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.
That red and white blur in Daniel Ek’s rear view mirror this week isn’t a flashback to his rejected Arsenal takeover bid – it’s YouTube, closing in on his company’s position as the music industry’s No.1 royalty payer.
Announcing this week that YouTube has crossed 50 million YouTube Music and Premium subscribers (including triallists), the platform’s Global Head of Music, Lyor Cohen reiterated that YouTube’s goal is to “become the music industry’s No.1 driver of revenue”.
To achieve this objective, YouTube would need to overtake Spotify’s annual royalty payments, which in 2020 surpassed $5 billion. Remember, just a couple of months ago, YouTube revealed that it paid the music industry over $4 billion in the previous 12 months, via what the platform has dubbed its “twin engines” of advertising and subscription revenue.
If, per Lyor Cohen, YouTube is indeed “the fastest growing music subscription service out there,” it’s not entirely impossible that Spotify could, at some point in the near future, be relegated to the second-biggest revenue driver position.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday (August 31), we learned that Universal Music Group‘s majority-owner Vivendi has sold an additional 2.9% of UMG to Pershing Square Holdings (PSH), run by billionaire Bill Ackman, for $1.149 billion (USD) based on an enterprise valuation of UMG at €35 billion (EUR).
The commitment to buy the additional 2.9% of UMG brings Pershing Square’s ownership to a total of 10% of UMG’s share capital, following the firm’s acquisition of 7.1% of UMG for $2.8 billion (USD) last month. After Vivendi announced the deal, Pershing Square Holdings confirmed that the 2.9% purchase is going through a co-investing affiliate of Pershing Square Holdings named PS VII Master, L.P.
This appears to conclude what has been somewhat of a back and forth between Ackman’s companies and Vivendi, that started off with Pershing Square Tontine Holdings (PSTH) confirming in June that it would be buying 10% of UMG in a $4bn transaction – ahead of UMG listing 60% of its shares in Amsterdam this September – but then pulled out, and transferred the UMG share purchase agreement to Pershing Square Holdings Ltd.
Speaking of acquisition deals, BMG, which we found out this week saw its half-year revenues grow 9% YoY at constant currency to €296 million ($357m) in H1 2021, also announced that its music rights acquisitions partnership with KKR is currently working on 71 pipeline deals (which may or may not reach completion) at a combined value of over €1 billion.
Elsewhere this week, Tencent cancelled all of its exclusive label deals in China following an antitrust clampdown in the country, and ABBA are back after 40 years with a concert and a brand new studio album.
Here’s what happened this week…
YouTube has surpassed the milestone of 50 million YouTube Music and Premium subscribers, including triallists. (YouTube Music is available as a standalone subscription platform, or bundled into a YouTube Premium subscription.)
The last subscriber figure to be publicly announced for YouTube Music came in October 2020, when Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai revealed that YouTube had “over 30 million” YouTube Music and/or YouTube Premium subs.
This means that YouTube Music has grown its subscriber base by around 20m in the past 11 months, or in other words, it’s added around 1.8m subscribers per month since October 2020…
Vivendi will be breathing a sigh of relief.
Universal Music Group‘s majority-owner just revealed that Pershing Square Holdings (PSH), run by billionaire Bill Ackman, has committed to buy an additional 2.9% of UMG for $1.149 billion (USD) based on an enterprise valuation of UMG at €35 billion (EUR).
This news follows Pershing Square’s acquisition of 7.1% of Universal Music Group for $2.8 billion (USD) earlier this month, and brings Pershing Square’s ownership to a total of 10% of UMG’s share capital…
3) BMG REVENUES UP 9% IN FIRST HALF OF 2021… AND IT HAS OVER $1BN OF ACQUISITION DEALS IN PLAY WITH KKR
BMG saw its half-year revenues grow 9% YoY at constant currency to €296 million ($357m) in the six months to end of June.
That represented the music rights company’s best-ever midyear performance since it was formed in 2008.
The €296 million haul – up 5.2% on a reported basis – represented a €14 million jump on the €282 million that BMG generated in the same six-month period of 2020…
Tencent Holdings and its majority-owned music arm Tencent Music Entertainment have ended all exclusive deals held with global labels in China.
After being hit with an exclusivity ban by China’s State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) in July, Tencent published a statement on WeChat on Tuesday (August 31) announcing that as of August 23, it had officially written to all “upstream copyright” holders to end their exclusive agreements.
In July, Tencent was fined 500,000 yuan (approx $77,000) by SAMR and given a 30 day-deadline to give up its exclusive deals in China, following an antitrust clampdown in the nation…
5) Legendary pop group ABBA return after 40 years with ‘revolutionary’ concert and brand new studio album
ABBA, one of the most successful pop groups of all time, have announced their return after 40 years with what they describe as a “revolutionary’ new concert and a brand new studio album called, Voyage.
The concert will see the group perform digitally with a live 10-piece band, in a purpose-built arena in London from May 27, 2022.
According a media statement, the digital versions of ABBA have been created following “weeks and months” of motion-capture and performance techniques with the four band members and an 850-strong team from Industrial Light & Magic, the company founded by George Lucas…