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Music streaming transformation - WR #35
Weekly roundups
September 18, 2020

Music streaming transformation - WR #35

Hey all! This week has been pretty hectic, and as you might have seen (or already knew), we are working on our beta version of Royalties Manager! Working on this kind of topic for our users pushes us to keep a close eye on how the music industry is evolving, and especially music streaming transformation. This week, I wanted to talk about TikTok (again), but also about how music is being broadcasted today, and what is currently changing for listeners, as well as for artists.

#1. TikTok reaching a final deal

Well, we’ve reached the deadline on TikTok. And if you haven’t seen the results now, let me catch you up: no, Microsoft didn’t buy TikTok. The bid was refused by ByteDance, even after the announcement of Microsoft partnering with Walmart. It appears Oracle would be the one serving as a “trusted technology provider”, after the deal would have been reviewed by Washington and Beijing. Interesting turn of event, knowing the proximity of the president with Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle, who raised money for the political campaign.

Although, we could argue that the deal to be reviewed is not really answering the main threat TikTok owned by ByteDance could represent. If data surveillance from the Chinese government was never proved, TikTok has been moderating content, playing with the algorithm, and leaving out elements not helping with the Chinese government. So are the technology providers the most dangerous part, rather than moderation? Since TikTok will still be owned (even in smaller parts) by a Chinese company, how is this deal fully answering concerns on privacy and data security? TikTok’s case might be a wasted opportunity to work on the Big Tech question and the problems it involves regarding the users’ privacy and moderation.

Meanwhile, in India, where the ban has been effective for a while now, YouTube just launched a TikTok rival: YouTube Shorts. The development of shorter content has been in the company’s plan for this year, this felt like a good place to start.

#2. Apple One: Streaming transformation into bundles

Apple's first subscription bundle has been officially launched this week, which was awaited by the users of various services (audio streaming, video streaming or storage). Apple One will include various services, to provide a full entertainment experience. And, of course, this raises many questions regarding competition. Since Apple already gets commissions from any app available on the Apple Store, this adds a new obstacle for its competition on streaming. Spotify has already taken action to counter Apple’s anti-competitive offers, following the investigation several companies requested on Apple tax.

#3. Artists’ exclusivity on streaming

Staying on big streaming platforms for a bit, here is an interesting take we came across this week: the return of exclusivity deals for artists. It had been done before, without any conclusive results and was therefore mostly abandoned by music professionals. But with the rise of exclusive podcasts (a trend Spotify has been leading), a few new ideas have emerged, just like Universal Music Group signing a licensing deal for the whole catalog with Spotify, earning billions of dollars in guarantees. Here is the article, to get a bit more perspective on the matter.

#4. Music Streaming strategy

Speaking of strategy, BMG’s CEO took the time to go over the feedback from streaming and the strategies music professionals could go for. One big take away: a large part of revenues on these platforms are established catalogs’ tracks. If investments in rights or just the mechanics of broadcasting music through these platforms interest you, you should take a look at this interview of Hartwig Masuch!

#5. Is Hipgnosis actually a good idea?

Music industry’s transformation topics wouldn’t be complete without talking about Hipgnosis. The investments company has been active, acquiring several music catalogs, working their way to music publishing. Since the company keeps growing and attracting investors, it’s becoming more and more difficult to overlook it. I can only advise you to make up your mind on the topic by getting into one of the first analysis of the company and its will to build a better way to pay royalties to songwriters.

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