MBW’s Weekly Roundup: IFPI, BMG x KKR, Warner x Tencent, TuneIn, IMPALA

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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.


This week, IFPI published its annual Global Music Report revealing that global recorded music revenues reached $21.6 billion last year, representing an increase of 7.4% versus 2019. However, MBW estimates that global subscription streaming trade annual ARPU fell by just over $2 per head in 2020, or by 8.8%.

Meanwhile, BMG and investment giant KKR have announced an alliance that will see them team up to acquire and manage music copyrights.

Elsewhere, Warner Music Group and Tencent Music Entertainment are launching a joint venture record label in China and have also inked a new multi-year licensing agreement for WMG’s recorded music repertoire on Tencent platforms in mainland China.

Also, TuneIn has lost its appeal against the judgment in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group in the UK.

Plus, independent music body IMPALA has published a 10-point plan to reform the music streaming sector, which includes a part that calls for an end to streaming “payola”.


Photo Credit: Giorgio Trovato

1) WHY WE BELIEVE STREAMING SUBSCRIPTION ARPU FELL BY AROUND 8% GLOBALLY FOR THE RECORD INDUSTRY LAST YEAR

IFPI, the organization that represents the recorded music industry worldwide, published its annual Global Music Report (GMR) this week – spilling the beans on the official trade revenues for the recorded music industry in 2020. (That’s trade revenues, meaning the money that works its way back to record labels and distributors, and then artists.)

In spite of the pandemic, the headline numbers were upbeat: global recorded music revenues reached $21.6 billion last year, representing an increase of 7.4% versus 2019.

This was the record industry’s sixth consecutive year of growth, and its largest annual haul since 2002 ($22.1bn).

The 2020 uptick was driven primarily by streaming and, particularly, by paid audio subscription streaming revenues, which according to IFPI, increased by 18.5% YoY.

However, behind the celebrations of a growing industry in a pandemic year, you might just hear some record industry grumbles about that old chestnut, Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)…


2) A NEW CATALOG ACQUISITION JUGGERNAUT IS BORN, AS BMG AND KKR STRIKE DEAL TO JOINTLY BUY MUSIC COPYRIGHTS

The jungle of music rights acquisitions has become a crowded and expensive place.

But the game just changed again – as an 800-pound gorilla enters the fray.

BMG and investment giant KKR have announced an alliance that will see them team up to acquire and manage music copyrights.

MBW understands that the result of the combination will see KKR and BMG co-invest in rights across both recorded music and music publishing.

This will enable BMG to increase its spending power in the highly competitive catalog acquisition market, while giving KKR a global administrative/operational partner for music rights with a financial interest in maximizing returns…


3) WARNER AND TENCENT MUSIC TO LAUNCH A JOINT RECORD LABEL, AS THEY INK MULTI-YEAR LICENSING DEAL

Warner Music Group and Tencent Music Entertainment are launching a joint venture record label in China, the two companies have confirmed.

The deal means that TME will have two new joint venture labels running with major music companies in China – after a similar launch was announced with Universal Music Group last year.

The announcement comes as Warner and TME confirm they have also signed a new multi-year licensing agreement for WMG’s recorded music repertoire on Tencent platforms in mainland China.

Those platforms include including QQ Music, Kugou Music and Kuwo Music, as well as its live streaming platforms and WeSing, TME’s online karaoke platform…


4) TUNEIN LOSES APPEAL AGAINST JUDGMENT IN SONY AND WARNER COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT IN THE UK

The Court of Appeal of England and Wales has upheld a copyright infringement verdict against US streaming radio service TuneIn.

The company was hoping to overturn the judgment in the Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment copyright infringement lawsuit that was made in November 2019.

The UK lawsuit, filed by Warner and Sony in 2017, accused the US company of lacking a license to play music in the UK.

Launched in 2002, San Francisco-based TuneIn is a free digital radio service that offers its listeners music, sport, news, podcast and audiobook content…


5) INDIE LABELS CALL FOR END TO STREAMING ‘PAYOLA’ – AS IMPALA UNVEILS 10-POINT PLAN TO REFORM SECTOR

IMPALA, which represents many of the world’s biggest independent record labels in Europe, has published a must-read new report containing a number of suggestions the industry should consider for overhauling the way streaming works.

One of the most contentious parts of the manifesto centers on streaming services that offer rights-holders reduced royalties for guaranteed plays or “privileged treatment in algorithms or other features”.

In no uncertain terms, IMPALA says of such practices: “This is payola, and has no legitimate place in improving viability and opportunity for creators.”

The trade body doesn’t mention Spotify by name, but this certainly seems like a nod towards the platform’s ‘Discovery Mode’. Launched last year, ‘Discovery Mode’ enables labels to improve the frequency of their tracks appearing via Autoplay and Spotify Radio… so long as they accept a reduced royalty rate for any related plays…


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.

 Music Business Worldwide

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