|MONDAY 11 FEBRUARY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Negotiations between the European Commission, European Parliament and EU Council over a final, final draft of the European Copyright Directive are due to resume this week after a deadlock within the latter grouping was formally overcome on Friday. Meanwhile indie-label-repping IMPALA has clarified its position after trade bodies for record companies and music publishers last week called for the whole directive to now be abandoned... [READ MORE]|
EU Council overcomes deadlock on European Copyright Directive, as IMPALA clarifies its position on the copyright reforms
There are currently three versions of the directive: the original drafted by the Commission in 2016, the heavily amended version passed by the Parliament last year and the Council's preferred edit. They now need to agree a final single version during a process that is known in EU circles as trilogue. Trilogue negotiations should have continued last month but stalled because the Council could not agree on its preferred edit.
The directive, of course, includes the super-controversial safe-harbour-reforming article thirteen that the music industry has spent years lobbying for. It would increase the liabilities of user-upload platforms like YouTube. Within the Council, which includes representatives of each government of the 28 EU members states, there was disagreement over whether smaller and newer user-upload platforms should be exempt from those new liabilities. But on Friday a compromise was reached.
That should be good news for the music industry, given it means talks around a final directive - including that all important safe harbour reform - can continue. But then on Thursday, as it became clear deadlock was likely to be overcome in Council, music industry trade bodies IFPI, ICMP and IMPALA suddenly declared that they no longer supported the copyright reforms. Expressing concerns about edits made in Council, they said "we would rather have no directive at all than a bad directive".
For the last few years while the copyright directive has been going through the motions the music industry has pretty much spoken as one, especially in supporting a strong unambiguous article thirteen while YouTube lobbied hard to have safe harbour reform watered down so to be useless. But as IFPI, ICMP and IMPALA bailed on the directive on Thursday, that consensus broke down. Groups representing artists, songwriters, artist managers and song right collecting societies immediately called for directive negotiations to continue.
The UK's Council Of Music Makers - that brings together BASCA, FAC, MMF, MPG and the MU - suggested that the sudden change of heart on the corporate side of the music industry was at least in part because other articles in the directive, that will provide new rights for artists and songwriters, were being expanded in the final stage. The CMM stated: "They are trying to halt the directive not only because of the latest wording of article thirteen but because they want to avoid the improvements to transparency and fairness that articles fourteen to sixteen bring".
Responding to that, IMPALA put out its own statement on Friday - having signed the joint statement with IFPI and ICMP the previous day - insisting that it supported articles fourteen to sixteen, and of course thirteen, subject to some "fixes" that are still required.
Although not going into specifics, IMPALA boss Helen Smith said: "We are raising the alarm about the text on the member states' table, which has fundamental problems. Urgent action is needed to move forward with a text that achieves its original purpose. The recipe still has some holes in it and they need to be fixed before the cake can go in the oven. IMPALA continues to make constructive proposals in this regard".
The trade group's statement added that "subject to the fixes that are still needed to the text, IMPALA fully supports the directive including article thirteen and the provisions for performers and authors in articles fourteen to sixteen". Smith then concluded: "We have backed this proposal from the very beginning, but our support is not at any price".
It remains to be seen how this week's directive talks now proceed, and whether the various strands of the music industry are able to come back together to lobby as one in the very final stage. Meanwhile, here in the UK, it will also be interesting to see what UK Music - which brings together trade groups for both music companies and music makers - and PRS For Music - which has both songwriters and music publishers as members - have to say.
Both have been vocal supporters of the directive, and especially article thirteen, to date. But that was when their respective members agreed on a way forward. If artists and songwriters on one side and labels and publishers on the other now have different opinions, that will possibly make participation at this final crucial stage tricky for those two organisations.
Kanye West sued over prayer sample
The first track on the 'Pablo' LP opens with the voice of a young child in prayer. The sample was taken from an Instagram video uploaded by the child's mother in early 2016.
West's people did approach the mother, Alice T Johnson, about sampling the audio from her Instagram post. However, last week's lawsuit has been filed by the child's adoptive parents, Andrew and Shirley Green, who say that Johnson didn't actually have the authority to allow the girl's voice to be used in the record.
Even if she did, the lawsuit alleges, conversations between Team West and Johnson were only ever verbal and a fee for the use of the sample was never agreed. Meanwhile, a promised written agreement never arrived with either Johnson or the Greens. Further talks with the West camp have since occurred, the Greens confirm, but as yet no agreement has been reached.
According to Law 360, the legal papers state: "While a new representative of defendant West has recently made contact with the [Greens] to negotiate a licensing agreement for the Green samples, the parties have not been able to reach an agreement. Due to the potential expiration of legal deadlines, the [Greens] were forced to file this suit to protect their rights".
Michael Jackson estate urges HBO to pull abuse documentary
Weitzman's lengthy letter, published by Deadline, damns HBO, the documentary's director Dan Reed and the two men who appear in the film accusing Jackson of sexually abusing them as children, Wade Robson and James Safechuck. He urges Plepler to reconsider broadcasting the film later this year and asks for the broadcaster to meet with representatives of the estate "to discuss a solution".
"The estate first learned about this programme in early January when its premiere at Sundance was announced in the press", he writes. "As you must know, contrary to all norms of documentary filmmaking, the estate was never contacted by the supposed 'documentarian', Dan Reed - or anyone else associated with the programme - to provide the estate's views on, and responses to, the absolutely false claims that are the subject matter of the programme. Likewise, no one else who might offer evidence to contradict the programme's premise was consulted either, as Dan Reed has publicly admitted".
Weitzman claims that Robson and Safechuck are both easily discredited and are attempting to gain support through the media to aid litigation against the Jackson estate. "Sadly, it appears that HBO - a once great and respected network - has now been reduced to the pay television version of 'Hard Copy', with a little mix of 'The Jerry Springer Show'", he says. "Most pathetically, HBO has been reduced to a pawn in part of Robson's and Safechuck's attorneys' litigation strategy".
Continuing the heavy-handed attack, Weitzman goes on: "That HBO has now joined the tabloid media's 'Michael Jackson cacophony' - ten years after his death - is truly sad. We know that HBO is facing serious competitive pressures from Netflix, Amazon and other more modern content providers, but to stoop to this level to regain an audience is disgraceful. We know HBO and its partners on this documentary will not be successful. We know that this will go down as the most shameful episode in HBO's history. We know that Michael's devoted fans, and all good people in the world, will not swiftly forgive HBO for its conduct".
The lawyer concludes by offering to meet with HBO in order to present "further information and witnesses that would expose these two [accusers] for who they are", saying that the media firm "owes an obligation to the public - not to mention the deceased Michael Jackson with whom HBO had previously partnered with during his lifetime - to actually investigate these matters".
In a statement to Deadline, HBO's Head Programmer Casey Bloys said that "we are not meeting with them" and "there are no plans to change the airdate". He added: "The one thing I would say about this documentary is I would ask everybody to watch it and make their judgments after seeing it".
'Leaving Neverland' is set to air on HBO over two nights at the beginning of March. In the UK it will be shown on Channel 4 the same week.
Bauer announces third local radio acquisition in a week
Acquisitions of Celador Radio and the Lincs FM Group already announced, Bauer revealed a deal to buy all the local stations currently owned by the Wireless Group. That will bring to the media firm fifteen more local radio licences, this time in Lancashire, Cheshire, Shropshire, Derbyshire, West Yorkshire, Staffordshire and South Wales.
Wireless is now owned by News UK which has put the focus on its national stations, including TalkSport, TalkRadio and Virgin Radio.
Confirming his third local radio purchase in a week, Bauer Media CEO Paul Keenan said: "We are delighted with our acquisition of Wireless local licences. This group of established, successful stations complements our existing portfolio and extends our reach and local advertising offer to new areas of the UK".
Cadet dies in car accident while travelling to a live show
A statement on the rapper's Instagram profile reads: "We, the family of Blaine Cameron Johnson known as Cadet (Underrated Legend), would like to share the sad news that during the early hours of 9 Feb 2019 he passed away as a passenger in a taxi, en route to a performance. Right now we the family appreciate your patience and will share with you any information as and when we can. Thanks for your support in advance".
The rapper's cousin Casyo Johnson - better known at Krept of Krept & Konan - said on Twitter: "My life will never be the same again. I love you and will forever miss you. I can't believe it. I am heartbroken. Rest in peace cuz. You finally started getting the recognition you deserved. I'm so proud of you. My left lung. I'm devastated and broken right now".
Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident to come forward.
Michael Rice selected to represent UK at Eurovision
The process for selecting this year's entry was slightly different to previous years. Three songs were presented, with two acts performing their own interpretation of each one. Rice quickly emerged as the favourite for a number of reasons:
1) He performed last.
Anyway, the producer of 'Eurovision: You Decide', Mel Balac, said this: "This has been such an exciting year for 'Eurovision: You Decide', with new format changes that we hope have really made the competition and programme more geared to find the perfect song. We've had some incredible performances tonight by everyone and everyone's own individual take on the songs - well done to everyone! We are delighted for Michael and are proud to take 'Bigger Than Us' to the Eurovision Song Contest final in May".
Here's his performance, which will hopefully involve less hand movements by the time he gets to Tel Aviv.
She Is The Music, John Prine, Marina, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• She Is The Music, the US charity which supports women in the music industry, has announced new funding from Billboard and Universal Music. The two companies have jointly donated $75,000 to help build SITM's database of female music professionals and develop its mentoring programme. "Partnerships like this enable us to provide women with opportunities that will drive creativity to new heights and make for a better music world", says SITM co-founder and Universal Music Publishing boss Jody Gerson.
• As well as supporting the initiative, Billboard has also once again provided timely proof as to why initiatives like She Is The Music are still vital in the music industry. Yep, it's another pointless power list.
• Sony Pictures Classics has acquired worldwide rights to a documentary about folk singer John Prine, currently going by the working title 'John Prine: Hello In There'.
• Marina - just Marina now, no Diamonds - has released the video for new single 'Handmade Heaven'.
• Lewis Capaldi has released a new video for 'Someone You Loved', starring Peter Capaldi. Yes, they are related, but only very distantly. Still, the family connection probably helped to get him on board. Also, it's for a good cause. The video was made in partnership with organ donation charity Live Life Give Life.
• Whipped Cream has released new single 'You Wanted It'.
• Show Me The Body will release new album 'Dog Whistle' on 29 Mar. From it, this is 'Camp Orchestra'.
• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Grammys keep controversy to a minimum, as Childish Gambino emerges the night's big winner
Childish Gambino's 'This Is America' actually took two of the top prizes - Song Of The Year and Record Of Year - the latter of which has somehow never previously been handed to a hip hop track. The 2018 hit also won Best Music Video and Best Rap/Sung Performance.
Best New Artist went to Dua Lipa and Best Rock Song went to St Vincent for 'Masseduction'. I'm mentioning these together because both artists teamed up for one of the most talked about performances of the night, playing a medley of 'Masseduction' and Dua Lipa's 'One Kiss'.
Elsewhere in the rock prizes, Chris Cornell posthumously won Best Rock Performance for 'When Bad Does Good'. His two teenage children collected the award, with his daughter Toni saying: "His voice was his vision and his music was his peace. This is for you Daddy and we love you so much".
It's not the Grammys without some controversy, of course. In the run up to the show, there was a verbal scuffle between Ariana Grande and the show's organisers, after she pulled her planned performance. Grammys boss Ken Ehrlich said that she'd been struggling to put together a set in time, while she said that the decision to pull out was due to her "creativity and self-expression" being "stifled".
In the end, she didn't attend the show at all, instead watching from home, despite winning the Best Pop Vocal Album prize for 'Sweetener'. She sparked further controversy when she tweeted that Cardi B winning Best Rap Album - the first solo woman to do so - over her late ex-boyfriend Mac Miller was "literally bullshit". Not enough of the controversy surrounded her misuse of the word "literally". She later deleted her string of angry tweets and apologised, saying that her anger had "nothing to do" with Cardi B herself.
While what Grande said was causing trouble, what wasn't said elsewhere also drew criticism. The weekend before the ceremony rapper 21 Savage was arrested and imprisoned, pending a court appearance, for allegedly being in the US illegally. Many felt this should have received more attention than it did - particularly from Post Malone, who performed his 21 Savage featuring track 'Rockstar', but made no reference to the situation.
The only mention of 21 Savage during the show came from Swedish songwriter Ludwig Göransson, collecting Best Song prize for 'This Is America', which he co-wrote with Jeffrey Lamar Williams and Childish Gambino. He said that 21 Savage "should be here tonight".
Unable to attend, 21 Savage was represented in the audience instead by his mother. However, this too proved controversial. Prior to the event, the rapper's co-manager Justin Williams tweeted that Grammy organisers were refusing to let his mother have his ticket in order to attend in his place, saying that reps for the management company would also not attend in protest. After the tweet started gaining attention, he later posted that the Grammys had suddenly had a change of heart and released the ticket.
The subject of politics and immigration appeared elsewhere at the event in the form of a dress. Pro-Trump singer Joy Villa attended in a white dress with brick print and barbed wire on the shoulders, representing the American president's proposed wall on the US-Mexico border. Driving the point home further, she sported a 'Make America Great Again' bag. I suppose it's always worth being reminded that there are actual people who don't immediately see the ridiculousness of everything that comes out of Donald Trump's mouth.
Despite these blips, the ceremony went off without any of the overarching controversies of recent years. Marking his final Grammy Awards as overseer of the event, departing Recording Academy President Neil Portnow promised that "diversity and inclusion" would be a key part of future events - his struggle with this being one reason he's leaving.
"This past year I've been reminded that if coming face-to-face with an issue opens your eyes wide enough, it makes you more committed than ever to help address those issues", he said. "The need for social change has been a hallmark of the American experience, from the founding of our country to the complex times we live in today. So we must seize this unique moment to bring change within our own industry to ensure that there is diversity and inclusion in all that we do. And we will".