TikTok Owner to Challenge Spotify and Apple With Music Service | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Inside Beijing ByteDance headquarters in Beijing, China.

Inside Beijing ByteDance headquarters in Beijing, China. Photographer: Giulia Marchi/Bloomberg

ByteDance Ltd., owner of the popular video app TikTok, is developing a paid music service that will challenge industry leaders Spotify and Apple Music in emerging markets, according to people familiar with the matter.

ByteDance expects to introduce the new app as early as this fall in a handful of territories, mostly poorer countries where paid music services have yet to garner large audiences, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans haven’t been announced. The company has already secured rights from T-Series and Times Music, two of India’s largest labels, according to executives with those companies.

While the new app isn’t named after TikTok, ByteDance will try to convert some of TikTok’s audience into paying customers, the people said. TikTok and Douyin, its Chinese equivalent, have been downloaded more than 500 million times and have become two of the most influential apps in the contemporary music industry. The No. 1 song in the world for the past month, “Old Town Road,” first became popular in videos on TikTok.

ByteDance, based in Beijing, declined to comment.

No Clone

The new app will include a catalog of songs available on-demand, as well as video, and isn’t a clone of Spotify or Apple Music, according to the people. The app is far enough along that many music industry executives have been given demonstrations of it.

ByteDance’s plans for a paid service were previously reported by the South China Morning Post, but the story made no mention of the timing of its release or the rights deals.

ByteDance is already one of the world’s most valuable startups, valued at more than $75 billion in its most recent round of fundraising. The company’s first signature app was Toutiao, a news aggregation app whose name means headlines.

TikTok Boom

TikTok extended ByteDance’s reach around the world, a rare feat for a Chinese technology company. It also gave it a large user base to monetize through ads. With this new paid music app, ByteDance is looking to reduce its reliance on advertising and prove subscription music can work in emerging markets.

Paid music services have boosted music sales across the world, and are now the single largest source of revenue for the global record business. But the approach is still largely a Western phenomenon.

Though Asia, the Middle East and Africa are home to the majority of the world’s population, they only account for about 10% of Spotify’s customer base. Tencent Music Entertainment, the dominant music company in China, makes six times more money from what it calls social entertainment than from subscriptions.

The most popular online music services in Asia, such as Tencent’s QQ Music and Google’s YouTube, are available for free. YouTube has had particular success in markets like India, Indonesia and the Philippines. TikTok was the most downloaded free app in India in the first quarter of the year.

The new paid service will increase the competition between ByteDance and Tencent, which owns WeChat, China’s most popular app. At home, ByteDance and Tencent are already locked in a fierce competition to gain more attention from China’s smartphone-savvy young people. Douyin has become one of the biggest challengers to WeChat, spurring the latter to block Douyin links on its platform.

Tencent’s music services are focused on China at the moment, but could expand in the years ahead.

Record Labels

ByteDance has yet to secure rights from the world’s three largest music groups: Universal, Warner and Sony. Their catalogs account for a minority of listening in most emerging markets, but would be vital if ByteDance wanted to expand anywhere in Europe, Latin America or North America.

Another paid service will be music to the record labels’ ears. Universal, Warner and Sony have tried to limited the availability of music for free on the internet. It also presents an opportunity to squeeze ByteDance for extra money. They credit their songs with boosting TikTok’s popularity, and have demanded hundreds of millions of dollars to renew their current rights deals. Those companies won’t grant the rights for the paid music service without sorting out the rights for TikTok as well, the people said.

Killer jellyfish in Australia | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Killer jellyfish in Australia – Anthony S Casey Singapore

Berlin Startup Idagio Is Spotify for Classical Music Buffs – Bloomberg | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Idagio aims to do for Gluck and Grieg what other platforms have done for Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande.

relates to This Berlin Startup Is Spotify for Classical Music Buffs
Photo illustration: 731 for Bloomberg Businessweek

The offices of Idagio GmbH have all the requisite tropes of a Berlin startup: A dog frolics in the airy industrial loft, tattooed employees park their bicycles along brick walls, and the kitchen is packed with snacks such as raw fennel and ginger. But the Steinway grand piano near the door betrays the mission of a company that moves to a soundtrack that’s more Yo-Yo Ma than Yo La Tengo: digital access to an art form that’s long remained proudly analog.

Idagio streams classical music, from Gregorian chants to the minimalist movements of Philip Glass. While the genre accounts for just 5 percent of the recorded music market, listeners tend to be affluent and loyal. But it requires an organizing structure unlike that of popular music, which is easily sorted by song, album, and artist. The classical catalog resembles a long list of cover tunes, with multiple orchestras performing the same pieces—something akin to countless, nearly identical recordings of every Beatles or Elvis song.

With so many versions of most compositions, consumers will search for Tchaikovsky using different metrics than they would for Taylor Swift: a specific orchestra or conductor, a long-forgotten recording, a favorite soloist. And the fan base might easily distinguish adagio from andante but is often clueless when it comes to apps and smartphones. “Our typical user will be somebody who asked his grandchildren to move his CD collection onto a hard drive,” says Till Janczukowicz, who co-founded Idagio in 2015 after two decades managing classical musicians.

tech_idagio_02
Janczukowicz

Photographer: Thorsten Jochim

In the casual environment of Berlin’s startup scene, Janczukowicz stands out with his slicked-back salt-and-pepper hair (vaguely reminiscent of Beethoven’s), polished Oxford brogues, gold wristwatch, and pocket square billowing from his blue blazer. Because of his decades working alongside musicians and orchestras, he says he wants to give artists a substantial share of the spoils—something many pop performers say streaming platforms don’t provide. So in contrast to the likes of Spotify, which registers a song as streamed only after 45 seconds, Idagio pays for every second a piece of music is transmitted.

Janczukowicz says his aha! moment came a few years ago in Salzburg, Austria, when he saw a man awkwardly pasting up posters for a classical concert—evidence that the industry had become outdated in reaching its target audience. In 2014 he sold his flat to fund his idea, then brought on Christoph Lange, a Berlin entrepreneur and digital savant who’d created a German streaming company that went bust. The pair spent a year looking for backers before persuading Australia’s Macquarie Group to put up some cash. After a second funding round that netted $25 million, the founders hold just over 10% of the shares. “Classical is a part of the market that big players struggle to adequately address,” says Jochen Gutbrod, a partner at Berlin venture capital firm Btov Partners AG, an early investor. “If you can own this niche, it has great potential because the genre resonates globally.”

Today Idagio has about 90 employees at its headquarters along a Berlin canal and a small outpost in Bratislava, Slovakia. The team has gathered tracks from 1,000 labels, manually writing in data such as composer, soloist, instruments, conductor, and studio or live. It now has more than 1.2 million recordings from 2,500 orchestras, 6,500 conductors, and 60,000 solo artists—all delivered in CD quality, the most complete collection of classical music offered for streaming. The service became available in the U.S. last year, and it’s increasingly popular in Japan, South Korea, Latin America, and other places where appreciating classical music is considered a hallmark of distinction by a growing middle class grasping for emblems of high culture.

The Idagio dashboard includes what the company calls a mood wheel that lets users pick modes ranging from optimistic (Brahms’s Symphony No. 1) to tragic (Mahler’s Seventh) to passionate (Schumann’s Violin Sonata No. 2). The next challenge is creating a more immersive experience, with playlists curated by artists and critics, and video clips of musicians sharing stories of memorable recordings. “Classical musicians today need to be communicators if they want to remain relevant,” Janczukowicz says.

The app is still losing money, and the company is tiny when compared with the industry’s leaders. Janczukowicz says Idagio has been downloaded more than 1 million times, though he declines to say how many people pay the $9.99 monthly fee for full access. Spotify, by contrast, just hit 100 million paid subscribers. He’s not the only player in the field: A U.S.-Dutch rival called Primephonic was founded in 2017. And while symphony orchestras are mushrooming in China, many are wilting in places such as the U.S. and Germany. “The market needs a good classical music app, because neither Spotify nor Apple can credibly claim to serve that audience,” says Alice Enders, research director at media consultant Enders Analysis Ltd. “The challenge for Idagio is to convert the CD people, who are often very attached to their libraries.”

Janczukowicz says he doesn’t have an exit strategy and that the focus for the next few years is to enrich the platform: more podcasts, live sessions at Idagio’s Berlin loft, and working with promoters to quickly release recordings of concerts. Still, he admits it won’t be easy as a niche player with limited resources. “There’s a lot we want to achieve, but you can’t do it all overnight,” he says. “We have 25 engineers for the entire service. Spotify has 200 just for iOS. That gives you a sense of what we’re up against.”

Manchester City Should Spend What It Wants on Players – Bloomberg | Anthony S Casey Singapore

If Manchester City breached UEFA’s financial fair play rules, it deserves to be punished. But those rules should probably be scrapped anyway.

Wealthy new owners should be free to throw their money around if they want to.

Wealthy new owners should be free to throw their money around if they want to. Photographer: BEN STANSALL/AFP

It’s hard to beat the unscripted theater of the Champions League, which pits Europe’s best soccer clubs and players against each other in a battle for sporting immortality and unimaginable riches. And, in fairness to the superstars, it’s been a particularly stirring tournament this year, with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur both coming back from the dead against Barcelona and Ajax to claim their places in the final.

Right now, though, there’s some equally arresting drama happening off the field. Manchester City, one of the world’s richest clubs and the recently crowned English champions, faces a potential ban from the elite European competition. Owned by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour, the talent-packed team could be barred for one season if the adjudicatory chamber of governing body UEFA decides it breached financial rules designed to curtail excessive spending on players.

Last year, Der Spiegel published emails revealing allegedly inflated sponsorship deals that concealed where some of the club’s money was really coming from. UEFA investigators’ decision to refer the Manchester City probe for judgment suggests there is a compelling case to answer.

Should the adjudicators find against the club, rival teams and fans will be enraged by anything less than a ban. After all, why bother complying with these so-called Financial Fair Play rules (known to everyone in the game as FFP) if there’s no ultimate sanction? The Italian club Roma, for example, claims it sold top player Mohamed Salah to Liverpool because it wouldn’t have been compliant otherwise.

UEFA’s credibility would be shattered if it just gave Manchester City another financial slap on the wrist, as has happened in the past. Der Spiegel’s reporting showed how supine the governing body was when questions about Manchester City’s and Qatari-owned Paris Saint-German’s compliance arose previously.

Manchester City says the accusations of financial irregularities are “entirely false” and its accounts “are full and complete and a matter of legal and regulatory record.” It is unlikely to back down without a protracted fight.

While it won’t find much sympathy if it loses that battle (it seems a reasonable principle that competing teams should all follow the same rule book), there is another question here: Does FFP even work for the greater good of the game? I’d argue not. It has tended to enshrine the power of already dominant teams by hobbling the capacity of up-and-comers to spend their way to the top table. In future, it might be “fairer” to weaken or scrap the break-even requirement – which allows clubs to spend only what they make in revenue – and let club owners invest how they please.

FFP was dreamt up after arriviste billionaire owners like Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour sparked an arms race for players. As salaries and transfer fees ballooned, a swathe of clubs made losses in the effort to keep up. Eight years since the system’s introduction, UEFA claims it has been a success and – superficially at least – the data seem to back that up. In the 2017 financial year, the 700 top division clubs in Europe made an aggregate profit for the first time and their balance sheets are in much better shape.

Sustainable Soccer

Losses and leverage have fallen since Financial Fair Play began

Source: UEFA

Shows aggregate results for the 700 top division clubs

Financial rewards haven’t been shared around, though. The top dozen clubs have added 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) of sponsorship and commercial revenue over the past decade, while the next 700 have added less than 1 billion euros between them, UEFA data show. Europe’s 30 leading clubs had combined revenues of almost 10 billion euros in fiscal 2017, half of all the sales generated by the continent’s top division teams.

Because of FFP, the clubs that bring in most revenue can spend most on players and wages, meaning they’ve a much better chance of qualifying again and again for the Champions League, whose 32 participants shared 2 billion euros of proceeds between them last season. In contrast, the fair play rules have made it harder for the large cohort below to catch up because a new owner can’t just inject a wad of cash – as Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour did back in the day. In effect, the big guns used FFP to pull the ladder up.

The English Premier League is still reasonably competitive (although Manchester City appears to be challenging that notion after winning it twice in a row), thanks in part to a collectively negotiated TV deal. But elsewhere national football has become horribly predictable, as this list of recent winners shows.

Too Predictable

The Premier League remains the most competitive of the national soccer leagues

In short, instead of making football more equitable, FFP has helped make it more polarized and reinforced the power of already wealthy clubs. The system “kills competition and that’s bad for the game,” says Stefan Szymanski, a sports finance expert at the University of Michigan. As American sports fans – with their player drafts, wage caps and rich-team surcharges – understand, a lack of true rivalry is a very dull thing.

UEFA is thinking about reforming FPP and there’s no shortage of things it could do. Budget limits or U.S.-style salary caps sound appealing, but these types of intervention would invite a breakaway by the elite clubs. They are already angling to change the format of the Champions League to ensure most of them qualify automatically, thus limiting the number of qualification places to just a handful.

Another approach might be to give clubs that finish lower down a domestic league a greater share of the prize money or television receipts than the winners. However, in the U.S. similar rewards for failure have encouraged teams to deliberately lose games, in their cases to get better draft picks.

In truth, the ultra-capitalist approach of European soccer owners doesn’t really marry well with the surprisingly socialist tools used by the Americans to maintain an even playing field. So maybe it’s just better to let it rip. Softening or even getting rid of FFP altogether might be the easiest way to make things more competitive.

Would some clubs get into financial difficulties again? Almost certainly. It’s largely unheard of, though, for a leading club to go bankrupt and disappear altogether. There’s always somebody else willing to put in more cash, says Szymanski. For example, Italian club Parma went bankrupt in 2015, got relegated to the fourth division, then quickly fought its way back to the top again.

There’s no question that money already has too much influence over soccer, explaining the soulless atmosphere at many English top division games as clubs raise ticket prices and chase merchandise-loving global fans. But you can’t wind back the clock, and die-hard supporters can at least take comfort in the travails of maybe the world’s best-known soccer “super-brand:” Manchester United.

While that famous club is one of of the three biggest revenue generators in soccer, according to Deloitte, it finished a distant sixth in the England’s top division this season and failed to get past the quarter-finals of the European Champions League. PSG, Manchester City and Juventus, also failed to reach the competition’s semi-final, the latter despite signing mega-star Cristiano Ronaldo for 100 million euros. This year’s finalists, Tottenham and Liverpool, are paragons of modesty by comparison (although you’d hardly describe them as poor).

Throwing money at a soccer club still won’t buy you guaranteed success. Billionaires should be free to try though.

Tencent Music charges for more content as paying users drive profit beat | Anthony S Casey Singapore

A Tencent sign is seen during the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen

A Tencent sign is seen during the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, Dec. 4, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song/Files

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Tencent Music Entertainment Group said it had started charging for more of its content in the first quarter as the popularity of its pay-for-streaming services helped drive up profit to above expectations.

The company, controlled by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, reported results for the second time since it went public in December and said paid users of its online music service jumped 27.4% to 28.4 million in the three months ended March 31.

Shares of the company, however, fell 3.6 percent in after-hours trading, in tandem with a sell-off in the broader market triggered by an escalation in the U.S-China trade dispute.

“As our users increasingly consume music content through streaming services, we are riding on this trend to gradually transition into a pay-for-streaming model over the coming years,” CEO Cussion Pang said in a statement on Monday.

Unlike Western peers such as Spotify Technology SA, Tencent Music generates only a fraction of revenue from music subscription packages, and instead relies heavily on services popular in China such as online karaoke and live streaming. The Swedish streaming service is a stakeholder in Tencent Music.

Tencent Music expects its decision to shift more music behind a paywall, including music from popular Taiwanese singer Jay Chou, to bring in more revenue generated.

While pay-for-streaming accounts for a very small percentage of Tencent Music’s total offering, the company is gradually adding to the list, Chief Strategy Officer Tony Yip said on a post-earnings conference call.

“It will take some time to promote a broader user adoption. We are seeing encouraging results so far, which gives us confidence this is the right strategy,” Yip said.

In the first quarter, the company earned 0.72 yuan per American depositary share, excluding items, beating analysts’ average estimate of 0.69 yuan, IBES data from Refinitiv shows.

Revenue growth of 39% to 5.74 billion yuan ($835 million), however, fell short of analysts’ estimate of 5.797 billion yuan.

“As Chinese consumers are getting more and more used to the paying model, and TME is the biggest company in the business, long-term prospect looks still very positive,” said Li Chengdong, a Beijing-based tech analyst.

The company also said its co-president and director, Guomin Xie, had resigned due to personal reasons and named Zhenyu Xie as its chief technology officer.

($1 = 6.8765 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru and Pei Li in Beijing; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh and Himani Sarkar)

Making money from music | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Despite a multi-billion dollar music industry in Australia, most musicians are just scraping by. Here are the Aussie music buffs fighting to change that, in different ways.

It might surprise you to learn that there’s a lot of money in Australia’s music industry. It contributed up to $6 billion to Australia’s economy in 2016.  And on a world scale, our music market is the sixth largest for overall revenues. Now, this may bring to mind musicians cruising on private jets and lounging poolside with endless champagne. But don’t let the billion dollar figure fool you.

In reality, Aussie musicians aren’t breaking the bank. Only a tiny fraction – 16 percent – of professional musos make more than $50,000 a year. Even well-known artists like singer-songwriter Montaigne have revealed they make a measly $200 per week.  Musicians face a list of challenges, from being squeezed out music venues and studios by noise complaints, to not having the time, money or business skills to launch a music career.  And as more Australians access music through streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, cultivating a solid fan base – and making money from it – represents its own obstacles.

These platforms are now an important part of building an artist’s career, with about four million Australians paying to subscribe to a streaming service (that’s around one in every eight Australians). A small amount is paid per stream to the holder of the music rights (so the more streams the better).  The surge in streaming contributed to a five percent increase in the value of Australian recorded music in 2015, according to the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). And in 2017, Australian and New Zealand artists collectively earned $62 million in royalties from Apple Music and Spotify.

But streaming isn’t hitting the right note for all musicians. While it’s boosted income for more niche artists and genres, other acts are reportedly struggling to cash in. And if an artist’s music doesn’t easily fall into a streaming playlist it’s harder to make money.  Spotify and Apple Music have also been criticised for underpaying artists.    In Australia, while commercial radio has quotas for local content, the streaming giants don’t.  In recent years, the body that collects royalties for musicians (APRA) has pushed for streaming services to commit to a minimum 25 percent of Australian music in their playlists. (The same figure governing commercial radio in Australia.)

So how can Aussie musicians really make a living?

Live Australian Music Venues

In episode six of The Few Who Do, co-hosts Jan Fran and Marc Fernell meet two music buffs tackling the challenge in different ways. Helen Marcou has been fighting to protect Melbourne’s live music scene and the livelihood of its musicians, who have been pushed out of venues and studios by noise complaints.  And, well-known singer-songwriter Clare Bowditch has been teaching other musicians the road to success by helping them develop the ‘skills to pay the bills’.

For ARIA-winning Bowditch — who was also named Rolling Stones Australia’s 2010 woman of the year and toured with Leonard Cohen — strong work ethic is in her blood. Her mother’s family got by in Amsterdam during World War Two by making hair curlers out of steel. And her father — one of five in a single mother family — got his first job at ten at a petrol station. “What they did teach me was the value of supporting yourself and making a living early,” says Clare Bowditch. “So I, like them, wanted to be able to contribute at least to be able to buy my own smokes you know,” she says.

In episode six, hear her story of success against the odds and how this has compelled her to help others by creating Big Hearted Business. It was designed to help train and mentor young creatives to make money. And make it last. “I realised the gap existed still. How do we teach creative people about business in ways that make sense,” she says.

Helen Marcou studio Australian Music

Helen Marcou, co-owner of Bakehouse Studios

Helen Marcou has been navigating the industry’s challenging landscape in a different way.  For almost 30 years, she and her partner Quincy have run Bakehouse recording studio in Richmond, Melbourne. In episode six, you’ll hear how the squeeze on musicians from residential development (and the noise complaints it’s brought) presented one of the greatest challenges to live music in Victoria.  “What that created was this scenario where there was no protection of live music in Victoria,” says Helen Marcou.

It might go without saying that without places to rehearse and play, live music would die – and with it, the livelihood of musicians. But Helen Marcou didn’t back down without a fight. She reveals the lengths she and others in the industry went to save live music in Melbourne. It’s got to do with something called Agent of Change and took years of lobbying government. But the outcome has rippled through Australia and beyond.

Find out more in episode six of The Few Who Do, hosted by Jan Fran and Marc Fennell.

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Over 16 episodes, Marc and Jan will tackle the big questions in society and culture today, and hear personal stories from Australians with big ambitions, entrepreneurs and small business owners advocating for change.

Because there is often more than one approach to our biggest problems, each episode, Marc and Jan will delve into different possibilities and get to know the people behind the ideas.

LISTEN TO EPISODE 6

_____________________________________________

Introducing ‘The Few Who Do’

Two hosts, one problem, two possibilities…

Presented by Jan Fran and Marc Fennell ‘The Few Who Do’ tackles the big questions in society and culture today.

Whose responsibility is it to make our streets safe for women? How will we support a growing population with dwindling food resources?

We’ll hear personal stories from Australians with big ambitions, entrepreneurs and small business owners advocating for change.

The Few Who Do is an SBS podcast with CGU Insurance.

Dropping into your feed March 1

 

Upcoming episodes of The Few Who Do will examine

  • Why are Australians risk averse?

Only a small numbers of Australian companies are developing bold global innovations. How do we inspire more ambition and innovation?

  • How do we secure our food future?

Global population is predicted to hit 10 billion by 2050. Coupled with extreme weather patterns caused by climate change, our daily meals will look a little different.

Guns N’ Roses Sues Colorado Brewery Over Guns N’ Rosé Beer – Bloomberg | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Guns N' Roses performs with singer Myles Kennedy after their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 2012. 
Guns N’ Roses performs with singer Myles Kennedy after their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 2012.  Photographer: Tony Dejak/AP

Los Angeles (AP) — The rock band Guns N’ Roses is accusing a Colorado brewery of piggybacking off their fame to sell beer and merchandise.

The band filed a trademark infringement lawsuit Thursday against Colorado-based Oskar Blues Brewery, which sells Guns ‘N’ Rosé beer and merchandise and bandannas the group says are associated with singer Axl Rose.

The complaint says Oskar Blues applied to trademark Guns ‘N’ Rosé last year and abandoned the effort after the band objected.

The lawsuit says the brewery is still selling the beer and the merchandise.

The band wants a court order blocking the brewery from misappropriating its name, destroying the products and turning over profits from Guns ‘N’ Rosé and other monetary awards.

Oskar Blues marketing director Kyle Ingram did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

TikTok Is the New Music Kingmaker, and Labels Want to Get Paid – Bloomberg | Anthony S Casey Singapore

They’re seeking a better deal after they missed the rise of the social video platform and sold music rights for a flat fee.

May 10, 2019, 4:00 PM GMT+8
Lil Nas X performs onstage during the 2019 Stagecoach Festival at Empire Polo Field in Indio, Calif., on April 28, 2019. 
Lil Nas X performs onstage during the 2019 Stagecoach Festival at Empire Polo Field in Indio, Calif., on April 28, 2019.  PHOTOGRAPHER: MATT WINKELMEYER/GETTY IMAGES

Fitz and the Tantrums were wrapping up the tour for their third album last year when their label, Atlantic Records, told them that their song HandClapwas climbing the charts in South Korea. “We were shocked,” says Lisa Nupoff, one of the group’s managers. The Los Angeles-based pop band had never been there, or anywhere in Asia for that matter. But by April of 2018, HandClap had topped the international charts in the world’s sixth-largest music market, outperforming Camilla Cabello’s Havana, the most popular song in the world last year. A couple months later, the song surpassed 1 billion streams in China—even more than it had received in the U.S.

Nupoff credits much of the song’s success in Asia to TikTok, a social video app that allows users to record and share short clips of pranks, dance routines, and skits set to music. The song took off in South Korea after the 1Million Dance Studio troupe recorded a video set to the song, which other users replicated in their own videos. It went viral in China after a player of the video game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegroundsuploaded a film combining gunshots of a weapon from the game with HandClap to Douyin, TikTok’s China-only equivalent. “It was just fans listening to the song, posting videos, and doing dances in their homes,” Nupoff says.

TikTok and Douyin, both owned by the Chinese startup Bytedance Ltd., are propelling songs from obscurity to ubiquity overnight, rewriting the path to stardom for some acts. While Fitz and the Tantrums had already experienced success at home, the burst of fame on TikTok persuaded the band to focus on Asia as it rolls out its new album.

The list of acts that owe sudden success to TikTok grows by the day. Lil Nas X just scored a No. 1 song on the Billboard charts—and a record deal—after his song Old Town Road went viral on TikTok. And Supa Dupa Humble, a producer from Brooklyn, doubled his daily streams. “If you can get a song on Douyin, you suddenly get a viral impact,” says Simon Robson, the head of Warner Music’s Asian operations.

relates to TikTok Is the New Music Kingmaker, and Labels Want to Get Paid
Videos of web users dancing to HandClap became a phenomenon across much of Asia.

Musicians first met TikTok as musical.ly, a lip-syncing app founded in California and Shanghai in 2014 that had amassed more than 10 million daily users—mostly teens—by the middle of 2016. Music writers labeled it the new Vine, the now defunct short-form video app owned by Twitter Inc. Bytedance, which also operates one of China’s most popular news apps, saw enough potential in short music-enhanced video that it created its own service, Douyin, later that year. Douyin attracted 100 million users in less than 12 months; a separate app, TikTok, was created for outside the mainland.

Bytedance swooped in to acquire Musical.ly in November 2017 and folded it into TikTok, centralizing the pranks—and the music licensing—under one company. The app’s popularity has since surged. TikTok has been downloaded more than 1 billion times worldwide, and is available in more than 150 markets. It was the most downloaded free app in the world for a time last year.

The app’s sudden rise caught record labels off-guard and revived an old debate in the music industry: Is this new internet service giving artists free promotion, or simply getting rich off their work? Record labels have resisted hundreds of companies, including MTV and YouTube, that wanted to offer music for free and pay little in return. As paid streaming services Spotify and Apple Music have revived record sales in recent years, labels have tried to squelch any app that offers music for free.

TikTok, however, presented a new way to promote songs. Unlike YouTube, which features full songs, TikTok lets its users include only snippets of music in their 15-second clips. So record labels licensed TikTok the rights to music for a flat fee of only tens of millions of dollars, comparable to what record labels get from Spotify each week, to test what would happen. The growth of TikTok and the news app Toutiao has boosted the valuation of Bytedance to about $75 billion, making it one of the world’s most-valuable startups. That rankles the music labels, which are still being paid under the original low-priced deal. “When I left [last year], the industry said these deals are not going to work anymore,” says John Bolton, a music executive who helped Bytedance strike its previous deals with music companies. “It sounds like that still has not been figured out.”

Labels are now asking Bytedance for hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed licensing payments, and they’ve threatened to pull their music from the app’s library if they aren’t rewarded.

TikTok would be rather boring without music, says Yang Lu, the general manger of music for Bytedance, which is now planning its own paid music service. But he’s quick to add that the app has been beneficial to the music industry, by creating programs to support independent artists in China, Japan, and South Korea, and has teamed up with labels around the world to help promote releases. And there’s little question that Bytedance’s apps motivate music lovers: On any given day, as many as half the songs in the top 10 on Chinese music services have been made popular by TikTok or Douyin. “We are not a music promotion app,” Lu says. “But we did happen to have a huge impact on music promotion. We are a very positive force.”

Many artists agree. Supa Dupa Humble promoted his song Steppin on Instagram when he first released it in 2017. The track garnered more than 3 million streams, enough to earn Supa, whose real name is Tarique St. Juste, a deal with Roc Nation, an entertainment company founded by hip-hop mogul Jay-Z. Supa had never heard of TikTok when he first learned his song was going viral, but daily streams of Steppin on music services more than doubled as soon as people started including it on videos on the app. The song has since been streamed more than 19 million times. “It’s a meme world,” he says. “TikTok exposed us to a whole new set of fans.”

The challenge for artists like Supa is figuring out how to capitalize on that growth. HandClap was a hit before it got to China, reaching the top five on the alternative and rock charts in the U.S. in July 2016; it’s Fitz and the Tantrums’ first song to go double platinum. But it didn’t start to gather fans in South Korea until almost two years after its U.S. release. Listeners in South Korea and China know HandClapfrom watching app clips, but many have never heard of Fitz and the Tantrums.

The band will now travel to Asia in conjunction with the release of its fourth album. Nupoff has been working closely with Warner’s labels in South Korea and China to build relationships with streaming services in the region. “2018 was the year China and Korea exploded,” she says, “and 2019 is when we hope to harness it.”

MERCK MERCURIADIS’S HIPGNOSIS SONGS FUND ACQUIRES DAVE STEWART CATALOG | Anthony S Casey Singapore

MERCK MERCURIADIS’S HIPGNOSIS SONGS FUND ACQUIRES DAVE STEWART CATALOG

Merck Mercuriadis’s publicly-traded UK company Hipgnosis Songs Fund has made another big catalog acquisition – less than a month after it raised $185m with which to buy rights in the songwriter/publishing marketplace.

Mercuriadis’s fund has acquired a music catalog from David A. Stewart (pictured), the musician, songwriter, and record producer best known for Eurythmics, his successful partnership with Annie Lennox.

Stewart co-wrote and produced each of Eurythmics’ albums, including eight Top 5 and three No.1 UK albums, which are estimated to have sold over 100 million albums worldwide.

With Eurythmics, he co-wrote 13 US No.1 singles, including Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), Would I Lie To You and There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart).

Hipgnosis has acquired 100% of Stewart’s copyright interest in his catalog, comprising 1,068 songs in total, which includes his writer’s, artist’s and producer’s share of income.

According to British recorded music trade body the BPI, Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) is the most-streamed song of any song originally released in 1983.

Eurythmics were awarded the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriters of the Year in 1984 and 1987 and Best Contemporary Song in 1987 for It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back), the 1987 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for Missionary Man and the 1999 Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music.

In 2005, both David A. Stewart and Annie Lennox were elected to the UK Music Hall of Fame.

Both during and following Eurythmics, Stewart has produced and written songs with globally successful artists including Tom Petty on his US No.3 Don’t Come Around Here No More, No Doubt on their US No.1 Underneath It All, Shakespear’s Sister on Stay, which was a UK No.1 for eight consecutive weeks, in addition to songs with Mick Jagger, Bono, Bob Dylan, Gwen Stefani, Bon Jovi, Stevie Nicks, Bryan Ferry, Katy Perry, Sinead O’Connor and Joss Stone.

“IT’S AN HONOUR FOR NILE RODGERS AND I TO WELCOME DAVE TO OUR ADVISORY BOARD AND TO THE HIPGNOSIS FAMILY. I’M NOT GENERALLY ONE FOR PUNS BUT SWEET DREAMS ARE LITERALLY MADE OF THIS.”

MERCK MERCURIADIS

Stewart has also had major successes as an artist, including the instrumental, which was a global hit single, as a legendary duet with Candy Dulfer Lily Was Here, which reached No.6 in the UK.

Stewart has been awarded Best British Producer at the Brit Awards an unprecedented three times in 1986, 1987 and 1990.

In addition he was awarded the 2004 Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contemporary Song Collection, a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award in 2005 for Old Habits Die Hard with Mick Jagger and Clive Davis’ Legend in Songwriting Award.

“MERCK UNDERSTANDS THAT WITHOUT THE SONG THERE IS NOTHING AND THEREFORE HOLDS SONGS WITH THE UTMOST RESPECT, HENCE UNDERSTANDING THEIR IMPACT ON SOCIETY AND THEIR LONG TERM VALUE.”

DAVE STEWART

Merck Mercuriadis, Founder of The Family (Music) Limited and Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited, said: “This is an incredible moment for Hipgnosis.

“I have been lucky enough to know Dave since the summer of 1983 and I have spent most of those 35 years marvelling at his incredible work. I consider him to be one of the most important songwriters, artists and producers of all time.

“The work he and Annie did together as Eurythmics defines the 1980s and 1990s but still remains timeless today. He brought the same spirit to the Top 5 and No.1 hits he produced and wrote with Tom Petty, No Doubt, Shakespear’s Sister and so many more.

“It’s an honour for Nile Rodgers and I to welcome Dave to our Advisory Board and to the Hipgnosis family. I’m not generally one for puns but sweet dreams are literally made of this.”

“IT WOULD BE TOUGH TO FIND ANYONE WHO VALUES GREAT SONGS AND IMPORTANT ARTISTS MORE THAN MERCK, WHO’S ALSO A WICKEDLY SHARP DEALMAKER. THIS DEAL IS MONUMENTAL, AND A PERFECT MATCH.”

DAVE KAPLAN

Stewart added: “Merck understands that without the song there is nothing and therefore holds songs with the utmost respect, hence understanding their impact on society and their long term value.

“He sees his company more like a song management company unlike many publishers who act more like a collection agency and wait for the money to pour in. I’m excited to be on the advisory board of this forward thinking company and sure we will have great success together.”

David A. Stewart was represented by manager, Dave Kaplan and attorney, Peter Paterno.

Dave Kaplan said: “After putting everything in place during the negotiation, it was hard to imagine Dave’s iconic body of work could possibly have come from one human being in one lifetime (so far)!

“It would be tough to find anyone who values great songs and important artists more than Merck, who’s also a wickedly sharp dealmaker. This deal is monumental, and a perfect match.”

Since last summer, Hipgnosis has acquired stakes in catalogs created by celebrated songwriters like Giorgio Tuinfort (David Guetta)Teddy Geiger (Shawn Mendes)The-Dream (Justin Bieber, Rihanna)Poo Bear (Chris Brown, Justin Bieber)Itaal Shur (Santana)Bernard Edwards (Chic)Tricky Stewart (Rihanna, Beyoncé) and TMS (Jess Glynne, Little Mix).

The company has also recently bought up rights to No.1 songs such as Yeah by Usher, Check On It by Beyoncé, We Belong Together by Mariah Carey and Be Without You by Mary J. Blige.

It also snapped up a music catalog from American songwriter, producer and singer Brittany Hazzard, aka Starrah.Music Business Worldwide

Premier League Inks Global Sports Betting-Data Deal With Genius | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Liverpool's Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk.
Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk. Photographer: Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images

The English Premier League, which features global soccer brands such as Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, has selected Genius Sports Group to exclusively collect and distribute its data to betting companies worldwide.

Next season, Genius will replace Perform Group, which agreed last month to be sold to Vista Equity Partners by billionaire Len Blavatnik’s DAZN Group. Financial terms of the multiyear deal with Genius weren’t disclosed.

Through Betgenius, its sports-betting division, Genius will collect live data from inside stadiums at more than 4,000 games and distribute it in less than a second to hundreds of licensed gambling houses. The deal includes games in the EPL, English Football League and Scottish Professional Football League.

Fast, reliable data is at the heart of what drives sports betting. It’s an essential component of what’s called in-game or live betting — point-by-point, play-by-play gambles that drive most of the wagering. That same data may be used by media companies to improve programming and engagement, both of which makes the content more valuable.

“English and Scottish football is vital to any sportsbook,” said Adrian Ford, general manager of football at Dataco, the data rights holder of all competitions covered by the agreement.

Soccer’s Share

According to the U.K. Gambling Commission, soccer accounts for 46 percent of online betting revenue. The breakdown isn’t league specific, though the EPL is widely considered the most popular in the world. The wagering also helps expand the league’s presence in Asia, where the vast majority of gambling happens illegally.

Getting exclusive rights to the EPL is a coup for Genius, which was sold last year to private equity firm Apax Partners LLP. Genius Chief Executive Officer Mark Locke called the contract “transformational” for the company.

“This deal gives Genius Sports exclusive access to the most valuable sports-betting content in the world and reinforces our commitment to delivering the most competitive products and services for our customers,” he said.