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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

Special Report: The Future of Hasbro

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief The ‘Play and Entertainment’ conglomerate Hasbro has for the first time outlined its future plans in a live investor event, and as expected, the news will be game changing for the company and for its licensing partners worldwide. Sit down and grab yourself a coffee or tea, because it’s a LOT. At the core of the announcement, Hasbro has outlined its “strategic growth drivers” for the near and medium term, and has unveiled new product segments aligned to these drivers. In other words, the company is restructuring, and it’s doing so in ways that it feels will better prepare Hasbro for a rapidly changing environment. The new financial reporting segments are: Consumer Products, including toys and games; Wizards of the Coast (Wizards) and… . . . read more

YouTube Clones TikTok For March Launch

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then TikTok must be positively blushing right now. The spectacular rise of TikTok as a social media and entertainment phenomenon has inspired Alphabet-owned streamer YouTube to face off directly with the upstart by launching its own version, called Shorts. Shorts is due to arrive in the United States in March, after a successful six-month beta test in India, where the service racked up 3.5 billion daily views. However, it’s worth noting that Chinese-owned TikTok is banned in India, due to ongoing tensions between the world’s two most populous countries. It’s unknown how Shorts will fare in a direct duel with TikTok, but we’ll find out next month when the services go head to head for the first time. Information about the new… . . . read more

Magic Star and MGA Entertainment Collaborate On LOL Surprise Project

Magic Star, the entertainment label for Sony Music UK, has announced a partnership with global toy company MGA Entertainment on a worldwide, exclusive music partnership deal that will support the global top toy brand, LOL Surprise. Under the agreement Magic Star will work with Sony Music Entertainment’s (SME) record labels in more than 40 markets around the world, including Columbia Records’ Jam Jr., to release new music from LOL Surprise. The goal of the collaboration is to expand the brand and enable fans to engage in a new way. Magic Star will use their expertise to create and produce music to support LOL Surprise product lines and future marketing initiatives, bringing the characters to life and to enhance storytelling moments through music.   Next month, LOL Surprise and Magic Star will support the debut of… . . . read more

Rebel Music Streamer Audiomack Clinches Deals With Universal, Sony

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief Audiomack, a music streaming service with a difference, has concluded key licensing agreements with Universal Music and Sony Music. The deal follows on its first agreement with one of the Big Three music publishers, when it signed a licensing agreement in 2019 with Warner Music, and then expanded that agreement to additional markets in November. That agreement expanded Audiomack’s licensing territory for the Warner catalog to Africa, Canada and Jamaica. The announcement also revealed that Audiomack is seeing healthy growth in its user base, with 17 million active users now, as compared to 16 million in November when it signed the new deal with Warner. In Africa Audiomack claims to be the most popular music app for iOS in several countries, including Nigeria,… . . . read more

Lego and Universal Music Group Launch Music Video Maker

In yet another example of how the world of music licensing has evolved over the past two years, LEGO and Universal Music Group (UMG) announced on Jan. 26 the launch of LEGO VIDIYO, “a playful and innovative music video maker experience designed to celebrate and expand children’s creativity and passion for music.” The companies say in a joint statement that LEGO VIDIYO is a “brand-new way to play that helps children dream big by directing, producing, starring in, and sharing their own music videos, using tracks from across the globe, led by chart hits from UMG’s unrivalled artists.” It’s also another way that music publishers like Universal have expanded the ways in which they license music, with a pronounced accent on licensing to social media networks and video games. While LEGO… . . . read more

Ector Hired to Lead Downtown’s Licensing Work

As the acquisitions of music catalogs has soared, Downtown Music Holdings has hired Dewayne Ector as its Chief Revenue Officer, a newly created position, to oversee digital licensing. In his new role, Ector will be responsible for overseeing the successful negotiation and maximization of revenue from digital licenses covering all rights types represented across Downtown’s business units. Ector’s appointment follows a successful tenure leading partner relations and income tracking for Downtown-owned subsidiary SongTrust, a leading technology solution for global music publishing royalty collection and administration. “Establishing a group-wide strategy for digital licensing with DSPs and other pay sources has long been part of Downtown’s plan to support our continued growth and efforts to scale our business globally,” said Downtown CEO Justin Kalifowitz. “Dewayne’s knowledge and command of the complicated global royalties… . . . read more

Special Report: The Evolution of Music Licensing

By Gary Symons, TLL Editor in Chief The Bob Dylan music deal with Universal Music has shown that for musicians and music companies, the times truly are a’changin’. But, in truth, that change was coming long before Universal stroked a check for a reported $300 million to $400 million, in return for Dylan’s entire music catalog of roughly 600 songs. Also in December Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks sold 80 per cent of the rights to her catalog of songs she wrote to music publisher Primary Wave for a reported $100 million. In August, Imagine Dragons sold their catalog for more than $100 million to Concord Music Publishing. What should have gained a lot more press, however, were the other deals happening in 2019 and building momentum through 2020. For… . . . read more

Neil Young to Cash In on Music Catalogs

Canadian rock star and songwriter Neil Young is out of the blue, and heavily into the black, after selling a 50 per cent interest in his music catalog for an estimated $150 million US. As noted in this week’s Special Report from The Licensing Letter, the past four years and 2020 in particular have seen a massive increase in the value and scale of music catalog deals. Sales rose from an average of $100 million to $200 million a year prior to 2016, to more than $4 billion in 2019. Figures for 2020 are not yet out, but music rights deals are expected to hit a new and dramatic high after landmark deals with Bob Dylan, The Killers, Imagine Dragons, Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, and many others. Young’s sale… . . . read more

“Makeup junkie” Halsey Launches Own Beauty Line

Most people, including her fans, aren’t aware that hit singer/songwriter Halsey is a self-taught makeup artist, so it makes sense she’s launching her own beauty line on Jan. 25 under the brand name about-face. “Makeup is an art and art is about happy accidents, not any one ideal of perfection,” said Halsey, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of about-face. “I always feel the most free when I am creating looks without following any rules. The beauty industry has norms, but I want to encourage people to challenge those standards and allow things to be imperfect and fun.” Halsey says she’s always taken control of her own look on stage and for music videos. Over the years she’s become a self-described “makeup junkie,” and has an encyclopedic knowledge of brands, application… . . . read more


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