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A look at streaming and AI, Copyright, and some Exciting News from Sony - WR #160
Weekly Roundups
May 5, 2023

A look at streaming and AI, Copyright, and some Exciting News from Sony - WR #160

Welcome to this week’s music industry news roundup! We have an exciting training of stories to share with you today. First of all, we will start with updates about the world of music streaming and copyright lawsuits. Then we will delve into the opportunities of AI in music production. And finally, we have some positive news to share about Sony, one of the biggest players in the music industry. So, let’s get started now!

#1. Bytedance's Resso rolls back their free plan

ByteDance-owned music streaming app Resso is discontinuing its free access tier starting May 11, 2023. Resso, which has a pretty good user base, especially in markets like India, Brazil, and Indonesia, aimed to compete with music streaming giants like Spotify and Apple Music.

However, low conversion rates from the free tier to the premium tier have resulted in Resso shutting down the free access tier. Resso subscribers will get 30 days of ad-free premium experience before being asked to pay. The move is expected to provide a better user experience for music fans while increasing opportunities for rights holders and artists. Will this move  fit their audience?

#2. Copyright Lawsuit Filed Against 50Cent’s ‘Candy Shop’ and ‘Lean Back’ 2000’s Hits

Maryland independent hip-hop producer David W. Smith filed a lawsuit against 50 Cent, Fat Joe, Remy Ma and Scott Storch, charging them with copyright infringement for their hit songs "Candy Shop" and "Lean Back."

Smith claims that elements of his 2003 track "WHACHACOM4?" were used in both songs, allowing the defendants to make millions of dollars. The song was released by Smith in 2003 and the copyright was only recorded in 2022. The lawsuit claims compensation for a percentage of the song’s revenue, as well as damages and legal fees.

This lawsuit adds to the avalanche of alleged copyright infringement cases filed against musicians, including Drake, GloRilla and Lizzo. However, it is unclear why the copyright of the track has been registered nearly 20 years since its release and probably this is a detail that will make it difficult for producer Smith to win.

#3. How can AI be an ally in music production?

In the midst of a surge in AI-generated music on various platforms, ByteDance has come out in support of AI’s potential for innovation and diversity. While some view AI as a threat to creativity, ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is developing an "AI-powered tool that provides creation and editing". The company’s goal is precisely to "significantly lower the barrier of musical creation and inspire creativity and musical expression".

By reducing the entry barrier, the company’s Objective is to democratize music production by making it more accessible while harnessing AI to enhance musical expression.

#4.Triller’s $4.57 million compensation to Sony

Let’s set the context a little bit before getting into this. Sony sued Triller, a short-form video service, for missing multiple payments for licensing its music back in 2022. Additionally, Sony claimed that Triller committed copyright infringement and intends to pursue a separate claim against it.

What is sure at the moment is that Triller has conceded liability for the missing payments and agreed to pay Sony Music $4.57 million for breach of contract. This payment covers the missed payments from 2022, as well as interest.

The accusation even requested an urgent final judgment to protect against further dissipation of Triller's assets or bankruptcy filing. It remains to be seen if Sony will proceed with the copyright infringement claim as stated.

#5. Sony's recorded music and music publishing revenue reached $2.18bn

To conclude, there is one more exciting news for one of the most prominent music majors. Sony's recorded music and music publishing generated USD $2.181 billion in the first quarter of 2023, according to MBW's estimates based on Sony Group Corp's Q1 2023 (fiscal Q4 2022).

This is 9.7% more than what they made in the same period last year. The recorded music business generated most of the revenue, with streaming bringing in the highest revenue of $1.12 billion. Physical sales also increased by 20.4% to reach $214.7 million. The music publishing operation also had a good quarter, generating $498.5 million, with streaming contributing the most at $269 million.

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