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 maximize their income and reduce their touring costs.
AI-generated music productions that mimic the vocals of superstar artists dominated headlines this week.
At the center of the news was a viral song called heart on my sleeve, featuring AI-generated vocals copying the voices of Drake and The Weeknd.
The track was uploaded to YouTube and TikTok by its purported author, ghostwriter. Via a third-party distributor, the track successfully made its way to streaming services where it began to rack up streams by the hundreds of thousands. It was subsequently deleted by these platforms.
Both Drake and The Weeknd release their (real life) records via Universal Music Group and its Republic Records. UMG responded to the news on Monday (April 17), stating that “platforms have a fundamental legal and ethical responsibility to prevent the use of their services in ways that harm artists”.
Also this week, BMG claimed to have become the first global music company to abandon what it calls “the outdated industry distinction” between new i.e ‘frontline’ and older i.e ‘catalog’ releases. The company has now fully integrated its frontline and catalog recordings businesses.
BMG’s recorded catalog will now report locally as per its country of origin and then globally through EVP Global Repertoire Fred Casimir for all sales outside the owning territory, adopting the same structure BMG uses for ‘frontline’ recordings.
Elsewhere, Amsterdam-based Armada Music, the indie dance music giant founded by superstar DJ Armin van Buurin, has launched an investment fund BEAT Music, with plans to spend $100 million on M&A in its first two years.
Plus, live stream platform Mandolin is shutting down just two years after raising $12 million, while Switzerland-based music company Utopia has confirmed it is laying off around 15% of its current global workforce.
Here’s what happened this week…
1) UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP RESPONDS TO ‘FAKE DRAKE’ AI TRACK: STREAMING PLATFORMS HAVE ‘A FUNDAMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY TO PREVENT THE USE OF THEIR SERVICES IN WAYS THAT HARM ARTISTS’
Universal Music Group has responded to this week’s dominant music industry news story: That a track featuring AI-replicated Drake ‘vocals’ had gone viral, not only on social media, but also on music streaming platforms.
As MBW reported on Monday (April 17), some music streaming services such as Apple Music, Deezer, and TIDAL, pulled down the track over the course of the day. The likes of Spotify, SoundCloud, and YouTube subsequently also deleted the track.
The track, heart on my sleeve, credited to the ‘artist’ ghostwriter, had racked up more than 230,000 plays on YouTube, and more than 625,000 plays on Spotify…
2) BMG INTEGRATES FRONTLINE AND CATALOG RECORDINGS BUSINESSES
BMG has announced that it is fully integrating its new release and catalog recordings businesses.
In doing so, the company claims to have become the first global music company to abandon what it calls “the outdated industry distinction” between new i.e ‘frontline’ and older i.e ‘catalog’.
The industry has historically defined ‘frontline’ as any release younger than 18 months old, while ‘catalog’ has counted as any music older than 18 months.
BMG says that the move reflects “the new reality of a streaming market in which older catalog recordings account for up to three-quarters of revenue”.
3) LESS THAN 2 YEARS AFTER CLOSING A $12M FUNDING ROUND, LIVESTREAMING PLATFORM MANDOLIN SHUTTERS
During the pandemic, it was billed as one of the leading platforms in the music livestreaming space. Last year, it was named the most innovative music company in the world by Fast Company.
But now Mandolin has announced it’s shutting down its platform.
Mandolin was co-founded in June 2020 by former Salesforce EVP and COO Mary Kay Huse, who became its CEO.
In June 2021, the firm announced that it had closed a USD $12 million Series A funding round, co-led by 645 Ventures and Foundry Group, with returning investments from High Alpha and Marc Benioff’s TIME Ventures.
4) ARMIN VAN BUUREN’S ARMADA MUSIC LAUNCHES $100M CATALOG-BUYING FUND BACKED BY PINNACLE FINANCIAL
Amsterdam-based Armada Music – the indie label behind such dance/techno legends as Chicane, Paul Oakenfold and Paul Van Dyk – has announced the launch of investment company BEAT Music, with plans to spend $100 million on M&A in its first two years.
BEAT, which stands for “Best Ever Acquired Tracks,” has already announced two acquisitions:
The master recordings catalog of KMS Records, which was founded by house and techno legend Kevin Saunderson.
The master and publishing catalogs of musician, DJ and producer ARTY, a.k.a. Alpha 9.
5) UTOPIA MUSIC SLASHES 15% OF GLOBAL WORKFORCE; OVER 300 STAFF LAID OFF AT COMPANY IN PAST 6 MONTHS
Switzerland-based music company Utopia, has confirmed it is laying off around 15% of its current global workforce.
The plan, revealed in a company memo sent on Monday (April 17), will see around 100 jobs cut, reports Billboard.
The news comes less than six months after a previous round of layoffs at Utopia, which saw 20% of the company’s headcount – or around 230 positions – axed.
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