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.
Who is about to own the biggest music rights company on the planet?
That’s a question we can’t fully answer right now, thanks to shenanigans this week in Vivendi’s attempt to sell off a 10% chunk of Universal Music Group.
The US-based SPAC that was supposed to buy 10% of UMG this summer – Pershing Square Tontine Holdings (PSTH) – has pulled out of that deal.
Instead, it’s passed its UMG share purchase agreement to a similarly-monikered company, Pershing Square Holdings Ltd (PSH), which trades on the London Stock Exchange.
The crucial fact in this narrative: Vivendi confirmed this week that PSH may now not buy 10% of UMG for $4 billion, as originally agreed with PSTH.
Instead, PSH could buy as little as 5% of Universal – which would leave Vivendi the job of finding another buyer to acquire the additional 5% stake left on the table by PSH.
Vivendi has committed to finding that additional buyer, if required, by September 21… when 60% of UMG is scheduled to go public in Amsterdam.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Warner’s purchase of the assets?
Apple is/was an investor in 12Tone, meaning that a “traditional” player from the major record industry just bought out music rights ownership from a global tech leviathan.
For a long time in the music business, observers – MBW included – have ruminated on what might happen to record labels if tech giants begin to directly acquire more and more bankable music rights.
The current evidence suggests this trend is actually moving in the opposite direction, and not only because of the 12Tone story: Industry whisperers tell MBW that Alphabet/Google no longer owns an interest in 300 Entertainment, the highly successful New York-HQ’d indie led by Kevin Liles. (Google was an early funding source for 300, which was previously run by Lyor Cohen, now global head of YouTube Music.)
The past few days has also seen Sony Music Publishing announce – in a landmark move – that it will be disregarding unrecouped balances for heritage songwriters who meet certain criteria, as CTS Eventim confirms it’s taking the fight to Live Nation and co. by expanding into Asia.
See below for five of the biggest stories MBW reported on this week…
At the close of last week, Vivendi’s plan to sell off 70% of Universal Music Group seemed simple enough.
The French company planned to – and still plans to – spin out 60% of UMG onto the Amsterdam stock exchange in September (September 21, to be precise).
In addition, Vivendi was to sell 10% of UMG in a $4 billion transaction to Bill Ackman’s US-based SPAC, Pershing Square Tontine Holdings (PSTH).
That all changed this week, when Ackman announced that his SPAC was cancelling its acquisition, and transferring its share purchase agreement to Pershing Square Holdings Ltd.
That, though, isn’t the end of the matter…
Warner Music Group (WMG) is acquiring the assets of 12Tone Music, the independent label founded in 2018 by veteran music executive, Doug Morris.
Under this arrangement, Morris will continue to be actively engaged in the day-to-day activities of 12Tone Music and its artists.
Most recently distributed by ADA, Warner’s independent label and artists services arm, 12Tone’s catalog and roster include artists such as Aftermath’s four-time Grammy winner Anderson .Paak and the 88 Rising collective (featuring global superstar Joji among their roster)..
Last month, in a move that won widespread applause, Sony Music announced that it was to disregard unrecouped balances for a swathe of heritage recording artists on its books.
The move was launched via an initiative called “Artists Forward” which, according to the record company, focuses on “prioritizing transparency with creators in all aspects of their development”.
Now, the marquee policy from that initiative, The Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program, is being extended to songwriters, with Sony Music Publishing (SMP) revealing today that it will disregard unrecouped balances going forward for qualifying songwriters…
The music industry shouldn’t sleep on the rapid growth of concert promoter and ticketing company CTS Eventim.
The Munich-headquartered company posted €1.44 billion in revenue in 2019, more than three times its turnover a decade before (2009: €467m).
Now, as the firm looks to bounce back from a pandemic-hit year in 2020, it’s made a major global move – launching Eventim Live Asia (ELA) in partnership with Jason Miller….
Sony Music Entertainment (SME) has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against UK-born fitness apparel brand Gymshark.
The fitness firm, founded by Ben Francis in 2012, was valued at approximately $1.3bn in August last year after selling a 21% stake to US-based General Atlantic.Gymshark is currently expanding into the US.
In a legal document filed in California on Thursday (July 15), Sony Music claims that Gymshark “has achieved its success by infringing sound recordings and musical compositions belonging to a number of different content owners”, including SME’s, “on a massive scale”…