Recent Developments: BMG Job Losses, AI Copyright Office Submissions, and Beyond

BMG Restructure Leads to Job Losses and Changes in Marketing Strategy

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BMG, the music rights company, recently announced a restructure that will result in job losses impacting various areas of the company. Approximately 40 employees are expected to be affected by the layoffs, which will primarily impact the international marketing department, as well as those involved in theatre and film projects, and the Modern Recordings label. CEO Thomas Coesfeld stated that these decisions were tough but necessary for the company.

Coesfeld explained that when BMG launched its international marketing department five years ago, it was considered the ideal structure for marketing releases. However, due to the significant growth of the company’s recordings business, which is now three times larger than before, and the overwhelming shift towards streaming-based platforms, it is not surprising that changes need to be made in the way the business is managed.

US Copyright Office Receives Submissions on AI and Copyright

The US Copyright Office has published the submissions it received as part of its consultation on artificial intelligence (AI) and copyright. Unsurprisingly, copyright owners, including music companies, have emphasized that technology firms using existing content to train generative AI models must obtain permission from the copyright holders. This is in contrast to the submissions from AI companies, such as Google, OpenAI, and Stability AI, who argued that training AI models with existing content should be considered fair use under US law. These companies believe that such training activities are acceptable, transformative, and socially beneficial under the fair use doctrine.

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Kobalt Forms Partnership with Morgan Stanley for Music Rights Acquisition

Music rights company Kobalt has announced a new partnership with Morgan Stanley, totaling $700 million, to acquire more music rights. The investment funds managed by Morgan Stanley Tactical Value will provide the necessary funding for this venture. Cameron Smalls, the Managing Director of Morgan Stanley Tactical Value, expressed profound respect for songwriters and the value of their art. This partnership reflects Kobalt’s commitment to investing in music, increasing the value of copyrights, and establishing music as a viable asset class. The acquired catalogues will be managed by the core Kobalt business.

Bandcamp Union Files Complaint Over Layoffs

Bandcamp United, the union representing Bandcamp employees, has filed a complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board regarding the recent job cuts at the company. After the acquisition of Bandcamp by Songtradr from Epic Games, only half of the employees were offered jobs under the new management, while the rest were made redundant. The union has criticized Songtradr for not offering jobs to any of the eight union members who were leading negotiations with management prior to the acquisition. They have accused the company of discrimination based on labor activity.

Lizzo’s Touring Company Responds to Lawsuit

Lizzo’s Big Grrrl Big Touring company has responded to a lawsuit filed by three former members of the musician’s dance team. The company is seeking the dismissal of the litigation, claiming that it was filed “out of spite and in pursuit of media attention, public sympathy, and a quick payday with minimal effort.” Lizzo’s touring business has also submitted declarations from eighteen other individuals who have worked with the musician, disputing the allegations made by the dancers. However, attorneys representing the plaintiffs state that they have numerous independent witnesses who support their claims.

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In summary, BMG’s restructure has led to job losses in various departments, while the US Copyright Office has received submissions on whether training AI models with existing content should be considered fair use. Kobalt has formed a partnership with Morgan Stanley for music rights acquisition, and the Bandcamp Union has filed a complaint over the recent redundancies at Bandcamp. Additionally, Lizzo’s touring company has responded to a lawsuit filed by former dance team members, seeking its dismissal.

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