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Spotify Removes K-Pop Songs in Licensing Debacle

If you’re a big K-pop fan with a Spotify account, you’re probably not too happy today. Thanks to a breakdown in licensing talks, songs from some of the world’s biggest K-pop stars have vanished from Spotify’s music library after talks between the streamer and Korean distributor Kakao M hit a brick wall. Some of the acts affected include many of Korea’s most popular acts, including Seventeen, MonstaX, Mamamoo, (G)I-DLE and IU. The issue was first noticed on March 1 (Korean time) as Spotify users around the world first noticed that many K-pop songs were no longer available to them on the platform. Some artists’ entire catalogs disappeared without warning from Spotify, while other artists saw some of their songs remain. Later the same day Spotify announced that its licensing agreement… . . . read more

We Want To Hear From You In Annual TLL Survey

The Licensing Letter has launched its Annual Licensing Survey for 2020/21, and we want to hear your opinion on one of the most difficult years in our industry, and what you think is coming for 2021 and beyond. The oldest survey in the industry, the Annual Licensing Survey is a key part of our data offerings for the industry, and the more answers we get, the better and more useful our data sets will be, so make sure TLL data is working for you! To fill out the survey, simply click on this link: The Survey closes on March 15, 2021, at noon ET, and if you’re a subscriber to the Licensing Advisor or the Licensing Weekly WrapUp, you’ll also see reminders over the coming weeks. The survey takes… . . . read more

LEGO Named World’s Most Popular Kids Entertainment Brand

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief According to a sweeping new report on brands for children, LEGO is now the most popular kids’ entertainment brand in the world, followed by Disney, Marvel, Barbie, and with Paw Patrol rounding out the Top 5.  The data comes via a report from Brand Trends, in which mothers provided answers to a survey on behalf of their children, from ages 0 to 6.  However, it’s worth noting that some brands in the list could be combined, since, for example, Disney also owns Marvel.  And, while Spiderman is now part of the Marvel Universe, it is also so popular as a brand that it places sixth on the list as a separate franchise. Similarly, the Disney property Frozen places seventh.  If the various Disney-owned… . . . read more

Google Gives Ground in War Over Who Pays For News

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief US tech giant Google has announced a new policy to pay for some licensed news content in the UK, after coming under intense fire in Europe and Australia for allegedly profiting from news content without compensating the news organizations that produce that content. Google is now faced with new legislation that could force it to pay massive sums to news organizations, in return for posting their content as search results. While the outcome is uncertain, Google and fellow tech giants like Facebook are fighting hard to prevent governments from forcing them to pay for the news content they are serving up through their respective platforms. In doing so, it appears Google is now giving up some ground, and trying to work with news… . . . read more

A Tale of Two Toymakers Influences Their Content Goals

Hasbro Restructuring Eone, Mattel Creating More Content By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief The toy industry enjoyed a surprisingly strong year in 2020, despite and partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean toymakers haven’t faced serious challenges in their operations. Despite the strong year for toy sales overall, Hasbro has seen a drop in their share price this week after the company forecast a decline in its operating cash flow this year. As well, Hasbro has announced cuts to its newly acquired Entertainment One film and TV division. Entertainment One is known for highly successful children’s programming like the Peppa Pig and PJ Masks children’s shows, which it sells to media outlets. Hasbro bought out Entertainment One a little over a year ago for $4 billion,… . . . read more

TikTok And Universal Expand Their Musical Alliance

Universal Music Group (UMG) has entered into a landmark agreement with TikTok that will continue its transformation of the way music is marketed and sold. As earlier reported in The Licensing Letter, TikTok has entered into a number of music licensing agreements with publishers that allow its users to combine popular song tracks with their short videos on the social media platform. TikTok even offers a way to purchase music, creating a new and lucrative sector for the music industry that has already seen a number of songs climbing the charts because of their exposure on the popular platform. A stunning example of the power of TikTok to promote music can be seen in the experience of actress Olivia Rodrigo (pictured above), whose debut hit Driver’s License inspired countless videos on TikTok,… . . . read more

Special Report: How Celebrities Are Driving the Booze Business

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief Acquisitions in the liquor business aren’t generally noticed by the general public, but the buyout of Davos Brands by industry giant Diageo rated a feature story in People Magazine, and pretty much every other entertainment magazine in the world. The reason is that Davos is partly owned by Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds, who purchased a major share of Davos Brands’ Aviation Gin … and sold it just two years later for an astounding $610 million. In between those two milestones, Aviation Gin appeared in thousands of liquor stores around the world, racking up huge sales in North America and the U.K. Reynolds’ new partners Christian Krogstad and Ryan Magarian are probably still pinching themselves to see if it’s all real. The rise of… . . . read more

Key Former Disney Exec Nancy Kanter Joins Rival Netflix

The streaming wars are heating up, as Netflix snapped up former Disney Executive Vice President Nancy Kantor just one day after she left her position with Disney Channels Worldwide. Kantor played a critical role at Disney, having launched and operated Disney Junior, a channel for preschool children, and acting as the EVP of Content and Creative Strategy for Disney Channels Worldwide. Netflix is very clear that the move is part of their quest to play catch up with Disney+ in terms of family and children’s entertainment. “We’re very fired up about catching them in family animation—maybe eventually passing them, we’ll see, a long way to go just to catch them—and maintaining our lead in general entertainment that’s so stimulating,” Netflix’s founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings said on the company’s earnings… . . . read more

UFC Names Panini America Exclusive Collectible Global Trading Card Partner

UFC,  the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, has entered into a new, multi-year licensing agreement with Panini America, the world’s largest licensed sports and entertainment collectibles company. The partnership, negotiated by IMG, grants Panini America the rights to become UFC’s official and exclusive collectible trading card partner. “We are thrilled to welcome Panini America as UFC’s new official collectible trading card partner,” said UFC Senior Vice President of Global Consumer Products Tracey Bleczinski.  “Many of our fans use collectible trading cards to stay connected to our brand and to their favorite UFC athletes, and Panini America is the industry leader, creating innovative and unique products for our fans to enjoy.” The UFC  collaboration will officially launch in April with the release of Panini’s UFC Prizm collectible series. Panini will… . . . read more

Funko Opens Virtual, COVID-Safe Showroom

It’s been a difficult year for B2B marketing teams when virtually every trade show and conference in the world has been canceled due to COVID-19, but Funko has found a way by launching its own “digital showroom.” Funko Europe, the pop culture product company, this week opened the doors to its first-ever virtual showroom, featuring more than 400 products for 2021. Normally the company has a brick-and-mortar showroom located at its headquarters in London, but with that currently locked down the virtual showroom becomes even more important. The pop culture consumer products specialist, Funko Europe, has opened the virtual doors of its first-ever online showroom, a platform launched in the absence of trade shows this season. Open to retail customers and media as of Jan. 25, the online showroom will… . . . read more