From Universal’s investment in Weverse to Trefuego’s $800,000 copyright infringement fine… it’s MBW’s Weekly Round-Up – Music Business Worldwide

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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.


This week brought two big stories involving Universal Music Group. On Tuesday (March 26) South Korea-based entertainment giant HYBE announced that it has struck an expanded long-term agreement with UMG.

The deal provides UMG with exclusive distribution rights for HYBE’s music for the next 10 years and also sees UMG invest in – and further collaborate with – HYBE’s global superfan and D2C platform, Weverse.

Meanwhile, on Thursday (March 28), UMG announced another expanded deal, this time with audio streaming giant Spotify. According to the companies, they will collaborate on “new promotional and social tools” for UMG artists on the Spotify platform.

Additionally, a new agreement with Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) will enable Spotify to distribute music videos in the US.

Also this week, a rapper called Trefuego was ordered by a court in Texas to pay over $800,000 in damages to Sony Music for using an unlicensed sample in his TikTok hit 90mh.

Elsewhere, citing an interview with Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe, The Financial Times reported that the European media giant is considering a merger for its music division BMG.

Plus, the Board of Directors of Paris-born music company Believe officially invited Warner Music Group to submit “a binding, unconditional and fully financed offer” for Believe.

Here’s what happened this week…


Photo Credit: Jordan Strauss

1) UNIVERSAL MUSIC INVESTS IN ‘SUPERFAN’ PLATFORM WEVERSE, AS IT STRIKES NEW 10-YEAR AGREEMENT WITH HYBE

HYBE has struck what it calls an expanded long-term agreement with Universal Music Group (UMG).

The deal provides UMG with exclusive distribution rights for HYBE’s music for the next 10 years.

The even bigger news? The deal will also see UMG invest in – and further collaborate with – HYBE’s global superfan platform, Weverse. (Sources tell MBW that UMG has made a minority investment in Weverse as part of the new partnership.)

According to the two companies’ announcement on March 26, the “partnership will help enhance the growth” of Weverse in North America…


2) AS UNIVERSAL’S STANDOFF WITH TIKTOK ROLLS ON, UMG INKS NEW DEAL WITH SPOTIFY INCLUDING ‘SOCIAL TOOLS’, VIDEO ELEMENTS

The biggest music business story so far this year is Universal Music Group’s very public falling out with social video app TikTok.

But there’s another widely used app that has a very different relationship with UMG, the world’s biggest music rightsholder. As of this week, that relationship will be getting much closer.

UMG has just announced an expansion of what it calls its “strategic relationship” with Spotify.


3) RAPPER TREFUEGO USED AN UNLICENSED SAMPLE IN HIS TIKTOK HIT 90MH. NOW THE COURT IS MAKING HIM PAY OVER $800,000 IN DAMAGES TO SONY MUSIC.

In January last year, MBW broke the news that Sony Music had filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Trefuego, a rapper behind TikTok hit 90mh.

Sony Music’s lawsuit accused Trefuego, within 90mh, of “the flagrant and deliberate infringement” of both the sound recording and underlying composition in the 1986 track Reflections, released by Japanese composer Toshifumi Hinata (Hinata). (Sony Music Entertainment owns copyrights in the sound recording;, while Sony Music Publishing’s copyrights cover the composition).

As we explained in our report at the time, the track went viral on TikTok and YouTube and racked up over 170 million Spotify streams. As we noted then, Sony had a strong case: It’s hard to mistake a sped-up key violin motif from Hinata’s track appearing, looped repeatedly, in 90mh.

The outcome of the case has now been decided, and, according to the court, Trefuego has to pay up.
In a judgment issued in a Texas court on Wednesday (March 27), Trefuego (Dantreal Daevon Clark-Rainbolt) was ordered to pay Sony Music $802,997.23 in damages…


4) BMG OWNER MULLS MERGER FOR MUSIC COMPANY

European media giant Bertelsmann, facing setbacks, wants to grow music unit BMG through a merger with a rival or a “breakout investment”.

That’s according to a report from The Financial Times on Tuesday (March 26), citing an interview with Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe.

“BMG could potentially be an opportunity for a breakout investment and joining forces with a competitor,” Rabe said.

“If the opportunity arose to significantly grow BMG by joining forces with another music company, we would consider it.”…


5) Warner has 13 days to submit a binding offer for Believe, as French company agrees to let WMG peruse its ‘data room’

Is Warner Music Group actually going to launch a $1.8 billion+ takeover bid for Believe? We’ll know within 13 days.

On Monday (March 25), the Board of Directors of the Paris-born music company officially invited Warner Music Group to submit “a binding, unconditional and fully financed offer” for Believe.

Believe’s Board has given WMG just under two weeks to do so, asking that the latter company submit its offer no later than April 7, 2024.

That would be precisely one month after WMG announced publicly (on March 7) that it was potentially interested in making a bid for Believe…


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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