Wednesday, June 12, 2024

From Taylor Swift’s return to TikTok to Spotify’s move on manipulated audio… 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.


One of the biggest music business news items of the past week happened even before the work week began, when on Saturday (April 6) Warner Music Group announced it wouldn’t be making a bid for France’s Believe, ending weeks of back-and-forth between the two music companies.

This week saw further confirmation that venture capital is still very much interested in AI-powered music, as well as the growing push to monetize music superfans. Case in point: The launch of Udio, an AI music-making platform that promises fully mastered tracks in under 40 seconds, backed by $10 million from deep-pocketed investors.

Another case in point: The launch of EVEN, a direct-to-fan platform that bills itself as “the first superfan app to count sales towards Billboard charting.” EVEN says it has already onboarded 10,000 artists.

Elsewhere in the music world, we got word that Taylor Swift‘s music is back on TikTok, despite there being no progress in the ongoing licensing dispute between the platform and Universal Music Group, with whom Taylor has both recording and publishing agreements.

We also learned this week that Spotify is looking for a way to address the issue of manipulated audio. The DSP is reportedly working on a feature that would let users create sped-up or slowed-down versions of songs, with rightsholders being paid for streams of those tracks.

Here’s what happened this week…


Spotify
Credit: Taner Muhlis Karaguzel/Shutterstock

1) SPOTIFY PLANS TO LET SUBSCRIBERS SPEED UP SONGS – AND PAY RIGHTSHOLDERS WHEN THOSE MODIFIED TRACKS ARE STREAMED (REPORT)

Manipulated audio’ (i.e. tracks that have been sped up, slowed down, or otherwise tweaked, before being uploaded to the internet) is becoming a major story for the record industry in 2024.

In a bid to compete with the popularity of such modified audio on TikTok, Spotify is reportedly working on a feature that could let its users create sped-up or slowed-down versions of songs.

That’s according to the Wall Street Journal, which, citing sources, reported on April 11 that Spotify hopes the plan will “appeal to young users, while generating new revenue for artists”.

As per the sources cited by the WSJ, music rightsholders would be paid for streams of the user-edited versions of tracks on the platform…


2) TAYLOR SWIFT’S MUSIC IS BACK ON TIKTOK, DESPITE NO RESOLUTION IN ITS DISPUTE WITH UMG

When you’re as big as Taylor Swift, you set your own rules.

That might be one key takeaway from the news reports proliferating on Thursday (April 11) that Swift’s music has started reappearing on TikTok – despite the fact there’s been no movement in the ongoing licensing dispute between the social media platform and Universal Music Group, with whom Swift has both recording and publishing agreements.

Music from other UMG artists, such as Drake, Ariana Grande, and Camila Cabello, continues to be absent (at least officially, and at least in their original forms) from TikTok, news reports indicate.

However, tracks such as Cruel Summer, You Belong With Me, Style (Taylor’s Version), Me!, Is It Over Now? (Taylor’s Version), and others have been reported to be available for videos on TikTok…


3) NEW AI-POWERED ‘INSTANT’ MUSIC-MAKING APP UDIO RAISES $10M; LAUNCHES WITH BACKING FROM WILL.I.AM, COMMON, UNITEDMASTERS, A16Z

It seems that rarely a month goes by without the launch of another AI-powered music-making app, but the latest tech seeking to turn anyone and everyone into a musical virtuoso is notable for its backers.

Udio, developed by former researchers at Google DeepMind, announced its launch on April 10, complete with a list of backers that includes one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent venture capital funds, a rapidly growing DIY distribution platform – and a number of prominent musical artists.

Udio’s creators say the app is designed to make music creation “as easy as possible,” and can generate a mastered track in under 40 seconds.

Udio’s lead investors are Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), a Menlo Park, California-headquartered venture capital firm with $35 billion in assets under management, as well as angel investors Mike Krieger (co-founder and CTO of Instagram) and Oriol Vinyals (head of Gemini at Google)…


EVEN platform

4) SUPERFAN APP EVEN LAUNCHES WITH 10,000 ARTISTS ONBOARDED; IN-APP SALES TO COUNT TOWARDS BILLBOARD CHARTS

Monetizing superfans is the talk of the music industry these days; now, a New York-based startup is launching a direct-to-consumer platform that it says will be “the first superfan app to count sales towards Billboard charting.”

After a year in Beta-testing, the EVEN platform has officially launched, the company announced on April 9.

On EVEN, fans buy music directly from artists under a tiered “pay what you want” model, where the tiers are set by the artist. Fans can get access to exclusive content such as first listens, meet-and-greets and listening parties, as well as access to exclusive merch and “bespoke visual content,” the company says.

To date, EVEN has onboarded some 10,000 artists, including established names such as French Montana, Omarion, Hit-Boy, Lauren Jauregui, and Jidenna, as well as “exciting upstarts” like LaRussell, Buddy, Destin Conrad, LaNelle Grant, and others…


5) CONFIRMED: WARNER MUSIC GROUP WON’T BE MAKING A BID FOR BELIEVE

Warner Music Group WON’T be making a formal takeover offer for Believe after all.

Warner confirmed last month that it was considering making a EUR €17-per-share-plus offer to buy Believe.

To inform its decision – either way – Warner requested access to “confidential information” about Believe’s finances via a ‘data room’.

Following some back-and-forth between Believe and the AMF – the French financial watchdog – Believe’s board granted WMG access to Believe’s ‘data room’ on March 25.

Warner then had till April 7 to make a takeover offer.

However, on April 6, WMG has confirmed that it has decided not to pursue an acquisition bid for Believe…


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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