“All happiness depends on courage and work.”
Honoré de Balzac
TikTok owner Bytedance acquired AI music company Jukedeck this past Tuesday on July 23. Specializing in creating royalty-free music for user-generated online videos, Jukedeck has raised $2.5 million to date from investors such as Cambridge Innovation Capital, plus Parkwalk Advisors, Backed VC, and Playfair Capital. The news first broke when Music Ally noticed that Jukedeck’s senior management team switched their employer details on LinkedIn.
Vivendi announced in its H1 2019 earnings call yesterday that the company appointed several banks to manage “the acquisition of a minority interest” in its subsidiary Universal Music Group (UMG). Without naming any banks offhand, the announcement referred to “a minority interest,” confirming that the stake sold will be less than 50% of UMG, which was the initial percentage Vivendi intended to sell off last year. This means that the company may hold onto a controlling interest in UMG.
YouTube Music unveiled a new feature on its app this week that allows Premium subscribers to switch seamlessly between the regular audio version of a song and its music video, with no interruptions in the track. This could be accessed on the YouTube Music app by YouTube Music Premium and YouTube Premium subscribers, who pay $10 and $12 per month, respectively. Two options will appear, one for “Song” and one for “Video”. Tapping “Video” opens up the song’s music video at the exact same point in the track, so the audio never skips. This feature could also be disabled by selecting “Don’t play music videos” within the YouTube Music app’s settings.
Now, the details...
Compiled by Heidi Seo
Exploration Weekly - July 26, 2019
On Tuesday July 23, Bytedance acquired Jukedeck, a UK-based AI Music startup that raised $2.5 million to date from investors such as Cambridge Innovation Capital, plus Parkwalk Advisors, Backed VC, and Playfair Capital. Jukedeck specializes in creating royalty-free music for user-generated online videos. Music Ally first reported the news when it noticed that many of Jukedeck’s senior management team switched their employer details on LinkedIn. These include Jukedeck’s founder and CEO, Ed Newton-Rex, who, since April 2019, has been working for TikTok’s parent company Bytedance as Director of its AI Lab. In addition, David Trevelyan and Pierre Chanquion, previously senior software engineers at Jukedeck, are now Senior Software Engineers at Bytedance’s AI Lab. Katerina Kosta and Gabriele Medeot, previously machine learning researchers at Jukedeck, are also now credited Senior Machine Learning Researchers at Bytedance. The official website for Jukedeck is now offline, aside from a homepage displaying a message that reads, “We can’t tell you more just yet, but we’re looking forward to continuing to fuel creativity using musical AI!”
On July 25, France-based media giant Vivendi announced that it appointed banks to manage “the acquisition of a minority interest” in its subsidiary Universal Music Group (UMG) within its H1 2019 earnings call. The news officially sparks the UMG stake sell-off process, but Vivendi is yet to name the banks it has commissioned to work with it on the sale. Last July, the media giant initially announced its intention to sell off up to half of UMG. Today’s reference to “a minority interest” appears to confirm that the stake sold will be less than 50% and that Vivendi intends to hold onto a controlling interest in UMG. The company further stated, “The opening of UMG’s share capital for the acquisition of a minority interest by one or more partners is progressing as previously announced, with the participation of UMG’s management teams.”
YouTube Music now allows Premium subscribers to switch seamlessly between the regular audio version of a song and its music video, with no interruptions in the track. The feature can be accessed on the YouTube Music app by YouTube Music Premium subscribers, who pay $10 per month, and YouTube Premium subscribers, who pay $12 per month. A user will be able to see two options at the top of the screen: “Song” and “Video” while listening to a song. Tapping “Video” opens up the song’s music video at the exact same point in the track, so the audio never skips. According to YouTube product manager Brandon Bilinski, the platform has “perfectly time-matched” 5 million songs “so no matter when or how often you flip back and forth between the two, you won’t miss a beat.” Those who aren’t interested in flipping between song and video can disable the feature by selecting ‘Don’t play music videos’ within the YouTube Music app’s settings. This feature, points out BGR, could distinguish YouTube Music from its other competitors Apple Music and Spotify.
Music producer Dr. Luke provided testimony on Tuesday for Katy Perry’s copyright infringement case regarding the 2013 hit “Dark Horse.” The lawsuit was filed by Christian rapper Marcus Gray (aka Flame) over his song “Joyful Noise,” alleging that the two songs are significantly similar. Dr. Luke had produced the song from a beat written by Henry Walter, also known by the name Cirkut, who testified Tuesday. He stated that the bass notes are too basic to be safeguarded by a copyright and told the jury that his team had never heard the track “Joyful Noise.” On July 18, Katy Perry also testified that she was not familiar with “Joyful Noise.” Cirkut and Dr. Luke sent the beats and bass notes to Perry, and she considered the song a “Trojan Horse” symbolizing female empowerment. In response, “Joyful Noise” co-writer Emmanuel Lambert (aka Da Truth) argued on July 18 that the track was praised and popular in the Christian rock community and that it is readily available on streaming services, so Perry’s team would have had access to the song. The court hearing is expected to continue shortly.
TikTok has decided to take collecting society PRS and the copyright hub it co-owns to Copyright Tribunal in the UK this week. Talks of licensing deals between the app and the global music industry have led to information that Bytedance may potentially plot a full-on music streaming service that will build on the TikTok phenomenon. Bytedance needs to get itself deals with the labels and distributors on the recordings side, and then the publishers and societies on the songs side. The reason behind TikTok deciding to go to the Copyright Tribunal route against PRS and ICE are not yet clear. ICE is the copyright hub set up by PRS along with the Swedish society STIM and German society GEMA. The Copyright Tribunal is a special court that can intervene when UK collecting societies are negotiating deals on behalf of their members. Complications may arise, because PRS only negotiates licenses for a portion of its members, and therefore not all of its repertoire can be put on the table. ICE responded to this new decision by saying, “We look forward to representing our rightsholders’ interests and securing appropriate value for the vast scale of usage of their repertoire on the platform...Our aim is that by following this legal process TikTok will agree a licence that fairly reflects the value of our rightsholders music”.
Pandora opened up its mobile voice control to all of its iOS and Android users on Tuesday. The company first launched a limited beta earlier this year. Users will now be allowed to ask for songs, albums, playlists, stations, and even soundtracks for activities or times of day, with simple voice commands. The voice mode is similar to the way voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant make music available via voice controls, down to the “Hey Pandora” wake phrase. The feature has been developed in-house at Pandora, letting the company make unique use of its own music recommendation capabilities. Other possible asks include “music to start my day” for personalized morning playlists, or “more like this” to tap into Pandora’s music recommendation chops, and for podcasts available on the music service. The feature was first unveiled at CES in Las Vegas in January. Chief product officer Chris Phillips told Variety at the time that voice technology had advanced quite a bit since the early days of mobile voice assistants. Those advancements, argued Phillips, also shaped consumers’ expectations for voice usage.
US radio giant iHeartMedia returned to the stock market last week, ending its period of bankruptcy that further instigated a major restructure of the business. The company announced back in April that it would likely list on a stock exchange at the conclusion of the restructuring process. Then earlier this month, this was confirmed via a direct listing onto Nasdaq. iHeartMedia faced a massive debt load back in 2008, which was caused by a “leveraged buyout” of the company. CEO Bob Pittman confirmed, “We’ve had a very good operating business but our capital structure was not in good shape”. iHeart’s first day on Nasdaq showed a 3% decrease in share price by the end of the first day of trading.
A lawsuit was filed against Five Seconds Of Summer last week for infringing a 2016 song by Hungary-based musicians David Henderson, David Toth, and Peter Ferencz on their 2018 hit “Youngblood.” The lawsuit is being pursued by an entity called White Shadows LLC, which is owned by the three songwriters. Their 2016 hit is also called “White Shadows,” and Henderson himself released a version of the song and appeared on Hungary’s Eurovision linked show “A Dal.” In a statement, the group alleges that, in 2018, “Five Seconds Of Summer, pressed for time and facing the prospect of commercial irrelevancy, released ‘Youngblood’, a single which would become the titular song of their third studio album. The song’s success propelled the band to new heights of fame and fortune, virtually single-handedly. Unfortunately, substantial portions of the song were copied directly from ‘White Shadows'”. In fact, legal reps for White Shadows LLC claim that the similarities between the two songs is “so striking” that “it could not be the result of mere coincidence.” A response from 5 Seconds Of Summer is yet to be announced.
- Queen's iconic "Bohemian Rhapsody" video breaks YouTube record as the first music video released before the 1990’s to smack one billion views on the platform.
- Apple rebrands its flagship hip-hop playlist as Rap Life.
- What do music streaming services pay per stream?
- The future of music monetization in the digital age.
- Taylor Swift unravels nostalgic sound from her upcoming album with new song, "The Archer".
Who is Exploration?
Exploration is proud to be the company of choice to administer much of the world’s most important media. Utilizing competent staff and advanced technology, our clients are able to better control their data and collect their money.
We’re writing a free book on how the music business works. Learn more here.
The catalog metadata template offers the minimum viable data needed to collect publishing royalties. Download the .csv file here.
Please feel free to reach out anytime if you have any questions or ideas!
Hope you have a great weekend!
171 Pier Ave., #251
Santa Monica, CA 90405