From Sony Music’s deepfake takedowns to iHeartMedia’s $100m BMI sale proceeds… it’s MBW’s Weekly Round-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 maximize their income and reduce their touring costs.


Following last week’s confirmation of BMI‘s sale to private equity firm New Mountain Capital (along with Alphabet-owned CapitalG), we learned this week that US radio giant iHeartMedia is set to get $100 million from the sale.

Since its inception, performance rights organization BMI has been owned by a consortium of radio and TV broadcasters, and in the weeks and months to come, we’ll likely find out just how much other broadcasters stand to make from the sale.

BMI didn’t put a specific price on NMC’s takeover in its confirmation last week, but sources have previously put the acquisition price in NMC’s offer at around $1.7 billion.

Elsewhere in the world of music, Warner Music Group-owned ADA Worldwide struck up a global distribution deal with generative AI music startup Boomy, in what’s being called a “first-of-its-kind” partnership that will see select Boomy artists distributed across numerous DSPs and social media platforms.

Speaking of AI-generated music, MBW reviewed the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA)‘s submission to the US Copyright Office’s inquiry into AI and copyright, and found the trade group pulled no punches, asserting that “hindsight may well prove that there is no hyperbole in saying that generative AI is the greatest risk to the human creative class that has ever existed”.

MBW also interviewed JT Myers and Nat Pastor about their plans for Virgin Music Group, and analyzed a speech delivered in Washington D.C. by Sony Music Entertainment‘s Dennis Kooker about AI and copyright law.

Here’s what happened this week…


iHeartMedia logo

1) IHEARTMEDIA TO RECEIVE $100M FROM SALE OF BMI

US radio giant iHeartMedia is lined up for a USD $100 million windfall from the sale of BMI to a shareholder group led by New Mountain Capital (NMC).

On Monday (November 27), iHeart said that it expects, following the sale, to receive “approximately” $100 million of proceeds “related to its equity interest in BMI, subject to approval of the transaction by BMI shareholders and customary regulatory approvals”.

The US broadcaster added that it plans to use the proceeds for “general corporate purposes, which may include the repayment of debt”.

Last week we learned that private equity firm NMC will “lead a shareholder group” to acquire a majority stake in BMI.

We’d known for some time that the private equity firm –  which has over $45 billion in assets under management – had been in talks to acquire BMI, but the news was confirmed last Tuesday (November 21)…


2) WARNER’S ADA TO DISTRIBUTE SELECT ARTISTS’ MUSIC FROM GENERATIVE AI PLATFORM BOOMY IN ‘FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND DEAL’

Generative AI music startup Boomy has inked a global distribution deal with Warner Music Group-owned indie label distributor ADA Worldwide, in what it calls a “first-of-its-kind” partnership.

ADA, Warner’s independent distribution and label services arm, distributes music for a number of indie labels, and now it will also distribute music from Boomy, a platform that enables artists to create music with the aid of AI. The platform also functions as a label and music distributor.

According to California-headquartered Boomy’s website, artists on the platform – which launched in 2019 – have created more than 18.1 million tracks to date.

Under the deal with ADA, Boomy’s A&R team “will bring top artists and exclusively curated music from the Boomy roster to ADA,” the companies said in a statement on Wednesday (November 29)…


Photo Credit: Jordan Strauss

3) PLEASE, DON’T CALL IT DISTRIBUTION.

Why make the leap?

It’s a question that springs up now and again in this business, whenever successful and/or renowned entrepreneurs jump into a job at a major music company.

Universal Music Group, of course, has a rich history in this field and over the past year, this story arc has played out yet again at UMG, but with a twist.

In mid-2022, JT Myers and Nat Pastor were well established as the forward-thinking minds behind mtheory – a multi-pronged services and advisory engine for fellow indie music entrepreneurs. Their success to date had included work with artists such as Tove Lo and Tom Odell, as well as Major Lazer’s Lean On, the first fully independent track to reach No.1 on the US Top 40 radio chart.

Then Sir Lucian Grainge called. The Universal boss pitched to Myers and Pastor the concept of running a united UMG independent label/artist services division with global might – arguably the first truly worldwide swing Universal has taken to challenge Sony’s The Orchard.

“At first we were kind of confused by the whole conversation, to be honest,” laughs Myers. “But as we got more into it, Lucian explained that he saw the whole [record] business changing – and our ears really pricked up”…


Credit: Stock-Asso/Shutterstock

4) NMPA: GENERATIVE AI IS ‘THE GREATEST RISK TO THE HUMAN CREATIVE CLASS THAT HAS EVER EXISTED’

Legislators and regulators around the world are grappling with how to address the many issues that have emerged since AI technology “went mainstream” about a year ago.

Numerous businesses involved in AI, and those with substantial copyright holdings, have submitted their thoughts on the issue to the US Copyright Office, and to get the clearest view of the direction the music industry would like to see things head, it might help to read the submission from the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA).

The NMPA’s submission, dated October 30, 2023, pulls no punches. It starts off by stressing that its membership – US music publishers major and independent – are “not opposed” to AI.

But then it goes for the jugular: “However, the development of the generative AI marketplace is marked by breathtaking speed, size and complexity. Hindsight may well prove that there is no hyperbole in saying that generative AI is the greatest risk to the human creative class that has ever existed”…


5) SONY MUSIC HAS ISSUED NEARLY 10,000 DEEPFAKE TAKEDOWNS… AND OTHER THINGS WE LEARNED FROM DENNIS KOOKER’S SPEECH ABOUT AI

Senior political figures in Washington are becoming increasingly interested in the impact of AI on the law.

On Wednesday (November 29), US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer held an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Insight Forum to discuss the importance and role of creative copyright and intellectual property in the development of AI.

Dennis Kooker, Sony Music Entertainment‘s President of Global Digital Business & US Sales, delivered a speech at the Forum, outlining the major music company’s position on AI and copyright law.

In his speech, Kooker commented directly on the flurry of submissions to the USCO from the tech industry at the end of October.

In what may have been a nod to Google‘s filing and “fair use” position, Kooker told Senators that “based on recent Copyright Office filings it is clear that the technology industry and speculative financial investors would like governments to believe in a very distorted view of copyright”…


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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