From Flo Rida’s $82.6m legal victory, to the landmark streaming fraud investigation in France… 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 maximise their income and reduce their touring costs.
This week, MBW reported on a new landmark study into France’s music industry that focuses on illegitimate streaming practices.
The study, conducted by France’s Centre National de Musique (CNM), considered a vast set of data provided by Spotify, Deezer, and Qobuz, plus data provided by “a panel of distributors” (including Universal, Sony, Warner, Believe and Wagram).
Music distributed by these companies, says the CNM, represented more than 90% of the top 10,000 most listened-to titles on Spotify, and more than 75% of the overall volume of streams on Deezer, in the relevant period.
The study concluded that at least 1%-3% of music streams in the country are fraudulent. According to the report, in France, between 1 billion and 3 billion streams “at least” were discovered to be “false” in 2021.
Also this week, Amazon Music confirmed that it is raising its standard individual Amazon Music Unlimited monthly subscription price from $9.99 to $10.99 in the US, and from £9.99 to £10.99 in the UK.
Amazon Music’s move followed a similar move from Apple Music in Q4 last year, when the latter streaming platform announced that it was upping its standard monthly subscription price from USD $9.99 to $10.99 in the US, and GBP £9.99 to £10.99 in the UK.
Elsewhere, Flo Rida was awarded $82.6 million in damages this week after taking legal action against US energy drink company Celsius for being in breach of contract over an endorsement deal signed in 2014.
Plus, Google parent company Alphabet announced 12,000 job cuts, while US-headquartered investment bank Stifel upgraded Hipgnosis Songs Fund‘s stock to ‘Positive’.
Here’s what happened this week…
1) STREAMING FRAUD ACCOUNTS FOR AT LEAST 1-3% OF PLAYS ON SERVICES LIKE SPOTIFY AND DEEZER IN FRANCE, SHOWS INVESTIGATION
France’s Centre National de Musique (CNM) is a public body in the country, and operates under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Communication.
You may remember the CNM for its in-depth investigation into the effects of user-centric (or ‘fan-powered’) music streaming licensing in 2021.
This week, the CNM released the results of another landmark study into France’s music industry – this time focusing on illegitimate streaming practices.
The conclusion? At least 1%-3% of music streams in the country are fraudulent.
i.e. They are generated, often via paid-for stream farms, by those “bad actors” in a bid to siphon royalty money away from legitimate artists…
2) AMAZON MUSIC RAISES STANDARD MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION PRICE FROM $9.99 TO $10.99. (SPOTIFY, SO FAR, STILL REFUSES TO DO THE SAME.)
The widespread music subscription streaming price rise that labels and music publishers have long called for is finally, properly underway.
In Q4 last year, Apple Music announced that it was upping its standard monthly subscription price from USD $9.99 to $10.99 in the US, and GBP £9.99 to £10.99 in the UK. It also increased the price of its Family Plan in both territories.
Now Amazon Music has made a similar move: The company has confirmed to customers that, like Apple, it is raising its standard individual Amazon Music Unlimited monthly subscription price from $9.99 to $10.99 in the US, and from £9.99 to £10.99 in the UK.
Amazon Music is also upping its Amazon Music Unlimited Student Plan from $/£4.99 to $/£5.99 per month in each respective territory.
Additionally, Amazon Music is increasing equivalent pricing in Germany and Japan…
3) FLO RIDA WINS $82.6M IN LAWSUIT AGAINST ENERGY DRINK FIRM CELSIUS
US rapper Flo Rida has won a multi-million dollar lawsuit against US energy drink company, Celsius.
In the original complaint, filed against the company in early 2021, Flo Rida and his company Strong Arm Productions sued Celsius for alleged breach of contract, and unpaid compensation over an endorsement deal signed with the artist in 2014 and renewed in 2016.
As reported by the Law & Crime Network on Wednesday (January 18), a jury in Florida awarded Flo Rida (Tramar Dillard) $82.6 million in damages this week…
4) THE INVESTMENT BANK THAT’S BEEN MOST CRITICAL OF HIPGNOSIS SONGS FUND… JUST UPGRADED HIPGNOSIS SONGS FUND TO ‘POSITIVE’
It’s fair to suggest that Hipgnosis Songs Fund (HSF), the UK-listed entity that owns song rights (and income streams) worth over $2 billion, has been more harshly scrutinized by one investment bank than any other these past couple of years.
US-headquartered Stifel hasn’t been shy in expressing its pessimism over HSF ever since the financial firm downgraded its view of the music company’s stock in early 2021 – via a report which led the Financial Times to surmise: “Stifel is worried that Hipgnosis Songs Fund is slipping out of tune.”
Since then, Stifel analysts have appeared in financial media a number of times to call into question, amongst other things, HSF’s cash flow profile, its stated valuation, and its decision to buy back stock last year using a debt raise.
Now, though, the narrative has changed a little.
On Thursday (January 19), Stifel issued a report in which it waves a not-insignificant amount of optimism in Hipgnosis Songs Fund’s direction – and even encourages investors to consider buying stock in the company.
The HSF-themed report, titled ‘Revenues show signs of stability: Time to dip your toe’, sees Stifel upgrade Hipgnosis Songs Fund stock to ‘Positive’…
5) GOOGLE PARENT ALPHABET TO SLASH GLOBAL WORKFORCE BY 6%, WITH 12,000 WORKERS TO BE LAID OFF
Alphabet, parent company to Google, has become the latest US-based tech giant to axe a substantial number of jobs.
The company is cutting 12,000 roles, which equals around 6% of its global workforce.
The news was first reported by Reuters, citing a staff memo sent by Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai on Friday (January 20)…