Tag Archives: Music Business Worldwide

German collection society GEMA paid over $1bn to publishers and songwriters in 2019

German performing rights organization GEMA generated revenues of €1.069bn ($1.2bn) in 2019, an increase of €50.2m (5%) compared to 2018.

Of this amount, €905.6m ($1.02bn) was distributed to members and rights-holders worldwide, according to GEMA, which published its financial results today (May 27).

Last year’s income was offset by total expenses of €163.7m compared to total expenses of €159.7m in 2018, reports GEMA, which adds that its expense ratio in 2019 was 15.3% compared to 15.7% in 2018.

Today’s news follows GEMA’s launch in March of an emergency Coronavirus aid fund worth up to €40m ($43m) for its songwriter and composer members, with the society’s CEO Dr Harald Heker commenting in a statement issued today that “GEMA’s very good 2019 financial year will form a ‘crisis airbag’ for [its] members”.

Public performance was GEMA’s strongest revenue sector in 2019, increasing by 4.9% to €407.4m compared to €388.5m in 2018, which GEMA states was “mainly due to a robust concert year in 2019”.

Digital revenues rose by over 72% to €181.9m, largely driven by streaming, and GEMA adds that “new contracts concluded with digital service providers were a particularly positive factor” in 2019.

Meanwhile, GEMA notes that “the declining importance of physical recordings such as CDs continued unabated in 2019” and that revenue from sales of “vinyl records show a positive market trend”. (Streaming overtook CDs as the highest earning format in the German recorded music market for the first time in H1 2018.)

At €61.1m, revenues from the duplication sector fell by almost 25% compared to 2018.

Elsewhere, income from music usage on television and radio fell slightly, by 2.2%, to €295.2m, attributed to falling advertising revenues from private television stations. 

“Against the background of current developments, GEMA’s very good 2019 financial year will form a ‘crisis airbag’ for our members.”

Dr Harald Heker, GEMA

“Against the background of current developments, GEMA’s very good 2019 financial year will form a ‘crisis airbag’ for our members,” says GEMA CEO Dr Harald Heker.

“For many of them, the regular distributions on April 1 and June 1, 2020 provide much-needed financial support. Especially in these difficult economic times, GEMA’s distributions may even secure people’s livelihoods.”

Added Heker: “GEMA’s tenacious commitment to fair remuneration for music authors on the internet is bearing fruit.

“Collection from internet and streaming services has now become a significant source of income for music authors.

“This makes it all the more important that the legislator in Germany now transposes the reform of copyright law adopted by the EU in 2019 into German law.

“More than ever, composers and lyricists need a reliable legal foundation so that they can participate fully in the digital value creation of their works.”

GEMA passed the one billion Euro mark for the first time in 2016, when it collected €1,024.4bn, with collections that year seeing significant uplift from retroactive licence payments from YouTube dating back to 2009.Music Business Worldwide

The music industry is still obsessed with charts – but is it always looking at the right data?

The following MBW analysis comes from Russ Crupnick (pictured inset), Managing Partner of MusicWatch – a leading US-based marketing research and industry analysis provider to the music and entertainment industry. MusicWatch works with major labels, trade associations, and streaming and technology companies to understand trends in consumer behavior. Prior to founding MusicWatch, Crupnick founded and ran the entertainment practice at The NPD Group.

For decades “the charts” have been the arbiter of consumer tastes in music. That makes sense. What’s selling (in CD days) or what’s streaming (today) lubricates the engine of the music industry.

The charts drive revenue allocation and help to sort out the winners when it comes to fan appeal. Some pundits cite the streaming charts and conclude that the entirety of the United States is listening to Hip-Hop. Look at the Spotify Top 50 for any week, and you’ll see a list dominated by R&B/Hip-Hop artists.

Yet Boomers might argue that the last great album was Fleetwood Mac’s eponymous release in 1975. Surveys asking music fans about the genres that they listen to and like the most don’t always align with the charts.

Read on and you’ll see that there are very good reasons for this. The key takeaway: use all the tools at your disposal when you profile music fans.

What The Charts Say

Nielsen Music publishes a year-end summary with a wealth of data, including the top music formats and genres. The chart below shows Nielsen’s Share of Total Volume, which calculates US “album sales” based on a formula of physical and digital sales, and on-demand streams.

The R&B/Hip-Hop category dominates the Nielsen charts, which are published by its sister company Billboard.

Rock is way more important to physical and digital download sales, but because these formats are in decline, on-demand streaming tends to influence the charts.

Survey says!

Each year MusicWatch asks consumers what music genres they regularly listen to, and which are their “favorites.”

Favorites are genres that we listen to and purchase (the Nielsen categories) but also go to see live, track on social media, or buy merchandise.

The MusicWatch categories are more detailed than what is shown in the Nielsen report, but here Rock tops Rap as America’s “favorite” genre.

There are several factors that explain the difference between the music that tops the charts, and “favorites”:

The way we listen

On-demand streaming is becoming a powerhouse, with nearly 140 million listeners in the U.S. last year.

As shown below, streaming accounts for 39% of our weekly listening and that includes interactive (e.g. not on-demand) services such as Pandora. But we also listen to music on broadcast radio, and on SiriusXM satellite radio.

Nielsen points out that 6 of 10 of the top radio artists during the past decade were Country artists.

Then there are our own collections. We may not buy much anymore, but tens of millions of fans regularly listen to their CDs and iTunes downloads.

The music genres that we consider our favorites are reflected in this diverse music consumption.

Charts are influenced by heavy listeners

Charts aren’t democratic; these days they are influenced by heavy listeners to on-demand streaming services.

Not surprisingly, heavy listeners who spend 10 or more hours streaming each week are more likely to cite Rap/HipHop as their favorite genre. Light streamers prefer ’80s-’90s Hits and Classic Rock.

“heavy listeners who spend 10 or more hours streaming each week are more likely to cite Rap/HipHop as their favorite genre. Light streamers prefer ’80s-’90s Hits and Classic Rock.”

The preferences of light streamers are very similar to those of heavy listeners of music on broadcast AM/FM radio, and heavy CD listeners.

Radio is the most popular music format for in-car listeners. Age is a big factor in determining who is a heavy user of each of these formats.

Soundtracks of our lives

Research has shown that our music tastes are mostly baked in by the time we reach age 30. So it’s not surprising that favorite genres vary depending on the era in which you grew up. The music industry often uses the phrase “Soundtracks of our lives” to describe this.

Think of your first concert, the music posters in your room, a prom theme, or your wedding song. Even though we often cross genres when listening, these findings should not be a surprise:

  • Gen Z claim R&B/HipHop as their favorite by a 2:1 margin over Rock (43% vs. 20%)
  • Millennials associate with hits from the 80’s-90’s (28% favorite), then HipHop (25%) and Country (21%)
  • Gen X prefer Rock and 80’s-90’s Hits by a 2:1 margin over R&B/HipHop
  • Boomers favor Rock, mostly Classic Rock, and hits from the 50’s-70’s.

Popular culture treasures youth. But Gen X and Boomers account for half of the adult internet-using population. Their tastes matter.

They are critical in driving revenue for live music, and account for a good portion of royalties that Sirius and Pandora contribute to artists.

The Convergence of Like, Live and Merch

You may have bought that CD of Dark Side of the Moon back in 1985, but folks are still buying Pink Floyd T-shirts.

The four favorite genres among music merchandise buyers are Classic Rock, 80’s-90’s Hits, Rap/HipHop and Country, in that order.

atVenu, a live event commerce platform (back when we had live events), reports that T-shirts are the top selling event merch, with K-Pop, Pop and Hard Rock accounting for the highest per head sales; Rap/HipHop ranks #11 in average dollars per head (atVenu).

On the live side, heavy spenders on tickets to live events favor Classic Rock over Rap/HipHop by a 2:1 advantage.

In 2019, the ticket side of the U.S. live music business drove nearly $8B in revenue, contrasted to $11B for recorded music*.

Considering that touring and merch account for a large portion of artist’s livelihoods it is vital to understand which genres are tops among big spenders.

*Sources: Live tickets, Soundchart from PWC/Citi estimates; Recorded Music from RIAA- both 2019.

New and emerging touchpoints for fans

There was a time when you expressed fanship by listening on the radio, buying CDs and going to shows. Today we have podcasts about music, podcasts featuring music, and TikTok. There is music in video games and music in gaming apps.

Seven out of ten Americans use social media to relate to artists and live events; 29% regularly listen to music on social apps. Each of these outlets represent another touchpoint for fans to bond with “the soundtracks of their lives”.

“To truly understand the DNA of music fans, we’ve got to think beyond the charts.”

Charts are the currency of the music business. It’s been nearly 30 years since the start of the “SoundScan era,” which used retail sales of CDs and cassettes to revolutionize how the charts were created.

The charts have evolved to the new reality, where streaming accounts for 80% of US recorded music revenue (source: RIAA). Even as streaming comes to dominate how we listen, fans have a myriad of other options for connecting with their favorite music.

To truly understand the DNA of music fans, we’ve got to think beyond the charts.Music Business Worldwide

The Orchard releases new OrchardGo App with enhanced social features

Sony-owned distribution and services company The Orchard has rolled out a new set of features for its mobile app OrchardGo, which is now available on both iOS and Android.

The additional features will enable artists and their teams to strategically release new music based on an artist’s “social landscape”.

Originally launched in 2019, the app previously allowed labels distributed by The Orchard to view playlist placements in real time, in addition to performance data, and pinpoint markets with key fan demographics.

The app now allows artists to view social engagement insights and market visibility compared to other artists.

Artists can also control social platforms via the app, which also monitors fan’s top interactions in algorithmic order through social posts, hashtags, follower count and geography.

The app also actively monitors and alerts users to view social media trends – indicating when and why artists are trending.

“The Orchard is always working to empower the creative community by providing the best products and services in the market.”

Jacob Fowler, The Orchard

“The Orchard is always working to empower the creative community by providing the best products and services in the market,” said Jacob Fowler, Chief Technology Officer, The Orchard.

“The latest OrchardGo features shift from the apps in the marketplace that are focused on sales metrics and playlisting, to instead allow artists to find and directly engage with their fans.

These features enable artists and their teams to develop more intricate promotional strategies for releases, making the possibility of reaching new audiences endless.”Music Business Worldwide

Universal launches Def Jam Africa to sign hip-hop, Afrobeats & trap artists from across the entire continent

Following the creation of Def Jam South East Asia in September 2019, Universal Music Group (UMG) has now expanded the Def Jam brand into Africa, with the launch of Def Jam Africa.

The new label division will initially be based in Johannesburg, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria, but will identify and sign hip-hop, Afrobeats and trap talent from across the entire continent.

Def Jam Africa will be supported by dedicated A&R, marketing, creative and digital teams from the UMG teams in both Nigeria and South Africa and will report to Sipho Dlamini, MD, Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa & South Africa.

At launch, the label’s roster includes Boity (South Africa), Cassper Nyovest (South Africa), Larry Gaaga (Nigeria) Nadia Nakai (South Africa), Nasty C (South Africa), Tshego (South Africa), Tellaman (South Africa), Ricky Tyler (South Africa) and Vector (Nigeria).

Earlier this year it was announced that South African rapper Nasty C will release his forthcoming album Zulu Man with Some Power in partnership with Def Jam Recordings in the US, during Summer, 2020.

Other forthcoming releases on Def Jam Africa include singles from: Ricky Tyler, Boity, Nasty C, Tellaman feat. Alpha P, Vector, Cassper Nyovest and Tshego.

“Together, we will build a new community of artists, that will push the boundaries of hip-hop from Africa, to reach new audiences globally.”

Sipho Dlamini, Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa & South Africa.

Sipho Dlamini said: “Many of us in Africa grew up on music from legendary labels under the UMG umbrella. From Blue Note for jazz fans, to Mercury Records, which was Hugh Masekela’s first US label and Uptown Records, the home of Jodeci and Mary J Blige and many more.

“For those into hip-hop, no label has such cultural and historic relevance as Def Jam. From Run DMC, to LL Cool J, Disturbing tha Peace, Jay-Z, Big Sean and Kanye West, Def Jam has always been the ultimate destination for hip-hop and urban culture worldwide.

“It is a historic achievement that we’re now able to bring this iconic label to Africa, to create an authentic and trusted home for those who aspire to be the best in hip-hop, Afrobeats and trap.

“Together, we will build a new community of artists, that will push the boundaries of hip-hop from Africa, to reach new audiences globally.”

“We enthusiastically welcome the launch of Def Jam Africa as an opportunity for audiences worldwide to discover the incredibly talented hip-hop artists emerging from across the continent.”

Jeff Harleston, Def Jam Recordings

Jeff Harleston, interim Chairman & CEO, Def Jam Recordings, added: “Def Jam is a globally recognized brand, synonymous with excellence in hip-hop, and we enthusiastically welcome the launch of Def Jam Africa as an opportunity for audiences worldwide to discover the incredibly talented hip-hop artists emerging from across the continent.”

“Def Jam has always been a respected mark of hip-hop quality, and the calibre of artists already on the roster, shows that this is a label, truly dedicated to helping the very best rap talent from Africa, reach new audiences on a global level.”

Adam Granite, UMG

Adam Granite, EVP, Market Development, said: “Def Jam has always been a respected mark of hip-hop quality, and the calibre of artists already on the roster, shows that this is a label, truly dedicated to helping the very best rap talent from Africa, reach new audiences on a global level.”

Pictured, top row [Left-Right]: Larry Gaaga, Boity and Tshego.
Pictured, middle row [Left-Right]: Nadia Nakai, Cassper Nyovest and Nasty C.
Pictured, bottom row [Left-Right]: Ricky Tyler, Vector and Tellaman.Music Business Worldwide

The Hottest Independent Artists In The World: Jany Green, Ryann, Curtis Waters, French The Kid & Maude Latour

In a world where everyone is working remotely and digital scouting is the only way to discover hot new artists, how can you sift through the tens of thousands of tracks released every day to find the talent that matters?

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MBW’s long-term partner Instrumental, who have been described as ‘Moneyball For Music’, have developed a ‘hot score’ that flags artists daily that are seeing exceptional performance across a range of key metrics.

This hot score algorithm tipped acts like Surfaces, Tones and I, Lil Tecca and Anson Seabra months before they went mainstream.

Now, every week, MBW will highlight five of the most exciting prospects from around the globe from within Instrumental’s current batch of ‘hot’ artists – perhaps we’ve already uncovered the next global superstar…

Jany Green – Lo-fi Chill, US

Alaska born Jany Green is an artist that cannot be associated with one singular genre. His unique sound sits in the middle of hip hop, indie pop and lo-fi chill. 

Instrumental first identified Jany as hot on its platform mid last month. However, he became hot once more 12 days ago and this time his hot streak hasn’t stopped. Since the beginning of April his direct Spotify followers have quadrupled.

His latest single Little dropped last week and has been streamed more than 125,000 times –  it’s a high energy happy song with big band brass vibes and what could be the catchiest chorus of the summer so far. 

Check out Jany Green’s feature posted in the Independent last month here.

Ryann – Indie Electropop, US

Ryann is an LA based up and coming pop artist. Her latest release was Andrew, a song about an ever-relatable heartbreak experience.

This is the lead track from her forthcoming EP, set to be released later this summer.

She first became hot on Instrumental’s platform on May 19 following this latest release and is currently featured on editorial playlists including New Music Friday and Indie Covers

You can see the official music video for Andrew, as well as delve further into the inspiration for the track in her Wonderland Magazine feature here.

Curtis Waters , Emo Rap, US

Curtis Waters is an indie pop artist from North Carolina. His debut single Prom Night was released back in 2018 and he’s released three tracks since. His most recent single Stunnin was released on May 19.

Just like Ryann, Curtis became hot on the Instrumental platform for the first time this week following the release of Stunnin.

In the last week alone, his direct Spotify followers have increased by 20% and his accompanying music video amassed 9,000 views in just one day.

Check out the video for Stunnin on his Youtube channel here!

French The Kid – Hip Hop, UK

French The Kid is a UK based hip hop/rap artist who was born and raised in Essex. He stormed into the UK rap scene last year with his debut track Bella Latina and has released two more records – Only One Freestyle and most recently Dream

He first became hot on Instrumental’s platform on May 11 and has now been on a hot streak for 11 days and counting. Considering his direct followers have increased by 60% in just seven days, we see no sign of him slowing down any time soon.

The official music video for Dream has now amassed almost 90,000 views – check it out here!

Maude Latour – NYC Pop, US

Maude Latour‘s distinguishable tone, resembling the likes of Ava Max, is becoming more and more popular in the New York pop scene.

She first became hot on the Instrumental platform in April of last year and in the last month she’s been picked up by its algorithm once again. She became hot again at the end of March and has sustained a hot streak for the past 22 days, during which time her direct Spotify followers have doubled.

Maude released her latest single Furniture on May 15, a track which The Line Of Best Fit claims to be her “best one yet”. 

Like what you see? For a limited time, Instrumental are offering a 14-day free trial for their daily Hot Artist Alerts. Click here to sign up now!Music Business Worldwide

Reservoir signs writer & producer Khris Riddick-Tynes to global publishing deal

New-York based Reservoir has signed Grammy-nominated writer-producer Khris Riddick-Tynes to a worldwide publishing deal.

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The deal includes global rights to compositions in Riddick-Tynes’ catalog of works including Best Rap Song nominee Gold Roses by Rick Ross featuring Drake and Kehlani’s Grieving featuring James Blake, off her No.2 Billboard 200 album It Was Good Until It Wasn’t, plus future works.

LA-based Riddick-Tynes most recently co-produced Kehlani’s duet with James Blake, Grieving, which is featured on her No.2 Billboard 200 album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t.

It is the second collaboration for Riddick-Tynes and Kehlani, and follows 2019’s Butterfly, which he co-wrote and co-produced.

Riddick-Tynes also collaborated on Chris Brown’s Emerald/Burgundy featuring Juvenille and Juicy J, off Brown’s Platinum and No.1 Billboard 200 album Indigo.

He has also worked with the likes of Ariana Grande, Fifth Harmony, Pitbull, Ty Dolla $ign, Wiz Khalifa, Zendaya, Lil Baby, Boyz II Men, and others.

A protégé of Songwriters Hall of Famer Babyface, and one-half of Platinum-selling production duo The Rascals, Riddick-Tynes earned two 2020 Grammy nominations for co-writing Rick Ross’ Gold Roses featuring Drake, which was up for Best Rap Song, plus his Jessie Reyez collaboration, Body Count Remix featuring Normani and Kehlani, off Reyez’ Best Urban Contemporary Album nominee, Being Human In Public.

He also contributed to Toni Braxton and Babyface’s collaborative album, Love, Marriage, & Divorce, which won the Grammy for R&B Album of the Year in 2015.

“It’s not surprising that the biggest names in music keep coming back to collaborate with Khris and I am so happy to be reunited with him at Reservoir.”

Donna Caseine, Reservoir 

“Khris is a dream to work with,” said Reservoir EVP of Creative Donna Caseine.

“I’ve known him for eight years now, and his work ethic and talent continue to impress me daily.

“It’s not surprising that the biggest names in music keep coming back to collaborate with Khris and I am so happy to be reunited with him at Reservoir.”

“Knowing I’m in such attentive hands allows my energy to be put where it belongs…in the music.”

Khris Riddick-Tynes

Riddick-Tynes, added: “Being at Reservoir has been game-changing! Donna Caseine is extremely hands-on with the songwriting process from beginning to end by setting up sessions with brilliant collaborators, to expeditiously handling the technical side of splits, synchs, and resolutions.

“Knowing I’m in such attentive hands allows my energy to be put where it belongs…in the music.”

“The time and effort she puts into facilitating and tailoring sessions for me always results in an amazing product along with a new set of collaborators.

“To have a team of such high caliber and proficiency is extremely rare in the publishing world. I’m very lucky to have her and the whole Reservoir team behind me.”

Last week MBW reported that Reservoir has agreed a deal to bring storied US music publisher Shapiro Bernstein into its ranks, acquiring over 16,000 copyrights in the process.

Pictured [Left to Right]: EVP of Creative Donna Caseine;  Khris Riddick-Tynes; and Founder & CEO Golnar Khosrowshahi.

 Music Business Worldwide

BMG launches neighboring rights service, The Who’s Roger Daltrey signs up

BMG has set up what it describes as a ’boutique’ neighboring rights service and its first clients are UK DJ and producer Jonas Blue and Roger Daltrey (pictured), founding member and lead singer of the legendary rock band The Who.

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The expansion into neighboring rights comes just four months after BMG moved into artist management in a partnership with Carl Stubner’s Shelter Music Group.

Neighboring rights – also known as performance rights – are paid in much of the world when a recording is played to a live audience or on the radio or in the US when a recording is played on a non-interactive streaming service such as Pandora.

Total performance rights payments are worth more than $2.7bn a year and have grown by an average of 7% a year over the past five years.

BMG has collected its own label share of neighboring rights since it was established in 2008. Now it is to offer the same service to recording artists.

Heading the new service is VP Operations Strategy David Miller, who says that the company has already identified artists who could increase their international income by as much as 50%.

Miller’s team will be responsible for ensuring each artist’s repertoire is registered accurately with collective management organizations (CMOs) in around 40 countries, tracking international income and ensuring faster royalty pay-through.

The deal with Roger Daltrey means BMG now represents his interests when his work is performed – including classic recordings by The Who such as My Generation, Pinball Wizard and Who Are You, in addition to his own solo work.

Meanwhile, with Jonas Blue BMG is representing performing rights in hit recordings such as Perfect Strangers, Polaroid and Rise.

“We are delighted to welcome Jonas and Roger as we further extend our service offering to artists by offering a bespoke neighboring rights service. We believe there is a substantial opportunity to increase artist income in this fast-growing area.”

Ben Katovsky, BMG

BMG COO Ben Katovsky said, “We are delighted to welcome Jonas and Roger as we further extend our service offering to artists by offering a bespoke neighboring rights service. We believe there is a substantial opportunity to increase artist income in this fast-growing area.”

“There are some really great national performing rights agencies, but international performance is highly variable,” David Miller said. “The best analogy is probably music publishing. Collection societies provide the backbone of collections, but publishers still add significant value.”

Added Katovsky: “Neighboring rights brings to seven the number of distinct services BMG now offers to artists, alongside music publishing, recordings, production music, film, books and management.

“We are committed to bringing our signature approach of fairness and transparency to all of our clients’ service needs.

“We don’t aim to be the biggest in neighboring rights, but we certainly plan to be the best.”

“Our mission is to maximize the value of each and every copyright, ensuring all our artists benefit from one of the worldwide recording industry’s fastest-growing income streams and receive all payments promptly and accurately.”

David Miller, BMG

David Miller added: “Our mission is to maximize the value of each and every copyright, ensuring all our artists benefit from one of the worldwide recording industry’s fastest-growing income streams and receive all payments promptly and accurately.

“Importantly we try to make the deal process swift and easy for potential clients, coming to the table with an offer within five business days from receiving information about the deal.”

Jonas Blue said: “We’re thrilled to partner with the team at BMG for the next phase of my neighboring rights collection.

“They have shown a considerable depth of understanding in this field, and I’m absolutely confident they will use their absolute best endeavours to be the best most efficient and pro-active team to handle this important side of our global business.”

 Music Business Worldwide

‘We have built one of the biggest accounts on Instagram – and one of the fastest growing on TikTok.’

We Generate is a fast-growing ‘digital growth partner’ working with artists, managers, labels, brands and influencers to build audiences and generate unique opportunities through its own network of social media brands as well as a global network of third party relationships.

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In the past, We Generate – which runs offices in London, Los Angeles and Hong Kong – has worked with esteemed music industry brands such as APG, Atlantic Records, Columbia Records, Parlophone, Polydor and Virgin Records, driving targeted online campaigns for big name artists.

Recent examples include its work with Lady Gaga, with We Generate brought in to amplify comeback single Stupid Love to LGBTQ+ audiences, which the company says it achieved via creator and meme content across Instagram and TikTok.

We Generate has also worked on recent campaigns for stars such as Selena Gomez (in the UK), plus the BRIT Award-winning Celeste, in addition to helping ensure a memorable co-appearance by Charlie Puth and Jennifer Aniston on US TV show Ellen (pictured) went viral.

The company’s roots lie in owned social media brands ,including meme machine Pubity, which currently boasts over 22m followers on Instagram and more than 30m across platforms. Another of the firm’s fast-growing , meme-focused platforms – Memezar – has attracted over 52m Likes (and 1.7m followers) on TikTok.

Increasingly, however, it is partnering with managers and labels to create bespoke campaigns, built on deep data insight and focused on ROI – forensically targeting audiences according to where artists are in their careers and, more importantly, where they want to get to.

Co-founders Joshua Brandon and Luka Zak combine experience in management and A&R (Brandon) with expertise in brands, media and marketing (Zak).

Here they tell MBW about We Generate’s approach, the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the digital/social marketing space – and their future goals as a company…

What prompted you to found We Generate?

Joshua Brandon: I had just left a company that had an influencer division and I could see all these brands coming to people who had huge profiles, while acts we looked after there with millions of records being sold were falling behind on followers and, subsequently, deals.

So we had the idea to build out a network of social media brands and accounts that we could build our talent’s profiles further with. We established some new account brands and niches, very quickly amassing tens of millions of followers and leading the charge on huge meme accounts.

“as things developed we realised there was a huge opportunity where I thought we could really add value back into the music industry through a more detailed offering.”

Joshua Brandon, We Generate

Our relationship with music was initially quite surface, not much strategy in there, just being paid for adverts and posts. But as things developed we realised there was a huge opportunity where I thought we could really add value back into the industry through a more detailed offering, filling some gaps where maybe labels had felt burned by less professional competitors of ours, by providing reliable results and being the conduit between them and accounts.

Now we have a team that works across the US, UK and Asia, across all platforms, getting really experimental with things. Some labels are so ready to tackle how the industry uses digital media to win and it’s great when we can add value to that ambition.

There are now probably more creative digital agencies than there are record shops in the world. In that environment, how do you stand out?

Luka Zak: We don’t really see ourselves in the same way. There is a lot of noise in this space, for sure, but we are essentially a digital growth partner and we have a pretty unique understanding of that.

We help brands make bold decisions from the data insights we capture. Not only do we have excellent partnerships with some of the biggest influencers in the industry, we worked our own social accounts to a reach of over 50 million people.

To stand out, you need to be able to analyse user behaviour data and forecast the future performance of social channels and campaigns. Analysing a campaign’s performance once it’s over is no longer enough to survive in this space. No two days are ever the same and subsequently no two strategies can be either.

Can you tell us about the digital brands you have created and own yourself, and why they are an important part of your arsenal?

JB: Our lead accounts, Pubity and Memezar, have over 40 million cross-platform followers and we now work with thousands of different creatives and other account owners, bringing them work as well as helping them develop their own offerings.

The numbers are astounding really when you start talking about billions of impressions. The pages are a huge part of how we got here and they really taught us that depth of strategy and quality of content in this space is everything. It’s what makes campaigns stand out.

Selling advertising space on a page is one thing, and for some people that’s all they want us for. However, being a part of the overall campaign strategy and understanding a whole new marketing sector that helps people then get a better ROI is how we can make a name for ourselves.

We’re still learning, everyone is, but these pages have given us access to insights and data way before anyone else could see what was happening in this area and that’s put us ahead of the game.

What are the most important digital platforms for breaking new artists right now – and why?

LZ: YouTube has long been considered the destination for music – and for a significant amount of time, that has been undisputed. Over the past few years, there has been a steep rise in music pages on Instagram, especially since Instagram extended the length of videos from 15 seconds to one minute, and then again following the introduction of IGTV, meaning artists can upload a full song or multiple songs.

The most recent example is in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, recording artists and musical institutions have been taking advantage of Instagram’s Live Stream function, giving fans at home the chance to listen to both their favourite artists or form relationships with aspiring artists during the social surge seen during the lockdown period.

Many would argue 2019 and 2020 belong to TikTok when it comes to breaking new artists. The charts are awash with artists whose music has become ‘TikTok famous’, in addition to those who have enjoyed their music resurfacing on the platform and subsequently breaking into the charts.

“Development acts are quickly building followings on TikTok, using the platform as a vehicle to land record deals with labels, who, in turn are looking to transfer the success of the platform to mainstream radio.”

Luka Zak, We Generate

Development acts are quickly building followings on TikTok, using the platform as a vehicle to land record deals with labels, who, in turn are looking to transfer the success of the platform to mainstream radio.

A winning strategy for any new artist is to review where their fans are most likely to engage with them by monitoring their own data insights on each of their platforms.

For example, Instagram has a very active network of teen pages that take content from TikTok and repurpose for Instagram. These pages have a strong female following (on average 75%) with 67% aged 13-24. The majority of posts are music based, with music selections ranging from pop to hip hop.

There is a huge opportunity to work with macro influencers who create native posts on TikTok using their music and then cross promote onto these pages.

Can you talk us through some of the music-specific campaigns you’ve managed in the last year or so?

LZ: There have been so many, which I’m proud to say have all been successful in different ways. We’ve done takeovers of owned accounts with user generated content for the artist AJ Mitchell, where followers of the accounts submitted their own videos aligning with the messaging of the song with the audience voting on their favourites.

We ran a similar campaign for the UK Afrobeat group NSG, leveraging an existing dance trend amongst their fan base to get audiences of huge global accounts to submit their own version of the dance.

“We’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the biggest recording artists in the world, from Lady Gaga to Young NBA and Charlie Puth.”

Luka Zak, We Generate

A small activation for Selena Gomez at the start of the year with her track Rare resulted in not only our immediate network posting to their channels but a further four global meme accounts re-posting organically due to the strength of the content we created.

More recently we have supported Alec Benjamin’s full catalogue. In just over two months, we’ve generated over 35 million views for Alec, resulting in an exponential growth on both his social and streaming, helping his track Oh My God impact radio in the US.

We’ve also had the pleasure of working with some of the biggest recording artists in the world, from Lady Gaga to Young NBA and Charlie Puth.

How important is data to labels and managers right now – and how trustworthy is it?

JB: I think the creative element and data are more intertwined than ever. Every aspect of the process from artist development, to A&R, to marketing are all focused on data.

Social media and streaming have both really pushed that forward in the level of detail you can go into and I feel that the data can be trusted a lot more than it could be when people used to fake followers more and manipulate numbers for perception. The only way to build a long lasting business is to use data to create genuine fanbases and customers that are going to get behind a release or major event.

“Data will tell you exactly where your audience is, which platforms to focus on, what the style the audience will engage with and more.”

Luka Zak, We Generate

LZ: Absolutely. Data is paramount. It’s needed at every stage of music’s promotion lifecycle. Data will tell you exactly where your audience is, which platforms to focus on, what the style the audience will engage with and more.

How trustworthy comes back to the point of driving business value. Does the data that is being supplied help with your business objectives? i.e. is the music charting and streaming well? Data certainly can’t be held accountable if a track doesn’t perform, it’s there to support and, if used in the right way, will help the label achieve what they set out to.

You mention basing campaigns on data analytics and insights – what is your edge in those areas?

LZ: We have the edge because our clients know that their spend is going a lot further. We have built, run and maintained one of the biggest accounts on Instagram and now one of the fastest growing on TikTok.

This consistent demonstration of expertise isn’t by luck, it’s by spending countless hours studying data insights and focusing in the areas where the data is telling us to. We invest in people who share not only our vision but an innate ability to deliver results with minimum wastage.

We apply the same ethos to our campaigns. We won’t simply run marketing on accounts that have big audiences if they have small engagement, or if they are targeting the wrong age group or gender.

How has the current pandemic changed the game in terms of the importance of digital marketing, or the methods, or the style, or what clients need from you?

JB: Massively. It’s changing the world completely. On a micro level we saw engagement double, triple, then dip, then settle. Trends and viral content are blowing up then getting old much quicker than normal, with people getting over saturated across different platforms. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster.

I’m so grateful we can be a help to people through that, and for people who have given us more of a chance as a result of the need for creative ways to market their releases.

“On a micro level we saw engagement double, triple, then dip, then settle [during the pandemic lockdown].”

Joshua Brandon, We Generate

Only time will tell where the world ends up, but I think we will continue to see businesses like ours become increasingly important.

At a macro level, digital marketing was already predicted to top $200 billion [in annual spend] by 2025. That’s certainly been accelerated by the current pandemic.

What are your goals for the rest of 2020 and beyond?

LZ: 2020 has been a strange year. We have experienced our busiest ever period, but with the current climate, it’s hard to truly celebrate that.

Fortunately, we had already put quite a progressive structure in place due to the nature of the business. We already have team members strategically placed all around the world, working remotely, as it gives local knowledge of their respective social marketing landscape and gives us the opportunity to service clients around the clock.

Our goals are to continue delivering the results, keeping ourselves one step ahead of the social trends and curves and being able to provide counsel to our clients that helps them achieve their own goals and objectives. If we continue to do that, we will continue to scale our own team.

We have huge aspirations for this company, but we know there is a long way to go and a continued focus on quality of service first and foremost is the only way we will get there.Music Business Worldwide

Bytedance poaches Disney’s Kevin Mayer to become TikTok’s new CEO

We learned in January that Bytedance was on the hunt for a US-based CEO for short-form video platform TikTok. Now, the search is over.

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Kevin Mayer, Disney’s highest-ranking streaming executive, has quit the House of Mouse to take up the position.

From June 1, Mayer will take up the role of Chief Operating Officer (COO) of ByteDance, in addition to serving as CEO of TikTok.

According to a Bytedance press release, Los Angeles-based Mayer’s responsibility at TikTok will see him “lead the rapidly growing platform as it continues to build its global community of creators, users, and brands”.

Alex Zhu, the current President of TikTok, will transition to ByteDance VP of Product & Strategy, where, says Bytedance, he will “focus on his primary passion overseeing strategy and product design”.

Mayer (pictured) leaves behind his role as Chairman of Direct-to-Consumer & International at Disney – a position in which he led the rollout of video streaming service Disney+, which surpassed 50m paying subscribers in April, five months after launch.

Additionally, Mayer led Disney’s other direct-to-consumer businesses, including Hulu, ESPN+, and Hotstar, as well as overseeing Disney’s international operations, global ad sales, and global content sales.

As the head of TikTok, Mayer will run a platform that has become a go-to outlet for breaking new artists in the music business. The TikTok app has now been downloaded over 2bn times globally, and 500m times in the five months to end of April.

However, the service has also left much of the music publishing community disgruntled, with the US-based National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) threatening to sue TikTok/Bytedance earlier this year for an alleged lack of licensing.

“Like everyone else, I’ve been impressed watching the company build something incredibly rare in TikTok – a creative, positive online global community – and I’m excited to help lead the next phase of ByteDance’s journey as the company continues to expand its breadth of products across every region of the world.”

Kevin Mayer, Bytedance (pictured)

Mayer will also have to deal with US national security concerns, with members of US Congress questioning whether Bytedance could use the app to obtain private user data.

Mayer will report directly to ByteDance Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Yiming Zhang.

Yiming said, “Kevin’s wealth of experience building successful global businesses makes him an outstanding fit for our mission of inspiring creativity for users globally. As one of the world’s most accomplished entertainment executives, Kevin is incredibly well placed to take ByteDance’s portfolio of products to the next level. I look forward to working very closely with Kevin on our global development and the next chapter of the ByteDance story.”

Mayer commented: “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to join the amazing team at ByteDance. Like everyone else, I’ve been impressed watching the company build something incredibly rare in TikTok – a creative, positive online global community – and I’m excited to help lead the next phase of ByteDance’s journey as the company continues to expand its breadth of products across every region of the world.

“On a personal note, I’m thankful to the entire Disney team for the tremendous accomplishments we achieved together. I’m especially grateful to Bob Iger for his visionary leadership and mentorship over many years, and to Bob Chapek whom I greatly admire. As I begin a new chapter, I’m humbled by the trust Yiming and the Board have placed in me as we move forward with a shared vision of how to scale ByteDance’s growth.”

Kelly Zhang and Lidong Zhang will continue as CEO and Chairman of ByteDance China, respectively, reporting to Yiming Zhang, as ByteDance’s global CEO.

They manage a range of products, including Douyin (the Chinese equivalent of TikTok), plus Toutiao, and Xigua, in addition to their duties leading the business and operational teams in China.

TikTok’s national and regional leaders will remain in their roles with their current responsibilities, reporting in to Mayer, who will be responsible for the global business.Music Business Worldwide

Island Records ‘couldn’t be prouder’ as Skip Marley makes history in US as chart-topping Jamaican artist

Skip Marley has made US chart history with Slow Down, his global smash with multi-platinum Grammy Award-winning artist H.E.R.

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The track has hit the No.1 spot on the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart and at Mediabase Urban AC (Adult Contemp­orary), with Skip Marley becoming the first Jamaican-born artist to top the Adult R&B Songs chart.

Just weeks ago, Slow Down, with over 44 million global streams, became the quickest-streaming song in Marley Family history catapulting Skip to well over 162m global artist streams.

At the same time, Skip became the first Jamaican-born lead artist inside the Top 15 on the BillboardR&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart in nearly a decade and a half (since Sean Paul and Keyshia Cole in 2006, When You Gonna Give it Up to Me).

As the original Slow Down was making its way to the top, momentum was building for Slow Down (Remix) with H.E.R. featuring Wale, which received early support from Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club and BBC 1xtra’s Seani B.

Island is currently celebrating the 75th anniversary of the birth and life of music legend Bob Marley, Skip’s grandfather.

“Skip not only continues to build on the success of the Marley legacy but has carved out a unique lane for himself in this business.”

Darcus Beese, Island Records 

Skip Marley stated: “I never set my sights on a chart position when we recorded the song, but I give praise and thanks to the almighty that the music can reach these heights and connect to a wider audience.

Skip Marley stated: “I never set my sights on a chart position when we recorded the song, but I give praise and thanks to the almighty that the music can reach these heights and connect to a wider audience.

“Ever proud to represent Jamaica achieving new levels in any endeavor. We apprecialove all the DJs, programmers, and stations who supported.

“It takes an army of Jah soldiers to make this type of noise. Maximum respect to H.E.R. for lifting the track with her heavenly vocals and much love to Wale for blessing the remix.”

Island Records President/CEO Darcus Beese, added: “Skip not only continues to build on the success of the Marley legacy but has carved out a unique lane for himself in this business.

“As the first Jamaican artist to reach No.1 on the Adult R&B Songs chart, his Island Records family couldn’t be prouder.”Music Business Worldwide

Spotify invites record labels into Spotify For Artists, shutters Spotify Analytics

Spotify is rolling its user-base for Spotify Analytics, the data dashboard for record labels and distributors, into Spotify For Artists, the app used by artists and their managers to manage and market profiles.

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The move, which will see labels given access to the Spotify for Artists app, effectively shutters the ‘Analytics’ tool and creates a centralized dashboard for labels, artists and managers in an effort, according to a blog post published by Spotify on Friday (May 15), to “empower artists, managers, and labels to work together as seamlessly as possible”.

The Spotify For Artists app launched in 2017 and allows artists and their managers to add a canvas, update bios, artist picks and playlists and enables them to track the performance of new releases, while Spotify Analytics has served as a dashboard for labels and distributors to access data and pitch songs to playlists.

Labels now joining Spotify for Artists will have access to the mobile app, and in the coming weeks, both artist and label teams will be able to make changes to an artist’s profile.

A new Activity Page in the app will display a log of actions taken by artist management and label team members and labels will only see data for recordings they have the rights to.

Spotify Analytics users will be brought into Spotify for Artists over the coming months and can expect to receive an email from Spotify with next steps soon.

“Over time, as we’ve listened to feedback and seen how people use Spotify for Artists and Spotify Analytics, it’s been clear just how collaborative artists and their teams are in analyzing data and planning promotional strategies.”

Spotify

Said Spotify in a statement: “Over time, as we’ve listened to feedback and seen how people use Spotify for Artists and Spotify Analytics, it’s been clear just how collaborative artists and their teams are in analyzing data and planning promotional strategies.

“In an effort to empower artists, managers, and labels to work together as seamlessly as possible, we’re bringing everyone together in one place: Spotify for Artists.

“Now, with access to the same set of data and insights, and the ability to join in managing an artist’s presence across Spotify, we’re looking forward to fostering better collaboration between teams – especially for artists signed to a label.

“For artists and managers already using Spotify for Artists, not much will change: You’ll still have the same access to your data and profile, and will still be able to pitch new releases to editorial and algorithmic playlists, upload a Canvas, and add an Artist Fundraising Pick, but will now benefit from having your whole team and label in one place.”Music Business Worldwide

Reservoir acquires 16,000 copyrights by bringing Shapiro Bernstein into its portfolio

New York-based Reservoir is now firmly established as one of the ascendant independent music rightsholders of the modern age – and it’s just grown again.

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MBW has discovered that Reservoir has agreed a deal to bring storied US music publisher Shapiro Bernstein into its ranks, acquiring over 16,000 copyrights in the process.

Those copyrights include songs recorded by The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Michael Jackson, Edith Piaf, Patsy Cline, Bob Dylan, Carly Simon, Elton John, and many more.

Sources close to the deal told us that it represents “a huge move in publishing” and is likely the biggest acquisition in Reservoir’s history – though the company would not be drawn on a number when contacted by MBW.

It’s certainly the biggest deal we’ve seen from Reservoir since August last year, when MBW broke the news that it had acquired iconic record label Chrysalis by bringing UK-based Blue Raincoat Music into its ranks.

The new deal will see Shapiro Bernstein’s catalog and global administration network integrate into Reservoir, with an eye towards adding further value to the catalog through Reservoir’s global sync, creative, and marketing teams.

In addition, the two companies will work together to identify new catalogs and creative opportunities to pursue through a new joint venture agreement.

Founded in New York’s Tin Pan Alley in 1900, Shapiro Bernstein is home to valuable evergreen songs such as In The Mood, made famous by Glenn Miller, plus Rockin’ Robin (performed by Michael Jackson), Let There Be Love (Peggy Lee / Nat King Cole), Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash), Little Bitty Pretty One (Thurston Harris) and Papa Loves Mambo (Perry Como).

According to Shapiro Bernstein’s own playlists, it also represents cuts in more recent hits such as I Gotta Feeling (Black Eyed Peas), Lose Control (Missy Elliot) and Crush (Jennifer Paige).

“It is with enormous pride that we have found a partner in Reservoir, another family-owned, independent company, for the next chapter of this legacy.”

Michael Brettler, Shapiro Bernstein 

Shapiro Bernstein President Michael Brettler, the fourth-generation leader in the company’s history, told MBW: “Since the beginning, my family has built and overseen a catalog of incredibly special songs and legendary songwriters that has stood the test of time.

“It is with enormous pride that we have found a partner in Reservoir, another family-owned, independent company, for the next chapter of this legacy.”

“There is no other catalog like this in the world.”

Golnar Khosrowshahi, Reservoir

Reservoir Founder and CEO Golnar Khosrowshahi commented: “There is no other catalog like this in the world.

“The quality of the music is unparalleled and includes some of the greatest songs ever created, and ones which are so deeply woven into the fabric of popular culture and history throughout the last 120 years.”

Reservoir President and COO Rell Lafargue added: “It is an honor to have been chosen to be the caretakers of such important copyrights and one which we do not take lightly.

“It is an honor to have been chosen to be the caretakers of such important copyrights and one which we do not take lightly.”

Rell Lafargue, Reservoir

“We look forward to working with Michael, his brother Doug Brettler, and the members of the Shapiro Bernstein team who are joining Reservoir to find new creative avenues and opportunities for this rich catalog and its songwriters.

“Together, we will ensure that the music continues to live on and inspire generations for many years to come.”

Thanks to a historical deal with Columbia Pictures, Shapiro Bernstein also controls movie scores such as The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia.

The firm additionally counts hits performed by David Guetta, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Joywave amongst its catalog of contemporary copyrights.

In addition to the Chrysalis acquisition, other key deals at Reservoir in the last 12 months include its recent expansion into the Middle East and North Africa via its partnership with music rights consultancy PopArabia.Music Business Worldwide

MBW’s Hottest Independent Artists In The World: Eve Owen, Sky McCreery, Ruby Waters, Ben Kessler and ELIO

In a world where everyone is working remotely and digital scouting is the only way to discover hot new artists, how can you sift through the tens of thousands of tracks released every day to find the talent that matters?

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That’s where Instrumental comes in. A long-term partner of MBW, the company uses data science to comb streaming services and social media to discover and track new, commercially interesting artists every day. 

Over the last three years, Instrumental has developed a ‘hot score’ that flags artists daily that are seeing exceptional performance across a range of key metrics.

It is that pool of talent that goes on to big things, with the algorithm tipping acts like Surfaces, Tones and I, Lil Tecca and Anson Seabra months before they went mainstream. 

Now, every week, MBW will highlight five of the most exciting prospects from around the globe from within Instrumental’s current batch of ‘hot’ artists.

Eve Owen, Soul, UK

Soulful singer-songwriter Eve Owen has already toured and collaborated with The National and been Featured in The NME, so it’s not just the data singing her praises.

Instrumental first identified her as ‘hot’ on its platform back in November 2019.

However, in the last seven days, her Spotify follower count has surged a massive 25%, so this hot streak doesn’t look to be over anytime soon.

Her debut LP, Don’t Let the Ink Dry has been out for a week and it’s already gaining some serious traction.

Check out the stand out lead track She Says for some seriously chilled out piano work and delicate vocals.

Sky McCreery, pop, US

US-based Sky McCreery is up next on our list, helped in no small part by his truly stupendous social following – he’s a huge star on TikTok, with over 190,000 followers. And it’s no surprise really – his laid-back melancholy love songs have true commercial promise.

He first became ‘hot’ on Instrumental’s platform last weekend, after he announced to his followers that it is his voice in the version of Meredith Brackbill’s If you leave being featured in all those thousands of TikTok clips. For the uninitiated, here’s an example of what we’re talking about.

His most recent release Silhouette came out on April 28 and in an excellent example of lockdown innovation, he recorded a live bedroom video for it – check it out here.

Ruby Waters, r&b, Canada

Canadian born alt-pop/R&B songstress Ruby Waters was first identified as ‘hot’ by Instrumental’s platform back in May 2019.

Since then, she’s been championed by Ones to Watch, The Toronto Guardian and FYI Music.

She’s been a bit of a slow, but incredibly bright burn. She’s amassed 4,600 followers on Youtube and a similar figure on Instagram, but it’s Spotify where she’s really standing out, with over 126,000 monthly listeners!

If you love Halsey, FKA twigs or Lorde, then you’ll love Ruby Waters too. Stand out tracks include Sweet Sublime, Supernatural and Almost Naked.

Ben Kessler, pop, US

Ben Kessler is a self producing pop artist born and raised in Philadelphia, now residing in Nashville. His raw and husky vocals add an edge to his contemporary pop vibe, and his falsetto will definitely grab your attention! 

Ben first became a hot artist on the Instrumental platform late last month and has been on a ‘Hot’ streak for 15 days and counting. His latest track Just Wanna Be Your Friend (released on April 30) currently features on Young and Free which has 1.1m followers.

His most recent track has seen him feature in Ones to Watch, where it’s heralded as “..an easy listen and the type of tune you want to keep on repeat”.

We agree with that sentiment entirely, it really is that good of a song!

ELIO, pop, Canada

ELIO, aka Charlotte Grace Victoria, is a rising pop artist currently living in Canada. She’s released two tracks to date, and it seems that’s all she needed to make a wave in 2020! She has undeniably catchy beats along with an effortless tone to her singing which leaves you always wanting more.

She has been on a hot streak on the Instrumental platform for the last two weeks following her latest release Body Language which has 116,000 Spotify Streams and rising quickly. This track features on Pop Sauce and featured in New Music Friday UK.

ELIO’s debut single My Friends Online is a track which perfectly reflects the social media driven world we live in. Find the official music video here!

Over the period we are all impacted by COVID-19, Instrumental is offering a free digital scouting workshop to any music business looking to develop their talent discovery processes. Click here to sign up now!Music Business Worldwide

Live Nation set to raise another $1.2bn to boost liquidity during COVID concert shutdown

Live Nation made two intriguing financial announcements on Wednesday (May 13).

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The first indicated that the company intended to secure $800m in senior debt, via a secured note sale, with repayment due in 2027.

Then, around 12 hours later, LN announced that this debt load was being increased, to $1.2bn, again for senior secured notes due 2027 (with an an annual interest rate of 6.5% per annum). The note sale closes May 20.

Live Nation told its investors that this $1.2bn would be used for “general corporate purposes”.

Speaking earlier this month on an earnings call, Live Nation CEO & President Michael Rapino noted that, as of May 7, his company had a free cash balance of $817m, combined with $963m in undrawn debt capacity.

This money, $1.78bn in total, would be enough, said Rapino, for Live Nation to “maintain critical operations for the remainder of the year, even in the extreme scenario that no major shows play off [in 2020]”.

That’s an important statement, because right now (since March 12) Live Nation is not hosting a single concert worldwide due to COVID-19, meaning every day that ticks by is doing so without the company’s main source of income.

Adding on another $1.2bn in secured note-related debt to the $1.78bn would take that cash pile up close to $3bn.

(The $1.78bn mentioned by Rapino excluded another $2bn in “event-based deferred revenue” owned by Live Nation (as of March 31), which includes money paid by fans for tickets to shows that haven’t yet happened and/or have been postponed.)

On the same Q1 earnings call on May 7, Live Nation President Joe Berchtold noted that, thanks to recent cost-savings efforts, Live Nation has an “operational cash burn rate of approximately $150m per month for the rest of the year, prior to interest expense, debt payments, capital expenditures and other nonoperational items”.

A $150m-per-month burn rate would mean the $1.78bn pile cited by Rapino ($817m cash plus $963m undrawn debt) would last Live Nation between 11 and 12 months – i.e. to the end of Q1 2021.

At the $150m-per-month burn rate suggested by Berchtold, acquiring $1.2bn in additional debt would give Live Nation approximately another eight months of liquidity, discounting any future income that may occur.

Live Nation’s turnover should obviously pick up later this year, if it is able to sell tickets to newly announced shows scheduled into 2021.

A $1.2bn secured note sale will take Live Nation’s long-term debt up to approximately $4.85bn (see below for LN’s published debt list as of the end of Q1 2020).

The first tranche of this debt owed for recoupment is convertible notes due in 2023, worth $550m.

Last month, ahead of its Q1 earnings, Live Nation announced it had secured a $120 million revolving credit facility loan to boost its liquidity.

At the same time, the company announced plans for $500 million in cost cuts this year, including salary reductions for Michael Rapino and other top executives.

Live Nation confirmed on May 7 that this $500m target had been met, and had been raised to $600m (i.e. $50m per month).

Live Nation’s Q1 2020 revenues fell significantly in Q1 (the three months to end of March) by 20% YoY.

The firm’s Concerts quarterly revenues were particularly affected, down 24% YoY at constant currency to $993.4m.Music Business Worldwide

Bang goes the ARPU: Spotify now giving away 3 months of Premium for free – around the world

Record labels are watching Spotify’s ARPU closely right now.

Thanks to a combination of promotional deals, family plans, telco bundles and international pricing, the average amount paid by Spotify Premium subscribers worldwide fell below $5 per month for the first time in history in Q1; that’s less than half the platform’s typical $9.99-per-month subscription in the US.

Those same record labels might want to brace themselves for another ARPU fall in Q2.

Spotify has today (May 14) confirmed the launch of two new cut-price Premium deals – one for first time subscribers, and one for returning subscribers. Both are available until the end of June in all global markets excluding Japan.

For those who’ve never previously subscribed to Premium, Spotify is offering a three month subscription for free.

This offer applies across all Premium plan types – including an Individual sub, but also Family and Student subscriptions too.

With the Family Plan offer, this means a group (family) of up to six people will now all be able to get Spotify Premium for free, for up to three months.

Meanwhile, for returning subscribers (i.e. those who’ve cancelled their sub in the past), Spotify is offering three months of Premium for $9.99 (or local market equivalent – i.e. the usual price of a one-month individual sub).

This returning subs offer is only available for individual Premium subscribers who cancelled their plans on or before April 14, 2020.

Elements of the new promotion (as represented in a new video from Spotify, below) repeat of a deal first seen last August, in what, at the time, was a significant shift in SPOT’s new subscriber acquisition strategy.

Prior to that deal last August, we’d only seen SPOT go as low as occasionally offering three months of Premium access for $0.99.

Could the new discount indicate that Spotify is trying to maintain its subscription income amid the Coronavirus pandemic?

Spotify announced the new deal today (May 14) on its For The Record blog, in a post that reads: “Ready to take your listening to a whole new level? Spotify Premium has you covered. Premium users can enjoy ad-free, on-demand music for more than 50 million tracks, as well as access to our 1 million podcast titles. It’s a sweet deal, and it gets even sweeter:

“Beginning today, Spotify Premium is offering three months free across all plans to eligible first-time users, and three months for $9.99 (or local market equivalent) for eligible users who have cancelled and want to return. Now that’s a cherry on top.”

Despite concern in the industry surrounding a potential COVID-fuelled subscription slowdown, Spotify’s Premium subscriber base actually grew by 6m in Q1 2020, up to 130m.

Spotify’s Premium monthly ARPU in Q1 2020 was down 6% year-on-year to €4.42 ($4.87).  This figure was down even more, by 7%, excluding the impact from FX rates.

Spotify explained: “A significant portion of this [ARPU] decline was driven by the continuation of longer free trials rolling over from Q4 and additional intake during Q1. Excluding the impact of Trials & Campaigns, ARPU would have declined 4% Y/Y as a result of continued mix shifts in product and geography.”

As widely expected, COVID-19 negatively affected Spotify’s ads business in the period The firm said its Q1 ad revenues “fell short of expectations as a result of impacts from COVID-19, particularly [in] the last three weeks of the quarter”.Music Business Worldwide

LiveXLive to launch pay-per-view live stream music events ‘to drive new revenue-share model for artists’

Los Angeles-based live entertainment company LiveXLive Media is planning to launch pay-per-view (PPV) live stream performances and events.

According to the company, its PPV platform “will drive a new revenue-sharing model for both artists and LiveXLive via digital ticket sales, fan tipping, digital meet and greets, merchandise sales and sponsorship”.

The announcement of the company’s PPV plans follows its recent entrance into the podcast market via the acquisition of PodcastOne, in a transaction valued at $18.1 million.

LiveXLive’s first pay-per-view event will be the 11E1even Group-produced virtual concert series Live From Out There, featuring more than 45 live performances starting on Friday, May 15 and continuing for four weeks until June 7.

The company’s pay-per-view offering will include tour and weekend passes ($39.99 and $19.99, respectively) and an “a la carte” option for single shows ($4.99).

LiveXLive reports that it has already streamed over 900 artists and over 200 hours since January 1, 2020, compared to a total of 300 artists during the entire 2019 calendar year.

Additionally, its inaugural Music Lives 48-hour global music festival reached over 50 million live streams with an average of 200,000 concurrent viewers and 4.9 billion video views for #musiclives on TikTok.

“We are very much looking forward to working with LiveXLive and the newly added paywall allowing us to bring revenue to artists participating in Live From Out There,” said Ben Baruch, Owner of 11E1even Group and co-founder of Live From Out There.

“We’re excited to be among the first-movers in pay-per-view live stream music events where we see significant revenue potential for both artists and our business.”

Robert Ellin, LiveXLive

Robert Ellin, the CEO and Chairman of LiveXLive, added: “The music business is at an important inflection point.

“Pay-Per-View and digital ticketing have been staples for the broadcast entertainment business for many years.

“We’re excited to be among the first-movers in pay-per-view live stream music events where we see significant revenue potential for both artists and our business.”

 Music Business Worldwide

Downtown buys Christian Tattersfield’s Good Soldier Songs

Downtown Music Publishing​ has acquired UK-based independent music publisher Good Soldier Songs for an undisclosed sum.

The deal includes more than 350 works, including the publishing catalog of The 1975, covering the British group’s self-titled 2013 debut LP, as well as their 2016 US and UK No.1 album ​I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It​ , plus 2018’s ​A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships​ — which also hit No.1 in the UK.

In addition, Good Soldier Songs has the publishing for The 1975’s upcoming album, ​​Notes on a Conditional Form​, due for release next Friday (May 22).

Good Soldier Songs was founded in 2003 by the former CEO of Warner Music UK, Christian Tattersfield. It is a separate firm to Tattersfield’s record company, Good Soldier Records – home to artists such as Freya Ridings and Gavin James – which remains independent.

According to filings spotted by MBW on UK Companies House, Downtown’s Good Soldier Songs acquisition was completed in mid-March.

In addition to The 1975,  the deal also sees Downtown acquire Good Soldier’s rights to songs by Scottish rock act Biffy Clyro, including music from the band’s forthcoming album, ​A Celebration of Endings​.

Downtown has additionally acquired songs by Good Soldier signings such as Billy Lockett, Colouring, Dr Vades, Fickle Friends, The Him, The Hunna, K.I.D, Nothing But Thieves, Liam Prior, Raheem Bakaré, Tobtok, and many others.

Downtown recently acquired 10,000 song copyrights from European music publisher Strictly Confidential, as well as nearly 700 works (including a run of hits recorded by Sam Smith) from the UK-based Salli Isaak Songs Limited and Salli Isaak Music Publishing Limited.

Good Soldier – which has received multiple awards from Music Business Worldwide’s annual A&R Awards – signed The 1975 band members to a worldwide publishing deal in 2012, prior to the release of their first studio album.

“I couldn’t think of a more fitting new home for our writers and their music, and am happy they’re in good hands.”

Christian Tattersfield

“Downtown is one of the most thoughtful publishers in the business, with an exceptional, well-curated roster and catalog,” said Christian Tattersfield.

“I couldn’t think of a more fitting new home for our writers and their music, and am happy they’re in good hands.”

Roberto Neri, Executive Vice President and Head of European Business Development for Downtown Music Holdings, parent company of Downtown Music Publishing, added: “With an ethos not unlike Downtown’s, Christian has built an incredible, diverse roster at Good Soldier Songs and we’re ecstatic to add its music to our catalog.

“We’re also excited for The 1975’s highly-anticipated new album and are thrilled to work with the band and their manager, Jamie Oborne.”

“With an ethos not unlike Downtown’s, Christian has built an incredible, diverse roster at Good Soldier Songs and we’re ecstatic to add its music to our catalog.”

Roberto Neri, Downtown 

The fourth album by The 1975 will be released next week on Dirty Hit via Interscope / Polydor.

Its eponymous opener, The 1975, was released in July last year and features a monologue by climate change activist Greta Thunberg.

The album’s lead single, People, was released a month later — and has been followed by others since, including Frail State of Mind, Me & You Together Song, The Birthday Party, and last month’s If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know).Music Business Worldwide

Allen Grubman’s law firm hacked, ‘working around the clock’ as cyberattack group demands $21m

Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks (GSMS), one of the best known law firms in the music business, has been hit by a cyberattack – and the perpetrators want $21m to keep confidential files out of the public domain.

A hacking group calling itself REvil is claiming responsibility for the ransomware attack. It is threatening to release personal details of GSMS clients, including Elton John, Lady Gaga, Barbra Streisand, Lizzo and Madonna, unless GSMS pays up.

New York-based GSMS, which was founded by Allen Grubman in the 1970s, said this week in a statement: “We can confirm that we’ve been victimized by a cyberattack.

“We have notified our clients and our staff. [We] have hired the world’s experts who specialize in this area, and we are working around the clock to address these matters.”

According to Page Six, the FBI is now investigating the matter.

REvil claims to have obtained 756 gigabytes of data from GSMS, including contracts and personal emails from superstar clients. They have already posted a screenshot of what appears to be a contract for Madonna on the dark web.

“We have notified our clients and our staff. [We] have hired the world’s experts who specialize in this area, and we are working around the clock to address these matters.”

Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks

This isn’t the first ‘ransomware’ attack attributed to REvil. The group has previously targeted the likes of Brooks International, Kenneth Cole, and the National Association of Eating Disorders, as well as UK-based foreign exchange firm Travelex, which reportedly agreed to pay $2.3 million to free its confidential files from the group’s malware.

The news of the GSMS attack was first reported by Variety, after cybersecurity software company Emsisoft, which specializes in ransomware, spotted a post by the hackers on a forum on the dark web.

Artists (and GSMS clients) whose data is caught up in the REvil trove also include Nicki Minaj, Bruce Springsteen, Mary J. Blige, Ella Mai, Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey.

Companies that have been represented by GSMS in the past include Universal Music Group, Sony/ATV, Sony Corp, Facebook, Spotify and iHeartMedia.

Since news of the hack emerged, Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks’ website has displayed only a logo, with no further information on the company made available.Music Business Worldwide

Lil Baby was the biggest songwriter in the US in Q1, with 22 certifications

The National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) has announced the top songwriters for Q1 2020, including the top songwriter for the period.

During January, February and March of 2020, 805 songwriters were certified Gold, Platinum and Multi-Platinum, and Lil Baby, who is published by UMPG, was the top songwriter overall with 22 certifications.

In partnership with the RIAA’s Gold & Platinum Program, NMPA finds and certifies the songwriters and publishers of RIAA-certified singles.

RIAA counts both sales and on-demand streams towards its Gold (500,000), Platinum (1 million) and Multi-Platinum (2m+) thresholds.

Thousands of songwriters have been recognized since NMPA’s program began in 2007.

“We are thrilled for all of the newly minted Gold & Platinum writers, particularly Lil Baby who has had a phenomenal Q1 run.

David Israelite, NMPA 

NMPA President & CEO David Israelite, said: “Our new, quarterly announcements identify empirically the top songwriters in music today.

“We are thrilled for all of the newly minted Gold & Platinum writers, particularly Lil Baby who has had a phenomenal Q1 run.

“Music is more meaningful than ever as we all search for joy and connection through this difficult time, and we are incredibly grateful to these writers and their publishers.”

“Thank you very much to my QC team / Wolfpack / 4PF, UMPG, my family, friends and all my fans for keeping me going to write these hits.”

Lil Baby

Lil Baby added: “Thank you very much to my QC team / Wolfpack / 4PF, UMPG, my family, friends and all my fans for keeping me going to write these hits.”

“One of the most in-demand artists today, Lil Baby is a talented songwriter/artist and a proven hitmaker.”

Jody Gerson, UMPG

UMPG Chairman and CEO Jody Gerson, said: “One of the most in-demand artists today, Lil Baby is a talented songwriter/artist and a proven hitmaker.

“We are thrilled to be a part of his journey and look forward to supporting his continued success.”Music Business Worldwide

Spotify hires former HBO exec Eve Konstan as General Counsel

Spotify has hired Eve Konstan as General Counsel.

The New York-based exec joins SPOT after spending more than 20 years with broadcast giant HBO, where she was EVP & General Counsel before leaving in March last year.

Following that two-decade stint at HBO, Konstan joined WarnerMedia as EVP & General Counsel, before leaving that role in October last year.

Spotify’s former General Counsel, Horacio Gutierrez, was upped to a new role as Head of Global Affairs & Chief Legal Officer at the company in Q4 2019.

Gutierrez said in a LinkedIn post today that he was “thrilled” to welcome Konstan to Spotify.

“[Konstan’s] extensive experience in the media industry and her proven leadership skills will be a great asset to the company!”

Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify

He added: “Her extensive experience in the media industry and her proven leadership skills will be a great asset to the company!”

Spotify is currently being sued by a Canada-based audio advertising technology company called VoxTonePro, which alleges theft of trade secrets.

The firm claims these secrets were used to build Spotify’s self-serve Ad Studio.

Spotify’s premium subscriber base grew by 30m year-on-year in Q1, up to 130m Premium customers.

The platform’s Monthly Active User (MAU) count at the end of March hit 286m, up by 15m quarter-on-quarter and by 69m (+31%) year-on-year.Music Business Worldwide

Spotify hires former HBO exec Eve Konstan as General Counsel

Spotify has hired Eve Konstan as General Counsel.

The New York-based exec joins SPOT after spending more than 20 years with broadcast giant HBO, where she was EVP & General Counsel before leaving in March last year.

Following that two-decade stint at HBO, Konstan joined WarnerMedia as EVP & General Counsel, before leaving that role in October last year.

Spotify’s former General Counsel, Horacio Gutierrez, was upped to a new role as Head of Global Affairs & Chief Legal Officer at the company in Q4 2019.

Gutierrez said in a LinkedIn post today that he was “thrilled” to welcome Konstan to Spotify.

“[Konstan’s] extensive experience in the media industry and her proven leadership skills will be a great asset to the company!”

Horacio Gutierrez, Spotify

He added: “Her extensive experience in the media industry and her proven leadership skills will be a great asset to the company!”

Spotify is currently being sued by a Canada-based audio advertising technology company called VoxTonePro, which alleges theft of trade secrets.

The firm claims these secrets were used to build Spotify’s self-serve Ad Studio.

Spotify’s premium subscriber base grew by 30m year-on-year in Q1, up to 130m Premium customers.

The platform’s Monthly Active User (MAU) count at the end of March hit 286m, up by 15m quarter-on-quarter and by 69m (+31%) year-on-year.Music Business Worldwide

Spotify is testing in-app video podcasts (report)

Spotify is reportedly testing an in-app video podcast feature.

That’s according to the Verge, which reports that a global test has been carried out with YouTube stars Zane Hijazi and Heath Hussar.

The Verge cites a source close to Spotify as saying that uploaded videos will appear for 50% of Zane Hijazi and Heath Hussar’s Spotify podcast audience.

Podcast episodes won’t highlight whether they have a video attached to them or not, and videos will show up at the bottom of the screen once the episode is tapped.

The source also said that videos will likely be added to more podcasts following this test.

“At Spotify, we routinely conduct a number of tests in an effort to improve our user experience,” said a Spotify spokesperson in a comment to The Verge.

“Some of those tests end up paving the way for our broader user experience and others serve only as an important learning. We don’t have any further news to share at this time.”

Spotify has spent close to $600m on podcast-related acquisitions in the past 18 months, including its buys of Anchor FM ($154m), Gimlet Media ($195m) and Parcast ($55m) last year, and Bill Simmons’ The Ringer (up to $196m) in Q1 2020.

Spotify reported last month that it had 130m Premium subscribers globally at the end of Q1 2020 (ended March 31). That was up by 6m subscribers vs. the end of the prior quarter, in Q4 2019, and up by 30m (+31%) year-on-year.Music Business Worldwide

Ingrooves expands into Australia & New Zealand, names Nina Rabe-Cairns as Country Manager for market

Universal Music Group-owned Ingrooves Music Group has named Nina Rabe-Cairns Country Manager of Ingrooves Australia and New Zealand, expanding the company’s presence and leading its team in the region.

The move reflects Ingrooves’ growing global footprint after opening offices in Brazil, Japan and South Korea and increasing its presence in the Nordics earlier this year.

Based in Sydney, Rabe-Cairns joins Ingrooves after several years at Spotify, where she served as Senior Editor/Playlist Curator and, most recently, Market Strategy & Operations Manager for Australia and New Zealand.

Prior to that she worked in television, as a Senior Brand Marketing Manager for Nickelodeon and Head of Content for Viacom’s digital editorial team, working on MTV and Comedy Central.

She began her career as a journalist and news presenter.

“Nina brings with her a wealth of expertise and deep relationships throughout this important music market that will be crucial to our ongoing expansion in the region.”

Bob Roback, Ingrooves 

Ingrooves CEO, Bob Roback, said: “Nina brings with her a wealth of expertise and deep relationships throughout this important music market that will be crucial to our ongoing expansion in the region.

“We’re happy to have her join our Australia/New Zealand team.”

“I’m thrilled to be joining this growing team.”

Nina Rabe-Cairns

Rabe-Cairns added: “I know from working directly with them over the past few years that Ingrooves’ platform and capabilities are unparalleled in the music business.

“I’m thrilled to be joining this growing team.”Music Business Worldwide

Stat Of The Week: People over 45, not Millennials, are driving music subscription growth in the UK

MBW’s Stat Of The Week is a new series in which we show why a single data point deserves the attention of the global music industry, and explain what it tells us about the future economics of the business.

“The audience that Spotify reaches is in many cases the 18-24 year olds – the same audience that doesn’t buy music.”

Daniel Ek, there, speaking in 2009, laying out the target demographic for the launch phase of his now world-famous music service.

Ever since Spotify arrived in Europe in 2008 – then in the US in 2011 – the predominant audience for most music streaming brands (and the focus of their advertising) has been people under 35.

Indeed, Spotify’s own data in Q1 2018 showed that 62% of its audience were ‘Millennials’, defined as those aged between 25 and 34 – a stat which didn’t even include those aged 24 or younger.

Millennials, in Spotify’s words, “stream on repeat more than they stream on random”, which helps explain why the record business itself continues to obsess over this demographic. (Repeat plays are obviously a valuable commodity for labels whose goal is market share gain and/or chart success.)

Yet the music business has some serious thinking to do about its youth-fixated strategy.

Official industry data, released this week by IFPI, showed that annual growth in global streaming income at labels started slowing last year – down from $2.7bn in 2018 to $2.2bn in 2019.

Now, a $2.2bn yearly gain in any format is hardly cause for major concern. But it does beg the question: as fiscal increases from mature streaming markets begin to slow, where is the bulk of the industry’s monetary growth in the future going to come from?

Some would argue it will mainly happen in so-called ’emerging markets’, like India or China – and, despite some clear challenges for the industry on this mission, the potential of these and other key non Anglo-American territories remains exciting.

But perhaps, in already ‘developed’ music markets like the United States and the United Kingdom, the record industry is at risk of missing out on a golden opportunity… if it doesn’t start making a play for the boomers.

MBW’s Stat Of The Week: 60% of new UK music streaming subscribers in the year to end of February 2020 were over 45 years old.

New research from the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) published this week has revealed that over 55-year-olds are the fastest growing group of music streaming subscribers in the UK. Widen that group to those over 45 years old and the trend gets even more pronounced.

According to ERA – whose members include the likes of Spotify, SoundCloud, Amazon, Deezer and YouTube – there were approximately 18.15m paying UK subscribers to music streaming services at the end of February 2020.

This figure was up by 2.835m on the equivalent number from the same period of the prior year (February 2019).

For the past six-and-a-half years, ERA has conducted a consumer tracking study, in which it has quizzes a panel of approximately 2,000 UK consumers about their entertainment consumption habits every quarter.

The org has overlaid its latest findings from this study with its wider market estimates to suggest what the age breakdown of Britain’s streaming consumer base looks like today.

Here’s that picture.

A few things immediately jump out here:

  • Between them, people aged 45 and above (inc over 55s) comfortably added more music subscriptions to the UK industry’s tally (+1.695m) in the past year than everyone 44 and under combined (+1.14m);
  • According to previously published ERA stats, UK calendar year spending on music streaming subscriptions in 2019 reached £1.003bn ($1.28bn), up £190.9m on the prior year (£812m). ERA’s latest data suggests that 60% of this growth came from people 45 or over, and that 72% came from people 35 or over;
  • The 18.15m subscribers counted in February 2020 make up around 27% of the total UK population. This suggests, streaming market-wise, the UK is a little more mature than the USA: the latest RIAA data shows that the average number of paying subscribers in the States across the 12 months of last year was 60.4m, which works out at approximately 18% of the total US population. Will the States therefore see a similar demographic shift on streaming in the years to come?

Right now, with 58% of all UK subscriptions, Millennials and Gen Z (people 34 and younger) remain the most lucrative age group for the UK music business in streaming terms. Everyone else (people 35 and older) claimed a 42% share of subscriptions in February 2020.

This will all change, however, if the trend seen in the past year continues into the future.

Look what would happen to the UK streaming subscriptions market if the exact same growth seen in ERA’s February 2020 stats (i.e. a 2.835m annual subs gain, with the majority amongst older consumers) plays out again over the next two years:

In this projection, by Q1 2022, there would almost be as many UK people over 35 paying for music streaming subscriptions (49%) as there were under 35 (51%).

There’s no certainty that this outcome will happen in 2021 and 2022, of course, although ERA itself concludes from its recent research that “as [UK streaming] penetration begins to plateau in the younger age groups, the growth rate is accelerating in the older age groups”.

ERA CEO Kim Bayley adds: “Over-55 year olds are the new battleground in the streaming market. Previously streaming services have very much been regarded as something for music’s traditional younger fanbase. These numbers show that 24/7 access to all the music you could wish for is also attractive to older music fans.”

Question is, if over 35s do start to become the dominant age segment on streaming services – aka the people paying the most money each month to the record business – how will the blockbuster music industry, now so accustomed to directing its marketing firepower towards the youth vote, respond?

Will catalog acts like The Beatles and Queen (pictured) – already the world’s No.10 and No.5 biggest revenue-generating artists of last year, respectively – earn a heavier presence on services such as Spotify? And will the value of their catalogs (and the possibility of big money exclusive deals being struck for them) therefore increase exponentially?

Will certain streaming platforms, arguably better attuned to a non-Millennial/Gen Z audience – like Amazon Music – quickly gain market share in their pursuit of older customers?

And, if paid streams are more heavily weighted than free streams, how will the weekly charts evolve when the majority of people shelling out for streaming accounts are old enough to remember Nirvana on MTV Unplugged?Music Business Worldwide

Spotify sued by Canadian audio firm VoxTonePro for alleged theft of ad-tech trade secrets

A Canada-based audio advertising technology company called VoxTonePro has sued Spotify for the alleged theft of trade secrets used to build its self-serve Ad Studio.

According to the complaint, filed in a Delaware federal court last week, Spotify’s ad studio “is essentially identical to the VoxTonePro ad creation system”.

Launched in 2017 in the US in beta, followed by the UK and Canada in March 2018, Spotify’s Ad Studio allows artists and businesses to make audio ads “from scratch” and run them on the platform.

The tool came out of beta last month and expanded into 18 new markets.

As reported by Law360, VoxTonePro, founded in the early 2000s by Nadeem Mughal, claims to have begun “developing a first-of-its-kind technology: a scalable, cost-efficient, self-service online application that utilizes proprietary technology and know-how to generate audio ads with voiceover narrations, music and/or sound effects”.

The filing suggests that by January 2015, “on information and belief, VoxTonePRO was the only company offering” such a service.

VoxTonePro, looking for potential partners, offered to form a partnership with Spotify in January 2015, which would see Spotify, as a reseller of VoxTonePro’s tech, offer its users the ad creation service through its website.

The complaint adds that VoxTonePro’s founder Mughal explained the company’s “unique position in the field of self-service audio ads” and that a Spotify exec “expressed interest in the platform and in finding out the ‘best way’ to ‘programmatically create ads’.

“Mr. Mughal provided a demonstration of VoxTonePro’s public-facing website to show how customers place orders,” continues the filing.

“Mr. Mughal also showed how resellers – like Spotify – could access VoxTonePro’s reseller portal. The discussion did not bear fruit.”

The allegations then get a lot more serious. According to the filing, “Spotify began plotting to steal VoxTonePro’s trade secrets in 2016, when Spotify reached out to VoxTonePro on its own initiative.

“In August 2016— 17 months after VoxTonePro shared with Spotify the idea of a “self-serve” ad platform—Spotify hired Derek Kuhl to develop a “self-serve” ad platform for Spotify.

“By this time, Spotify was a global enterprise and needed a self-service ad platform that could operate on a global scale—just like VoxTonePro.”

Adds the filing: “Mr. Kuhl quickly learned about VoxTonePro and Mr. Mughal’s 2015 demonstrations to Spotify. Mr. Kuhl wanted to bypass the hard work of creating a scalable, selfservice ad platform—by stealing what VoxTonePRo had already done.

“Over the next several months, Spotify dangled partnership prospects in front of VoxTonePRo in emails, phone calls, and at least one in-person meeting. Lulled into a false sense of trust and confidentiality, VoxTonePro revealed its trade secrets to Spotify.”

“This is a case about a big business stealing from a small business.”

VoxTonePro

In May 2017, “after having learned the details of VoxTonePro’s confidential business processes and technical methods” Mughal was “abruptly” told by Spotify that there would be no partnership after all.

Spotify, alleges the complaint, subsequently continued to use login details it had been provided “to access VoxTonePro’s restricted website, and used the confidential information previously provided by Mr. Mughal to develop and implement its own competing audio ad creation service”.

VoxTonePro’s filing suggests that “this is a case about a big business stealing from a small business” and that “before it had meetings with VoxTonePro, Spotify had no system for self-service voiceover ad creation”.

“After several meetings with VoxTonePro – during which it learned details of VoxTonePro’s platform and led VoxTonePro to believe that a partnership was coming – Spotify scrambled to launch a platform just like VoxTonePro’s,” it adds.”

“Having gotten what it wanted from VoxTonePro, Spotify brushed VoxTonePRO aside.”

VoxTonePro is demanding a jury trial, amongst other things, its prayer for relief ranges from “damages for actual loss caused by the misappropriation of its trade secrets” to “a reasonable royalty for Spotify’s misappropriation of VoxTonePro’s trade secrets”.Music Business Worldwide

‘I’ve always been a person who’s comfortable with being uncomfortable.’

MBW’s World’s Greatest Managers series profiles the best artist managers in the global business. This time, we speak to Arnold Taylor, manager of DaBaby, amongst others – and the founder of Charlotte-based South Coast Music Group (SCMG). DaBaby this month released his third album in 13 months, Blame It On Baby; all three have been US chart-toppers. World’s Greatest Managers is supported by Centtrip, a specialist in intelligent treasury, payments and foreign exchange – created with the music industry and its needs in mind.

Let the record show, South Coast Music Group founder and CEO Arnold Taylor knows how to throw a party. But he also knows how – and more specifically when – not to throw a party. Not a proper one, anyway. So, he explains, the current COVID-dominated conditions meant the celebrations for DaBaby’s latest US No. 1 album, Blame It On Baby, involved “five of us in masks and gloves, six feet away from each other – I couldn’t even get a high five!”, adding that “we have a great amount of respect for what people are going through right now and remained mindful of keeping safe.”

Taylor has managed DaBaby since meeting him nearly four years ago, a pivotal encounter that prompted him to leave his last label job, with Epic, and concentrate full time on breaking the rapper from Charlotte, North Carolina, alongside building a label/management company, in SCMG, that is now also home to Toosii (“my next superstar”, for whom South Coast has just signed a deal with Capitol), Big Mali and Blacc Zacc (SCMG/Interscope).

Going solo was inevitable for Taylor, who describes himself as “first and foremost an entrepreneur” – he has had his own projects since he started working at a record store and created his own influential record pool while attending college.

It was Taylor’s position of influence with DJs – and as a conduit to local markets for national record companies – that saw him carve out a career, initially in promotions and then incorporating A&R, with famous labels including Blackground Records, Def Jam, and Interscope.

Along the way, working alongside artists and executives including Timbaland, Aaliyah, Cash Out, Yo Gotti and L.A. Reid, Taylor made sure he was always watching, learning, absorbing and planning – and always certain that he would get the chance to make his own mark with his own artist.

Sure enough, in the last couple of years, he and DaBaby have made a mark you can see from space. After breaking through in 2018, with his mixtape, Baby Talk 5, released through Roc Nation, his debut studio album, Baby On Baby, which kicked off SCMG’s deal with Interscope, went to No. 1.

The follow-up, Kirk (2019) also went to No. 1, and led to guest spots on tracks by big names such as Post Malone, Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Camila Cabello and Future. And, just last week, Blame It on Baby became the rapper’s third No. 1 album in 13 months – an astonishing feat, marked by a socially responsible celebration.

Taylor’s not overly concerned. He knows there will be time again for Champagne and bear hugs, as he plots a long-term career for DaBaby – the man he calls “the LeBron James of South Coast Music, our franchise player” – and tells MBW, “I always knew I was going to get here – the only detail I needed to fill in was when and how…”

At your last job, with Epic, the initial plan was for you to have your own imprint at the label, but that never happened. was that frustrating?

It was super frustrating towards the end, because I wasn’t getting what I wanted. But everything happens for a reason.

I was getting older, I’d started South Coast Music Group, I was doing both things, but then as soon as I signed DaBaby, that needed all my focus.

Baby was the artist I needed to break through. I had all these ideas, but I also needed product.

How did DaBaby first come across your radar in North Carolina?

My partner, King Carter [EVP and co-founder of SCMG] told me about him.

Baby was in the city, at the club, with like 30/40 people, already the smartest guy in the crew. I saw him one night, just watched the way he walked in, the leader of the pack, it was the way he moved, it wasn’t even about music. It was about finding someone who was headstrong and fearless, because I knew what the journey was gonna be; there was gonna be a lot of closed doors.

“Baby was in the city, at the club, with like 30/40 people, already the smartest guy in the crew.”

Arnold Taylor (pictured, main, with DaBaby at the Grammys 2020)

A hot artist has got to be mentally strong for what comes at you. Plus, a lot of artists have great music, they just don’t have the ‘it’ factor like Baby did.

I wasn’t blown away by the music so much, but it had enough potential so that I knew I could get it there. But when I met him in the studio I was blown away by how poised and intelligent he was, I was intrigued by his mind and how he was so fearless at such a young age. I was more impressed by him as a person than his music.

How did you become his manager?

I became his manager as soon as I found him, because I didn’t want anyone else to manage him.

Sometimes you sign artists to your label and they have a manager who’s too involved. I was so focused on breaking him the way I wanted to break him, I didn’t want no distractions. So I decided to be the label and manager to make sure everything was done the right way. People say it’s a conflict of interest, but there’s no such thing as a conflict of interest when you’re talking about your franchise player.

“I decided to be the label and manager to make sure everything was done the right way. People say it’s a conflict of interest, but there’s no such thing as a conflict of interest when you’re talking about your franchise player.”

Me and Baby have been through things that nobody’s ever gonna understand. I’m probably the only one who can dig deep and relate to him, because he knows the sacrifices I made, what I gave up and what I risked.

I never wavered from what I wanted and I didn’t want anyone to obstruct my vision, so I never even tried to find him a manager; I was always going to be his manager. We want to win together and share the same goals.

This was a once in a lifetime shot for you?

It was all or nothing, yeah. I wasn’t going back to working at a label; I was never going to be the No.2 guy again.

When I have my mind set on something, nobody can talk me out of it. I needed someone who was cool with getting doors slammed in their face and being told no.

Our view was, okay, we gotta work harder. We were mentally strong and we weren’t gonna let anyone stop us or mess with our confidence – I’m not sure anything messes with Baby’s confidence [laughs].

What was your plan to break Baby? It seems like it was quite an accelerated program?

Actually that’s a misconception; Baby’s been signed with me for four years. When it took off it took off, but there were ups and downs before then.

We were trying to bring an artist from a city that had never broken a hip-hop star before. And at the same time, I discovered a lot of my friends at labels weren’t as happy for me as I thought they’d be, because I wasn’t doing as much marketing and promotion for them anymore.

I had to focus on really grinding it out, we didn’t take no shortcuts. We had to build it, we had to do college shows and promo shows, and I had to spend a lot of money, but I wasn’t going to stop. I didn’t care what it cost, because I knew what I had.

“I had to spend a lot of money, but I wasn’t going to stop. I didn’t care what it cost, because I knew what I had.”

I’ve always been a person that is comfortable with being uncomfortable, you see what I mean? You make things uncomfortable for us, you make things difficult, that’s when we’re at our best.

The labels didn’t know how to market an artist like Baby. He’s a street guy who’s also mainstream and very smart. Nobody’s ever seen a guy with the street cred he has, who can also be that funny and that charismatic. He’s like a 50 Cent and Ludacris all in one. We stayed consistent and just didn’t give up.

What was the switch that changed everything and started the journey to where you are now?

It was probably a song called Pull Up Music [2017], a cheap video, in a backyard, a cookout, just some down south shit, y’know. It went crazy, the numbers really started taking off, and I felt a shift in the way the audience was engaging with him.

Is that when your phone starts blowing up?

Nah, the labels still weren’t all in. But I was putting things out through Empire distribution anyway, because I always like to break the artist myself, before I take them to a major label.

When I take an artist to a major label, I like to have the blueprint already in place. I put the work in myself. It’s a business, and I know how major labels think; they want to be sure it’s a real product before you bring it into their system.

“I feel Joie [Manda at Interscope] can move his building. A lot of executives just can’t move their building, and that can be stressful.”

So we did the first couple of mixtapes out through Empire, and then we put one out through Roc Nation [Baby Talk 5, 2018] and by the time we put that out, everything was taking off. Everybody was calling after that, everybody was trying to sign us, and I met with a lot of labels – but they didn’t all get it.

I’d met Joie [Manda, pictured inset] before and the reason I chose Interscope is because I feel Joie can move his building. A lot of executives just can’t move their building, and that can be stressful. That’s why I went with Interscope, they’re a great machine.

What’s the most important thing a label adds for you?

I feel like Interscope is good at taking an artist from 50mph to 100mph. I knew I could develop an artist nought to 50mph, but taking it to 100 is what Interscope is really good at, and I knew they would help me build my label, as a partner.

And what’s it been like accelerating to 100mph?

When we put out Blank Blank and Baby on Baby, the numbers were just outta here; it started moving so fast. But we had put in so much work to get there. So, it might have been fast to everybody else, but it was slow to us. It was just time. We’d been waiting: when they gonna get it? And thank God they got it in the end.

Baby on Baby made everybody at Interscope believe as well. It was like, ‘Wow, you are what you say you are.’ That was when they realized Baby is a star, made them put the whole machine behind it, and that’s what they’ve been doing.

Did the level of success surprise even you though?

No, I expected it from day one. That’s not an arrogant statement, I knew I was gonna get here; this is what I envisioned. At the end of the day, I knew what I had, so I’m not surprised we got here.

I’m thankful that things aligned the right way and the chips fell the right way, because a lot of these things are about timing.

“We bake the cake – Interscope puts the icing on it.”

We definitely did the deal at the right time. I could have waited out, waited for more money, but it wasn’t about the money, I didn’t want a crazy amount, I wanted a partner that really loved what I was doing, because if you don’t love what I’m doing, then you can give me a whole lot of money, but it still won’t make sense.

I think some people, when they sign to a label, they stop working. For me, I’m as involved as ever, I’m the same whether it’s Interscope’s money or my money, plus I have my own people, my own A&R, my own promotions.

It’s not that I don’t want to be a great partner, because I need Interscope to take us to the next level, they have the bandwidth, but as South Coast Music Group, we supply the product, we take it to them for their machine. [We] bake the cake – they put the icing on it. That’s all they gotta do, it’s already baked when it gets to their building.

There have been three albums in the last 13 months, which is a lot of new music in quite a short amount of time. Who’s driving that?

Baby’s an artist, and nowadays most artists want to put out music every day, that’s the generation we’re in.
Also, we’ve trained his audience that he’s going to drop every six months. Some artists, like J Cole, they will drop every two years, because they have a different type of audience and they’ve been trained different.

“Right now, Baby’s audience can’t get enough of him, and he’s just so active, he never comes out of cycle.”

Right now, Baby’s audience can’t get enough of him, and he’s just so active, he never comes out of cycle. They’re gonna expect another new record in a few months. And that’s fine, because we can do the sort of numbers in six months that other people can only do every two years.

What’s this latest album release been like, in current difficult conditions?

Well the world is slow right now, people are at home, they’re paying attention, not flying around, they want to be entertained, so for me it’s a time to drop new music.

Our sympathies are with everyone that’s been affected, we don’t take that lightly, we’re sensitive to what’s going on, but we want to entertain people.

I know I’m listening to more music right now than I have done for years, and I might not ever go back to running at 100mph without taking time to enjoy things and having some quality time with my family.

What’s next for DaBaby?

The sky’s the limit – for Baby and for South Coast Music Group.

People have approached us to talk about movies, all sorts of other content. I’m looking at SCMG Comedy, SCMG Sports. I love music, I always have, but I’m an entrepreneur first and I’m looking at everything.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned during your time in the industry?

I would say patience. My kids have probably taught me that more than anything, but in the industry as well, I’ve learned to have patience.

“I’ve learned to not be such a micro-manager.”

I’ve also learned to trust my people. I mean, I’ve never had a partner before. Interscope is my first time having a partner, and I’ve started a lot of businesses. I’m so big on doing things myself, but I’ve learned that I need good partners, to get as big as we want to get. I’ve learned to not be such as micro-manager.

Were you a bit of a control freak?

Was I?! [Laughs] But now I bite my tongue and trust people. Actually, I wasn’t a control freak, like arrogant – I always listened, I’m a sponge; I take on what everybody says and make my own decisions.

I also always wanted to take my own risks. A lot of times, I might not want you involved because I don’t want you to take the risk; I might be protecting you.

“I’ll take plenty of risks – but with my money and my time, not yours.”

So it wasn’t a selfish thing, it was more, let me try, and if it works, I’ll bring you in.

I’ll take plenty of risks – but with my money and my time, not yours.

What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a young manager starting out?

Make sure you know who you’re dealing with. I talk to my artists for maybe three months, six months, sometimes a year, just helping them, getting them together, I might get them to the point they’re putting music out and I won’t even have signed them yet. I’ve lost a lot of artists like that, because other people rush to sign them. I’m very picky about who I sign, I don’t base it on what they’re streaming right now.

“Don’t just be a manager where you hanging around the artist. If you’re a homeboy manager, you’re probably gonna get fired at some point.”

Also, [artist] managers should learn every aspect of the business – learn publishing, learn touring, learn everything you can – so that you can bring value. Don’t just be a manager where you hanging around the artist. If you’re a homeboy manager, you’re probably gonna get fired at some point, when the artist realises you’re not bringing nothing to the table. So make sure you’re bringing value.

If you had a magic wand, what single thing would you change about the industry right now?

I would make it more about culture. It’s become too much of a business and people have forgotten about the culture.

To me, the Kendricks, the J Coles, the Babys, and going back to the Kanyes and the Jay-Zs, they’re culturally relevant, and that gives them the sort of longevity that you won’t get with somebody who’s just got a bunch of numbers right now. That could be a fad.

I don’t play the volume game, I play the quality game.

A specialist in intelligent treasury, payments and foreign exchange, Centtrip works with over 500 global artists helping them and their crew maximise their income and reduce touring costs with its award-winning multi-currency card and market-leading exchange rates. Centtrip also offers record labels, promoters, collection societies and publishers a more cost-effective way to send payments across the globe.Music Business Worldwide

UK’s Tileyard to expand in London, with plans to enter the US market

Tileyard London, based in the city’s Kings Cross area, is a central pillar of the UK music industry. Some 250 companies – including the likes of Believe, Platoon, Beats 1, Maverick and Empire – have based their UK HQs within the development, which hosts a range of offices, studios and other amenities.

Having recently announced a second UK site in the North of England, due to open next year, Tileyard is now looking at more than doubling the footprint of its original London site (mock-up, pictured) as well as eyeing expansion into the US and Far East.

The double-pronged UK expansion involves an investment of over £40 million and is expected to bring over 2,000 new jobs to the sites in London and Wakefield.

Tileyard’s current London site spans approximately 150,000 square feet, welcoming around 1,500 people each day.

Meanwhile, Tileyard’s management team have already scoped out potential locations in the US (with all major music cities under consideration) whilst also planning a move into Singapore.

Tileyard co-founder, Nick Keynes, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be expanding Tileyard both here in London and with our new site (Tileyard North) in Wakefield. Now more than ever it’s vital the creative industries have a home, a community, world class facilities to return to and active investment.

“We’re also in conversations on potential new sites both in the USA and Asia. It’s an incredible feeling to have cities reaching out to us asking to replicate what we’ve built here in London. They, like us, are aware of the power these creative communities can yield as well as the job creation they generate. We’re very excited to see what the coming months and years bring for Tileyard, both here in the UK and internationally.”

“We’re very excited to see what the coming months and years bring for Tileyard, both here in the UK and internationally.”

Nick Keynes, Tileyard

He added: “What started as an idea nine years ago has bloomed into a thriving community housing some of the most innovative companies in the world and I am excited to bring this creative gem to other locations to help creative communities thrive all over the world. Our decision to make further investment and the local authorities decision to allow this should be a clear sign of the value of Tileyard”

Paul Kempe, Tileyard Owner & Co-founder, added: “We’re investing over £40 million already just in the expansions here in the UK but the value we are adding to the creative industries globally and the local areas providing these world class facilities is worth so much more. I am incredibly proud to see Europe’s largest creative community, Tileyard, continue to grow and am passionate about continuing to grow the brand globally ”

Located in Kings Cross, London Tileyard is Europe’s largest community of artists, studios and businesses, all revolving around music, ideas, collaboration and creativity.Music Business Worldwide

ASCAP paid out $1.18bn to songwriters and publishers in 2019

US-based collection and licensing society ASCAP has reported that its revenues topped $1.274 billion in 2019, which marks a $47 million increase over 2018, and a fifth year of record-breaking financial results.

Royalty distributions to ASCAP members in 2019 increased by $75 million, crossing the $1bn mark for a third year with $1.184bn in total royalties paid out.

ASCAP operates on a not-for-profit basis and distributes all revenues collected, less operating expenses.

The publication of ASCAP’s 2019 financial results follows reports of a letter that was sent by the organization to its members last month informing them that their April 2020 payments – originally scheduled for April 6 – would be delayed until April 28 due to late payments from licensees because of the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

“During this crisis, as we see more and more of our licenses who pay us start to feel the impact of the economic downturn, this translates into less revenue for ASCAP and less money available for distributions for our members,” stated the email sent to ASCAP members.

“We have already been contacted by numerous licenses who are attempting to pay less, pay late or not pay at all.”

Meanwhile, according to ASCAP’s 2019 financial results, domestic (US) revenue collected last year was $945m, up $39m over the prior year, driven in part by an increase in audio streaming which increased 16%.

Domestic distributions from ASCAP-licensed and administered performances in the US totaled $869m, up $55m over last year.

Foreign revenue increased to $329m and foreign distributions were $315m, up by nearly $20m over 2018.

“Hopefully, this distribution will provide a cushion to members to help weather the storm of COVID-19.”

Elizabeth Matthews, ASCAP

ASCAP Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Matthews (pictured, main), said: “We are pleased to report ASCAP’s strong financial results for 2019, but we know that our members are concerned about the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on their royalties in 2020 and beyond.

“Fortunately, ASCAP closed a record number of multi-year licensing deals in 2019 and instituted immediate operational changes and expense cuts in early March 2020.

“As a result of these efforts, while collection efforts are increasingly challenging, our first quarter 2020 royalty distributions have proven to be among our highest ever.

“Hopefully, this distribution will provide a cushion to members to help weather the storm of COVID-19.”

“The ASCAP team is working tirelessly on behalf of our members to navigate through this crisis and protect their livelihoods, even in these challenging times.”

Paul Williams, ASCAP

ASCAP Chairman of the Board and President Paul Williams, said: “Music remains essential to our culture and to humanity.

“We see it in good times as evidenced by the achievements of our members and ASCAP in 2019, and we see it now, when music creators show their generosity and compassion, even as they struggle with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on their own lives and livelihoods.

“We are proud of ASCAP’s strong 2019 financial results, but our focus now is on the future, and fighting for our members.

“The ASCAP team is working tirelessly on behalf of our members to navigate through this crisis and protect their livelihoods, even in these challenging times.

“I am grateful to stand together with so many talented and dedicated members of the ASCAP family, at a time when we need each other more than ever.”Music Business Worldwide

Over 70,000 new creators have signed up to Patreon since mid-March, including a 150% increase in the number of musicians

We reported last month that San Francisco-based crowdfunding/membership platform Patreon saw 30,000 creators launch new funding accounts in the first three weeks of March.

The platform has now released additional figures that highlight a growing surge in sign-ups of both creators and patrons during the ongoing Coronavirus lockdown.

According to Patreon (which artists use to offer exclusive content to more than 4 million patrons in over 180 countries) over 70,000 new creators have launched on the platform since mid-March.

In addition, Patreon has seen a 150% increase in the number of musicians launching and a 57% increase in the number of video creators launching.

Meanwhile, over 2,000 local business have launched on Patreon since mid-March.

Patreon has also reported a 65% month on month increase in the amount that Creators are earning on Patreon, in addition to a 20% MoM growth in the number of new Patrons, a record in the company’s history.

It was recently reported by TechCrunch that Patreon, which raised $60 million in a Series D funding round last year, has laid off 30 employees (13% of its workforce).

According to a blog post published by the platform’s Head of Data Science Maura Church last month, more than 150,000 artists use Patreon to generate income from the platform and they’ve earned over $1 billion in the process.

Church wrote at the time that “this moment in time is one of the strongest influxes of memberships that we’ve ever seen”.Music Business Worldwide

Mechanical Licensing Collective makes five new leadership appointments

The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) has made several new hires to help lead the company’s customer experience, marketing and communications, education and outreach, human resources, and third-party partnerships efforts.

The new hires follow the appointment of respected music industry executive Kris Ahrend (pictured) as CEO in January.

In addition to the five new appointments, Ahrend states the organization “will be actively seeking to fill additional roles” in the coming months.

Established by the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the MLC is a nonprofit entity designated by the United States Copyright Office to develop and administer a mechanical licensing system that will launch on January 1, 2021.

The MLC will be responsible for collecting and distributing royalties payable to songwriters and copyright owners by digital music services, and for the creation of a first-of-its-kind, public database that will contain critical copyright information on all musical works.

In November 2019, The MLC and Digital Licensee Coordinator reached a deal on funding levels for the organization, which will see the MLC receive $33.5 million for start-up costs and an initial annual assessment for 2021of $28.5m.

The new MLC employees include:

  • Ellen Truley, who joins the MLC as Chief Marketing Officer with 20 years’ experience across marketing, brand strategy, digital initiatives, advertising, and public relations.
  • Leigh McCorkle, who has been appointed as Chief People Officer. McCorkle was most recently the Executive Director of Human Resources for Broadcast Music Inc (BMI).
  • Dae Bogan joins as Head of Third-Party Partnerships. Bogan is founder of several music technology companies, and is an adjunct lecturer at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. He will lead The MLC’s strategy of engaging third-party entities that provide support to creators and publishers in the areas of rights administration, data management, operations, and education.
  • Serona Elton, who joins the MLC as Head of Education Partnerships, is a professor, Director of the Music Business & Entertainment Industries Program, and Associate Dean of Administration at the University of Miami’s Frost School of Music. Elton will lead The MLC’s effort to engage future members of the music industry currently studying music business and related subjects at colleges and universities across the US and globally in support of The MLC’s outreach and education efforts.
  • Lindsey Major has been hired as Head of Customer Experience, having previously helped companies such as SmileDirectClub and Lyft develop and enhance their customer service operations.

“We’re excited to build our team of knowledgeable experts who are passionate about helping to improve the licensing, administration, and payments process for digital audio mechanicals and provide greater transparency to songwriters and publishers.”

Kris Ahrend, MLC

Chief Executive Officer Kris Ahrend said: “We’re excited to build our team of knowledgeable experts who are passionate about helping to improve the licensing, administration, and payments process for digital audio mechanicals and provide greater transparency to songwriters and publishers.

“Our newest employees bring a wealth of valuable experience and insight that will be incredibly helpful as we continue to build The MLC in the coming months.

“Their leadership and contributions will help ensure we assemble a talented and diverse team that can communicate effectively with the many constituencies that will be interested in learning more about The MLC and provide a high-quality user experience for the songwriters and publishers we will serve.

Added Ahrend: “These five leaders are among the first to join our team. In the coming weeks and months, we will be actively seeking to fill additional roles at The MLC as we continue to build and grow our organization.

“If you are interested in learning more about these additional roles and would like to join our extraordinary team, I encourage you to visit The MLC’s website to view current openings and submit your application.”Music Business Worldwide