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CMU Digest – 28 Jun 2013

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iTunes Radio

The five biggest stories in the music business this week…

01: iTunes Radio’s indie deals were revealed. Following much speculation as to what terms Apple would offer the independent labels for its long awaited streaming service, which is due to launch later this year, Billboard got its hands on a copy of the agreement the tech giant has been sending out.

It is thought the deal is similar, though slightly less favourable, to that offered to the majors, with a $0.0013 per play royalty and 15% share of ad revenue. The agreement also revealed that Apple won’t have to pay anything while the service is in beta, and when tracks are immediately skipped by a user.

Earlier in the week digital rights body Merlin confirmed it wasn’t actively involved in iTunes Radio negotiations, because its members already have deals with Apple – that predate Merlin – so are negotiating individually. Agreement story | Merlin story

02: Joel Tenenbaum’s damages bill was upheld. One of the long-running file-sharing lawsuits hanging over from the days when the Recording Industry Association Of America pursued litigation directly against file-sharers, Tenenbaum is still appealing the $675,000 in damages he was ordered to pay the record industry by the courts. Although the original judge in the case expressed concern about the size of those damages, an appeals court upheld the jury’s ruling, and this week the First Circuit Court Of Appeals did likewise, knocking back the arguments of Team Tenenbaum that the figure was excessive. CMU report | Business Insider report

03: Pandora v everyone rumbled on. It’s interesting, is it not, that after a decade during which the US music industry’s enemy number one switched from file-sharing platform to file-sharing platform (Napster to Grokster to Kazaa to LimeWire to The Pirate Bay to MegaUpload), it now seems like the big bad foe is a fully licensed streaming set up.

Late last week the surviving members of Pink Floyd hit out in a USA Today op-ed piece at letters the streaming service has been sending to artists, trying to enlist their support for a change in the rules governing internet-radio sound-recording royalties, which are set by statute in the US. The Floyd said the letter was misleading, and failed to tell artists how much they’d lose in any royalties cut. But Pandora hit back, saying the band were wrong, because they had been misled by the Recording Industry Association Of America.

Meanwhile on the publishing royalties side, Pandora is trying to stop the big publishers from withdrawing from the collective licensing system when licensing their songs to the streaming set-up, even though it is yet to agree terms with collecting society ASCAP. Fun times. Pink Floyd op-ed | Pandora response | ASCAP dispute

04: SFX announced an IPO. The latest business venture from Robert Sillerman, who built the original SFX live music business that contributed a big chunk to what is now Live Nation, is seeking to raise $175 million through a share sale. The money will enable the company to buy outright some of the businesses it has previously acquired stakes in, and provide working capital. The new SFX is focused on the EDM genre that has boomed so much in the US of late, with interests in live and online ventures. The firm’s IPO paperwork admits that being so focused on EDM means the company’s long-term fortunes rely very much on the genre’s current popularity being maintained. Opinion is very much divided on whether that’s going to happen. CMU reportBillboard report

05: BMG announced Mute and Sanctuary partners, and signed the Stones. The music rights firm, which acquired the Mute and Sanctuary sound recording catalogues off Universal Music earlier this year, confirmed that [PIAS] will handle much of the marketing and distribution of those recordings, though INgrooves will do the business in North America, and the Depeche Mode and Black Sabbath catalogues will be represented by Sony and Universal respectively (because those artists are currently working with those majors on their new output). Elsewhere, BMG confirmed it had signed up Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to a publishing deal, the first time since 1983 that the Stones songwriting duo have had external representation for their song rights. Mute/Sanctuary report | Stones report

In CMU this week we chatted to Austra’s Katie Stelmanis, enjoyed a playlist by Kisses, and guest columnist Dan Le Sac considered the cons of crowdfunding. Approved were Robyn, Nothankyou, Run The Jewels and the latest Tasty Morsels compilation.

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