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.
The first week of a new year tends to be quiet in the music business world, but the first week of 2024 proved to be a busy one for Universal Music Group, at least in terms of its public announcements.
The world’s largest music rightsholder announced three major deals to start the year, and each of them, in some way, reflects the ongoing globalization of music talent, genres, and consumption.
First, UMG confirmed a new multi-year licensing agreement with Tencent Music Entertainment, the largest owner of music streaming platforms in the rapidly-growing Chinese market. Under the contract, TME-owned streaming platforms QQ Music, Kugou Music, Kuwo Music and WeSing will continue to have access to UMG’s music catalog.
Later in the week came the news that UMG is buying the recordings catalog and some of the music rights of Oriental Star Agencies (OSA), the Birmingham-headquartered label that played a key role in the development of UK Bhangra and launched the careers of numerous British and South Asian artists, including the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
Finally, we got word that UMG’s global indie artist and label services division, Virgin Music Group, is acquiring Los Angeles-headquartered Saban Music Latin. Under the deal, VMG will acquire Saban Music Latin’s catalog and will release future albums by selected Saban artists.
In other news, the annual MBW Entrepreneur Of The Year award has launched in association with Goldman Sachs. The inaugural winner for 2023/2024 is Meng Ru Kuok, founder and CEO of Singapore’s Caldecott Music Group. Caldecott is owner of the BandLab music-making platform that has been a true disruptor in the music space, with 60 million registered users and 17 million new tracks being created each month.
In a Q&A with MBW, Meng declared that he expects there to be 1 billion music creators worldwide by 2030, “potentially even sooner.” But he predicted that “the definition of a ‘music creator’ or ‘musician’ will change, just as the definition of a ‘photographer’ has changed with the advent of smartphones.”
Elsewhere, in news from late last month (in case you missed it), Germany-headquartered BMG continued CEO Thomas Coesfeld‘s mission to refocus the company back on music rights and recordings, with the announcement that BMG is transferring its two live companies, Undercover and Karo, back to their minority shareholders.
Here’s what happened this week…
Universal Music Group has kicked off 2024 with a big deal announcement: The world’s largest music rightsholder has confirmed a new multi-year licensing agreement with Tencent Music Entertainment (TME).
Under the contract, TME will continue to have access to UMG’s music catalog for QQ Music, Kugou Music, Kuwo Music and WeSing. The expansive partnership includes music streaming in Dolby Atmos and high-definition (HD) formats.
Tencent Music Entertainment is the largest music streaming platform owner in China. As of the end of September 2023, the company’s online music services counted 103 million paying users.
TME is majority-owned by Tencent Holdings, which in turn leads a consortium (Concerto Partners LLC) that owns a 19.92% stake in Universal Music Group…
2) UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP ACQUIRES ORIENTAL STAR AGENCIES’ CATALOG, EXPANDING PRESENCE IN SOUTH ASIAN MUSIC
Universal Music Group (UMG) has taken another step in its ambitious expansion into South Asian and South Asian-influenced music.
The world’s largest music rightsholder announced on Thursday (January 4) that it is acquiring the entire catalog of UK-based South Asian music label Oriental Star Agencies (OSA Ltd.). The deal includes all of the label’s recordings, as well as publishing rights “where held.”
OSA operated for some 50 years from its headquarters in Birmingham, until it was sold to Hi-Tech Music Ltd. in 2017.
With a catalog of some 18,000 songs, concerts and video recordings, the label played a key role in the development of the UK Bhangra genre and launched the careers of numerous British and South Asian artists.
OSA was founded in 1966 by Muhammad Ayyub and his brothers, who had migrated from Pakistan to the UK’s West Midlands in 1961. The business began by importing records from India and Pakistan to the Birmingham area…
“There’s plenty of room to grow in Latin America and we’ve made great progress. We like our prospects there.”
Those are the words of JT Myers, co-CEO of Virgin Music Group (VMG), in an interview with MBW published late last year.
This week, we received some news that indicates just how keen Myers and his co-CEO at VMG, Nat Pastor, are on Latin music and its artists.
VMG, Universal Music Group’s global indie artist and label services division, has just confirmed that it is acquiring Saban Music Latin.
Under the terms of the transaction – fee undisclosed – Virgin Music Group will acquire Saban Music Latin’s catalog and will also release future albums by selected Saban Music Latin artists.
VMG currently operates divisions in multiple Latin markets including Mexico, the Andean region, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, and Portugal; it also operates a Latin division in the US…
4) BANDLAB CEO MENG RU KUOK: ‘I THINK THERE WILL BE OVER 1 BILLION MUSIC CREATORS BY 2030, POTENTIALLY EVEN SOONER.’
MBW’s Entrepreneur Of The Year award for 2023/2024 (sponsored by Goldman Sachs) goes to Meng Ru Kuok, founder and CEO of Singapore-based Caldecott Music Group, home to music tech company BandLab Technologies – and its flagship music-making platform, BandLab.
MBW explained in January 2023 just how disruptive BandLab was becoming – with over 60 million registered users on the platform, cumulatively generating around 17 million new tracks each month.
According to Meng, this is merely scratching the surface of a future whereby the number of music ‘creators’ in the world becomes comparable to the number of music ‘consumers’ – and where these two terms become somewhat interchangeable.
As Meng explains in our Q&A below: “I think there will be over 1 billion music creators by 2030, potentially even sooner.
“However, this is with the caveat that I also believe the definition of a ‘music creator’ or ‘musician’ will change, just as the definition of a ‘photographer’ has changed with the advent of smartphones…”
5) THOMAS COESFELD’S PLAN TO REFOCUS BMG ON MUSIC RIGHTS CONTINUES, AS BERTELSMANN-OWNED FIRM DIVESTS LIVE CONCERT COMPANIES
BMG has agreed terms that will see its two live companies, Undercover and Karo, transferred back to their minority shareholders.
The news follows a recent announcement by BMG CEO Thomas Coesfeld that BMG will focus on its two core service areas of music publishing and recordings.
Coesfeld announced a “more efficient and more effective” new global strategy at BMG in October.
The CEO’s plan has already seen changes including the closure of BMG’s New York-based theatrical productions initiative; no more active commissioning of new films are now taking place at BMG.
In addition, BMG has consolidated its New York and Canada-based recorded music operations into its Los Angeles office.
And BMG has discontinued its centralized international marketing department for recordings, which to date has been led by the company’s EVP Global Repertoire, Fred Casimir… (MBW)