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Music and other industries - WR #206
Weekly Roundups
March 22, 2024

Music and other industries - WR #206

This week, let’s take some time to go over how Music interacts with other kinds of industries and what is expected to change in the near future!

#1. Some news from TikTok

As you may already know, the US House of Representatives has passed a bill with bipartisan support, potentially leading to a ban on TikTok if it doesn't sever ties with its parent company, ByteDance. Could this mean a possible future without TikTok in the US? Should this ban occur, the impact would be twofold: competitors like Instagram and YouTube would likely gain more user engagement, while the absence of TikTok's cultural influence could decentralize digital culture. This shift may herald a broader trend towards niche online communities and a reevaluation of digital entertainment's role in fostering connections among audiences.

In the meantime, it’s worth noting that TikTok is intensifying its focus on AI-generated music, if we look at recent reports and patent filings. ByteDance's SAMI team has conducted extensive research in AI music, including training a generative model named MeLoDy on a vast dataset of music. Additionally, ByteDance, through its affiliate Lemon Inc., has secured patents related to AI music technology, such as automatically generating music for videos and improving music quality based on user input. Hum, all we can say is that it looks like the company is leveraging AI for enhancing user experiences and potentially reshaping the music industry landscape.

#2. Universal monetizes in the metaverse

Speaking of TikTok, Universal Music Group comes to mind, and their “after-TikTok” is taking off! Indeed, Universal and Republic Records are pioneering a new approach to music monetization in the metaverse. They've introduced 'Boombox,' described as an "ad-supported portable music player" for Roblox users. Each playback instance on the Boombox becomes a monetizable event for contributing labels and artists, with streams counting towards the Billboard charts in the US. Initially launching in K-Pop group Twice’s Roblox experience, UMG plans to expand Boombox across over 3,500 Roblox games and worlds in the next year.

#3. Synch in gaming still has its tricks

Let’s stay on video gaming for a moment. While the gaming community offers a vast audience for music promotion, navigating the complex licensing agreements poses a significant obstacle for both parties. The gaming industry, with its massive revenue and competitive landscape, may not prioritize integrating music from labels.

Licensing processes involving multiple rights holders and upfront fees often deter game developers from incorporating licensed music, leading them to opt for in-house music creation. However, initiatives like STYNGR and Game Over aim to streamline the licensing process and offer alternative approaches to integrating music into games.

Despite the desire for more in-game music opportunities, challenges persist in making licensing more accessible and scalable. As stakeholders explore avenues for collaboration, discussions around redefining synch relationships and addressing rights issues continue within both industries.

#4. Let’s talk about Suno

We’re not done on Tech addressing the music industry yet for this Weekly Roundup. You may have heard about Suno, revolutionizing the music industry with its advanced AI models capable of producing professional-level songs.

With ambitions to democratize music creation, Suno envisions a future where billions of users worldwide engage in song-making. While AI-generated art often falls into kitsch, Suno's creations, like "Soul of the Machine," evoke awe and intrigue, blurring the lines between technology and creativity. Despite concerns about AI's impact on human creativity and the music business, Suno emphasizes its mission to enhance music engagement and support artists.

As Suno expands its reach, it poses potential disruptions to traditional music creation processes, particularly in commercial sectors like advertising and TV production. Nevertheless, Suno's founders stress their commitment to fostering a music-friendly ecosystem and empowering users to explore their creative potential.

#5. Kobalt’s big bucks and their strategy

Let’s end on a more music industry focused one; Kobalt has significantly boosted its financial capabilities with two major transactions. Firstly, it secured a new $450 million Revolving Credit Facility, aimed at refinancing existing debt, fueling growth initiatives, and strengthening its pioneering position in the industry. 

Additionally, Kobalt successfully raised $266.5 million through its inaugural Asset-Backed Securitization (ABS) transaction, supported by royalties from a diverse catalog. These financial moves, combined with its partnership with Morgan Stanley and previous investment activities, position Kobalt to continue expanding its services and technology while providing top-tier support to its extensive roster of songwriters and partners.

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