|MONDAY 21 JANUARY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: A meeting planned for later today where European Union officials and law-makers would have had a good go at agreeing a final draft of the bloody European Copyright Directive was called off at the last minute on Friday, after the EU Council couldn't agree on the most recent efforts at a compromise. The music industry's bid to reform the copyright safe harbour, aka article thirteen, remains a key sticking point... [READ MORE]|
Article thirteen talks postponed because of disagreements in EU Council
As of the end of last year there were three versions of the directive, the original one drafted by the European Commission in 2016, and the significantly amended versions passed respectively by the European Parliament and the EU Council last year. The three institutions now need to agree on a final single version in what is called the trilogue phase.
Google, of course, has gone into lobbying overdrive in this final stage, Google Search not liking article eleven and YouTube hating article thirteen. Lobbyists for the newspaper and music industries are respectively defending those two most controversial elements of the copyright reforms in an ongoing battle with Google and its big tech allies.
The music industry is backed by other content-owning sectors in seeking safe harbour reform. Though some trade bodies representing TV, movie and sporting interests have started to say that - given recent proposed amendments to article thirteen - they'd rather it be removed entirely, reckoning that a late-in-the-day compromise might put them in a worse position than they currently are. Meanwhile the music business continues to fight for a version of article thirteen more in line with what Parliament and Council passed last year.
So, even in this final stage, there's lots of wrangling going on. The EU Council is made up of representatives of each member state government. Romania took over the presidency of the Council at the start of the month, so is now tasked with getting consensus within that committee, so that negotiations with the Commission and Parliament can continue.
It was a proposed rework of article thirteen by Romania that the music industry was hitting out at just last week. Meanwhile, within the Council, there are also plenty of critics of the most recent proposed compromises. The governments of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Slovenia, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Croatia, Luxembourg and Portugal are all against the current proposals, meaning Council is not yet in agreement with itself.
The member states will regroup later this week to continue discussions. If they can agree a redraft of the redraft of the redraft, the trilogue talks - bringing the Council together with reps of Commission and Parliament - could then continue next week.
Aside from all these delays and ongoing deliberations driving everyone insane, there is a fixed deadline for all this, in that the directive needs to be passed by the European Parliament before its winds down for the European elections in May. The final final final draft will have to go before a full session of the Parliament, and the last opportunity for doing that will be in April. So there is still time, but the clock is very much ticking.
If the directive isn't actually passed until April - and if the UK Brexits as currently planned on 29 Mar - that could have an impact on whether a post-Brexit British government implements these copyright reforms. Ministers have previously indicated that they do plan to implement the directive, even though the deadline for complying will be after Brexit. But if the directive itself isn't passed before the UK exits the EU, that position could change.
So, plenty of fun times ahead.
Sony drops R Kelly
According to Variety, Kelly is no longer contracted to RCA and he was removed from the label's website on Friday. Sony Music has not commented on the move, but a source said that the major had taken time to assess the claims against the musician and ensure that the company could end their relationship with him while avoiding legal ramifications.
Kelly was still contracted to provide two albums to RCA. It had already been reported that new music had been shelved amid the ongoing scandal.
Sony apparently does not plan to formally announce its decision to part ways with Kelly. However, his manager, Don Russell, told Rolling Stone that various other labels are now "very interested" in working with the musician, which seemingly confirms that the RCA relationship has indeed ended.
Meanwhile, it transpires that Universal Music Publishing has also ended its relationship with Kelly. The company confirmed this to Billboard on Friday, although sources say that he was actually dropped from his publishing deal almost a year ago. However, the major music publisher still controls his catalogue, for now at least.
Sports Direct chief bidding for HMV
HMV, of course, fell into administration for a second time over the Christmas break, with current owners Hilco blaming the latest collapse on high business rates, slumping DVD sales and a challenging Christmas quarter for high street retail in general.
Administrators at KPMG confirmed last week that offers had been made for the HMV business. Ashley had been tipped as a possible buyer pretty much as soon the administration process began, he having bought other retailers on the brink in the last year.
While most commonly associated with the Sports Direct chain he founded, Ashley's company has stakes in a number of other retail businesses, including another entertainment retailer in the form of Game.
It's thought that any bid would most likely be made through Ashley's main parent company Sports Direct International, rather than any subsidiary in which it has a stake, like the Game Digital company for example. Though if he did acquire HMV, Ashley might seek to somehow formally ally it with the Game business.
For its part, KPMG is still yet to confirm who it is talking to about possible bids to buy all that HMV goodness.
Bandcamp to open physical record shop
The shop in Oakland, California will stock various releases that "showcase the diversity and design of the more than five million albums available on Bandcamp". It will also host live performances to be filmed for an upcoming video series.
"We're THRILLED to join the thriving Oakland arts community that includes artists and labels like The Seshen, Jay Stone, n5MD and Slumberland Records, and our new neighbours the Fox Theater, The New Parish, The Paramount Theatre and Starline Social Club, to name a few", says the company while confirming the new physical shop venture.
It goes on: "We're also partnering with amazing local organisations like Oakland School For The Arts, Bay Area Girls Rock Camp and Transgender Law Center to throw music-focused community events".
The shop will officially open its doors at 7pm on 1 Feb.
A Greener Festival celebrates 35 environmentally sustainable events
These particular prizes aren't based on pundit or punter voting, but are instead awarded after a rigorous assessment process undertaken by AGF itself. That process identifies those events which have genuinely "demonstrated conscientiousness with regards to sustainability and a reduction in environmental impacts in eleven areas including transport, waste, power, water and local area impacts".
The 35 winners announced this time were as follows:
Outstanding: Boom Festival (Portugal), Cambridge Folk Festival (UK), DGTL Festival (Netherlands), Green Gathering (UK), Øya Festival (Norway), We Love Green (France), Wood Festival (UK).
Highly Commended: Body & Soul (Ireland), Dubcamp Festival (France), Greenbelt Festival (UK), Paradise City (Belgium), Rainbow Serpent (Australia), Roskilde Festival (Denmark).
Commended: Boomtown Fair (UK), Das Fest (Germany), Fire In The Mountain (UK), Hadra Trance Festival (France), Kew the Music (UK), Mandala Festival (Netherlands), Metal Days (Slovenia), Pete the Monkey (France), Pohoda Festival (Slovakia), Primavera Sound (Spain), Spring Utrecht (Netherlands), Wonderfeel (Netherlands).
Improvers: BST Hyde Park (UK), Couvre Feu (France), De Poupet (France), ILMC (UK), Les Escales (France), Manchester Pride (UK), Own Spirit Festival (Spain), Terraforma Festival (Italy), Utrechtse Introductie Tijd (UIT) (Netherlands), Uitfeest (Netherlands).
Spotify planning to launch in-car streaming hardware
Presumably aimed at music fans without a super-duper net-connected entertainment system in their cars - which, to be fair, is probably most music fans - the Financial Times says the device will cost around $100 and will connect to your existing car stereo via a Bluetooth connection.
As well as voice controls, it will also have programmable buttons that you can jab at angrily after you eventually give up on your fruitless shouting.
It's not clear if the new gadget has its own data connection. Though if not - so that it requires a smartphone to stream audio - then why not just connect your smartphone to your stereo? I mean, aren't you already using that for navigation anyway? It's nice to have extra things to plug into your cigarette lighter, I suppose.
There have been rumours of Spotify offering streaming hardware for almost as long as Spotify has existed. And there's been specific talk of the company developing in-app voice controls for drivers for some time too. Last year, some Spotify users reported seeing pop-ups offering pre-orders on an in-car device, charged at $12.99 per month for the unit and streaming package, with a minimum commitment of a year.
So far, the only in-car voice control I've ever seen that actually worked was using Siri on an Apple Watch to control an iPhone connected to the car stereo. Although it's not possible to control Spotify - or any streaming service other than Apple Music - in that way. Maybe Spotify's developed some magical new system that works without your mouth being pressed directly up against the microphone.
Skrillex & Hikaru Utada, Kate Nash, Mabel, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Skrillex and the legendary Hikaru Utada have collaborated on a new track together. Titled 'Face My Fears', it is available in English and Japanese. You'll also be able to hear it used as the theme song for new video game 'Kingdom Hearts III'.
• Kate Nash has released new single 'Trash'.
• Mabel has released new single 'Don't Call Me Up'.
• Snapped Ankles have released new single 'Rechargeable'. Their new album, 'Stunning Luxury', is out on 1 Mar.
• Charlotte Adigéry has released new single 'High Lights', from her upcoming EP 'Zandoli'.
• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Ja Rule hits out at his portrayal in Fyre Festival documentaries
Unlike most people watching those docs in awe, of course, Ja Rule actually features in them, he being a co-founder of the doomed luxury festival venture.
Which means you can see him taking a lead in the chaotic creation of the original Fyre promo video. And in a post-event meeting, where he says that he doesn't believe the Fyre company engaged in any actual fraud by not delivering on what festival-goers and others had been promised. It was just - he reckoned - a case of "false advertising". Otherwise known as fraud.
Although, what none of the people sitting in that meeting knew at the time, of course, was that the other Fyre co-founder - Billy McFarland - had most definitely been committing fraud. And lots of it. Something the rapper insists he had no idea about.
"I love how people watch a doc and think they have all the answers", Ja Rule wrote on Twitter yesterday. Adding: "I had an amazing vision to create a festival like no other! I would never scam or fraud anyone, what sense does that make?"
He added that he did not give an interview to either documentary because, he claims, McFarland was involved in both.
McFarland is interviewed in the Hulu documentary, but not in the Netflix film. The director of the latter, Chris Smith, told The Ringer that he and his team did not feel it would be right to pay McFarland for his time. He's adds that the fraudulent Fyre man had claimed to have been offered $250,000 by Hulu to participate in its doc, although the director of that film - Jenner Furst - denies this.
Ja Rule also questions the involvement of social media agency Fuck Jerry in the Netflix film. The company was behind the online promotion of the festival and comes out of the Netflix version of events relatively unscathed.
Of the various people and companies who lost out due to their involvement in the Fyre Festival, many who have watched the new documentaries have expressed particular sympathy for the residents of the island of Great Exuma, where the event was to take place. Over 200 local labourers who worked around the clock for weeks to try to complete the site are said, in the Netflix film, to have lost $250,000 between them.
Meanwhile, Maryann Rolle, who runs the Exuma Point Bar And Grille and was hired to cater the event, says in the same doc that she used $50,000 of her own savings to pay the people she had hired to work for her at the event.
In the wake of the film, a GoFundMe page has been launched to raise money for her, on which Rolle says, "my life was changed forever, and my credit was ruined by Fyre Fest". Almost $130,000 has now been donated to the campaign.