Sunday, June 16, 2024

From Sony Music’s reported Queen catalog talks to Live Nation’s DoJ battle… it’s MBW’s Weekly Round-Up

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Welcome to Music Business Worldwide’s weekly round-up – where we make sure you caught the five biggest stories to hit our headlines over the past seven days. MBW’s round-up is supported by Centtrip, which helps over 500 of the world’s best-selling artists maximize their income and reduce their touring costs.


A news report released this week suggests that Sony Music, along with an unnamed partner, is in talks to buy Queen‘s catalog (presumably both recorded and publishing rights) for an epic sum of $1 billion.

Speaking of Sony, in a presentation at the company’s annual Business Segment Meeting, Sony Music Group Chairman Rob Stringer unveiled an interesting proposal: He’s urging music streaming services to start charging a “modest fee” for their ad-supported subscription tiers.

Elsewhere in the music business, we got word this week that K-pop giant HYBE sold a $50 million stake in rival company SM Entertainment. That’s noteworthy, given that a year ago HYBE lost a hard-fought battle against Kakao Corp. for control of SM.

The news that the US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit to break apart Live Nation and Ticketmaster continues to reverberate. In a new analysis, MBW asks: Could Live Nation win this battle? The short answer is: yes, they could.

Finally, MBW took a look this week at who’s bankrolling Suno, the uncannily good AI music generator now reported to be worth $500 million. It turns out Suno’s investors are predominantly from tech, and few have a music background.

Here’s what happened this week…


Credit: Shutterstock

1) SONY MUSIC IN TALKS TO ACQUIRE QUEEN CATALOG IN POTENTIAL $1BN DEAL (REPORT)

Sony Music is reportedly in talks to acquire the catalog of iconic British rock act Queen.

That’s according to Bloomberg, which published an article on Wednesday (May 29) citing sources as saying that Sony is currently “working with another investor” on a transaction that “could potentially total $1 billion”.

News of Sony’s reported talks to acquire Queen’s catalog arrives a year after Music Business Worldwide broke the news (in May 2023) that discussions were happening between Queen’s representatives and certain companies over a potential $1 billion-plus catalog sale.

That catalog, we reported, combined both publishing and recorded music rights, all jointly and equally owned by the band’s surviving ‘classic’ line-up (Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon) plus the estate of Freddie Mercury


2) SONY MUSIC GROUP BOSS ROB STRINGER TALKS ACQUISITIONS, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND HOW MUSIC STREAMING SERVICES SHOULD START CHARGING FREE USERS

Sony Music Group Chairman Rob Stringer is setting his sights on a new monetization goal: Getting the music streaming services to start charging for their ad-supported subscription tiers.

During his presentation at Sony Group’s annual Business Segment Meeting on Thursday (May 30), Stringer suggested that DSPs start charging a “modest fee” on their free subscription tiers.

“While free tiers attract billions of monthly users, their poor contribution to streaming monetization means their primary purpose is to convert users into paying subscribers,” Stringer said.

“At Sony Music, we think everyone is willing to pay something for access to virtually the entire universe of music,” he added…


Credit: Press

3) HYBE SELLS $50M STAKE IN SM ENTERTAINMENT

South Korea-headquartered entertainment giant HYBE has sold $50 million worth of its shares in fellow K-pop company SM Entertainment.

That’s according to a regulatory filing published by HYBE on Tuesday (May 28), which indicates that the company has sold 755,522 shares of SM Entertainment for 90,531 South Korean won per share.

HYBE’s shareholding in SM Entertainment has been reduced to 2.21 million shares as a result of the transaction.

According to the Korea JoongAng Daily, the shares sold by HYBE equates to a 3.2% stake in SM Entertainment, reducing HYBE’s stake in SM to 9.38%


Credit: T. Schneider/Shutterstock

4) THE DOJ IS SUING TO BREAK UP LIVE NATION. WHAT EXACTLY DOES THE LAWSUIT AIM TO ACHIEVE – AND COULD THE CONCERT GIANT WIN?

After an 18-month investigation, the US Department of Justice has filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Live Nation, owner of Ticketmaster, for what it says is “monopolization and other unlawful conduct that thwarts competition in markets across the live entertainment industry.”

The DoJ went for the jugular, asking the US District Court for the Southern District of New York to order the break-up of the company, so that Live Nation and Ticketmaster would once again be two separate entities after spending 14 years under one corporate roof.

Legal analysts say the fact that the DoJ, under then-President Obama, approved the merger in the first place in 2010, and came to another agreement over alleged monopolistic practices in 2019, means it could have a hard time convincing the court today that breaking up Live Nation/Ticketmaster is a necessary remedy to the problems it alleges.

Yet the political environment of our era is notably different from the Obama era. Live Nation argues that the antitrust case against it is the result of the US government succumbing to a “populist urge” in the body politic, and indeed we are living through a populist era…


Credit: Phonlamai Photo/Shutterstock

5) SUNO COULD GET SUED BY THE RECORD BUSINESS. WHO’S BACKING IT WITH $125M?

News broke last week that AI music generator Suno has raised USD $125 million in a Series B funding round.

According to sources cited by The Information, that gives the company an implied value of $500 million. Not bad for a startup born just two years ago.

Suno is one of the most prominent AI music generation platforms, capable of creating complete tracks that sound so convincingly like human-made music that it has reportedly unnerved even some of its own developers.

Below, we take a look at Suno’s investors, their philosophies, and the other businesses they’ve put money behind. One thing jumps out: They are predominantly from tech, and not from the music industry…


MBW’s Weekly Round-Up is supported by Centtrip, which helps over 500 of the world’s best-selling artists maximise their income and reduce their touring costs.Music Business Worldwide

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