An UnLimited Media Bulletin
Monday 17 March 2014

TODAY'S TOP STORY: Pandora scored something close to a victory on one of the fronts of its ongoing royalty war with the American music industry last week, when a rate court judge considering the streaming service's licence from song rights collecting society ASCAP set a royalty rate of 1.85% of annual revenue, which basically keeps things as they are. As previously reported, Pandora has been battling to cut the royalties it... [READ MORE]
TODAY'S APPROVED: Now, I know what you're thinking about Juce, and you're right. True, the London trio look and sound like someone put the 90s in the liquidizer, and squeezed the resulting mulch into a cup. Congratulations, you've got Juce in one. But that's what's so smart and so fun about the band, and about 'Call You Out', their pithy first single, which freshly and teasingly blends Sunny D R&B, strong-girl-soul... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Music publishers hit out at rate court ruling in ongoing Pandora squabbles
Eavis and Bragg pay tribute to Tony Benn
LEGAL RIAA uses Congressional hearing to again call on Google to do more about piracy
Eircom admits its three-strikes hasn't reached strike three
Tyler, The Creator arrested at SXSW after encouraging queuing fans to push in
DEALS Syco signs up another X finalist
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Rdio buys Indian streaming service Dhingana
CueSongs wins Technology Strategy Board grant
ARTIST NEWS Stooges drummer Scott Asheton dies
The Monks' Gary Burger dies
Bez to stand as new MP for Salford
Freddie Mercury biopic loses director Dexter Fletcher
GIGS & FESTIVALS Kylie announces tour dates
AND FINALLY... Why don't you take Allison to one of your Lady Gaga vomit parties?
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Music publishers hit out at rate court ruling in ongoing Pandora squabbles
Pandora scored something close to a victory on one of the fronts of its ongoing royalty war with the American music industry last week, when a rate court judge considering the streaming service's licence from song rights collecting society ASCAP set a royalty rate of 1.85% of annual revenue, which basically keeps things as they are.

As previously reported, Pandora has been battling to cut the royalties it pays out to record companies and music publishers for sometime now, the push for better rates becoming a top priority for the company since its IPO in 2011 (and perhaps a sign of what's to come elsewhere in the streaming domain once the newer digital music start ups float).

Pandora was actually pushing for its music publisher rates to be cut to 1.7%, the figure the terrestrial radio stations in the US have negotiated for their webcast operations. Pandora has long argued that it should have parity with traditional broadcasters in its royalty payments (at one point buying a small FM station to try and get in on the radio sector's royalty negotiations).

But nevertheless, the rates court maintaining the status quo of 1.85% is still pretty good news for Pandora, because the music publishers, represented here by ASCAP (though counterparts BMI will be pushing for similar) were asking for 3% (with a 2.5% rate backdated for 2013). So the 1.85% decision is not the ruling anyone in the publishing or songwriting community wanted to see.

It may, however, be a temporary victory for Pandora. As previously reported, the big music publishers in America have being trying to withdraw from the collective licensing system in the digital domain, thus taking streaming negotiations away from the royalty rate courts (which only have power over collecting society deals). But the US courts have ruled that, under the current collective licensing rules in America, music publishers are not allowed to withdraw their digital rights from ASCAP and BMI while continuing to licence broadcasters and other public performance via the societies.

The music publishers are busy lobbying for a change to the collective licensing rules to give them a little more freedom in this domain (something generally enjoyed already elsewhere in the world). If these lobbying efforts are successful, the publishers would look to withdraw digital rights from ASCAP and BMI as soon as existing agreements allow, and force Pandora into direct deals with better rates for the publishers.

How long that will take remains to be seen, and in the meantime all the American publishing sector can do is issue angry statements. ASCAP boss John LoFrumento, while taking heart in the court's decision to not allow Pandora to claim the same online royalty terms as terrestrial radio firms, told Billboard: "Today's decision further demonstrates the need to review the entire regulatory structure, including the decades-old 'consent decrees' that govern [collective] licensing, to ensure they reflect the realities of today's music landscape".

Meanwhile the boss of the biggest music publisher, Sony/ATV's Marty Bandier, added: "This rate is a clear defeat for songwriters. This rate is woefully inadequate and further emphasises the need for reform in the rate court proceedings. Songwriters can't live in a world where streaming services only pay 1.85% of their revenue. This is a loss, and not something we can live with".


Eavis and Bragg pay tribute to Tony Benn
Michael Eavis and Billy Bragg have both paid tribute to long-serving parliamentarian and outspoken left-winger Tony Benn, who passed away last week aged 88. Benn, like Bragg, was a regular at the Left Field area of the Glastonbury Festival.

In a statement published on the Glastonbury website, Eavis said: "Tony Benn achieved legendary status in his own lifetime as he fought to improve the lot of the working class people of this country. As a politician he presented his arguments in such a way that even his opponents couldn't resist his charm. We were very privileged to have him starring at the Left Field political forum on so many occasions. His absence this year will be really sad".

Bragg, meanwhile, posted to Facebook from Australia, where he is on tour, writing: "Tony was responsible for educating me about the English radical tradition. During the miner's strike, he gave me a copy of his 1984 book 'Writings On The Wall: A Radical And Socialist Anthology 1215-1984'. Having got most of my politics from pop music, it was a real eye opener, not only introducing me to the Levellers and the Diggers, but the Luddites and the Chartists too".

He went on: "I heard him speak many times since then and he never failed to connect whatever issue he was talking about with the tradition of radical dissent both here and abroad. When he spoke at Left Field last year he was frail, but still had that fire in his belly that inspired so many of us over the years. His loss will be keenly felt. I shall raise a pint of tea to him tonight here in Australia and hope that I may emulate him by becoming more radical as I grow older".

And here is Benn speaking at the Leftfield Stage in 2008.

RIAA uses Congressional hearing to again call on Google to do more about piracy
It's no secret that Google is now at the top of the agenda for the anti-piracy brigade, the record companies and movie studios reckoning that the web giant could and should be doing way more to stop the appearance of unlicensed content sources in its search lists.

The record companies have frequently said that once a label has requested one bit of illegally distributed content be removed from Google search results, the search engine should automatically block any future listings if the same bit of content is posted elsewhere on the same piracy platform. Meanwhile in Europe, where the labels have secured web-blocks against piracy sites in some countries, the record industry reckons Google should also step in to stop proxies that circumvent the blockades from appearing high in their searches.

Last week the Recording Industry Association Of America put all this into words as part of a review being undertaken by the US House Of Representatives Intellectual Property Subcommittee of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which sets outs the obligations of online operations like Google when it comes to tackling online piracy. The takedown systems operated by Google et al that allow copyright owners to have infringing content or links removed stem from the DMCA.

The RIAA's chief Cary Sherman told the committee: "[Google should] ensure that when links to content are taken down, the same content on the same site is not continuously re-indexed when repopulated by the pirate site, rendering the takedown process useless".

He went on: "Regardless of what Google takes down today, its search engine will spider the same pirate sites tomorrow and index anew all the illegal content on the pirate sites. All those links to infringing music files that were automatically repopulated by each pirate site after today's takedown will be re-indexed and appear in search results tomorrow. Everyday we have to send new notices to take down the very same links to illegal content we took down the day before. It's like 'Groundhog Day' for takedowns".

Google continues to insist that it stepping up its anti-piracy systems - either voluntarily or as a result of new laws - is not the best way to deal with online infringement, the web giant advocating the expansion of legit online content services, and going after the revenue sources of piracy operations (ie ad networks and online payment processors).

Giving her company's side of the argument to the same congressional committee, Google's Katherine Oyama said last week: "The best way to battle piracy is with better, more convenient, legitimate alternatives to piracy, as services ranging from Netflix to Spotify to iTunes have demonstrated. The right combination of price, convenience, and inventory will do far more to reduce piracy than enforcement can".


Eircom admits its three-strikes hasn't reached strike three
Irish internet service provider Eircom, which unusually instigated a three-strikes anti-piracy system voluntarily (albeit as part of a legal settlement with Ireland's record industry), has admitted that it is yet to disconnect a customer for file-sharing.

Eircom has been operating a so called 'graduated response' system for combating piracy for four years now. Under its system any customer who refuses to stop accessing illegal sources of content after receiving warning letters from the net firm could find their internet connection disabled for up to a year. Though, of course, because the system is only operated by Eircom, they could just switch to another ISP if that happened.

It emerged last week that Eircom is yet to use the sanction part of its three-strikes system, with a spokesman quoted by the Irish Independent as saying: "We are continuing to implement the graduated response process. We haven't, as yet, disconnected anyone. We don't share details on the number of letters issued".

Of course we can't tell whether the lack of any strike three action is because the net firm is nervous of going through with the disconnection threat - meaning, as it does, they'd likely just lose the customer - or because the warning letters asking users to cease and desist from accessing file-sharing sites are working. Or maybe Irish file-sharers all switched to an Eircom competitor as soon as three-strikes was introduced.


Tyler, The Creator arrested at SXSW after encouraging queuing fans to push in
Tyler, The Creator was arrested as he was leaving Austin late last week over an alleged incident at one of his shows at the South By Southwest festival.

The Odd Future rapper was one of the artists to have a show cancelled at SXSW last week after an allegedly drunk driver smashed through barricades set up for the city festival and drove into festival-goers queuing for shows, killing two people. But the incident that caused Tyler himself to be arrested occurred the next night at the showcase event.

According to Austin police, there was a sizable crowd queuing up to get into the rapper's show on Thursday night, the management of which became tricky after Tyler allegedly shouted from the stage, "All y'all outside the gates, y'all push through".

Officers claim the rapper suggested those outside push into the already at-capacity venue twice, resulting in unruly behaviour from those waiting to get in. Police reps say the rapper then apologised, swore about the venue's door staff and walked off stage.

Confirming that Tyler had subsequently been arrested at Austin-Bergstrom Airport in relation to the incident, a statement from the Austin Police Department reads: "Regardless of the size of a crowd, the encouragement of unruly and unlawful behaviour is against the law and cannot be tolerated".

The rapper stands accused of "encouraging behaviour causing an immediate danger and injury to persons", which could result in a year in jail and a $4000 fine if he was to be convicted of the crime.

Assuming that doesn't happen, the Odd Future frontman has just promised to play a solo show at The Forum in London on 23 Jul. Though whatever you do, queue nicely at the door.

Syco signs up another X finalist
Sony Music's Syco label has confirmed it has signed another finalist from last year's 'X-Factor' in the form of Tamera Foster. She is currently performing on the latest post-'X' tour, but will start work on a debut album once that is done and dusted.

Confirming the deal, Foster told reporters: "I am so excited about being given this opportunity. I'm having an amazing time on tour but even more now, because I know straight after I can get into the studio and start to work on some new music for everyone who supports me! I'm very, very lucky to have this chance as my first ever job and I've got so much to look forward to this year - exciting times ahead!"

Meanwhile Syco Music MD Sonny Takhar told reporters: "We are thrilled that Tamera has chosen Syco Music as her label home. She is a bona fide star!"

Rdio buys Indian streaming service Dhingana
Rdio has acquired Indian streaming service Dhingana, the company confirmed to MediaNama last week. The deal comes just a few weeks after Dhingana was forced to close down after India's biggest record label, 'T-Series, pulled its content from the service.

Although it's thought that the purchase is related to Rdio's ongoing international expansion plans, MediaNama notes that the US company might find the differences in how streaming companies and record labels work in India difficult to square with its typical business model. Though this may, of course, be exactly why Rdio has purchased an existing service, rather than simply launching its own product there.


CueSongs wins Technology Strategy Board grant
CueSongs, the "one-stop music licensing hub" launched by Ed Averdieck and Peter Gabriel, has won a grant from the Technology Strategy Board worth over £500,000 to develop "frictionless music licensing for online broadcast".

Explaining this, Averdieck said: "This prestigious grant is a great vote of confidence in our plan to innovate in the new online broadcast market which has so much potential for the music industry. These 'made for online only' productions have developed into a vibrant new broadcast sector and yet a common complaint from the creator community is that they don't know where or how to license high quality music for their productions".

He went on: "We have now gained important support in our quest to enable content creators to license music in a frictionless way from an online catalogue, that includes some of the world most respected artists and songwriters, whilst ensuring that those artists and rightsholders are fairly compensated".

The company will launch its new CuePro online rights management system on 1 Apr.

  Approved: Juce
Now, I know what you're thinking about Juce, and you're right. True, the London trio look and sound like someone put the 90s in the liquidizer, and squeezed the resulting mulch into a cup. Congratulations, you've got Juce in one.

But that's what's so smart and so fun about the band, and about 'Call You Out', their pithy first single, which freshly and teasingly blends Sunny D R&B, strong-girl-soul with an addictive alcho-pop bassline with a healthy message that says, "Oi, lose the lame boy and go formation-dance with your girls in a carpark!"

Sip at Juce's 'Call You Out' beaker here.
CLICK HERE to read and share online

Stooges drummer Scott Asheton dies
Iggy & The Stooges drummer Scott Asheton died on Saturday evening. The cause of death has not yet been announced. He was 64.

In a statement, published on his Facebook page, Iggy Pop said: "My dear friend Scott Asheton passed away last night. Scott was a great artist, I have never heard anyone play the drums with more meaning. He was like my brother. He and [his brother] Ron have left a huge legacy to the world. The Ashetons have always been and continue to be a second family to me. My thoughts are with his sister Kathy, his wife Liz and his daughter Leanna, who was the light of his life".

Although he appeared on Iggy & The Stooges' last album, 'Ready To Die', which was released last year, Asheton had only performed live with the band once since 2011, after sustaining an undisclosed injury on a flight that year.

In an interview with Rolling Stone earlier this month, the band's guitarist James Williamson said that the group still held out hope that Asheton would return to live performance, saying: "Scotty is losing a step here and there and he just can't keep up with that brutal touring schedule. It's just too tough ... Scotty is getting better, though. He brought a lot to the party on the last record".

Pop is now the last surviving original member of the band, Asheton's brother Ron having died in 2009, and original bassist Dave Alexander in 1975.


The Monks' Gary Burger dies
Frontman of 60s garage rock band The Monks, and mayor of Turtle River, Minnesota, Gary Burger died on Friday, aged 72. He had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Formed in 1964 by five American GIs stationed in Germany, The Monks differed from other bands of the time in many ways. In 1965 they changed their name from The 5 Torquays, shaved the tops of their heads and began wearing cassocks with nooses as neckties.

Adopting a sound that relied more on rhythm than melody, the band featured a full time banjo player amongst their line-up and are widely credited as being the first band to use feedback as a musical tool, rather than an unwanted accident. Legend has it that Jimi Hendrix was inspired to start using feedback in his sound after seeing The Monks play live.

Although only together for three years originally, their 1965 album, 'Black Monk Time', gained a cult following and went on to influence the likes of The Velvet Underground, Beastie Boys, The Dead Kennedys and The Fall.

The band reformed in 1999 and had periodically performed live since then.


Bez to stand as new MP for Salford
Bez has announced that he will stand as an independent candidate in the constituency Salford and Eccles at next year's general election. So that's something. Last time we wrote about Bez it was because some bees had got into his pants. So, his life's nothing if not varied.

According to the Manchester Evening News, Bez told reporters last week: "I've been saying we need a revolution and there's no good shouting about it when you're not actually doing anything. If you want to do something about things you've got to get into the corridors of power and take them on. If you're voting for me, you're voting as a protest about what's happening in the world at the moment".

Although he admitted that he'd not yet finished writing his manifesto, having only just made the decision to enter politics, he did outline some of his policies, saying: "I'm going to create a new world order and get rid of [bankers] and start again with a new, fairer system without evil being the main policy. [Another] one of my policies would be a permacultural society where we'll end illness and get everybody back to an alkaline state".

Yesterday, Bez joined anti-fracking protesters at a camp at Barton Moss, where they are attempting to slow the progress of IGas lorries entering the site. On this, Bez said: "I've always supported [the anti-fracking campaign] quietly but I'm going along because people have put a lot of time and effort into protesting against an unsafe technology. I believe in free energy and there's alternative energy sources out there but the bankers and the people in charge don't want to use them".

So, there you go. Whether or not Bez wins the election next year, Salford will gain a new MP regardless, as the constituency's current parliamentary rep, Hazel Blears, is to step down ahead of the vote.


Freddie Mercury biopic loses director Dexter Fletcher
Dexter Fletcher has stepped down as the director of the much previously reported Freddie Mercury biopic, which has been in the works for several years now. According to Deadline, Fletcher and producer Graham King did not see eye to eye on the direction of the film. Fletcher's last project was the musical 'Sunshine On Leith', based on the music of The Proclaimers.

As previously reported, Sacha Baron Cohen was long lined up to play the former Queen frontman, but was sacked after it was decided that he'd probably give too much of a comedic performance. Actor Ben Whishaw is now on board to play the role. Although, says Deadline, the lack of a director may scupper plans to film the Mercury biopic this summer before Whishaw has to go off to fulfil his commitments on the next James Bond film.

Kylie announces tour dates
Releasing a brand new album isn't enough for that there Kylie Minogue, she's got to put out a load of tour dates too. And look, here they are. Well, these are the UK and Ireland dates of a wider European trek. Tickets go on sale on Friday.

24 Sep: Echo Arena, Liverpool
26 Sep: Phones 4U Arena, Manchester
29 Sep: O2 Arena, London
30 Sep: O2 Arena, London
3 Oct: Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
5 Oct: Capital FM Arena, Nottingham
7 Oct: The Nia, Birmingham
8 Nov: The O2, Dublin
9 Nov: The Odyssey Arena, Belfast
11 Nov: Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
12 Nov: The SSE Hydro, Glasgow
13 Nov: Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield

Why don't you take Allison to one of your Lady Gaga vomit parties?
Why do brands want to get into partnerships with musicians? Well, there's the desire to tap into an artist's 'coolness' by association. Plus, as an extension of that, the gaining of access to an artist's fanbase. And, of course, brands want to be attached to something that people are going to talk about.

Well, top work Dorito's brand partnership team, because people are certainly talking about Lady Gaga's performance at SXSW last week, a show which the company supported. In fact, never have the words 'Dorito's' and 'vomit' been used together as much as they have over the last few days.

To be honest, there were quite a lot of things that went on in the show that we could talk about, but I think the appearance of "vomit painter" Millie Brown for Gaga's rendition of 'Swine' is probably the centrepiece of the performance. Basically, it went like this: Gaga, dressed in bra, pants and an apron, sang 'Swine' and played drums. Stage right, Brown downed some bright green liquid, which (once she'd finished the bottle) she vomited back up onto Gaga.

Nice, huh? But like you'd end it there when there was a giant mechanical bull on stage. Yeah, you can probably see where this is going. The twosome climbed atop the bull, Brown drank some more liquid (blue this time), then as they went around on the bull, she stuck her fingers down her throat again and brought that back up all over Gaga too.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is 'artpop'. If you want, you can watch it here, though we should probably warn you that everything described above actually happens in the video, and it might (not entirely ironically) make you feel a bit queasy.

Before we go, I think we should mention once again that Dorito's sponsored the Gaga vomit party. Popular snack Dorito's, which you might like to eat with some chunky salsa, was the company that heavily branded the performance in which Lady Gaga got covered in brightly coloured vomit. Dorito's. Vomit. Vomit. Dorito's. Money well spent.

Incidentally, according to Billboard, one Dorito's exec was heard grumbling about Gaga's setlist, saying: "I paid $2.5 million, I better hear 'Alejandro'".

ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletin and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
Email (except press releases, see below)
CHRIS COOKE | Co-Publisher, Business Editor & Insights Director
Chris provides music business coverage, writing key business news and analysis. Chris also leads the CMU Insights training and consultancy business, and is MD of CMU publisher UnLimited Media.
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ALY BARCHI | Staff Writer
Aly reports on artist news, coordinates the festival, gig and release round up columns, and contributes to the CMU Approved column. She also writes for CMU's sister title ThisWeek London.
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SAM TAYLOR | Commercial Manager & Insights Associate
Sam oversees the commercial side of the CMU media, leading on sales and sponsorship, plus helps manage and deliver the CMU Insights training courses and consultancy services.
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CARO MOSES | Co-Publisher
Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of UnLimited Media she heads up the company's other two titles ThisWeek London and ThreeWeeks Edinburgh, and supports other parts of the business.
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