Welcome to Music Business Worldwide’s weekly round-up – where we make sure you caught the five biggest stories to hit our headlines over the past seven days. MBW’s round-up is supported by Centtrip, which helps over 500 of the world’s best-selling artists maximise their income and reduce their touring costs.
British competition regulators were busy this week.
On Tuesday, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) decided that Sony Music’s acquisition of AWAL from Kobalt Music Group raises competition concerns, following a Phase 1 investigation into the buyout, which Sony has previously valued at $430 million.
The CMA’s issue with the deal is that it “could lead to worse terms for artists and less innovation in the music sector”.
Just to recap: The completion of the acquisition of AWAL, plus Neighboring Rights (formerly Kobalt Neighbouring Rights), from Kobalt, was confirmed by Sony Music on May 19.
The CMA announced that same week that it was planning to investigate the deal and launched an inquiry at the beginning of July.
Sony Music – which issued a statement this week calling the CMA’s decision “perplexing” and suggested that it’s “based on an incorrect understanding of AWAL’s position in the UK” – is required to address the concerns within five working days from Tuesday.
And if it can’t? The buyout will be referred for an in-depth Phase 2 investigation.
An extra twist was added to this news today after MBW learned that, since the deal was confirmed in May, Kobalt has agreed to buy back equity in its company from shareholders for the cumulative price of nearly $90 million.
Elsewhere this week, we were twice reminded what a blockbuster album looks like, by Kanye West’s Donda (G.O.O.D./Def Jam), and Drake’s Certified Lover Boy (OVO Sound/Republic Records).
Def Jam confirmed on Sunday (September 5) that Donda, released off-cycle on Sunday August 29, racked up over 520,000 equivalent units globally in its first week (seven days) of streaming, having accumulated over 775 million global streams in that period.
Over 442 million of those streams came from Spotify – enough for Donda to nab the second-biggest global week-one performance on the platform of all time, ahead of Post Malone’s Beerbongs + Bentleys (409m in week one) but behind Drake’s 2018 effort Scorpion (559m in week one).
Drake, who released his sixth studio album, Certified Lover Boy, on Friday (September 3), broke his own Spotify record for the most streamed album in 24 hours on the platform ever.
Remember: Drizzy’s old record was achieved with his previous album Scorpion, with a total global stream count of 132,384,203 within its opening 24 hours on June 29, 2018. Certified Lover Boy accumulated over 153.4m global streams in its first 24 hours on Spotify.
In other news from the past seven days, Apple Music is using Shazam technology to identify tracks in DJ mixes in order to pay all the rightsholders whose music appears in a mix, and Los Angeles-headquartered talent management firm Milk & Honey has opened an Australasia arm to its business, based in Sydney.
Here’s what happened this week…
1) SONY MUSIC’S AWAL BUYOUT RAISES COMPETITION CONCERNS IN THE UK, SAYS WATCHDOG
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has decided that Sony Music’s completed purchase of recorded music services firm AWAL from Kobalt Music Group raises competition concerns, following a Phase 1 investigation into the buyout.
Sony must now address the CMA’s concerns within five working days. If it is unable to do so, the deal will be referred for an in-depth Phase 2 investigation.
At the core of the CMA’s concerns is that the deal “could lead to worse terms for artists and less innovation in the music sector”…
2) KANYE WEST HITS 775M STREAMS IN DONDA’S FIRST WEEK… AS DRAKE SMASHES HIS OWN SPOTIFY RECORD
Blockbuster albums have been in short supply these past 18 months.
While the likes of the Weeknd’s Blinding Lights (March 2020) and Taylor Swift’s Folklore (July 24, 2020) certainly impressed on streaming services, they couldn’t get close to the kind of numbers pulled in by all-time record breakers on the likes of Spotify and Apple Music.
In fact, for a minute there, it looked like no new albums would ever smash play-count records on major streaming platforms again.
But then Kanye West returned. Soon followed by Drake. And records did shatter all over the land….
3) AFTER SELLING AWAL, KOBALT PAYS $89M TO BUY BACK EQUITY FROM SHAREHOLDERS
There is a lot riding on the sale of AWAL – and not just for buyer Sony Music Entertainment (SME).
MBW has learned that Kobalt Music Group, which sold AWAL to SME in a $430 million deal in May, has since agreed to buy back a chunk of equity in its company from shareholders, for the cumulative price of nearly $90 million.
Today’s news offers a fresh angle on the story that the UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority has raised concerns about the sale of AWAL to Sony.
As MBW reported earlier this week, the CMA – following the Phase 1 of its investigation into the deal – said it was “concerned that the loss of an innovative competitor like AWAL could, despite continued presence of the other major labels, lead to worse terms for artists and less innovation in the music sector”… (MBW)
4) APPLE MUSIC IS NOW USING SHAZAM TECHNOLOGY TO IDENTIFY TRACKS IN DJ MIXES SO THAT RIGHTSHOLDERS GET PAID
Apple Music has rolled out a new process that uses Shazam technology to identify tracks in DJ mixes in order to pay all the rightsholders whose music appears in a mix.
The identification process has been developed in coordination with major and independent labels and the music streaming platform is also working with DJs, as well as DJ mix suppliers like festivals, clubs and promoters.
Thousands of mixes are already available on Apple Music on a dedicated DJ mix category page…
5) MILK & HONEY EXPANDS INTO AUSTRALASIA WITH SYDNEY OFFICE LED BY DANIEL NALL
Milk & Honey was already one of the music business’s fastest-growing talent management companies before 2020’s lockdowns hit. The firm has since doggedly refused to let the pandemic slow down its global ambitions.
In April last year, the Los Angeles-headquartered firm – led by founder and President, Lucas Keller – took the wraps off its first ever UK office, located next door to Universal Music Group and Google in London’s Kings Cross.
Three months later, Milk & Honey opened its first Continental Europe office, located in Amsterdam. And at the top of 2021, the company made a bold expansion into the world of sports talent management – and now reps 15 athletes in American football league, the NFL.
This week, Milk & Honey is unveiling its next international power move: The firm has opened an Australasia arm to its business, located in Sydney and covering talent in both Australia and New Zealand….
MBW’s Weekly Round-Up is supported by Centtrip, which helps over 500 of the world’s best-selling artists maximise their income and reduce their touring costs.Music Business Worldwide