“Trouble, trouble, trouble” for record labels [Catherine Falls Commercial/Moment via Getty Images]
Big Gulp moment: A customer is suing 7-Eleven, alleging that its “Wasabi Delight Flavored Snack Mix” contains zero wasabi. Almost as disappointing as when the Coke Slurpee machine is broken.
Stocks jumped today after strong October retail sales numbers and earnings beats from Home Depot and Walmart, which signal a holiday spending boom.
"You belong with me"... Taylor Swift to her own music. This weekend, T Swift dropped “Red (Taylor’s Version),” a rerecorded album of her hit 2012 breakup anthems, plus never-released tracks. Some background: Taylor doesn't own the "masters" (aka: original recordings) from her first six albums. When she was 15, those were signed over to record label Big Machine, later sold to Scooter Braun (Kanye’s ex-manager).
I knew you were trouble... Many fans are choosing Taylor's version over the OGs, which could undercut earnings for Shamrock. Earlier this year, Taylor released a rerecorded version of her album "Fearless.” It's racked up 3X as many streams as the 2008 original. The “Red” rerecording is also outperforming the OG, and was #1 this week on Spotify and Apple.
The "T Swift Clause" is a threat to labels… because it lets artists keep more control and more money. That’s why Universal is reportedly doubling the amount of time that artists are restricted from rerecording. But as streaming platforms and social apps make it easier for artists to distribute music, leverage is shifting in creators’ favor. Labels including Universal are also making concessions, like increasing royalty payments.
A little less Royal, much less Dutch… Yesterday, oil titan Royal Dutch Shell said it planned to move its HQ from the Netherlands to the UK and to shorten its name to Shell, ditching “Dutch” after 114 years. Dutch officials were “unpleasantly surprised,” but investors seemed pleased: Shares jumped 3% yesterday on the news.
A Shell of its former self… Shell’s under pressure from investors and courts to transition to renewable energy. Last summer Dutch courts ordered Shell to reduce emissions. Last month activist investor Third Point asked Shell to split its oil and renewable energy businesses to facilitate greener investment. Shell’s not the only oil bigshot feeling pressure:
Exxon is spending $1B+/year to develop emissions-reducing tech after activist investors joined its board. BP spends $5B/year to develop low-emissions fuel alternatives. 450 finance firms including JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and BlackRock committed to hitting net-zero emissions in their investments by 2050 at the UN climate summit last week.
Corporate transitions can be messy… and sometimes it helps to draw cleaner lines. Shell’s reorg could make it easier for backers to invest in its transition to renewables, even if Shell hasn’t committed to splitting. As shareholders demand increasingly specific ways to invest, some companies have started splitting up to attract focused funding. Just last week: General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, and Toshiba announced plans to split into smaller companies to spur more targeted investment.
Direct-to-consumer mattress company Casper was a unicorn before going public last year. Now it’s going private at one-fourth of its former valuation.
Tune in to hear why the spooky tale is D2C companies’ nightmare.
Authors of this Snacks own shares of: Apple, Spotify, Warner Music, Tesla, Amazon, and Walmart