Russian Tycoons Forsake Western Sports Teams as Chinese Snap Them Up | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Joe Tsai Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Another year, and another Russian billionaire relinquishes ownership of a professional sports club.

The latest to do so is Mikhail Prokhorov, who’s selling his stake in the Brooklyn Nets and its arena for a record $3.5 billion to Joe Tsai, the Taiwan-born executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Last August, Alisher Usmanov sold his 30% stake in Arsenal soccer club for 602.4 million pounds ($730 million), ending a dispute with Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke over management of the London Premier League team.

The “wave of Russians” that invested in Western sports in the 2000s has given way to wealthy Chinese, said Dmitry Navosha, founder of website sports.ru. “The concept of sports as global entertainment is evident to them as incomes of NBA clubs and top-tier soccer leagues are growing largely due to Asian fans.”

Chinese investors have taken stakes in European soccer teams including England’s Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton; Italy’s A.C. Milan and Inter Milan; Spain’s Atletico Madrid; and Slavia Prague in the Czech Republic.

Some of those ownership changes were short-lived. Billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group Co. agreed to sell its 17% stake in Atletico Madrid last year amid increased scrutiny of what the Chinese government called “irrational investments” that resulted in capital outflows, and Tony Xia, chairman of the Recon Group, has given up control of Aston Villa.

Usmanov was the second Russian billionaire to pull back from an investment in the Premier League. Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich shelved a major redevelopment of its stadium, blaming an unfavorable investment climate. The decisions come amid worsening Russia-U.K. relations, with Britain accusing Russia of poisoning a former spy and his daughter in Salisbury, England.

Abramovich was also mulling a sale of Chelsea, frustrated by problems with his British visa renewal and concerned about the potential fallout should the U.S. expand sanctions against wealthy Russians and target him. A person familiar with the discussions said last year that the billionaire wanted 3 billion pounds for the club.

Today, beside Abramovich, only one other Russian mogul, Dmitry Rybolovlev, owns a top-tier foreign sports club outside of Russia. He controls the AS Monaco football club and recently shook up team management following poor results.

Inside Russia, billionaires sometimes support money-losing teams to maintain good standing with the Kremlin. Oil tycoons Leonid Fedun and Vagit Alekperov cover part of the budget of one of the most popular soccer clubs in the country — Spartak Moscow — and invested about $500 million to build a 42,000-seat arena. In June, Fedun said he will transfer ownership of the club to its fans in 2023.

Sergey Galitskiy, the billionaire founder of food retailer Magnit PJSC, started the Krasnodar soccer team in 2008 and has since invested more than $250 million in the club, its arena and a related sports academy.

Suleiman Kerimov, whose family controls Russia’s biggest gold producer, Polyus PJSC, acquired soccer club Anzhi Makhachkala in 2011 and boosted its budget to bring in stars such as Eto’o, Roberto Carlos and Guus Hiddink. But two years later he cut the team’s sponsorship and relinquished control in 2016.

Merck Mercuriadis’s Hipgnosis Songs Buys the Chainsmokers Catalog | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited has splashed the cash again.

This time, the publicly traded UK-based company has acquired both writer and publishing rights in the catalog of The Chainsmokers, the artist and producer duo made up of Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart, for an undisclosed fee.

Hipgnosis, led by industry veteran Merck Mercuriadis, has purchased 100% of the Chainsmokers’ interest including ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) income in their catalog, which comprises 32 Chainsmokers’ songs as well as 10 additional songs written by Andrew Taggart.

These additional Taggart-written songs include “1-800-273-8255” by Logic featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid which reached number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for ‘Song of the Year’ at the 2018 Grammy Awards.

The Chainsmokers are the 14th most streamed artist globally on Spotify with 41 million monthly listeners.

The Chainsmokers were represented in the deal by manager Adam Alpert and attorney Jaimie Roberts.

“THE CHAINSMOKERS ARE THE HIGHEST PAID DUO IN THE WORLD NOT ONLY BECAUSE THEY KNOW HOW TO SPIN RECORDS BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE BUT BECAUSE THEY HAVE CREATED AMONGST THE VERY BIGGEST HITS IN THE WORLD FOR THE DANCE AND POP COMMUNITY OVER THE LAST SEVEN YEARS.”

MERCK MERCURIADIS

Merck Mercuriadis, Founder of The Family (Music) Limited and Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited, said: “The Chainsmokers are the highest paid duo in the world not only because they know how to spin records better than anyone else but because they have created amongst the very biggest hits in the world for the dance and pop community over the last seven years.

“This is a set of songs that people can’t stop playing and that will define the lives of so many people that have grown up in the 2010’s. It’s my pleasure to welcome Alex, Drew and Adam to the Hipgnosis Family!”

In total, the songs in the catalog acquired by Hipgnosis have been certified 20x Platinum and 2x Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and 9x Platinum and 2x Silver by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI)

In the past five years, The Chainsmokers have racked up 55 No. 1 and 245 Top 10 Chart positions globally as well as winning ‘Best Dance Recording’ at the 2017 Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards, seven Billboard Music Awards, and nine iHeart Radio Music Awards.

Their 2016 Grammy Award winning ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ featuring Daya, which reached No. 1 on the US Hot Dance/Electronic Songs, is certified 6x Platinum in the US and has been streamed over 1.2 billion times.

Their hit single ‘Closer’ featuring Halsey, reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, where it stayed for 12 weeks, and went to Number 1 on over 30 Charts worldwide. As well as winning the ‘Top 100 Hot Song’, ‘Top Collaboration’ and ‘Top Dance/Electronic Song’ at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards; ‘Dance Song of the Year’ at the 2017 iHeart Radio Music Awards; and being nominated for the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards, ‘Closer’ has been streamed 1.6 billion times as well as being certified Diamond in the US.

Their other hit singles include: ‘Roses’; ‘Until You Were Gone’; ‘Inside Out’; ‘All We Know’; ‘Setting Fires’; ‘Paris’; ‘Something Just Like This’; ‘The One’; ‘Honest’; ‘Young’; ‘Sick Boy’; ‘You Owe Me’; ‘Everybody Hates Me’; and ‘Somebody’.

The upcoming tour, ‘World War Joy Tour’, will run from September through November 2019 and is expected to feature all of the hits being purchased within this acquisition.

Earlier this month, Hipgnosis acquired the catalog of US-based hitmaker Benny Blanco.

In April, Hipgnosis raised additional funds of $185m with which to buy rights in the songwriter/publishing marketplace.

Hipgnosis, which was founded by veteran artist manager Merck Mercuriadis (pictured with client Nile Rodgers) acquired 12 catalogs in the period between June 8, 2018 and end of March 2019 for a total of approximately £120m ($153m): The-Dream, Poo Bear, TMS, Tricky Stewart, Giorgio Tuinfort, Bernard Edwards, Itaal Shur, Rico Love, Sean Garrett, Johnta Austin, Ari Levine and Sam Hollander.

The firm recently told its investors: “We now have a pipeline of catalogs with an aggregate value in excess of £1 billion.”

Barcelona ready €100m plus Coutinho bid for Neymar as they send delegation to Paris for talks | Anthony S Casey Singapore

The Liga champions are preparing to table an official offer for PSG’s consideration as they aim to bring the Brazilian back to Camp Nou

Barcelona have sent a delegation including technical manager Eric Abidal to France for talks with Paris Saint-Germain over a deal for Neymar.

As reported by RAC1 and confirmed to Goal by sources close to the talks, Abidal, along with board member Javier Bordas, and Andre Cury, a specialist in the Brazilian market, have flown to Paris to begin negotiations.

Barca, as confirmed by Goal, were planning to initiate talks with the Ligue 1 champions and will make an opening offer in the region of €100 million (£93m/$104m), plus Philippe Coutinho.

The Catalans need to offload the Brazilian from their wage bill and had been actively offering him to the Premier League prior to the transfer window closing in England.

PSG, meanwhile, are determined to receive as much money as possible for a player they signed for €222m (£200m/$249m) back in 2017, while they also want right-back Nelson Semedo included in any potential deal.

Sources have told Goal that they would consider an offer that includes both Coutinho, Semedo and a cash payment of around €50m (£47m/$57m).

They would, however, prefer to sell the Brazilian to Real Madridwho are planning a €100m+ offer of their own, with the relationship between the Parisians and Barca strained after Neymar’s initial decision to leave Spain.

Speculation has been rife that the former Santos star has been searching for a way out of Paris, with his relationship with the club and their supporters appearing to be at an all-time low.

The forward, who didn’t feature for the club over pre-season, was absent from the Trophee des Champions win over Rennes, while he was also missing from the Ligue 1 opening-weekend victory over Nimes.

Indeed, PSG supporters made their feelings clear as they sang songs and held up banners in protest against the Brazilian’s presence in Paris.

“Son of a bitch” was heard being chanted by some of the home fans in the stands at Parc des Princes, while there were also banners calling for the 27-year-old to “Get out” of the club.

The Ligue 1 side’s sporting director Leonardo confirmed on August 10 that there had been talks over Neymar’s exit and that they were “more advanced” than previously but that no deal had been agreed.

It remains to be seen if a transfer can be finalised before the transfer window closes in Spain on September 2 but it’s certain to be an intriguing battle as Barca and Madrid go head-to-head.

Summer 2019 – London and Spain | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Football: Tottenham, Arsenal splash cash on Premier League deadline day – CNA | Anthony S Casey Singapore

LONDON: Tottenham led the way on a busy final day of the Premier League transfer window with deals for Giovani lo Celso and Ryan Sessegnon, while Arsenal strengthened their defence with the signings of Kieran Tierney and David Luiz.

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku’s prolonged transfer to Inter Milan was also completed after the clubs reportedly agreed on a deal that could rise to €80 million (£74 million, US$90 million).

Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has been under pressure from manager Mauricio Pochettino to build on the progress made on and off the field as Tottenham moved into a new 62,000-capacity stadium and reached the Champions League final last season.

After the club record signing of French international midfielder Tanguy Ndombele, the signings of Lo Celso and Sessegnon add some much-needed depth to a Spurs squad that had previously gone 18 months without a new recruit.

Argentine international midfielder Lo Celso has joined on a season-long loan deal from Real Betis with an option to make the transfer permanent next summer.

England under-21 international Sessegnon joins from Fulham in a £25 million deal that could rise to £30 million in performance related add-ons on a six-year contract.

“I think it is the right time for me to come here,” said Sessegnon. “It’s a young, eager, exciting team for me to join and I think this team is not far off winning big things in the future.”

However, a sensational swoop for Juventus’ Paulo Dybala broke down leaving Spurs short on support for Harry Kane up front.

ARSENAL BOLSTER DEFENCE

Arsenal were badly in need of defensive recruits to shore up a backline that conceded 51 Premier League goals last season to miss out on Champions League football for a third straight year.

The Londoners long-standing interest in Tierney was finally given the green light when the payment structure of a £25-million move was agreed with Celtic.

“I’ve lived my dream and I’ve loved every single minute of it,” said Tierney of leaving his boyhood club. “Now I just feel was the right time to take a step on. I feel this is a great opportunity for me.”

Arsenal then secured some much-needed cover at centre-back in an £8 million deal for Luiz.

“David has huge experience and I look forward to working with him again. He is a well known player and adds to our defensive strength,” said Arsenal boss Unai Emery.

The Gunners clawed back that deadline day spend after agreeing a £35 million deal to sell Nigerian international striker Alex Iwobi to Everton.

Iwobi is Everton’s seventh signing of the summer following goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, right-back Djibril Sidibe, midfielders Andre Gomes, Fabian Delph and Jean-Philippe Gbamin, and striker Moise Kean.

Manchester City and Liverpool are expected to battle for the Premier League title once more, but were not busy on deadline day.

City brought in veteran goalkeeper Scott Carson on loan from Derby as back-up to Ederson and Claudio Bravo after the signings of Rodri, Angelino and Joao Cancelo earlier in the window.

Liverpool made just three low-key additions in teenagers Sepp van den Berg and Harvey Elliott and back-up goalkeeper Adrian over the course of the summer.

Outside the top six, Watford broke their transfer record to bring in Senegal international Ismaïla Sarr for a reported €35 million from Rennes.

Wilfried Zaha’s hopes of a move from Crystal Palace were snubbed as Everton could not match the London club’s asking price.

“It’s been well documented that he wanted to leave, but it has not worked out for him,” admitted Palace manager Roy Hodgson.

Brighton bolstered their midfield options with the loan signing of Australian international Aaron Mooy.

Former England international Andy Carroll returned to Newcastle on a free transfer from West Ham, while the Magpies also secured Swedish defender Emil Krafth.

Leicester are also set to use some of the £80 million they received from Manchester United for Harry Maguire on Sampdoria midfielder Dennis Praet for €20 million.

And Burnley secured the services of Danny Drinkwater on loan from Chelsea until January.

Source: AFP/de

Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/sport/football-tottenham-arsenal-splash-cash-on-premier-league-11794210

Chinese go gaga for a €3bn cut of Universal Music Group | Business | The Times | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Lady Gaga is one of the artists on the books of Universal Music Group
Lady Gaga is one of the artists on the books of Universal Music Group KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES

Tencent is close to getting a hold on the back catalogues of the Beatles and Queen by taking a €3 billion stake in Universal Music.

Vivendi, the French media group that owns Universal, is in talks to sell 10 per cent of the company to Tencent, the Chinese internet group that owns Tencent Music, developer of the most popular streaming apps in China. Universal, based in Los Angeles, is the world’s largest music label and is also home to artists such as Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift.

Vivendi, controlled by Vincent Bolloré, 67, the billionaire, and valued at €31 billion, owns Canal+, the French pay television company, and Havas, the advertising group. Vivendi said last year that it was seeking to sell up to half…

Broadcasting revenue landscape – big money in the “big five” leagues | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Although broadcasting issues do not make the news on a daily basis, they have become the heart and soul of football today – for global audiences broadcast is the technology that allows them to follow the game without boundaries, while for football clubs it has become a vital revenue source in their operations. In this article, the KPMG Football Benchmark team looks at the broadcasting rights landscape of Europe’s five biggest championships.

The amount clubs cash in from broadcasting varies to a great extent. There are big differences between the leagues – as the EPL boast the most lucrative TV rights deals, its clubs can also register higher revenues compared to other leagues’ clubs. West Bromwich Albion, for example, who finished last in the 2017/18 season, saw broadcasting revenue that would have made them the 5th top broadcasting earner in LaLiga in that season, meaning that in Spain only Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla were able to collect more from broadcasting.

The differences are also remarkable between top and smaller clubs of the same championship. That difference is smaller in England, due to a more equal distribution system: in the 2017/18 season top broadcasting earners Liverpool made more than twice the amount taken in by Stoke, who collected the lowest TV revenues in that year. That gap is significantly bigger in Spain (Real Madrid cashing in six times more than Leganés), and even bigger in Italy (Juventus collecting almost 10 times more than Crotone) in the same year.

On the other hand, considering the proportion of TV rights revenues in a club’s total operating revenue mix, we can see that smaller clubs are more dependent on that revenue stream than bigger clubs – a case in point is Spanish side Eibar, who recorded an astonishing 90% dependence on broadcasting revenues in 2017/18. Understandably, smaller clubs have limited chances for lucrative sponsorship deals, high matchday or commercial income, or for participation in international tournaments, which, in turn, could positively affect all those revenue sources, beyond the core income from UEFA.

The following chart shows the top and the bottom broadcasting revenue earners in three major leagues, and the share of their TV rights in their total revenues.

English Premier League sets the benchmark 

Distribution of broadcasting revenues was the key issue and motivation behind the formation of the Premier League itself in the early 1990s. Earlier, TV rights’ income was distributed across the domestic leagues, whereas top clubs wanted to form an elite league, which could sell its own rights and share income only among member clubs.

Since 1992, when the breakaway Premier League’s inaugural season started, EPL’s TV rights’ revenues grew at an astonishing pace. The total income from domestic and international TV rights for the first cycle (GBP 254 million in 1992-1997) had grown 10 times by the 5th cycle (GBP 2.4 billion in 2007-2010). The latest (2016-2019) period ended with a total income of GBP 8.5 billion, and the league will cash in GBP 9.2 billion in the new 3-year cycle (2019-2022).

While overall income is rising, the value of domestic rights for the upcoming three EPL seasons has dropped from GBP 5.4 billion to 5 billion, despite 32 more matches being sold than in the previous period (200 vs 168). According to analysts, the decrease is rather a correction in the market, due to an inflated growth in the past several years. On the other hand, international broadcasting revenues for the 2019-2022 cycle should see an almost 35% growth (from GBP 3.1 billion in the previous broadcasting period to 4.2 billion).

In the new 3-year domestic TV deal Sky Sports will broadcast 128 live matches and BT Sport will show the rest: 52 matches. For the first time, an internet streaming service will also be joining in – Amazon Prime will live-stream two full rounds of fixtures (20 matches a season) in December online. Also, this will be the first season in England, when an entire round of matches will be broadcast live domestically. Amazon’s move is considered a major step in transforming the broadcasting landscape – it broke the traditional duopoly of Sky and BT on EPL rights.

Distributions of international TV rights have also changed. The English Premier League is the most-watched sports league in the world, followed in over 200 countries by TV audiences of some 4.7 billion people. To serve them, the Premier League runs a dedicated ‘s production arm, operated by IMG Productions, producing all content for its international television partners.

Overseas revenues had been shared equally among the EPL clubs since 1992, when that income was negligible. However, as football has become a global entertainment product, the significance of international TV rights has become evident. As a consequence, the “big six” clubs have recently been demanding a greater share of the income, claiming that they are the drawing card for global audiences. According to a compromise among the 20 EPL clubs a year ago, from 2019-20, the current level of revenue from overseas TV rights sales (GBP 3.3 bn) will still be shared equally, while any increase on top of that will be distributed according to their league position in the given season.

The GBP 4.2 billion overseas broadcast rights revenue for the 2019-2022 cycle is 46 % of the total broadcasting revenue. As international revenues are set to grow, in the next distribution cycle (2022-2025) the EPL is likely to see its overseas broadcasting income surpass its domestic rights for the first time.

But matching the EPL is not easy 

The English Premier League’s financial supremacy is largely due to its success in securing lucrative broadcasting deals since its formation. The EPL has always sold its media rights collectively, enjoying stronger bargaining power, and also on a “no single buyer” basis, creating a competitive environment. Interestingly, major peer leagues followed suit, but with quite a delay: La Liga clubs sold their rights individually and switched to the collective model only in 2015; the German Bundesliga introduced the no-single buyer rule, initiated by the German competition watchdog, only ahead of the 2017/18 to 2020/21 cycle. The EPL’s equal distribution principle, which benefits smaller clubs, has also become common among the major leagues in the past several years.

The Premier League is by far the most successful football league in selling domestic TV rights. The income they can realize from broadcasting on a single match is almost triple what the major leagues can achieve.

The EPL’s dominance is also palpable on the international media market. If we compare the latest contracted international TV rights revenues per season, the EPL is the only championship to cash in more than EUR 1 billion in a season (EUR 1.582 billion), followed by LaLiga (EUR 897 million), Serie A (371 million), Bundesliga (EUR 240 million) and Ligue 1, with only EUR 80 million.

The Spanish LaLiga is also entering into a new 3-year broadcasting cycle in 2019-20, with Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica outbidding its main rival Mediapro for the majority of broadcast rights. The deal is expected to raise EUR 3.4 billion in revenues, an almost 30 % rise, compared to the previous TV rights cycle. League president Javier Tebas expressed his intention to shrink the financial gap between LaLiga and England’s Premier League: he expects the two leagues to be practically equal within 10 years.

At the same time, La Liga begins a new 5-year deal with Mediapro on its international rights. The deal extension will bring LaLiga an additional EUR 4.485 billion in revenue, also a marking a 30 % increase on the previous 3-season cycle.

The German Bundesliga’s current 4-year broadcast rights deals, which started in the 2017/18 season, are to secure revenues of EUR 4.6 billion, an 85% growth compared to the previous cycle. Matches are broadcast live on Sky Germany (263 matches), Eurosport (40) and ZDF (3), while streaming platform DAZN holds highlight rights.

Although a new cycle is still two seasons away, Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert questioned the “no-single buyer” rule, as he believes the possibility of monopoly on football fixtures could better help to increase revenues. In the meantime, DAZN signalled its interest in adding live games to its current portfolio in the next cycle.

While Bundesliga’s domestic TV rights revenues grow spectacularly, current international deals bring in only EUR 720 million (240 million per season), the second lowest amount per season after the French Ligue 1.

Italy’s Serie A is starting the second year of their current (2018-2021) cycle. Satellite broadcaster Sky Italia is showing 266 live matches, streaming platform DAZN broadcasts 114 games, while national TV channel RAI is televising only highlights. Sky and DAZN (owned by UK-based Perform Group) outbid Italy’s biggest commercial broadcaster Mediaset.

The value of domestic rights decreased in the current cycle by 9% compared to the previous one, from EUR 3.2 to 2.92 billion – a painful turn, especially as Italian clubs are traditionally heavily dependent on broadcasting revenues. In the meantime, revenues from international rights more than doubled in the current season.

France’s Ligue 1 is entering the last season of their current 4-year (2016-20) domestic cycle, while most deals for the next 4-year period (2020-24) have already been settled.  Spanish group Mediapro won the main “lots” auctioned, with BeIN Sports securing the remaining packages. In contrast, Canal +, which had traditionally been the broadcaster of the French championship since 1984, have not been awarded any lot.

Contracts for the upcoming four seasons guarantee a massive, 59 % growth in revenues (from EUR 2.9 billion to 4.6 billion). However, Ligue 1 remains the least attractive among the “big five” leagues overseas, as the international TV rights revenues are almost 20 times smaller than those of the Premier League.

China’s Tencent talking to Vivendi about stake in Lady Gaga’s label | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala

PARIS/BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd is in talks to buy up to 20% of Universal Music Group (UMG) from Vivendi SA, valuing the music label of Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and the Beatles at around 30 billion euros ($34 billion), as both firms look to expand in a recovering global music market.

While at a preliminary stage, the discussions highlight Tencent’s role as gatekeeper to China’s growing but tightly controlled music market and its interest in global expansion. It also highlights Universal’s ambition in new markets and embrace of online streaming.

Global music-streaming retail sales are expected to more than double to $45.3 billion by 2026 from $19.6 billion in 2018, UK-based media analysis firm Midea predicts.

French media group Vivendi, controlled by billionaire Vincent Bollore, said on Tuesday that Tencent would first buy 10% of Universal, the world’s biggest music label ahead of Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music and home to artists also including Taylor Swift, Drake and Kendrick Lamar.

Tencent, which already holds stakes in the world’s most popular music streaming service, Sweden’s Spotify, India’s Gaana, Tencent Music Entertainment Group, and owns Asian streaming app Joox, would also have an option to buy a further 10% of Universal.

Vivendi shares closed 4% higher at 24.93 euros as analysts welcomed progress on the sale of a stake in Universal.

“The valuation looks good, and the progress made on the UMG deal is also positive,” said Gregory Moore, fund manager at Keren Finance, which owns Vivendi shares. Both groups are also “considering areas of strategic commercial cooperation,” Vivendi said, raising questions among analysts over the scope of the talks.

Universal rivals Sony Music and Warner Music also have investments in Tencent Music Entertainment Group.

Jerry Dellis, an analyst at Jefferies, also said in a note to clients that U.S. political opposition to Chinese investment in what could be considered a strategic asset could obstruct a deal.

CHINA PAYWALL

A deal with Tencent could boost Universal’s presence and build on a partnership struck two years ago, under which Tencent can license Universal’s music for distribution over its streaming platforms.

Tencent’s music unit also owns exclusive rights to sub-license Universal’s content to other content providers in China. They worked together to build Abbey Road Studios, China, a recording studio named after the Beatles’ studio in London.

Tencent appears to be responding in part to slowing growth at home, wrote MIDiA analyst Mark Mulligan, who added that a deal would give Tencent investments in both music distribution and music rights holding, “backing both horses” in the music industry’s financial race.

Tencent also faces stiff competition from China’s privately held ByteDance, whose popular social media, video sharing and music sites include Toutiao and TikTok.

Universal still generates the bulk of its revenue out of the North America and Europe, which together represented more than three-quarters of the division’s recorded music sales in the first half, while Asia produced only 14%.

Recorded music revenue, however, grew twice as fast in Asia at 35% as in Europe at 15% over the period and TME boasted 654 million monthly active users on its platforms at the end of the first quarter.

Spotify’s monthly active users, which include its ad-supported free version, amounted to 232 million at end of June.

After a cash-burning competition among companies to snap up music rights, China’s content regulator last year demanded music streaming sites share 99% of their rights reserve with each other.

Unlike Western players such as Sweden’s Spotify, 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.

Universal and Tencent both hold shares in Spotify, the world’s biggest music streaming platform which has a market capitalisation of about $27 billion, while the Swedish firm is a stakeholder in Tencent Music.

Tencent said at the time of its last earnings that it was adding more music behind a paywall, including popular Taiwanese singer Jay Chou, to raise revenue. But it said it might take time before Chinese users adapt to this relatively new approach.

Independent artists face uphill battle against Spotify, streaming platforms | Anthony S Casey Singapore

Music streaming brought in $7.4 billion in last year, making up 75% of the music industry’s total $9.8 billion. Streaming services have become the driving forces behind much of the changing industry landscape, forcing both labels and artists to change how they operate in order to keep up. This has made some things easier for unsigned, independent artists, and Yahoo Finance’s Katie Krzaczek explains at what cost.

Roma Eyes Bond Sale, Joining Soccer Rivals Juventus, Inter Milan – Bloomberg | Anthony S Casey Singapore

A match between AS Roma and Cagliari.

A match between AS Roma and Cagliari. Photographer: Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images