Welcome to Music Business Worldwide’s weekly roundup – where we make sure you’ve caught the five biggest stories that have made headlines over the past seven days. The MBW Roundup is supported by Centtrip, which helps over 500 of the world’s best-selling artists maximize their income and lower their touring costs.
Many important figures have been announced this week. Did you catch them all?
MBW reported on Universal Music Group’s recently announced Q1 2023 revenue ($2.62 billion), as well as Sony’s music rights revenue in the same quarter ($2.18 billion).
We also covered Believe’s first quarter results ($213 million), as well as new financial numbers such as Epidemic Sound and YouTube.
This week started with one of the most important quarterly results of all: Spotify announced on Tuesday (April 25) that at the end of the first quarter it had 210 million paid subscribers worldwide, as well as 515 million monthly active users.
Outside of the first quarter numbers and dollar signs, there’s been a lot more going on this week that deserves your attention.
On the one hand, Universal Music Group used its quarterly earnings call on Wednesday April 26 to make clear its view that using AI to mimic the voices of superstars via their existing recordings (typical example: “fake Drake”) is against the law.
Universal EVP and Chief Digital Officer Michael Nash, told analysts: “Specifically, similar sounds that serve to confuse the public as to source or origin, or that constitute commercial appropriation of the likeness in the form of ‘a distinctive voice, are all clearly illegal. .”
Elsewhere this week, Primary Wave made a big move in India, investing in local rights holder Times Music in a deal worth $100 million.
Additionally, Triller has admitted liability in a breach of contract lawsuit brought against it by Sony Music. Triller must now pay the music company $4.57 million.
Here are the headlines from the past few days…
1) UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP: YES, CUTTING DRAKE’S VOICE FOR THIS AI TRACK WAS ILLEGAL
Sir Lucian Grainge, CEO and Chairman of Universal Music Group, said: “Unlike its predecessors, much of the latest generative AI (i.e. ‘fake Drake’ and ‘fake Bad Bunny’) is formed on copyrighted material, which clearly violates the artists and label rights and will put the platforms completely at odds with partnering with us and our artists and those who make the success.
“If platforms trafficked in this type of music, they would have the added responsibility of dealing with a huge volume of infringing AI-generated content.”
2) PRIMARY WAVE MAKES INVESTMENT IN INDIA’S TIMES MUSIC IN $100M DEAL
Primary Wave Music has just taken a big step in the music business in India.
The company has entered into a partnership with prominent Indian label and music publisher Times Music, a subsidiary of media giant Times of India Group.
The deal will see Primary Wave invest what it says is “significant capital” in the business and provide resources for “catalogue investments” in the market.
3) Triller to pay Sony Music $4.57 million as video platform admits liability for breach of contract
Short-form video service Triller has agreed to pay Sony Music $4.57 million in a lawsuit filed by the major music company last year for breach of contract.
Sony Music’s lawsuit claimed Triller missed several agreed-upon payments throughout 2022 for licensing the major’s music.
4) Ed Sheeran fights charges of copying Marvin Gaye’s song in New York court: “If I had done what you’re accusing me of doing, I’d be pretty stupid.”
In court on Tuesday, Sheeran defended himself against the allegations. A lawyer for the Townsend family, Ben Crump, released a video for jurors showing Sheeran performing Thinking out loud in a live broadcast, and chaining the words of let’s go.
Later, when questioned by attorney Keisha Rice, also representing Townsend’s family members, Sheeran said, “If I had done what you accuse me of doing (i.e. copying material of let’s go For Thinking out loud, then jump from song to song while playing live), I’d be a fool to stand on a stage in front of 20,000 people and do that.
5) SPOTIFY ADDED 5M PREMIUM SUBSCRIBERS IN Q1, BRINGING SUBSCRIBERS TO 210M
Spotify’s first quarter 2023 results are in.
The music streaming company added an additional 5 million net Premium subscribers to its user base in the first quarter of 2023 (the three months ending in late March), bringing its total global paid subscriber audience to 210 million.
These 210 million subscribers marked a growth in Premium subscribers of 15% YoY, and was 3 million above the company’s guidance for the quarter.