From Warner’s Twitch partnership to Sony’s wellness program: It’s MBW’s Weekly Spherical-up

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Welcome to Music Business Worldwide’s weekly round-up – where we make sure you caught the five biggest stories to hit our headlines over the past seven days. MBW’s round-up is supported by Centtrip, which helps over 500 of the world’s best-selling artists maximise their income and reduce their touring costs.


Twitch’s viewing numbers are a sight to behold. According to twitchtracker.com, 1.8 BILLION hours of content were watched on the platform in September alone, while in 2021 so far, Twitch has attracted over 2.7 million average concurrent viewers.

With a viewership as vast as this, its no surprise that a major music company would see the benefit of getting its artist-related content in front of so many eyeballs.

And so, this week saw Twitch strike its first major record company partnership with Warner Music Group, which will see exclusive content uploaded to WMG artist channels, as well as the creation of a standalone WMG music space featuring premium music-centric programming.

The agreement with WMG is a significant step forward for Twitch in the context of its relationship with the music industry over the past couple of years.

Twitch has become an increasingly important tool for artists to connect with fans, especially so during Covid quarantine, and the platform, although still unlicensed by the majors, is likely to get even closer to the music industry in years to come. The platform’s deal with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) last week is further evidence of this.

The NMPA was equally busy striking deals this week, announcing an agreement with Roblox that settles any previous claims by publishers against the kids gaming platform.

The platform was sued  — via the NMPA — for over $200 million in damages in June by a group of indie and major music publishers alleging widespread copyright infringement by the company.

That lawsuit has now been dismissed, and the NMPA states that the new deal “sets the foundation for future partnerships with global publishers that will unlock new creative and commercial opportunities on its platform”.

Also this week, Sony Music launched a wellness-focused program for artists, Round Hill Music Royalty Fund Limited revealed that it invested approximately USD $342 million as of June 30, and Utopia Music acquired the Quincy Jones-backed emotional data enrichment company, Musimap.

Here’s what happened over the past five days…


1) WARNER MUSIC GROUP AND TWITCH INK ‘FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND’ PARTNERSHIP

Warner Music Group (WMG) and Twitch have struck what the two companies call a “first-of-its-kind” partnership – marking the Amazon-owned livestreaming platform’s first partnership with a major record company.

The agreement with Warner Music Group’s recorded music business will see the launch of WMG artist channels, including Warner Records stars Bella Poarch and Saweetie and Atlantic Records’ viral breakout singer/producer Sueco, featuring exclusive content and behind-the-scenes material.

A standalone WMG music space featuring premium music-centric programming will also be created and promises to be “an up-to-the-minute exclusive experience”.

It will feature professionally produced original programming curated by digital media company IMGN, which WMG acquired last year….


2) Roblox strikes deal with music publishers

The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and video gaming platform Roblox have struck an agreement that settles any previous claims against Roblox.

The deal also “sets the foundation for future partnerships with global publishers that will unlock new creative and commercial opportunities on its platform”, according to a statement issued by the NMPA on Monday (September 27).

This announcement follows the news in June that a group of indie and major music publishers were — via the NMPA — suing Roblox for over $200 million in damages in the US, alleging widespread copyright infringement by the company….


 3) SONY MUSIC LAUNCHES ‘ARTIST ASSISTANCE’ PROGRAM TO PROMOTE WELLNESS FOR ITS SIGNED TALENT

This summer, in a widely applauded move, Sony Music Entertainment (SME) announced that it would start disregarding unrecouped balances for eligible heritage catalog artists.

The landmark policy, the Legacy Unrecouped Balance Program, is the flagship program under SME’s “Artists Forward” initiative, which, according to Sony Music, focuses on “prioritizing transparency with creators in all aspects of their development”.

Today, SME is announcing a major expansion of Artists Forward, with a new wellness-focused program called Artist Assistance.

In a letter sent to thousands of SME artists yesterday (September 30) and obtained by MBW, SME describes the program as a “broad global effort aimed at promoting wellness for our signed talent and providing them with relevant information and key resources for their careers”…..


4) ROUND HILL’S UK FUND HAS SPENT $342M ON ACQUISITIONS – AND IS BUYING CATALOGS AT A MULTIPLE OF 16.2X

Round Hill’s publicly-traded UK fund has published its first set of interim financial results, for the period ended June 30, 2021.

As of that date, Round Hill Music Royalty Fund Limited (RHM) had invested approximately USD $342 million.

That money went on the acquisition of 38 catalogs, plus the purchase of a 29.1% stake in RH Carlin Holdings LLC.

The publicly-listed UK company acquired the stake in Carlin Music, home to 100,000 song rights including hits made famous by the likes of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, and Meatloaf, in May….


5) Quincy Jones-backed emotional AI startup Musimap acquired by Utopia Music

If Switzerland-headquartered tech company Utopia Music wasn’t previously on your radar, it definitely will be after this month.

At the start of September, the firm made the high-profile appointment of Downtown‘s former EVP of Business Development, Roberto Neri, as Chief Operating Officer, followed by other big hires including Paul Gathercole as Chief Data Officer, Åsa Carild as Head of Platform, and Paul Stuart as Chief Legal Officer.

Now, the firm, which music industry sources tell us has raised tens of millions in investor capital to date, has acquired Quincy Jones-backed emotional data enrichment company, Musimap….


MBW’s Weekly Round-Up is supported by Centtrip, which helps over 500 of the world’s best-selling artists maximise their income and reduce their touring costs.Music Business Worldwide

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