Operators in Australian live music industry warn of further job cuts

With several industries severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, Australia’s live music industry is no exception. Most of the live entertainment operators estimate that the music industry will take until 2025 to recover from the impact of audience restrictions and shutdowns that have hampered it for almost a year.

Based on a survey conducted by Live Performance Australia (LPA), the apex body for live entertainment, on its more than 300 members, around 90% of them have stated that they are still dependent on the jobkeeper wage subsidy for continuing operations or for retaining the staff. One-third of the members who responded to the survey have stated that they will have to lay off the staff once the wage subsidy ends on March 28.

Speaking on the daunting situation, chief executive of LPA, Evelyn Richardson, stated that the pandemic has made a devastating impact on live entertainment. She also added that the industry has faced an estimated economic output loss of $24 billion along with a loss of $11 billion in terms of industry value.

Reportedly, the live performance sector has recorded a loss of around 80,000 jobs over the past 10 months.

Richardson further stated that although, the Australian Taxation Office has claimed that 90% of the 1.3 million jobs that were lost across the country have been restored, this does not reflect in the live performance industry. LPA is gradually getting its shows back, but under high restrictions due to which the business is expected to suffer heavily, she added.

Sources have confirmed that LPA has been in communication with Treasury and the federal arts minister, Paul Fletcher, pressing for targeted financial support until the end of 2021.

Last week, over 3,500 live music professionals had signed an open letter to Fletcher as well as the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, requesting for extending the deadline for jobkeeper beyond March 28 for the members working in the entertainment sector.

Source credit: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2021/feb/22/more-job-losses-ahead-for-australian-live-music-industry-operators-warn

Universal airs global launch of Virgin Music Label & Artist Services

American music corporation, Universal Music Group (UMG), has reportedly launched Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, which is its new international division dedicated to serve independent artists and labels in music field. According to the company, this initiative has been inspired and influenced by the essence of the distinguished Virgin Records label.

Under this initiative, the US based Caroline, UMG-owned Capitol Music Group’s independent services division, as well as Caroline operations in Germany, UK, and France will be retitled as Virgin Music Label & Artist Services.

Moreover, this services division will also be launched in Spain and Mexico along with the launch of Latin operations in the US, across Miami and Los Angeles. UMG has claimed that this will be the world’s first completely integrated label services division for Latin music.

Reportedly, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, is expected to be a separate global operation of Ingrooves, which had been acquired by UMG in 2019, and since then has been focusing on accelerating the global expansion.

Expressing his delight on this new initiative, Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of UMG, stated that this global launch marks an important evolution of its strategy of being a crucial partner and an accelerator for the finest independent artists and entrepreneurs in the music industry.

For the record, in the US, Virgin Label & Artist Services will run under the leadership of Jacqueline Saturn, as the President of the new division, and will report to Michelle Jubelirer, President and COO, Capitol Music Group.

In the UK, the new division will be led by Vanessa Higgins as MD, Virgin Music Label & Artist Services UK, and will report to David Joseph, Chairman & CEO, Universal Music UK.

In France, the new division will be led by Thomas Lorain in the capacity of MD, Virgin Music Labels & Artist Services France.

In Germany, Tina Adams will be leading the new division as the Label Manager and will report to Frank Briegmann, Chairman & CEO of Deutsche Grammophon and Universal Music Central Europe.

In LATAM & Iberia, Virgin Music will be led by Víctor González, in the position of President, Virgin Music for the region.

Source credit: https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/universal-launches-virgin-music-label-artist-services-rebranding-caroline-and-caroline-international/


UMG & Big Hit Entertainment collaborate to launch a “Global” Boy Band in 2022

  • The Korean entertainment agency and the music giant will work together to announce a K-pop boy band in the United States
  • This partnership will prove beneficial for the future of K-pop and create new opportunities for artists around the world, possibly “rewriting global music history”

Universal Music Group (UMG) and Big Hit Entertainment, two of the most instrumental music companies in the world, have reportedly signed an extended partnership which will create new opportunities for musical technology, artists across the world and for K-pop.

For the record, Big Hit Entertainment is a Korean music agency that has global chart-topping artists like BTS, considered to be the ‘Beatles of the 21st century’, under their label. The company will work closely with Universal Music Group in assembling a K-pop boy band which will receive global exposure.

This move was initially announced in a private media show which was later reported as news to the public. Four important personnel from these companies, the CEO and Chairman of Big Hit Entertainment, Bang Si-Hyuk, Lenzo Yoon, CEO of Global & Business, Big Hit Entertainment, Sir Lucian Grainge, CEO & Chairman of Universal Music Group and the CEO & Chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M, John Janick, featured in an impactful video presentation to share the news.

The “global” K-pop boy band will make their debut alongside an American media partner in 2022. Big Hit Entertainment will collaborate with UMG’s Geffen Records, which boasts artists like Guns N’ Roses, Olivia Rodrigo and the late Avicii, to create a music label based in Los Angeles. This label will be used to release the new-artist project. The new boy band will follow the “K-pop system” that got global recognition to Big Hit clients like Tomorrow X Together, ENHYPEN and BTS.

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UMG invests in Big Hit’s livestreaming content platform VenewLive

Universal Music Group is reportedly making an investment in VenewLive, the livestreaming content platform owned by K-pop giant, Big Hit Entertainment. The transaction also comprises Blackpink’s record label, YG Entertainment, as an investor.

The new backing will enable Big Hit to exercise the potential of livestreaming technology by extending the reach of its livestream events. Universal and YG will also have the opportunity to develop new avenues for their artists to connect with their fans.

According to the CEO of Big Hit Global, Lenzo Yoon, the company’s dream and objective is to offer the most advanced technology that is presently available so that fans could experience the content of the artists in the best manner plausible under any circumstances. Yoon also added that the company will continue to study how new attempts and technologies in various fields could have a positive impact on strengthening its fan experience and how these technologies could be introduced.

For the uninitiated, the venture behind VenewLive, KBYK Live, was jointly established by Kiswe, a video company based in New Jersey, and Big Hit in May 2020. The concert platform was launched shortly thereafter. As per records, VenewLive has already put on some of the biggest livestreaming concerts. One of these comprises BTS’s MAP OF THE SOUL ON:E, which was streamed in October 2020 and witnessed a peak audience of 993,000.

By making use of Kiswe’s technologies, VenewLive has also developed the capacity of converting every concert experience to fit the attributes of specific artists, allowing fans watching to customize the content in the manner of their choice. The platform’s livestream experience on offer for fans comprises digital interactive features, 4K resolution, as well as multi-view technology.

VenewLive had reportedly hosted Justin Bieber’s Beverly Hilton Hotel concert on New Years’ Eve 2020.

Source credit: https://routenote.com/blog/universal-music-group-joins-forces-with-k-pop-labels-to-invest-in-big-hit-entertainment-livestreaming-platform/

Spotify commences the testing of live lyrics feature in the US

  • The music streaming service provider will now collaborate with Musixmatch for offering this feature
  • Currently under testing, Spotify has declined to reveal additional details regarding the expansion of this test

Swedish media service provider and audio streaming platform Spotify has reportedly confirmed its testing of a live lyrics feature in the United States market. Spotify has been offering this service in over 27 markets, including its latest release in South Korea. However, this feature was not available to American users for several years.

In the U.S., Spotify, in partnership with Genius, offers the “Behind the Lyrics” feature which provides a combination of trivia and lyrics of the song currently played. Spotify has commented that the new feature will be rolled out on an initial testing basis for some users in the United States starting from February 9, 2021.

A spokesperson at Spotify has reportedly stated that the audio streaming company frequently conducts such tests to enhance the user experience. Some of these tests can provide a learning experience whilst others can substantially broaden the user experience.

Although the company declined to provide additional details, they did mention that this new feature for the U.S. market is a collaborative effort with Musixmatch, which already runs this service on Spotify in non-US markets.

This is not Spotify’s first attempt at running a lyric feature in the US. The company worked with Musixmatch for 5 years, starting 2011 to 2016, before they terminated this partnership. Subsequently, Spotify collaborated with Genius and did not get back the lyrics feature in the U.S., despite huge demand from their American users. But in recent times, Spotify has revived its relationship with Musixmatch to test out the new lyrics feature for U.S. customers.

While it is currently in the testing phase, Spotify is yet to confirm the expansion of this test, which is why not all users from the U.S. are able to access this feature on the Spotify app.

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TikTok strikes global licensing deal with Universal Music Group

Chinese video-sharing social networking service- TikTok has reportedly inked a global licensing deal with leading American music corporation- Universal Music Group. Apparently, the ByteDance- owned video app struck a similar agreement with Sony Music in November and Warner Music Group in December.

For the record, the announcement was made few days after Universal pulled its catalog from TikTok’s competitor, Triller, with the company accusing the platform of withholding the payments to its artists.

As per a statement by the company, this new global agreement between TikTok and Universal Music Group offers equitable compensation to recording artists and songwriters and considerably expands and improves the firm’s prevailing relationships.

Notably, the deal covers recorded music by UMG’s artists and songwriters working with the Universal Music Publishing Group. Both TikTok and UMG have pledged to experiment with the new features available on the platform. Following which, TikTok users will be able to download clips for Universal’s wide music catalog.

According to Ole Obermann, Global Head of Music at TikTok, through the agreement, the companies will work towards reaching out to the music fans on the video-sharing social networking platform. Through the partnership with UMG and UMPG, TikTok will help source new talents.

It is worth mentioning that, in the year 2020, TikTok signed deals with Paris-based Believe and Merlin along with Dutch Collecting Society Buma or Stemra and Pan-European licensing hub ICE.

Citing reports, the China-based company published its first US Music report in December, in which it mentioned that more than 70 artists that broke on the platform in the past one year later signed major label deals.

In addition to the above, TikTok also reported that nearly 176 songs crossed 1 billion video views as TikTok sounds in the year 2020.

In July 2020, the ByteDance-owned service inked a deal with many music publishers through an agreement with the National Music Publishers Association in the U.S.

Source Credit: https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/tiktok-and-universal-music-group-sign-global-licensing-deal/


Sony Music acquires AWAL and Kobalt neighboring Rights in a $430M deal

Sony Music, a leading American global music firm under the Sony Corporation of America conglomerate, has reportedly inked a new definitive agreement to procure AWAL, the independent distribution as well as label division of Kobalt Music Group, and its neighboring rights unit, both companies announced the new deal on Monday, Feb 1, 2021.

According to reports, The proposed deal, which would still need to obtain regulatory approval to go through, would see Sony Music pay over $430 million to Kobalt Music Group. The deal would be subject to conventional working capital as well as other adjustments.

As per the announcement, AWAL as well as the neighboring rights unit would be working as an independent new division, which would be connected to Orchard, the indie distribution arm of Sony which has revenues of over $800 million.

In the financial year that ended March of 2019, AWAL clocked in revenues of over $106.2 million with its neighboring rights unit recording collections of approximately $65 million. If the proposed deal goes through, the indie operations of Sony could have revenues of over $1 billion.

However, because Sony counts these monies under the agency accounting, it only recognizes the distribution fees of Orchard it gathers as revenue under its own reporting. The company is highly likely do the exact same thing for the acquired Kobalt entities.

Rob Stringer, chairman, Sony Music Group stated that the company’s investment in the continued growth of AWAL gives it another service to make available to  the independent music community. Stringer further added that with AWAL’s flexible solutions, which help build the careers of artists, the two companies can together offer more thrilling choices to creators to connect with their respective global audience.

When this takeover deal closes, it would mean that Kobalt would still own its AMRA performing rights organization as well as its music publishing platform, while an independent entity, Kobalt Capital, would work as a Kobalt Music Copyrights Fund II investment adviser. Last November, Kobalt reportedly sold the company’s Music Copyrights Fund 1 for $323 million to Hipgnosis.

Source credit: https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/9519146/sony-music-acquires-kobalt-awal-neighbouring-rights

Sky UK to boost original content catalogue to take on streaming rivals

Renowned British telecommunications company and broadcaster, Sky UK, is reportedly squaring up to Amazon, Disney+, and Netflix, in the battle to gain higher viewership by expanding its original British shows catalogue by over 50% and also releasing new, exclusive films every fortnight, which also includes a biopic backed by Danny Boyle about Creation Records, a Britpop record label.

Driven by Britain’s growing appetite for binging on new series during the COVID-19 pandemic, the total number of subscribers to the aforementioned three main streaming services has hit approximately 32 million, which is double that of the conventional pay-TV firms like BT, Virgin Media, and Sky.

With lockdowns across UK pushing up the digital content viewing numbers by over 38% in 2020, the hunger for newer content is booming and so is competition among big streaming enterprises. Recently, Netflix announced that it would start releasing one new movie a week.

Managing Director, Content, Sky UK, Zai Bennett, stated that the company would be doing the same starting 2022 and has increased the number of its original movies from two back in 2020 to over 30 this year.

Bennett stated that the main aim of this effort is to add more value to subscriptions of Sky Cinema. Adding that the movie investment was an addition to the approximately £1 billion Sky has allocated to spend on new and original series by 2024.

Apparently, Sky had already expedited its investment in films before the start of the pandemic and has tried as best it can to accelerate content creation even faster and make as many deals as possible.

The new movies include Alan McGee, starring newcomers James McClelland and Leo Harvey-Elledge as Noel and Liam Gallagher and Ewen Bremner, an adaptation of A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig featuring Maggie Smith, Stephen Merchant, and Kristen Wiig, and Creation Stories, which is cowritten by Irvine Welsh and revolves around the boss of Oasis’s record label.

Source credit: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/jan/24/sky-uk-boosts-original-content-as-it-takes-on-streaming-rivals

Interscope inks a new JV with Adam Mersel’s Immersive Records label

Interscope Geffen A&M has reportedly signed a joint venture deal with the Immersive Records, a label owned by renowned artist manager, Adam Mersel, who is presently guiding the career of Ben Platt, the Emmy, Tony, and Grammy Award-winning superstar. Prior to that, Mersel has also helped guide singer Bebe Rexha to a diamond-validated status, and worked closely with artists such as Robin Thicke and Sara Bareilles.

Sources cite that before the launch of Immersive Management in 2020, Mersel was working at First Access Entertainment and Career Artist Management, where he has worked with Thicke, Rexha, Bareilles, and other successful artists.

That same year, Mersel also looked after the releases of “Sing to Me Instead”, which was Ben Platt’s debut, and has also served as the Executive Producer for the Broadway star’s NETFLIX special “Ben Platt: Live From Radio City Music Hall”.

Under the JV, the release of a debut single by Chase Hudson, also known as LILHUDDY, the star of the latest Downfalls High musical feature of Machine Gun Kelly, is set to take place. Given the title of the “21st Century Vampire”, the debut single has reportedly been co-written by LILHUDDY, in addition to Andy Seltzer, Nick Long, and Jake Torrey.

The track, which released recently, is further accompanied by a new music video that was shot by Director Joseph Kahn and is reportedly available across all digital retail providers through Geffen/Immersive Records.

Commenting on the JV, Adam Mersel stated that some of his earliest experiences associated with working in the music industry are related to Interscope, underscoring that Steve, John, and other Interscope executives have played a part in raising him in the business.

Mersel is also grateful to the complete team for their belief and support and believes that Interscope stands as the perfect home for Immersive Records, as time and time again, the team has demonstrated its success in the establishment of career artists.

Source credit: https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/interscope-signs-joint-venture-with-artist-manager-adam-mersel-for-immersive-records-label/

K-pop boy band GOT7 departs from recording label JYP Entertainment

GOT7, a renowned K-pop boy band has reportedly announced that it is officially parting ways with recording label JYP Entertainment, a leading South Korea-based multinational record label and entertainment conglomerate. Band members JB, Mark Tuan, Jinyoung, Jackson, BamBam, Yugyeom, and Youngjae, all took to their respective Instagram handles to make heartfelt posts, that apparently confirmed the official departure of the band from the agency.

According to reports, all GOT7 band members would be departing from JYP Entertainment after their respective exclusive contracts with the company come to an end in January. Band member Mark Tuan recently tweeted out to fans assuring them that all seven band members would be staying together as GOT7 even after their respective contract come to an end with the company.

The prominent K-pop vocalist also posted on his social media that the last seven years under JYP have been some of the best of his life. The vocalist also hinted towards the band’s future activities, stating that all seven members would be bringing the best version of themselves to the fans soon.

Supposedly, the upcoming 35th Golden Disc Awards event would be the band’s last activity as a JYP group. As per an industry source, all seven members of the band are immensely close to one another. However, they no longer agree with the choice of their recording agency. Following numerous internal discussions, JB, Mark Tuan, and others have come to a decision to leave the company.

GOT7’s departure from JYP Entertainment has gotten K-pop fans across the world wondering where the artists would be going next.

As per reliable sources, Jinyoung has reportedly inked a deal with BH Entertainment, an actor agency. Yugyeom has apparently held a final meeting with AOMG. Meanwhile, JB has received a lucrative offer from an international music label and is looking to find an agency that would support him as an individual artist.

On the other hand, Youngjae, has been scouted by the Sublime Artist Agency. Jackson Wang is expected to continue with his activities through his own label, Team Wang. Mark is expected to return to the United States and is considering to kick off a solo music career in the U.S. with plans to start a YouTube channel of his own.

Source credit: https://www.ibtimes.co.in/got7-members-leaving-jyp-entertainment-fans-react-heartbreaking-news-831992