🔵 Hipgnosis' £18M song sale raises questions
Namely, what was sold, and are catalogues being broken up for divestment?
Hi there -
News broke today that the troubled Hipgnosis Songs Fund has sold £18M of "unspecified ‘non-core’” songs, presumably in a bid to stem cash flow issues after a fairly terrible year’s trading.
This raises two questions for me. Obviously the first is “what was sold?”, as the company seems unwilling to specify. Perhaps the other, more important question is whether this was a sale of whole catalogue(s), or specific songs.
If the latter - which feels plausible - it surely raises questions regarding how catalogue is traded, and whether artists have any say if any owning company were to decide to divest lesser-known tracks.
In some respects this parallels the advent of download stores, when numerous artists include AC/DC and Led Zeppelin took issue with the means to sell all tracks from an album separately. In their view, allowing people to cherry pick songs rather than acquire the whole album ruined the artistic vision for the work they had spent time perfecting.
A similar mindset could surely apply here. Is it OK that an album’s constituent tracks might have multiple owners? After all, the complexities this might introduce could be many.
Once again, I’d argue this flags a perhaps unforeseen side effect of selling catalogue. A colleague made a similar point when asking what happens to Hipgnosis when Merck, who many artists sold to on the basis he closely understood their catalogue, may no longer be around to protect it. Not a nice comment, granted, but again it raises a key question around protection of catalogue the works that might cover.
Perhaps a blunt answer is that if you really care about the legacy of your catalogue, you should not sell it. That, or you simply ensure protections are in place, such as specifying that songs within a catalogue may not be sold individually.
To be clear, I am not stating that Hipgnosis has definitely broken up catalogue(s) for sale. However I do feel it once again gives cause to question whether, in time, these sales might wind up being something artists bitterly regret agreeing to.
Have a great evening,
🎶 listening to “Eminence Front” by The Who. Arguably one of few post-Moon gems, I first discovered this track in a turntable.fm room about 12 years ago. If that doesn’t date exactly when I first heard it, nothing will! I also remembered too late to enter it in the most recent Network Notes Music League round - “Slept-On Gems By Legends”. Doh!!
📺 watching “This Machine Destroys EVERYTHING”. I couldn’t help but watch this wondering if I could get one for the inevitable new year’s house clearout 😆
🤖 playing with Music Map, a fun means to explore similar artists. Just tap in someone whose music you’re enjoying and watch it spit back a nodal map of related acts.
Stories from the Music Industry:
The fund said on Monday that it had sold 20,000 unspecified “non-core” songs for $23.1m (£18.4m), in a statement to the London Stock Exchange, where it is listed. The price was a 14% discount to their valuation at 30 September, in a sign of the company’s need for cash as it tries to meet its debt obligations.
👆🏻Hot take: the most interesting detail has been omitted here, namely what exactly was sold and therefore whether whole catalogue was traded, or just separate tracks.
Swiss music collective management outfit SUISA Digital has filed a lawsuit against X's parent company, Twitter International. Filed in Germany, the complaint accuses the platform of copyright infringement after X failed to license music shared by its users without permission. The music group hopes to recover damages in an amount that could run to millions of euros.
👆🏻Hot take: other such lawsuits are either brewing or have launched, but given the dumpster fire that is X at the moment I’d be amazed if any made any useful progress, sadly.
“The Impala board agrees with the aim of tackling revenue dilution, but opposes the principle of a ‘blunt instrument’ that demonetises repertoire altogether to the benefit of more popular tracks,” said the body in a statement. “They feel that the data for any change must show that smaller and less established labels and artists do not lose out, as well as deep catalogue repertoire and of course smaller territories, specialist genres and longer tracks.”
👆🏻Hot take: I completely agree with this point. It is why I loved Mark Mulligan’s suggestion to take that money that isn’t being paid to smaller artists and labels, and do something positive with it rather than just pay it up to the biggest artists.
In unfortunate timing for Spotify, the announcement came the same day as media outlets began reporting that Vogel had sold $9.4m of Spotify stock on Tuesday, the day after the company’s announcement that it was laying off 17% of its staff. That announcement had led to a rise in Spotify’s share price. The identity of some of the more senior staff included in those cuts is also starting to emerge. Spotify’s MD for the UK and Ireland, Tom Connaughton, confirmed his departure yesterday in a LinkedIn post.
👆🏻Hot take: personally I feel a bit puzzled by the higher-tier exits here. I never get a sense of who is actually driving strategy at Spotify. At points, it feels like the answer is ‘no one’.
Job cuts affecting about 40 employees were reported by Bloomberg on Thursday (December 7), citing people familiar with the move. A portion of the company’s curation team that builds playlists was reportedly let go.
👆🏻Hot take: no surprise here - this is basically the trend of 2023 so is almost expected now.
Stories from the Broader World of Tech:
Tumblr says these communities will be “semi-private” spaces that have their own moderators, rules, and privacy settings — similar, perhaps, to Reddit’s forums known as subreddits or X’s Communities, where posts are separate from the main timeline. In addition, the communities will have their own feeds that users can view, which are also separate from Tumblr’s algorithmic “For You” and chronological “Following” feeds.
👆🏻Hot take: per last week’s NN, I do feel Discord is not the perfect solution for fan communities. Interested to see if Tumblr might see a resurgence with this new feature addition.
When comparing the old Google Bard to the new, Gemini-powered version, there has been clear progress in the quality of Google's AI-generated output. In our math, summarization, factual retrieval, and creative writing prompts, Google's system has shown marked improvement in the eight months since we last tested it. Overall, though, ChatGPT is still the winner in our non-scientific tests; OpenAI's system edged out Bard on three prompts, while Bard was only the clear winner in one. But the results were a lot closer than they were back in April
👆🏻Hot take: my FOMO around Gemini is at least tempered by this view that right now GPT4 is still the superior LLM to use.
Yesterday, Google launched its much anticipated response to OpenAI’s ChatGPT (the first release of Bard didn’t really count, did it?). However, the new set of generative AI models that Google is dubbing “the start of the Gemini era” will not yet be available in Europe — due to regulatory hurdles.
👆🏻Hot take: this explains why my own test of Bard last week proved so underwhelming - it isn’t live yet for those of us in the Europe.
Need something else to read? Here you go:
For four decades, Victor Manuel Rocha, a one-time U.S. Ambassador to Bolivia, allegedly spied for Cuba. His case demonstrates that Cuba remains a power player in the world of espionage.
👆🏻Hot take: if like me you can’t resist a spy tale, then this is today’s article for you.
Steamy, spiritual and stress-busting, there are more than 3m saunas in Finland. Not only are they skin tingling, they help people explore what it is to be human
👆🏻Hot take: a more-interesting-then-you-might-think look at Finnish culture around saunas and how it might contribute to their generally less stressful way of life.
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