From Sony’s big spending to BTS streams on Spotify: It’s MBW’s Weekly Round-Up

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.

How hot is the music rights business as a market right now?

The empirical answer to this question was revealed this week by Sony Music Group boss Rob Stringer.

During a speech to Sony investors, the British exec noted that, according to his team’s estimates, the music industry saw over $7 billion of merger and acquisition activity in the first four months of 2021 alone.

As a result, nearly as much money was spent on music biz buyouts in this Jan-April period, said Stringer, than in the entirety of 2020 – a year, lest we forget, that saw a bunch of huge music catalogs, including Bob Dylan’s, change hands for massive fees.

Sony has put its own substantial dent in the M&A frenzy of 2021, of course: Stringer confirmed that – partly thanks to its buyout of companies like Kobalt‘s AWAL and Brazilian label Som Livre – Sony has spent some $1.4 billion on music acquisitions in just the past six months.

On the topic of music biz buyouts, we also learned this week that Sony Music Group’s biggest rival, Universal Music Group, has put up a mini-obstacle to investors who acquire royalty streams from sound recordings that UMG owns or controls.

UMG is no longer accepting Letters of Direction from third-party acquirers, meaning said investors will need to arrange re-assignment of payments from these royalty streams directly with the artists involved. UMG says it’s made the move because of “significant tax and legal liability issues” which might or might not have something to do with the fact that Universal Music Group recently became a Netherlands-based corporate entity ahead of its public listing in Amsterdam later this year.

UMG’s Letter of Direction change-up will not affect acquisitions related to music publishing, however.

Elsewhere this week, MBW delved into the reasons behind BTS’s new single, Butter, racking up 20.9 million streams on day one on Spotify – but nearly half of these streams being discounted on the service’s chart.

In short, it’s because of BTS super-fans playing the track more than 10 times in a single day, which industry insiders tell us is the maximum number of daily streams Spotify allows per-user in its chart data formula. Any plays above the magic 10 number we’re told, aren’t counted.

This has rather sapped the spirits of some BTS ‘Army’ members online, who organized mass repeat plays of the song to demonstrate their collective fandom.

That being said, the full 20.9 million day-one plays of Butter were royalty-bearing. Which begs the question: Is this fair on other artists who lost out on royalty market share in Spotify’s ‘pro rata’ model as a result? And if not, is this another argument for the adoption of user-centric licensing on streaming platforms?

Read below to catch up on MBW’s biggest stories from the past five days…

Sony Music logo

Now we know exactly how much Sony spent on music acquisitions in the last six months: $1.4 billion. And according to Sony Music Group Chairman Rob Stringer, there’ll be more on the way.

Speaking at Sony Group’s Investor Relations (IR) day this week, Stringer confirmed the $1.4 billion figure while also discussing Sony’s investment activities and the wider music market.

Grilled over what Sony Music Group plans on spending its cash on going forward – and where geographically it plans on investing – Stringer responded “everything and anywhere”.

2) BTS set new Spotify streaming record – but nearly 10m day-one plays are discounted on service’s chart

BTS broke the all-time record for day-one streams on Spotify last Friday (May 21) with new single Butter. Spotify has confirmed to MBW that the track racked up 20.9 million global plays in its first 24 hours on the platform.

However, some 9.86 million of these plays were subsequently discounted for the numbers that make up Spotify’s public-facing chart numbers, which only credit Butter with 11.042 million in the 24 hour period.

Why? Because of BTS fans hammering the track on repeat.

3) TikTok Radio is coming to SiriusXM

TikTok is launching TikTok Radio, a full-time SiriusXM music channel going live this summer.

The station will be available in vehicles and as a streaming channel on the SiriusXM App, desktop, and all connected devices.

TikTok Radio will be presented by TikTok creators, tastemakers, and DJs, including influencers like Bella Poarch, Christian Shelton and Nick Tangorra.


Fan funding platform, Corite – co-founded by Universal Music Sweden alumni Mattias Tengblad (CEO) and Emil Angervall (COO) – has inked a partnership with L.A-based HITCO Entertainment.

HITCO, run by L.A Reid and Charles Goldstuck, has acquired a minority stake in Corite and will help the company launch in the US. The two firms plan to launch a joint scouting program in the States to identify up-and-coming artists.

NetEase Cloud Music logo
5) NetEase to spin out music streaming service in $1bn IPO

Spotify rival Anghami isn’t the only music streaming company with IPO plans in 2021.

Chinese technology giant NetEase Inc. is planning to spin off its subsidiary Cloud Village, which operates music streaming service NetEase Cloud Music, on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

That’s according to a listing application filed by NetEase in Hong Kong this week.Music Business Worldwide