month, it having recently acquired that of country songwriter Sean Douglas. All further proof of the increased interest in music copyright within investment circles. What fools! Still, all good news for the pockets of songwriters.

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US music data firms come together in new joint venture
Having previously announced two joint ventures - one around their music and trade magazines and another their television projects - US media companies MRC and PMC have now announced a new alliance bringing together their respective entertainment data businesses.

Both parties in this new venture have acquired entertainment data companies in recent years. MRC bought the music division of data giant Nielsen last year, subsequently rebranding it as MRC Data. Meanwhile, PMC bought into the younger music data outfit BuzzAngle in 2018, which was then rebranded as Alpha Data earlier this year. Both will become part of the new data-focused JV that MRC and PMC are now creating, alongside the latter's Variety Business Intelligence unit.

It's an interesting alliance because when PMC's Rolling Stone magazine launched its own music chart with Alpha Data last year, it was positioned as a significant new competitor to the traditional Billboard charts in the US. Billboard, of course, is owned by MRC, and its charts are compiled by MRC Data.

Except, of course, competition between those two charts had already been lessened by one of the earlier MRC/PMC joint ventures - ie the one that brought together the music and trade magazines in which the two companies have an interest. Those include Rolling Stone and Billboard, as well as The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Vibe and Music Business Worldwide.

Announcing the latest alliance, the bosses of MRC - Asif Satchu and Modi Wiczyk - and of PMC - Jay Penske - all said in unison: "As we compete with industry titans who have an arsenal of data at their fingertips, we're proud our businesses represent the trusted independent source known for delivering comprehensive, timely, and accurate data in entertainment".

"Data transparency must be a critical component of our industry and our society's future", they went on, "and this new company will leverage our collective data products, people, and expertise to provide solutions for the global entertainment community".

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Sony/ATV to merge production music divisions
Sony/ATV has announced that it is merging its two production music divisions - Extreme Music and EMI Production Music - into one global operation, to be led by Russell Emanuel.

"Russell is undeniably one of the best in the business, and I'm pleased to recognise his expertise and influence with this new leadership role", says Sony/ATV CEO Jon Platt. "His vision to integrate these two successful production music entities will further support our composers, clients and catalogues on a global scale".

Emanuel adds: "I am extremely thankful and excited for this incredible new opportunity. It's a dream scenario to harness two iconic brands, cutting edge technology and extraordinary talent to create a dynamic next chapter, which will be both evolutionary and revolutionary".

Extreme Music was founded by Emanuel in 1997 and then acquired by Sony/ATV in 2008. EMI Production Music came to Sony/ATV through its 2012 acquisition of the EMI publishing business.

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Vick Bain joins Attitude Is Everything
Music charity Attitude Is Everything has announced that it has hired the former CEO of BASCA (now The Ivors Academy) Vick Bain as its Interim Director Of Strategy.

"We are delighted to announce that Vick Bain will be working with Attitude Is Everything", says Director Of Operations Ailsa McWilliam. "Her experience and standing in the music industry will be invaluable in these challenging times. We are excited to be working with Vick and to have the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge she brings to the team".

Bain adds: "I have long supported and admired the work of Attitude Is Everything, who have done incredible work over the years ensuring people living with disabilities have the same opportunities of access to live music as everyone else".

"This year has been an incredibly challenging one for the entire music industry", she goes on, "and therefore I am deeply honoured to be working with Attitude over the coming months at this crucial time, ensuring that equal access remains at the top of the agenda for all venues and festivals when we move towards re-opening".

In her new role, Bain's key focus will be identifying new opportunities for partnerships as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and beyond.

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CMU Insights: We can run training for your music company or organisation
As well as all the training we offer through the CMU webinars programme, don't forget we also offer in-house training services for music companies and organisations.

This provides a really simple way for music businesses to run team training sessions internally. These ensure that employees are fully up to speed on all the latest trends and developments, while also presenting an effective way for team members to come together and share their knowledge and experience, especially if they are primarily working remotely.

To make things simple, we have a large menu of off-the-shelf webinars and seminars for music industry employers to choose from. Clients can pick the topics that are most relevant to them and their team. We can also create new sessions if there are topics not currently covered by the menu.

We have delivered bespoke training sessions for numerous music companies and organisations in recent years, including Sony Music, Warner Music, SoundCloud, Emubands, ie:music, ATC Management, BPI, MMF, IMRO, the Musicians' Union, the British Council, Promus, Music Norway, Music Estonia and the Association Of Caribbean Copyright Societies.

Click here to find out more about CMU's Team Training.
 

Ozzy Osbourne postpones farewell dates (for the third time) to 2022
Ozzy Osbourne has postponed his European tour dates. Not news it's unusual to hear in current circumstances. Although that tour was supposed to begin in Newcastle tonight and was only postponed yesterday.

This is actually the third time these shows - intended to be part of Osbourne's farewell tour - have been pushed back, though it's the first COVID-caused postponement.

The dates were originally delayed in April 2019, after Osbourne sustained two injuries that required surgery and then he caught the flu. A year ago it was announced that they were being pushed back again, due to ongoing issues with a neck injury.

In January this year, Osbourne revealed that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, which led to the cancellation of US dates. The UK shows stayed in the schedule, though. And were not pulled, even as the pandemic led to the shutdown of the live industry.

Understandably, fans with tickets were keen for information about the shows, and many were left angry that this only arrived at the last minute.

In a statement, fans were told that the shows were being postponed now due to "the unprecedented and ever-changing situation". Though - while things are definitely unprecedented and ever-changing at the moment - it has arguably been clear for months that these European shows would not be able to go ahead.

Osbourne himself said: "I really want to thank my fans for their loyalty and for waiting for me. Believe me, I can't wait to see you all again. Please stay safe in these uncertain times".

The shows are now set to begin in Berlin in January 2022. Which, yes, is quite a long way off. UK and Ireland dates are scheduled for late February and early March of that year, by which time some fans will have had their tickets for nearly four years. Those tickets will remain valid for the rescheduled shows and Judas Priest are still on board to support.

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RELEASES

We reported yesterday that Ariana Grande was going to release a new single today, and I know you all thought that was a lie, but it wasn't. Look, here's the music video.

Miley Cyrus has announced that she will release new album 'Plastic Hearts' on 27 Nov. "Think you'll love it, and if you don't, fuck you", she says. From it, this is 'Midnight Sky'.

Stormzy has released the video for 'Rainfall', from his 'Heavy Is The Head' album. It was made inside new video game 'Watch Dog: Legions'. Stormzy also stars in one of the game's missions.

Sam Smith has made a new augmented reality video for recent single 'Diamonds' exclusively for Spotify. Find out more here.

Bring Me The Horizon have released new single 'Teardrops'.

The Weeknd has released the video for 'Too Late', from his 'After Hours' album. He's also launched that new pair of branded sandals you were hoping for.

Rico Nasty has released new single 'Don't Like Me', featuring Gucci Mane and Don Toliver.

Saweetie has released new single 'Back To The Streets', featuring Jhené Aiko.

Refused have announced that they will release new EP 'The Malignant Fire' on 20 Nov. From it, this is new single 'Born On The Outs'.

Sondre Lerche has released the video for 'I Can't See Myself Without You', taken from a new deluxe version of his latest album 'Patience', which is out today.

Slayyyter has released new single 'Self-Destruct', featuring Wuzi.

Dream Nails have released new single 'DIY'. They've also announced a livestreamed show on 6 Dec. Tickets here.

So Below has released her debut album 'Left Behind'.

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GIGS & TOURS

Ryuichi Sakamoto has announced that he will livestream a solo piano performance on 12 Dec. Details and tickets here.

Yungblud has announced that he will tour the UK in September and October next year. He's also delayed the release of his new album, 'Weird!', to 2 Dec, due to production issues.

Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.

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Jack White buys Edinburgh busker a new guitar, after his is smashed in the street
Jack White has bought an Edinburgh busker a fancy new guitar, after his previous axe was smashed by a passer-by who, it is fair to say, was not a fan.

In an Instagram post immediately following the incident earlier this week, Matt Grant explained that he had been performing on Princes Street in Edinburgh when a woman approached him and apparently told him to stop playing. When he refused, she grabbed his guitar and broke it on the pavement.

"This lady came up, she started shouting in my face, swearing, telling me I wasn't playing", he said. "I told her to fuck off basically, I told her to go away and leave me alone ... so she grabbed my guitar and threw it on the ground".

Launching a GoFundMe page to raise money to replace the £300 instrument, he explained further: "The lady was a drunk. Often I don't rise to people coming up and talking nonsense, but this lady was pushing it too far. She was in my face swearing and shouting at me. I told her to go away and she wasn't having any of it. She grabbed my guitar and smashed it over the ground. The police intervened [and] she was arrested. But now I'm out of a guitar to busk with for the time being".

News of the incident went viral, and within 24 hours Grant had raised over £4000. Shutting down the crowdfunder, he promptly went down to local instrument shop GuitarGuitar and purchased a new guitar. A happy ending to the story.

But that's not the end of the story, is it? Because I think I said something about Jack White.

Yesterday, a new post appeared on Grant's Instagram profile adding a whole new chapter to the story. "This morning I came into GuitarGuitar to pick up the new acoustic", he explains. "Next thing I know I'm on the phone to Jack White's manager who tells me Jack White has seen my GoFundMe page, feels bad for what happened and wants to buy me a new guitar".

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Grant says he explained that he'd already purchased a replacement guitar with the money he'd raised online, but was told, "Keep that one and get another one. Jack really wants to help'".

"Flashforward: one kid in a candy shop later testing as many guitars as possible and I settle on a custom made Fender Stratocaster", his Instagram post continues. "Absolute once in a million lifetimes thing happened today and I cannot thank Jack enough for his absolute generosity. Apparently he saw what happened and hit up his manager just this morning, who then amazingly tracked me down to the guitar shop just in time for me to walk out with this absolute beauty".

That's a £3600 guitar he got himself there. Probably best not take it out on the streets, just in case.

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ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU Daily, website and Setlist podcast, managing social channels, reporting on artist and business stories, and writing the CMU Approved column.
andy@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Founder & MD
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and CMU Trends. He also leads the CMU Insights consultancy unit and the CMU:DIY future talent programme, as well as heading up CMU publisher 3CM UnLimited.
chris@unlimitedmedia.co.uk (except press releases, see below)
   
SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, and also heads up business development at CMU Insights and CMU:DIY.
sam@unlimitedmedia.co.uk or call 020 7099 9060
   
CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media as a Director of 3CM UnLimited, as well as heading up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supporting other parts of the business.
caro@unlimitedmedia.co.uk
 
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