Thank You and Good-Bye
4 min read

Thank You and Good-Bye

Hello, hello! I think the headline above tells you that I have a little announcement to make. So, let’s just jump into that. 

No new episode of Money 4 Nothing this week, but that means you should just check out the back catalog, there are plenty of great shows to find. 

Starting off, I want to say thank you so much to you, readers. I’ve said this at every live event I’ve done and many times when getting drinks with people over the years, but I wouldn’t’ve maintained this project without y’all. That’s why I’m bummed to say I’ll be stopping Penny Fractions at the end of this year. 

The core reason is that with my new job, I don’t have enough time to commit to this work. Additionally, over the last couple of months with all that’s happened in the world, I’ve found it hard to focus on music business news. I know my new job will find a good groove, but there are other areas I’d like to devote my time to in the new year, so right now feels like an appropriate time to step away. 

Logistics-wise, if you pay for the newsletter, please feel free to cancel / I’ll be shutting down payments over the next week. (Just need to figure that out…) I’ll still jump on Money 4 Nothing as my schedule permits, they’re still a great podcast, and I’m happy to support their work. My email remains if you ever want to hit me up or get my thoughts on a particular issue or topic within the music industry. I’m still interested in writing, so don’t expect radio silence out of me just yet. 

The final issue will be in two weeks, on what is still tbd. Again, I must say thank you to the thousands of readers, the hundred-plus people I’ve met in person or online, and certainly a major one to Mariana Carvalho and Taylor Curry, my current and former copy editors. Lastly, a quick mention to Liz Pelly, Cherie Hu, Henderson Cole, Sam Baker, Saxon Baird, Micahel Pelczynski, Kaitlyn Davies, Tatiana Cirisano, Anna Nicolaou, Mark Mulligan, Marc Hogan, Kara, Mona Ali, Chal Ravens, Alphonse Pierre, Jon Caramanica, Rob Arcand, Kevin Erickson, Nina Posner, William Card, Timmhotep Aku, Andrew DeWaard, Hannah Silk Champagne, Gabriel Meier, William Gruger, Keith Jopling, and Ben Morgan. All just wonderful thinkers, writers, and industry professionals who’ve helped me understand the music industry so much better over these many years. 

Speak to y’all in a couple of weeks! 

Unheard Labor 

On Monday, Spotify announced over 1,500 layoffs and a full-on hiring freeze (i.e. no jobs listed on the website). Best of wishes to everyone now looking for work. However, these layoffs appear related to the company’s aggressive hiring and needless acquisitions during the pandemic, which produces very few results and broadly speaks to me of a company entirely out of its depths beyond providing a music streaming library for cheap. This paired with Amazon Music’s announced layoffs, Bandcamp cutting 50% of staff, SoundCloud’s multiple rounds of layoffs, and general malaise across various sectors of the music industry. I keep expectations of any innovation or creativity out of streaming platforms to be low. Prices on the other hand, going up, up, up.

A Note of Financialization 

Only one catalog sale this week. CTM Outlander, who raised a billion dollars from the CTM BV and the Outlander Fund in 2021, bought the publishing catalog of country star Sam Hunt, and the deal included his future publishing works as well. HarbourView Equity Partners, which raised a billion dollars from Apollo Global Management announced it increased its credit facility by $100 million to keep buying catalogs and for "general corporate purposes", whatever that means.

BMI, the now-for-profit performance rights organization that failed to go public during the pandemic boom, sold itself to the private equity firm New Mountain Capital. Not to be too glib, because it’s hard to see anything good out of this deal, yet BMI already signaled a desire to focus on top earners over smaller acts. 

Hipgnosis Seeks New Auditor as It Faces Legal Action - The Financial Times 

Am I still laughing at watching the bubble burst around Hipgnosis? Absolutely. When will I stop laughing? Stay tuned to find out. 

Have Labels Hit a Breaking Point With Data-Driven A&R? - Billboard 

Billboard’s coverage of modern A&R is good but I’d love a deeper dive on the topic. This is because it does feel like the idea of looking for and finding talented musicians could be a great lens to understand the reorientation of what is the purpose of labels in the 21st century. 

Ace of Base - The Sign (Review) - Pitchfork 

Though Max Martin is correctly thought of as one of the most important producers of the last thirty years, always happy to see Ace of Base given proper credit for providing the framework for much of 21st-century pop music. 

Integrations No. 1: Panorama Bar, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023 - Journal of the Mother Beat 

A fun tour diary and reflection about DJing by Eris Drew. 

The Revenge of the Zero-Rate World Is Coming - Merryn Talks Money

A compelling interview about the state of the economy that argues the impact of higher interest rates may take years to play out, rather than a sudden late 70s-style shock. This definitely influenced my feeling that the current tech bubble may be in the process of slowly bursting, but will provide certain firms enough time to right their ships before the music at the party comes to a complete stop. 

Wait, You’re Telling Me the Capitalists Now Control AI? - This Machine Kills 

The lack of respect I amassed trying to understand why the media tripped over itself covering Microsoft basically taking over OpenAI from its nonprofit board was, even to me, a bit surprising. Just, how anyone could hear or read the words of Sam Altman and not know he’s clearly only interested in making more money and that all the chatter about making all-powerful technologies is just marketing hype? Crypto freaks still deserve ridicule, but the “AI” bubble is showing just how few lessons people even learned from the snake oil sold last week.