Breaking Biz

Spotify x UMG deal: The devil is in the details

Spotify, the leading streaming music brand, has struck a new, multi-year global license deal with Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company. With any deal of note, the devil is in the detail. And this is one of those deals. As part of the new pact, Spotify will allow UMG’s artists to window their albums to its paid users only for the first two weeks of a release. By adding-in those restrictions, Spotify gives users of its free tier a real incentive to upgrade.

“We know that not every album by every artist should be released the same way, and we’ve worked hard with UMG to develop a new, flexible release policy,” explains Daniel Ek, Chairman and CEO of Spotify, in a statement unveiling the deal.

Ek said the new partnership was built on a “mutual love of music” between UMG and Spotify, and was intended to create more value for artists. For their part, UMG reportedly cut the royalty fees Spotify pays for its works. Spotify, which is expected to launch an IPO in 2018, hasn’t yet announced similar licensing structures with Warner Music or Sony Music.

Jay Z gets his wish on Spotify

Spotify’s execs might want to keep the champagne on ice for a little longer. Jay Z doesn’t want to play. The hip-hop star and entrepreneur requested Spotify pull his catalogue. And he got his wish…none of his 12 studio sets are currently available on the service. Jay Z’s power play is all about business. It’s a digital turf war and it begs the question: why didn’t he do this sooner? The rapper owns the rival music streaming service Tidal, which has had waves of issues since its launch in 2015. Naturally, Tidal is now the go-to place for his music.

PROs band together for royalty collection system

Three of the world’s largest performance rights organisations (PROs) have banded together to prototype a new blockchain-based system for royalty collection. SACEM (France), PRS for Music (Britain) and ASCAP (U.S.) are working on the joint project which is hoped will streamline the licensing process and pave the way for faster, more accurate payments to copyright owners. Utilizing IBM blockchain technology, the alliance plans to develop an improved system for managing the links between International Standard Recording Codes (ISRCs) and International Standard Work Codes (ISWCs) — standard data codes for identifying recorded works and compositions. “We see huge opportunity for beneficial industry change and collaboration from this initiative,” says PRS CEO Robert Ashcroft in a statement announcing the venture.

And just how big are these PROs? Last week ASCAP reported 2016 revenue of US$1.059 billion, up 4.44 percent from the previous year, while distributions to members grew by 5.83 percent year-on-year to US$918 million. It’s the third successive year ASCAP’s revenues have topped US$1 billion.


Movers & Shakers

Max Lousada will fill a role last occupied by Lyor Cohen

Warner Music Group has entrusted Max Lousada with responsibilities for its global recorded music operations. Lousada, a Brit, has been named CEO of recorded music for Warner Music Group, with effect from Oct. 1. He will continue his current duties as chairman & CEO of Warner Music U.K. while also taking on all global operations of WMG’s recorded music properties, including Atlantic, Parlophone, Warner Bros., Warner Music Nashville, Global Catalog/Rhino, and Warner Classics.

Lousada will fill a role last occupied by Lyor Cohen and he’s expected to eventually succeed WMG CEO Stephen Cooper, the man he reports to. The incoming chief joined WMG in 2003 (via Atlantic U.K.) and quickly earned a reputation as a cut-above talent-spotter. He was promoted to president and chairman of Atlantic U.K. in 2009, a label that had Ed Sheeran, Clean Bandit and James Blunt on its books and helped develop Coldplay and Muse. He rose to CEO of Warner Music U.K. in 2013.

Tom Mackay joins SME

Veteran Republic Records exec Tom Mackay joins Sony Music Entertainment as president of Sony music, film and television A&R, a newly created position. Based in Los Angeles, Mackay now leads the strategy and implementation of the music major’s film and television partnerships, including its soundtrack deals, and reports to Sony Music Entertainment CEO Rob Stringer. He worked with Republic Records since 1998, most recently serving as executive VP/GM of West Coast operations.

A smooth transition for Mitch Glazier

Mitch Glazier will succeed Cary Sherman at the helm of The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The trade body has orchestrated a smooth transition where Glazier becomes president of the RIAA with immediate effect, and rises to CEO in January 2019.

Sherman, who has served with the RIAA in various capacities for two decades, is set to retire at the end of 2018. Glazier is no stranger to taking up the fight for the major-label biz. He has more than 18 years’ experience with the RIAA and is currently senior executive vice president. Glazier’s appointment comes on the heels of the American recorded music industry reporting its first full-year period of double-digit growth in almost 20 years.

The Dotted Line

Tonight Alive signs recording agreements to take their music to the world

The Sydney five-piece has signed with UNFD in Australia and New Zealand and with Hopeless Records in all other territories and shared a new song and music video for ‘World Away.’ The new track, a rep explains, is “an introduction to the sound of the next chapter” for Tonight Alive, which will be revealed in full when the band begins work on their new album this winter.

Bigsound is getting bigger

Brisbane’s annual music gathering will expand its showcase program to a four-night format with each artist offered the chance to perform twice across the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights and a huge chunk of cash is up for grabs. The extra night creates more chances for bands to win over industry guests and punters, explains Q Music Executive Officer Joel Edmondson.

“We have dozens of internationals flying halfway around the world to see great Australian music and we want to give them the best opportunity to see the acts they want to see in the best possible setting,” he said.

Bigsound will be heldSeptember 5-8 in the Sunshine State’s Fortitude Valley and for the first time a $100,000 prize pool will be made available to performers as a “financial leg-up”. Through the Levi’s Music Prize — the largest of its kind in Australian music history — $25,000 will be awarded on the final day as judged by a panel of visiting international music industry experts.

The program will then be opened up to Bigsound alumni that have featured in the nighttime music programme over the last five years to apply for further $25,000 prizes over the following three quarters.


Chart Geek

Ed Sheeran is still the king of the charts

The English singer and songwriter’s Divide (Asylum/Warner Music) enters a fifth week at the top of the U.K. albums chart, and he bags the top two on the U.K. singles chart again, with “Shape of You” on top for a 13th week. The space cowboy Jamiroquai returns to the U.K. chart with his eighth album Automaton, which debuts at No. 4.

It’s a similar story in Australia, where Sheeran scores a fifth week atop the ARIA Albums Chart and a 13th week at No. 1 on the ARIA Singles Chart. ‘Shape Of You’ is now equal with Coolio’s ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ for the most weeks at No. 1.

In the U.S., Drake’s More Life holds at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for a second week and should hang on for a third while Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ rules for a 10th week. Sheeran’s hit is just the 34th No. 1 to dominate the U.S. singles chart for double-figure weeks since the weekly tally was first published in 1958. Kendrick Lamar’s new track ‘Humble’ could challenge Sheeran’s title and is expected to open inside the top 5. ‘Humble’ is the first release from Lamar’s fourth studio album, which will arrive on Friday (April 14) and is expected to shoot straight to No. 1 in the U.S.

The Big Stage

Justin Bieber’s latest tour has purpose…making piles of money

As Bieber’s ‘Purpose World Tour’ enters its second year on the road, the trek’s total gross to date climbs to almost US$200 million. According to Billboard Boxscore, Bieber’s five-city jaunt through Australia and New Zealand shifted 221,206 tickets with the sold-out sign posted at Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Auckland. His date at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on March 15 grossed US$6.2 million on March 15 and pulled a crowd of 65,836. Since hitting the road in March 2016, Bieber’s jaunt has sold more than 2.2 million tickets.


The Final Word

Another record for Adele. The British singer’s 21 has eclipsed Carole King’s Tapestry for the most weeks on the Billboard 200 chart for an album by a woman. Adele’s 2011 sophomore set clocked its 319th week on the list dated April 15. Tapestry is now in second place with 318 weeks. 21 has been on the albums chart every week since 2011, when it debuted at No. 1, a position the album locked up for 24 non-consecutive. Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon holds the record for the most weeks on the chart at 92.