TODAY'S TOP STORY: Music copyright reform in the US marches on with the judiciary committee in Senate yesterday approving a slightly amended version of the Music Modernization Act... [READ MORE]
TOP STORIES Senate committee approves Music Modernization Act
LEGAL Ed Sheeran sued over alleged Marvin Gaye rip off, again
DIGITAL & D2F SERVICES Instagram makes use of Facebook music licences in Stories
WhoSampled adds audio recognition to mobile app
ARTIST NEWS Lewis Hamilton refuses to say if he's on the new Christina Aguilera album
RELEASES Alice In Chains announce new album, release new single
ONE LINERS XXXTentacion, Guns N Roses, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, more
AND FINALLY... Beef Of The Week #410: The tech lobby v Article 13
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As part of Kobalt’s significant expansion of AWAL - Kobalt's recorded-music division, the Co-ordinator will support the growing global Release Management team by ensuring accurate and timely build of all AWAL Recordings releases for digital and physical distribution.

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Senate committee approves Music Modernization Act
Music copyright reform in the US marches on with the judiciary committee in Senate yesterday approving a slightly amended version of the Music Modernization Act.

This is the legislation that seeks to set up a mechanical rights collecting society Stateside, reform the way the US rate courts and Copyright Royalty Board fix royalty rates, clear up the confusion around whether pre-1972 sound recordings should get royalties from online radio services, and formalise the way record producers share in that latter income stream.

The MMA that is now moving through Congress actually brings together a number of different copyright reform proposals, including the original MMA plus the CLASSICS Act and the AMP Act. If passed, it will address a number - though not all - of the weird quirks of American copyright law, as outlined in this CMU Trends article here.

The legislation is backed by groups representing pretty much all strands of the music rights business, as well as the streaming sector, which desperately wants a mechanical rights society in the US to help with the payment of mechanical royalties to songwriters and music publishers. The lack of such a society has led to some American songwriters going unpaid and the streaming services being sued for billions.

The MMA was passed by the lower chamber of Congress, the House Of Representatives, in a super speedy fashion. Senate has been giving the whole thing a little more scrutiny, though the music industry's lobbyists hope that yesterday's unanimous approval from the all important judiciary committee means their proposals are now on their way to getting the all clear from Senate at large. Then just the Donald needs to give the reforms the nod, at which point he'll presumably claim to have single-handedly fixed the music business.

Some amendments have been made to the proposals in Senate. According to the National Music Publishers Association, those amendments will mean increased oversight of and transparency at the all-new mechanical rights collecting society that is set to be created. Plus new obligations to educate songwriters and rights owners on how said society's unclaimed royalties process will work. There is also a new measure to ensure communication between the US Department Of Justice and Congress regarding any future reform of the consent decrees that regulate performing right collecting societies BMI and ASCAP.

Those changes were especially welcomed by campaigners at the Content Creators Coalition and MusicAnswers, which are both led by songwriters and artists. Though both organisations say that - while they support the MMA - various concerns remain about the new collecting society it will create, including how the organisation will be governed. In particular, that there will be more publishers than writers on its board, despite an earlier compromise which did increase the number of writers involved in the governance process.

In a joint statement, the two groups said that, while they continue to back the MMA, they "urge the full Senate and the House to consider further improvements to these flawed provisions and we call on the Copyright Office to ensure in implementation of the final legislation that no stakeholder group can dominate the [new society] and that all royalties are distributed in a fair and equitable and non-self-interested manner".

Most of the other music industry trade organisations in the US have welcomed the MMA getting one step closer to becoming law. And you know what that means don't you? Yes, a big parade of quotes you won't bother reading. Basically they all say: "Hurrah! Woo! Good one! We're fixing out-dated laws! It's good news for songwriters! It's good news for legacy artists! Unprecedented collaboration! Bipartisan! We love you Congress dudes!"

And here are the quotes...

Digital Media Association CEO Chris Harrison: "The Music Modernization Act grew stronger in the Senate and remains a bright, bipartisan light for an industry that is ready to stream forward to a better future. [The amendments] bring greater transparency and make it easier for songwriters and copyright owners to verify the accuracy of royalty payments made, while ensuring the efficient and cost-effective operation of the [new society]. Streaming services have literally saved the music industry, delivering better experiences at a better value, and growing revenue for creators. We are glad to see Congress is looking to the streaming future, and moving away from the music mess of the past".

National Music Publishers Association CEO David Israelite: "Today's vote is a huge step towards the Music Modernization Act becoming law. We are pleased that the MMA as approved by the committee builds upon the fundamental compromise between music creators and digital services that will greatly benefit songwriters. With the many important stakeholders involved, it is no small feat for the MMA to have made it this far, and once the MMA is signed into law, songwriters will see more of the money they deserve from streaming services who currently operate off of laws from 1909 and consent decrees from 1941".

The top guard at the Association Of Independent Music Publishers: "The AIMP applauds the Senate judiciary committee's unanimous passage of the Music Modernization Act, putting the much-needed legislation one step closer to being enacted. With support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, plus unprecedented cooperation between the music and technology industries, the MMA will update the music licensing system for today's online world and correct long-standing problems that have denied songwriters and publishers full control over their works"

musicFIRST Coalition Executive Director Chris Israel: "We applaud the Senate judiciary committee for taking a major step today to finally update the outdated laws that currently govern the music industry and harm thousands of music creators by not properly valuing their work. Among them are generations of legacy artists who recorded songs before February 15, 1972 and may finally get justice and fair compensation for use of their songs on digital platforms and satellite radio".

SoundExchange CEO Michael Huppe: "Today, lawmakers continued to make progress on legislation that will result in the most comprehensive music licensing reform in our lifetimes. Music creators have waited long enough for Congress to reform our nation's outdated copyright laws. Now it's time for the full Senate to vote on the Music Modernization Act and send a bill to the president for his signature".

ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews: "We are happy to see this legislation move forward with such broad bipartisan support. While there is still more work to be done to create a fair environment for songwriters in the digital age, we hope the Senate will move swiftly to pass a version of this bill that preserves the much-needed benefits for music creators".


Ed Sheeran sued over alleged Marvin Gaye rip off, again
Ed Sheeran is being sued over allegations his track 'Thinking Out Loud' rips off Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On'.

And if that allegation sounds familiar, well, you're probably thinking about that time Ed Sheeran was sued over allegations his track 'Thinking Out Loud' rips off Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On'. But please note, the news today is that Ed Sheeran is being sued over allegations his track 'Thinking Out Loud' rips off Marvin Gaye's 'Let's Get It On'. Yeah, think about that out loud. And then let's get it on, I guess.

So yes, back in 2016, when accusing Ed Sheeran of song-theft was an almost new fad among music lawyers, the heirs of 'Let's Get It On' co-writer Ed Townsend went legal. They alleged that Sheeran had borrowed - without permission - the "melody, harmony and rhythm compositions" of 'Let's Get It On' for 'Thinking Out Loud'.

Cue two years of musicologists musing on just how similar the two tracks are - or not - possibly depending on who's paying their bills. And, of course, lots of legal wiffle waffle about what can and can't be protected by copyright, generally along the lines of: "it's a vibe man, that's just a common chord progression, these are just standard features of pop music for pity's sake, fuck off all of you and pay me my share of the dosh". You know, standard legal arguments presented by pretty standard legal types.

Oh, and then there's an entire side squabble over whether or not one of Townsend's heirs can be involved in this case at all, because she was adopted at birth and there's a dispute over whether or not that means she can or can't inherit her father's share of the song. Or something like that. To be honest, I tuned out of all this squabbling long ago.

But hey, what about this new lawsuit? Well, copyrights are often co-owned, right? And the really fun sounding music rights firm Structured Asset Sales says that it has a stake in 'Let's Get It On', so it too has been ripped off by that song-thieving scamp Master Sheeran esq.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, SAS tried to get itself added as a plaintiff on the original lawsuit filed against Sheeran, but was knocked back by the judge. It's actually appealing that decision, but yesterday filed its own standalone lawsuit in the meantime.

Assuming it gets to proceed, presumably the outcome of this new case will very much depend on the outcome of the original one. Indeed, so similar are the two actions, if Townsend's heirs lose their litigation against Sheeran, perhaps they could have a go at suing SAS for ripping off their lawsuit.


Instagram makes use of Facebook music licences in Stories
When Facebook announced its big, advance-heavy, bloody-long-time-coming licensing deals with various music companies and collecting societies earlier this year, it was keen to state that said deals also covered Facebook's other businesses. You know, like lovely Instagram and that whole Oculus VR thing that they keep banging on about.

Well, now Instagram is making good use of those licenses. The social media app has added a music library to its Stories feature and made a swipe at lip-sync app in the process. Announcing that 400 million Instagram users are now using Stories every day, the Facebook app added the new music functionality yesterday. Users can pick tracks to feature in their posts and select what bit of that track they want to use.

While this means that people can add music to any old shitty video they like, the play for's turf comes in the fact that you can select your music before you record your video. This leaves you free to lip-sync along with it if you so wish.

Music features of this kind are already being tested on Facebook itself, of course, but they are possibly more likely to take off in a major way on Instagram. The ability to add music is now available on the platform's iOS app in "selected countries" and it promises an update to its Android app "soon".


WhoSampled adds audio recognition to mobile app
WhoSampled has announced that it has added a song recognition function to its mobile app. So now you can wave your phone at some music to find out what it's sampling. Better than having to know the name of the track you're currently listening to and then typing in its name, I'm sure you'll all agree.

"We had always dreamed of adding these features from the moment we launched the app six years ago", says WhoSampled CEO Nadav Poraz. "You can identify the song playing around you, then dig deeper and find out what other song was sampled in the song you're hearing. For example, the chorus or riff might sound familiar but not from the song that is playing, it's from somewhere else".

He adds: "Other music recognition apps will tell you the name of the song you're hearing, but WhoSampled is the only app that will give you the answer you're looking for, allow you to understand the origins of the composition and reveal the other recordings that sampled it".

The new version of the WhoSampled app is available now.


Vigsy's Club Tip: Blueprint at E1 London
It's the latest night presented under Ray Keith's Blueprint brand and what a line-up has been pulled together for this outing at the E1 venue.

LTJ Bukem leads the proceedings, but he's joined by a fine flurry of names that should impress all drum n bass fans. That list includes Grooverider, Fabio, Potential Badboy, Kenny Ken, Ragga Twins, 2SHY MC, Moose, Navigator, Miss Melody and Keith himself.

With a damn decent sound system to boot, this will be a hot ticket on this rather hot London night.

Friday 29 Jun, E1 London, 110 Pennington Street, London E1W 2BB, £15, 10am-6am, info here.

Stay up to date with all of the artists featured in the CMU Approved column by subscribing to our Spotify playlist.


XXXTentacion, Guns N Roses, Axwell /\ Ingrosso, more

Other notable announcements and developments today...

• Get a daily news summary, our latest job ads and more via our Messenger bot. Click here to get started.

• Following a memorial service for murdered rapper XXXTentacion on Wednesday, a new music video for his song 'Sad!' was released yesterday. Filmed before his death, it portrays him attending his own funeral.

• Guns N Roses are opening a pop-up shop in London selling their new 'Appetite For Destruction' re-issue, among other things. Taking up four rooms in Camden Stables, there will be GNR beer, wine and gin, screenings of their 1988 Ritz show, and free GNR tattoos. It opened this morning and will be gone once the weekend ends, so hurry.

• Guns N Roses, you say? Axl Rose's piano demo of 'November Rain'? Yes.

• Axwell /\ Ingrosso have released new track 'Dancing Alone', featuring Rømans.

• The Smashing Pumpkins have released the video for new single 'Solara'. They've also announced that they will play Wembley Arena on 16 Oct.

• Death Cab For Cutie have released a lyric video for new single 'Gold Rush'.

• How To Dress Well has released new song 'Vacant Boat (shred) | Non-Killing 1 | The Anteroom | False Skull 1'.

• Mt Joy have announced that they will tour the UK in October and November, including a show at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen in London on 1 Nov. Their debut album gets a physical release on 27 Jul.

• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.


Beef Of The Week #410: The tech lobby v Article 13
Forget petty pop star squabbles, the real beefing in the world of music this week has been happening in Brussels where the tech lobby has been mounting a massive campaign to scupper the music industry's hopes of reforming the copyright safe harbour. Indeed, so proactive has that lobby become with its late-in-the-day mantras of "no more cat memes" and "they're going to fuck up the internet", the music community has been put on defcon one as the draft new copyright directive goes to the European Parliament for a full vote.

Of course, big tech and copyright critics have had issues with some of the proposals contained in the draft new copyright directive from the off, and safe harbour reform has been among the most controversial of the proposals throughout.

The copyright safe harbour means that internet companies cannot be held liable for copyright infringement whenever their users use their platforms to distribute other people's content without licence. Safe harbour dwellers have that protection providing they have a system in place via which copyright owners can demand that infringing content be removed.

The safe harbour concept first came about in the early days of the web in the 1990s, but in recent years copyright owners - and especially the music industry - have questioned the range of internet companies that now claim protection under this principle.

In particular, they question whether the law-makers who created the safe harbour ever intended user-upload websites like YouTube to be protected. After all, the argument goes, these are not mere intermediaries in the content distribution process, they take the content that users upload and use it to build ad-funded media platforms.

What's more, the music companies complain, firms like YouTube have exploited the safe harbour when negotiating licensing deals with the music industry by basically saying: "we have your content already, agree to our terms or spend the rest of your lives having to ask for your music to be removed". As a result, YouTube pays much lower royalties than those music services not exploiting the safe harbour, like Spotify and Apple Music. Which creates the much talked about 'value gap'.

As soon as the European Commission announced a digitally-focused review of copyright law a few years back, the music industry saw an opportunity to get safe harbours reformed in a way that prevented the likes of YouTube from exploiting the principle to keep its royalty bills down. And while the whole safe harbour thing wasn't prioritised in early documents relating to the latest European copyright review, when the first draft of the directive was published in September 2016 safe harbour reform was included. In the somewhat ominously numbered article thirteen.

Since then, the music industry has really rallied on this issue, with organisations representing major and indie labels, music publishers, collecting societies, artists, songwriters, session musicians, record producers and artist managers all shouting ever louder as one about the 'value gap' and how it's definitely, definitely, definitely, definitely hindering the growth of the legit digital music market.

In the most part, all that shouting seems to have been working. While there are a diversity of opinions in the two key institutions of the European Union - the European Parliament and the EU Council - it does feel like the music industry, now backed by the wider copyright industries on this issue, have had more momentum as the copyright directive debates have rumbled on and countless amendments have been drafted and discussed.

That said, the current draft of article thirteen as passed by the European Parliament's JURI committee last week is so long and waffley it's hard to work out what it says really. But the music industry have widely welcomed the passing of that draft while the tech lobby has gone into full-on doomsday prophesising, so I think that tells you that to date the music industry's lobbyists have managed to lead the agenda on this point.

But as the big votes in Parliament and Council loom, the tech sector has upped its game, with social feeds and tech sites now awash with articles and statements and videos declaring that Brussels is about to fuck up the internet big time, banning memes, outlawing links (that's actually article eleven) and censoring internet users everywhere. And if you think there's a lot of that on the social networks and in the tech press, you should see the inbox of the average MEP.

Of course, it's right to be concerned about the unintended consequences of any new legislation. And there's also the question as to what extent article thirteen will really strengthen the negotiating hand of rights owners when deal-making with the likes of YouTube. Which, of course, has already agreed to slightly more favourable deals with the labels as it evolves its own subscription ambitions and faces new competition for video views from Facebook. Though maybe it was impending safe harbour reform that got YouTube to compromise. Maybe.

Either way, the music industry reckons that the tech lobby is employing a whole load of exaggeration and misinformation in its last ditch attempt to block articles eleven and thirteen, not least with the "it'll break the internet" hyperbole. And on that specific claim, indie label-repping IMPALA says it is feeling a little déjà vu.

In an email sent to MEPs - also signed by pretty much ever acronym the wider copyright industries ever dreamt up - IMPALA stated: "There is a cynical campaign from tech companies flooding the inboxes of MEPs with scaremongering that the copyright directive would be the end of the internet. Please note that this is the 20th anniversary of their first claim that copyright provisions would break the internet. This has never happened".

Actually, at the heart of all this is a more interesting question that was also raised - though not answered - in the long-running 'dancing baby case' in the US, that was recently settled out of court. What those opposing article thirteen don't usually say - when shouting about the EU stopping its citizens from sharing other people's creative work online - is that, in many cases, such sharing without the creator's permission is already copyright infringement. What article thirteen does is make that fact the problem of the platform facilitating the sharing.

That said, there are always some limitations to copyright restrictions, which may take the form of specific copyright exceptions or - such as in the US - stem from more vague concepts like 'fair use'. Those limitations will still apply whatever waffley form of article thirteen is passed. Though, can automated content filters, like those already developed by some of the bigger content sharing platforms - and which may be obligated under article thirteen - deal with something as nuanced as copyright exceptions and fair use?

Still, this is no time for nuance. In the short term, Parliament votes next week. The tech lobby fights on while the music industry's trade bodies and collecting societies are calling on their members across the music community to rally together for the final push. Good luck everybody, good luck.

You know, things were so much easier when pop beefing meant Adam Buxton dissing Stereophonics.


ANDY MALT | Editor
Andy heads up the team, overseeing the CMU bulletins and website, coordinating features and interviews, reporting on artist and business stories, and contributing to the CMU Approved column.
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CHRIS COOKE | MD & Business Editor
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Caro helps oversee the CMU media, while as a Director of 3CM UnLimited 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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