“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”
The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC) has added on three new leadership hires with Kristen Johns (Chief Legal Officer), Nathan Osher (Assistant General Counsel – Publisher Relations) and Andrew Mitchell (Head of Analytics and Automation) earlier this month. With all three based in Nashville, they will be responsible for various tasks, such as leading the organization’s strategic legal affairs, managing and overseeing the resolution of claims and litigation-related matters, and leading The MLC’s analytics and automation activities.
Audio streaming service Spotify has recently announced its acquisition of Betty Labs, the creators of live talk app Locker Room. According to the company, the buyout “builds on its work to create the ‘future formats of audio’ and will accelerate Spotify’s entry into the live audio space”.
UK collecting society PPL stated that its Q1 2021 distributions to artists and recorded music rightsholders were down 30% from the Q1 2020 amount due to the impact of COVID-19 on performance rights collections. PPL’s distributions from international collections held up fairly well, down 9.9%.
In this newsletter:
- The Mechanical Licensing Collective Announces Three New Leadership Hires
- Spotify Acquires Talk App Locker Room to Take On Clubhouse
- PPL’s Q1 Distribution is Down 30% Due to COVID-19 Impact
- Tencent Music Announces a $1 Billion Stock Repurchase Program
- Vivendi Shareholders Approve Universal Music IPO
- Spotify Introduces New Personalized Mixes Based on Artists, Genres, and Decades
Now, the details...
Compiled by Heidi Seo
Exploration Weekly - April 2, 2021
The Mechanical Licensing Collective Announces Three New Leadership Hires
The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC) has announced the addition of three new members to its leadership team, with Kristen Johns (Chief Legal Officer), Nathan Osher (Assistant General Counsel – Publisher Relations) and Andrew Mitchell (Head of Analytics and Automation) joining the organization earlier this month. All three will be based in Nashville. Kristen will be responsible for leading the organization’s strategic legal affairs, as well as managing the statutory blanket licensing process for digital service providers and overseeing compliance with statutory obligations. Nathan will serve as The MLC’s primary in-house expert on music publishing and copyright issues, and he will also oversee the management and resolution of claims and litigation-related matters. Andrew will lead The MLC’s analytics and automation activities. In this capacity, he will oversee the design and implementation of business intelligence reporting for The MLC’s internal teams and develop strategies and tools for analyzing the usage reporting data The MLC receives from digital service providers. Andrew will also manage The MLC’s manual sound recording and musical works matching processes.
Spotify Acquires Talk App Locker Room to Take On Clubhouse
Spotify has announced its entrance into the social audio business in a big way, via the acquisition of Betty Labs, the creators of Locker Room, a sports-focused, live talk app. Spotify says that this acquisition “builds on its work to create the ‘future formats of audio’ and will accelerate Spotify’s entry into the live audio space”. Through this “new live experience”, the streaming service says that it will offer a range of sports, music, and cultural programming, as well as interactive features that enable creators to connect with audiences in real time.
PPL’s Q1 Distribution is Down 30% Due to COVID-19 Impact
UK collecting society PPL has announced its Q1 2021 distribution to artists and recorded music rightsholders, marking the impact that COVID-19 has had on performance rights collections. PPL is distributing £61.3 million to its members, which is 30% down on the £87.6 million it distributed in Q1 2020. A number of collecting societies warned last year that the impact of COVID-19’s lockdowns - venues and businesses that play music included - might be felt most early in 2021, and that seems to be the case. Interestingly, PPL’s distributions from international collections held up fairly well: they were £31.2 million in Q1 last year, and £28.1 million in Q1 this year, so a fall of 9.9%. PPL noted in its announcement that it has now distributed £308.8 million since the start of the pandemic.
Tencent Music Announces a $1 Billion Stock Repurchase Program
Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) has unveiled a $1 billion stock-repurchase program, as announced in a formal release this week. The board of directors approved a plan that would allow TME to “repurchase up to $1 billion of its Class A ordinary shares in the form of American depositary shares” between March 29th, 2021 and 2022. TME would fund the effort with “its existing cash balance,” and the board intends to “periodically'' review the program, potentially adjusting its terms or size. To recap, Tencent Music last week announced that it had finalized a new licensing deal with Warner Music and reported seemingly solid Q4 2020 earnings and subscriber growth. On the latter front, the company said that the 56 million paid users it boasted as of December 31st represented a 40.4% year-over-year boost, whereas Q4 2020 revenue, at $1.28 billion, signified a 14.3% YoY increase.
Vivendi Shareholders Approve Universal Music IPO
Shareholders in Universal Music owner Vivendi have approved the plan that will result in the music major being listed on the Euronext stock exchange in Amsterdam. Vivendi announced more details about its plan to IPO Universal Music Group (UMG) last month, after Chinese web giant Tencent completed its deal to increase its stake in the music company from 10% to 20%. At the time, Vivendi said that the completion of that deal, and the accompanying valuation of UMG, “have now enabled the management board to consider a distribution of 60% of UMG’s share capital to Vivendi shareholders”. That would be achieved via the IPO, which is now expected to take place later this year.
Spotify Introduces New Personalized Mixes Based on Artists, Genres, and Decades
Spotify has introduced "Spotify Mixes," a new family of personalized playlists based on users' favorite artists, genres and decades which begin rolling out to both free and premium global users on March 31. The new playlists are inspired by Daily Mix, which Spotify says is its most popular personalized playlist among users. Now, Spotify is adding three new mix categories: Artist Mix, Genre Mix and Decade Mix. Each mix category will include several playlists which are "rooted in familiarity," according to Spotify's blog post announcement, "meaning that you won’t just hear your favorite artists, but your favorite songs from those artists." However, as those playlists evolve over time, they will also include recommendations based on insights from the users' listening habits, updating frequently. Users can find the new mixes by searching the "Made For You" hub.
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