From Block’s HIFI acquisition to Warner’s buyout of E-Positive in India… it’s MBW’s Weekly Round-Up
Welcome to Music Business Worldwide’s weekly round-up – where we make sure you caught the five biggest stories to hit our headlines over the past seven days. MBW’s round-up is supported by Centtrip, which helps over 500 of the world’s best-selling artists maximize their income and reduce their touring costs.
We learned this week that TIDAL‘s parent company Block has acquired HIFI, a music business and financial management platform.
Founded by Damian Manning (CEO), HIFI launched in the US in 2020 with major league supporters including Matt Pincus, who joined HIFI’s board and became an investor in the firm via his financial vehicle MUSIC – a joint venture with LionTree.
HIFI’s sale to Block arrives a year and a half after it completed a strategic funding round with a heavyweight list of backers, including artists, executives, artist managers, and other prominent investors.
Also this week, Warner Music Group announced a new acquisition in India, buying prominent artist management and live events company, E-Positive.
Led by founder and CEO Naushad Khan, E-Positive is home to superstar artist Darshan Raval, whose tracks have been streamed more than nine billion times across all platforms.
Meanwhile, The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) added AI vocal cloning services as a new category of copyright infringer in its annual submission to the Office of the US Trade Representative’s ‘Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy’.
Plus, Carletta Higginson was named as WMG’s new Chief Digital Officer, while Universal Music Group‘s share price hit a 12-month high.
Here’s what happened this week…
1) HIFI ACQUIRED BY TIDAL PARENT BLOCK
Business and financial management platform HIFI has been acquired by TIDAL parent Block, the tech company led by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
The Block acquisition arrives just a year and a half after HIFI completed a strategic funding round with a heavyweight list of backers, including artists, executives, artist managers, and other prominent investors…
Amongst those who participated in that eight-figure funding round were Capitol Music Group Chair and CEO Michelle Jubelirer, Red Light Management founder Coran Capshaw, Patriot Management founder Ron Laffitte, Maverick’s Gee Roberson, Wasserman Music’s Tom Windish, artist manager Brandon Creed, Hipgnosis’ Nick Jarjour, 300’s Rob Stevenson, TMWRK’s Andrew McInnes, and Mick Management’s Jonathan Eshak and Michael McDonald.
Other investors in the round included Taz Taylor and Nick Mira of Internet Money, Diplo, 3LAU, G-Eazy, A-Trak, Hayden James, and the legendary Quincy Jones.
2) WARNER BUYS INDIA-BASED MANAGEMENT AND LIVE EVENTS COMPANY E-POSITIVE, HOME TO SUPERSTAR DARSHAN RAVAL
Warner Music has acquired India-based artist management and live events company, E-Positive.
Warner says that the deal strengthens its position in the market and will allow its artists “to tap into new expertise in brand partnerships and live events”.
E-Positive is home to Darshan Raval, who WMG says in a press release “is one of the top five most streamed artists in India and the fastest growing artists in the region, having quadrupled his daily streams in the last 12 months…”
3) UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP’S SHARE PRICE JUST HIT A 12-MONTH HIGH, AS COMPANY’S MARKET CAP CLIMBS TO $49 BILLION
The end of October – specifically, Thursday, October 26 – promises to be a big one for the global music business.
For example: it will be the day (barring some potential calendar shifts) that shareholders in the UK-listed Hipgnosis Songs Fund (HSF), will vote on two important matters: (a) Whether to keep HSF continuing to exist in its present form (i.e. a ‘continuation vote’); and (b) Whether to accept a $440 million offer – from fellow Hipgnosis fund, Hipgnosis Songs Capital – to buy a portion of HSF’s copyright portfolio.
Meanwhile, October 26 will also see Universal Music Group present its latest quarterly numbers (Q3 2023) to shareholders.
UMG then plans to issue its stockholders with a EUR €0.24 per share dividend the following day – Friday, October 27.
Those same UMG stockholders will likely be enjoying the current state of Universal’s share price on the Amsterdam Euronext…
4) MAJOR RECORD COMPANIES HATE AI VOICE-CLONING PLATFORMS THAT DON’T PAY. THE ONE THEY HATE MOST WAS CREATED BY A 20-YEAR-OLD UK STUDENT.
For years, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)’s annual submission to the Office of the US Trade Representative’s ‘Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy’ has consisted of a long list of pirate sites known to rip off copyrighted music.
However, in its latest submission, for the USTR’s 2023 report, the RIAA has added a new category of copyright infringer: AI vocal cloning services.
“The year 2023 saw an eruption of unauthorized AI vocal clone services that infringe not only the rights of the artists whose voices are being cloned but also the rights of those that own the sound recordings in each underlying musical track,” stated the RIAA submission, which can be read in full here.
“This has led to an explosion of unauthorized derivative works of our members’ sound recordings which harm sound recording artists and copyright owners.”
The report only specifically names one such service: the UK-registered Voicify.ai.
5) CARLETTA HIGGINSON TO JOIN WMG AS CHIEF DIGITAL OFFICER; ROBERT KYNCL POACHES ANOTHER EX-GOOGLE COLLEAGUE FOR SENIOR WARNER ROLE
Yet another exec with a successful track record at Google/Alphabet is on their way to Warner Music Group. This week, the music company confirmed that Carletta Higginson is joining WMG as Executive Vice President, Chief Digital Officer, effective October 16.
Described by WMG as an “accomplished media executive and music rights expert”, Higginson joins WMG after a decade at Google, where she worked in business development and legal roles, across both music publishing and recorded music, most recently as Global Head of Music Publishing at YouTube and Google Play.
She previously worked as a litigator advocating for record labels, music publishers, artists, and songwriters…
Music Business Worldwide