Music Business News From Around The Web
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
It’s been a long-time coming, but yesterday SiriusXM announced a “definitive agreement” to acquire Pandora Media. This will bring the American satellite radio broadcaster and personalised radio service properly into one business. The two firms reckon it will be “the world’s largest audio entertainment company”. And who doesn’t love a bit of audio entertainment?
SiriusXM has long been tipped as a buyer for Pandora. The personalised radio set up has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2011 and, like most digital music businesses, is still trying to work out how to making the delivery of musical streams profitable. There was talk of a Sirius acquisition of Pandora Media last year, but in the end it bought a slice of the company instead – nearly a fifth – in a $480 million transaction.
Assuming the new deal goes through, Sirius and Pandora will still remain as separate products and brands, but there will be plenty of co-promotion between the two. The combined company will also be looking for economies of scale, while also hoping that each side can benefit from the other’s relationships in the advertising industry, the music community, and with other key partners like the automobile industry.
Sirius has much more experience in the subscriptions business, and Pandora has been more active in the subscriptions market in the last couple of years. While it has always offered an ad-free version of its personalised radio set-up for a monthly fee, it started more proactively pushing all that following a relaunch in 2016. Plus, of course, Pandora now also offers a fully on-demand option of the Spotify and Apple Music model for the standard $10 a month.
That said, you sense that management at Sirius also reckon that there is still much untapped potential in online audio advertising and, given the size of Pandora’s audience, it is well placed to capitalise on those opportunities. For its part, the music industry is much more focused on growing online subscriptions at the moment, but it is true that ad-funded services will likely remain a key part of the streaming music market long-term.
In terms of music industry relations, both Sirius and Pandora have had run-ins with the music community over the years. Mainly because both have relied on compulsory licences on the recordings side and collecting society licences on the songs side, and have then lobbied hard the Copyright Royalty Board and rate courts to keep the royalties they have to be pay down. And, of course, earlier this month Sirius was loudly criticised by some in the music industry over its last minute intervention on the Music Modernization Act.
But Pandora’s relationships with the music industry have, in the main, improved in recent years as the company has struck up more direct deals with the record companies and music publishers rather than relying so much on the collective licensing system. And while the music business might bicker with Sirius and Pandora when it comes to licensing, the industry’s marketers recognise the value of reaching each service’s respective audience.
In terms of the specifics of the “definitive agreement” announced yesterday, which has board backing but must still be approved by Pandora Media’s shareholders, under the proposals those with Pandora shares will be offered newly issued Sirius shares on a “fixed exchange ratio of 1.44”. Which means that Pandora’s other shareholders will get themselves some lovely stock in the newly expanded SiriusXM business.
Explaining the maths in a little more detail, the companies said in a statement: “Based on the 30 day volume-weighted average price of $7.04 per share of SiriusXM common stock, the implied price of Pandora common stock is $10.14 per share, representing a premium of 13.8% over a 30 day volume-weighted average price”. So now you know.
Confirming all of this, SiriusXM boss man Jim Meyer said yesterday: “We have long respected Pandora and their team for their popular consumer offering that has attracted a massive audience, and have been impressed by Pandora’s strategic progress and stronger execution. We believe there are significant opportunities to create value for both companies’ stockholders by combining our complementary businesses”.
Expanding on what those opportunities might be, he continued: “The addition of Pandora diversifies SiriusXM’s revenue streams with the US’s largest ad-supported audio offering, broadens our technical capabilities, and represents an exciting next step in our efforts to expand our reach out of the car even further”.
“Through targeted investments, we see significant opportunities to drive innovation that will accelerate growth beyond what would be available to the separate companies”, he added, “in a way that also benefits consumers, artists, and the broader content communities. Together, we will deliver even more of the best content on radio to our passionate and loyal listeners, and attract new listeners, across our two platforms”.
On the Pandora side of the table, its CEO Roger Lynch added: “We’ve made tremendous progress in our efforts to lead in digital audio. Together with SiriusXM, we’re even better positioned to take advantage of the huge opportunities we see in audio entertainment, including growing our advertising business and expanding our subscription offerings”.
“The powerful combination of SiriusXM’s content, position in the car, and premium subscription products, along with the biggest audio streaming service in the US, will create the world’s largest audio entertainment company”, he mused on. “This transaction will deliver significant value to our stockholders and will allow them to participate in upside, given SiriusXM’s strong brand, financial resources and track record delivering results”.[from https://ift.tt/2lvivLP]
7digital has announced a new deal with Universal Music which will see it provide services to three of the major’s own digital music initiatives. According to reports, the plan is to build bespoke streaming products based around individual artists.
Although there are few details about the specifics of those projects, 7digital CEO Simon Cole confirmed the new deal to his investors yesterday.
He said in a statement: “We are delighted to be announcing agreements with the world leader in music-based entertainment, Universal Music Group, since each contract focuses on UMG initiatives that enable deeper engagement between artists and their fans, and leverage a range of revenue streams within digital music”.
Prior to the deal being announced, Cole told City AM yesterday that the company is looking to build streaming services “outside of the standard £9.99 [a month] model”.[from https://ift.tt/2lvivLP]
Other notable announcements and developments today…
• Birmingham’s Genting Arena is being re-branded as the Resorts World Arena, and anyone who gets it wrong will be kicked in the shins. It actually kind of makes sense, because the arena is opposite Resorts World Birmingham, a casino and entertainment complex owned by Genting, which has had naming rights on the Birmingham arena venue since 2015.
• NME’s NME 1 radio station has expanded its reach on the DAB network, meaning it can now be heard in parts of central London, as well as Brighton and Norwich. Listeners can also now play NME 1 and NME 2 by barking those names at their Amazon-Alexa-enabled device. “Being available on DAB+ in central London and having dedicated Alexa skills is a further step forward”, says Station Manager Sammy Jacob. “The developments benefit the bands and artists we support too – both established and emerging”.
• Within Temptation have released the video for new single ‘The Reckoning’, featuring Jacoby Shaddix. The track is the first to be released from upcoming new album ‘Resist’, out on 14 Dec.
• Novelist has released the video for ‘Dot Dot Dot’, from his Mercury-nominated album, ‘Novelist Guy’. “The inspiration behind the video was to provoke thought and listening, the video is quite dark and minimal for this purpose”, he says.
• One OK Rock have announced that they will play a one-off UK show at Heaven in London on 5 Dec.
• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily – updated every Friday.[from https://ift.tt/2lvivLP]
HMRC urged to adjust plans after losing case against one of its own former freelancers
HMRC should rethink its "aggressive" approach to IR35 tax reforms as it looks to extend them to the private sector, tax insurance provider Qdos Contractor has warned.…[from https://ift.tt/2m5N8uC]
Earlier this year Hollywood’s Motion Picture Distributors’ Association stated that site-blocking was the only option left to beat online piracy.
While it’s impossible to completely eradicate the phenomenon, rightsholders generally see ISP blockades as one of the most effective tools at their disposal.
This is also true for Sky TV New Zealand. Last year the company took its first steps in this direction, and it is now pushing on. Newsroom reports that Sky hopes to file a lawsuit targeting The Pirate Bay and an unnamed sports streaming site before the end of the year.
The company just released the results of an extensive piracy survey which shows that 29% of all New Zealanders have pirated sport and entertainment during the last month. The majority of pirates prefer streaming, but downloading and pirate boxes are popular too.
“We’ve known that piracy is a problem for a while, but the scale is even bigger than we thought,” SKY spokesperson Sophie Moloney says.
“If piracy remains unchecked, it risks really hurting the sports and entertainment industry in New Zealand, and our ability to create great content,” she adds.
The lacking availability of legal viewing options is the main reason why people pirate, the research reveals. Legal content is either not available or it’s significantly delayed. Interestingly, non-pirates believe that people mainly turn to unauthorized offerings to avoid paying.
Sky TV, however, believes that there are plenty of legal option and will push its blocking plans through.
“Other countries are taking steps to stop piracy and encourage people not to steal content, and we want to do the same here in New Zealand, including by way of blocking pirate websites,” Sky TV’s Moloney says.
Surprisingly, there is even support for this effort among self-proclaimed pirates.
Just over half of all pirates agreed that they “would be happy for my ISP to block access to a piracy website if it was required by a court to do so.” This is also preferred over other options, such as tighter regulation or lawsuits against individual pirates.
“Site-blocking is used in 42 countries around the world, including Australia and the UK. It’s good to see that many New Zealanders would prefer that these dodgy sites are blocked from view using this approach,” Moloney notes.
Whether Internet providers feel the same way has yet to be seen. When Sky TV first announced its blocking intentions last year, local ISPs responded critically.
“SKY’s call that sites be blacklisted on their say so is dinosaur behavior, something you would expect in North Korea, not in New Zealand. It isn’t our job to police the Internet and it sure as hell isn’t SKY’s either, all sites should be equal and open,” said Taryn Hamilton of local IPS Vocus at the time.
ISPs instead pointed out that rightsholders should focus on improving the legal options. And with Sky TV’s research revealing ‘limited legal options’ as the main motivation to pirate, they are likely to stick with this.
Monday, September 24, 2018
For the longest time, Nick Drake was just one of those names that popped up on lists of cult artists of the early 1970s, whom I never quite got around to listening to, and nowadays, Nick Drake is someone who I’ve listened to, but mostly still haven’t quite come around to.
And in between all of that, of course, is one of the greatest collisions of crass commercialism and pure art that has ever existed: the Volkswagen “Pink Moon” commercial.
Nowadays, we all know how difficult it is for any artist to get his or her music heard by the masses — or hell, even their target audience — so my guess is that young people don’t really have the same issue with using popular music as commercial soundtracks that we did in those ancient pre-millennial times where putting your music in commercials equated “selling out.”
Maybe it still does: Neil Young, of course, won a MTV music award for “This Note’s For You,” and has never once backed down from that stance, but nearly all of his surviving contemporaries — Dylan, The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, etc — have licensed their catalogs for various commercial purposes.
But of course, these are massive artists using songs that have already been saturated in our consciousness, a completely different head from what happened with Nick Drake.
And what happened was that what was supposed to be a car commercial turned into an impressionistic music video, with the combination of the visuals — four kids out for a drive on a gorgeous full moon night, rejecting a raging, potential bummer of a party (as signified by a quick shot of an obvious meathead raising his arms and shouting whoo!” for the endless possibilities of the open road, all the while stealing glances at each other — and Drake’s haunting music capturing something ineffable about youth and freedom.
I was utterly gobsmacked by the whole thing. While I’d heard some of Nick Drake’s music by that point — Matt had given me a CD of Bryter Layter as a birthday present a couple of years prior — I hadn’t yet heard “Pink Moon,” and I fell in love with it.
Saw it written and I saw it say
Pink moon is on its way
And none of you stand so tall
Pink moon gonna get ye all
And it’s a pink moon
Heyyyy it’s a pink moon
Pink, pink, pink, pink, pink moon
Pink, pink, pink, pink, pink moon
Ye gods, what a lovely song! It was the deep whispery vocals, the guitar — which reminded me of what Van Morrison had going on “Astral Weeks” — and especially the melody, especially as he dropped down with the repetition of the “pink, pink, pink”
And, since “Pink Moon” is basically a short song with a single verse repeated two times, with only a piano solo separating those repetitions, everything great about the song was all there in the commercial, almost like it was written to order. And my guess is that most people thought it was written to order.
Also, we bought the car. Not because of the spot, per se, but because Rox needed a new car, and she wanted a convertible. Since I’d been driving one Volkswagen or another for over a decade, we drove out to a VW dealership in like Walnut Creek to test drive one, where they literally unwrapped a new one before our eyes, and I’m pretty sure Rox was sold before we even drove it.
It was a perfect choice, though: Rox loved that car — which was the last stick shift car that either of us owned, stick shifts being a huge pain when you’re stuck in L.A. traffic — and the only reason she got rid of it was to get another VW convertible.
That “Pink Moon” VW Ad
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