|TUESDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Warner Music has celebrated Spotify's long-awaited but now seemingly imminent launch in India by taking a trip to Mumbai and requesting an injunction against the streaming firm. Which is a wonderful way to celebrate... [READ MORE]|
Warner seeks injunction against Spotify in India
The court order relates to a dispute over the songs catalogue controlled by the Warner/Chappell music publishing company and what options may or may not be open to the streaming firm for licensing said catalogue.
Getting licensing deals in place for an Indian launch has proven quite a task for Spotify, with at least some execs at the majors expressing concern about the price point of streaming in some key emerging markets, the increased importance of which is dragging down the average revenue per user on a global basis.
On top of that, the majors themselves are not so dominant in India, meaning that getting Spotify live there is arguably more important for the streaming firm than for its global licensing partners. That said, deals have been done with key local catalogue owners - most notably T-Series - and Sony and Universal are reportedly now on board too. Which leaves Warner as the main hold-out.
Concurrent to all this, Spotify's global deals with the big rights owners are coming up for renewal. That concern about average revenue per user is very much part of those renewal conversations as well, as is Spotify's long-term objective of reducing its total royalty obligations to the music industry. And, according to Spotify, those other deal negotiations are relevant to the legal spat in India.
Commenting on Warner's court filing in Mumbai, a Spotify spokesperson told reporters: "Warner Music Group instructed Warner/Chappell Music to file for an injunction in an attempt to leverage WCM's local Indian publishing rights, to extract concessions in WMG's global renewal negotiations for musical recordings".
"WMG revoked a previously agreed upon publishing license for reasons wholly unrelated to Spotify's launch in India", they went on. "All other major labels and publishers have already agreed on economics and to license their music, and Spotify has also entered into a licence with the local collecting society, while WCM remains the lone hold-out needed for a Spotify launch in India".
The licensing of song rights in the streaming space is considerably more complex than recording rights. In many cases the collecting societies license the song rights, either directly to the services, or via their reciprocal agreements with other societies around the world. But the major publishers - and an increasing number of indies too - license their Anglo-American repertoires directly, albeit via slightly complicated joint ventures with the societies.
On top of that you have the problem that streaming services like Spotify don't really know what songs they are streaming. Labels and distributors provide recordings with songs contained within them. A service can assume the label or distributor controls the recording rights, but doesn't know who controls the song rights or even what specific song is being used. And because songs are often co-written they are often co-owned by multiple publishers, meaning a single song requires multiple licensing deals.
This is all means that excluding one publisher's catalogue from your service - when you cannot agree a deal - is tricky. Doing so would affect recordings released by other labels and songs co-owned by other publishers. And that's assuming you could work out what recordings now contained unlicensed songs. The easiest solution, therefore, is to try to ensure that you have the vast majority of songs licensed, via a combination of publisher and collecting society deals.
Warner specifically refusing to license its songs catalogue in India may therefore be a pretty good negotiating tactic. And that's exactly the move Spotify accuses Warner of making. In a bid to counter it, the streaming firm has seemingly been looking for other options. In some countries in some scenarios there are compulsory or statutory licenses available. This is where copyright law forces rights owners to license, often at a rate set by a court, tribunal or copyright board.
Spotify is now trying to do just that in India, where statutory licences do exist for the mechanical copying and broadcast of songs. The streaming firm's statement continued: "WMG's abusive behaviour would harm many non-Warner artists, labels and publishers, and prevent Spotify from competing in the market, leaving us no choice but to file for a statutory licence. This statutory licence, which allows for application to internet-based services, prevents WMG's abusive practices, while ensuring all rights holders are compensated fairly".
It then clarified: "Under the statutory license, Spotify will pay WCM and their rights holders rates that are in-line with the rates Spotify agreed to pay the leading Indian music entities. We will continue to assess our options at this stage".
Warner argue that no such statutory licence is actually available for on-demand streaming services in India. Hence the court filing, with the major seeking court confirmation that statutory licensing is not an option for a service like Spotify.
Commenting on the legal dispute, a Warner spokesperson said: "After months of negotiations, Spotify abruptly changed course and has falsely asserted a statutory licence for our songwriters' music publishing rights in India. We had no choice but to ask an Indian court for an injunction to prevent this. It's our goal to hammer out a deal that works for everyone. We hope this is just a speed bump in the expansion of our long and successful global partnership".
Speed bumps, of course, are annoying but often necessary. For Spotify, this dispute will definitely be annoying. Warner might argue that it's also necessary, otherwise Spotify might set a precedent that an alternative licensing option is available in India that other digital operators would also jump on.
Either way, even if this particular spat can be dealt with quickly and Spotify's India launch can finally go ahead, these various wheelings and dealings confirm that the ongoing global deal renegotiations - between the world's biggest premium streaming service and the major rights owners which are increasingly reliant on said service, and really resent that fact - will be, well, lots of fun for everyone. Good times.
R Kelly pleads not guilty to sexual assault charges, secures release on bail
The musician handed himself in to police on Friday after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He is accused of sexually assaulting four women between 1998 and 2010, three of whom were children at the times of the alleged crimes.
As a condition of being granted bail, which was set at $1 million, Kelly had to hand over 10% of that amount upfront, as well as agreeing to surrender his passport and have no contact with anyone under the age of eighteen.
Meanwhile, attorneys working with Kelly's accusers have suggested that further charges may be brought against him. Gloria Allred said in a press conference yesterday that she is representing six women who have made allegations against Kelly. Michael Avenatti also told CNN that he had uncovered further evidence alleged to show Kelly abusing an underage girl.
Earlier this month, Avenatti announced that he had turned over a video to Cook County prosecutors, which he claimed shows Kelly having sex with a fourteen year old girl. He now says that his investigations have uncovered two further videos, one of which, he says, "leaves no question as to Mr Kelly's guilt".
"Over the weekend, we have encountered a number of additional witnesses who we have interviewed, who we are in the process of preparing to meet with prosecutors", Avenatti said. "Each of these witnesses describe a decades long system of abuse by Mr Kelly of underage girls".
Kelly's attorney, Steve Greenberg, continues to vehemently defend his client, telling CNN that any claims by any parties to have 'smoking gun' evidence are "ridiculously premature". Continuing the bullish line he has taken ever since abuse claims against Kelly gained new public focus, he said: "I believe all the women are lying".
Now out on bail, Kelly is next due back in court for a hearing on the assault charges on 22 Mar. In a separate case, he has been ordered to pay $161,663 in unpaid child support to his ex-wife by 6 Mar in order to avoid being in contempt of court.
Ticketmaster buys Australian ticketing indie Moshtix
Ticketmaster says that the acquisition will "provide Australian and New Zealand venues and promoters a unique offering which combines Moshtix's experience and innovative technology for general admission, self-service and white label solutions with Ticketmaster's unrivalled services, marketing, distribution and reach".
Moshtix will continue to operate as a stand-alone business led by its MD Harley Evans, who says: "Ticketmaster is undoubtedly the world leader in ticketing and is the ideal partner for us to take Moshtix to the next level. We are confident that together we can deliver an incredible combination of industry-leading ticketing technology and locally tailored services and marketing that will better serve the independent and general admission market".
Maria O'Connor, MD of Ticketmaster Australia and New Zealand, adds: "Moshtix has a rich fifteen year history and during this time [its team] have developed a reputation for being extremely hard-working and passionate about what they do. Their mission to 'make live easy' by delivering a seamless connection between partner, fan and the artist is shared with us. We look forward to working with them to help fans discover, share and experience the live entertainment they love".
Help Musicians surveys Welsh music community to inform activity in the country
The project, HMUK says, is "seeking past and present members of the Welsh music industry to take an active role in shaping the charity's output in the country". Things kick off with a survey which will be followed by a series of interviews and roundtable discussions. Key findings will then be presented at the Focus Wales conference in May.
Announcing the project, HMUK's Director Of Programmes Claire Gevaux said: "Our nations and regions strategic approach considers not just how we can offer a lifetime of support for musicians when they need it most, but also how we can develop networks of volunteers, fundraisers and targeted and relevant communications in a nation or region. Wales has a rich musical heritage and we're keen to understand how we can be most effective in the country for the benefit of the Welsh music sector".
She added: "We're also delighted that Becci Scotcher has come on board to lead this research as she knows the charity very well and has had significant engagement in the Welsh music sector".
Anyone making music or working in the industry in Wales is invited to fill out the initial survey here.
Talk Talk frontman Mark Hollis dies
News of Hollis's death came from writer Anthony Costello, who is related to him by marriage. "RIP Mark Hollis", he wrote on Twitter. "Cousin-in-law. Wonderful husband and father. Fascinating and principled man. Retired from the music business 20 years ago but an indefinable musical icon".
Tim Pope, who directed many of Talk Talk's music videos, later tweeted: "Goodbye to Mark Hollis of Talk Talk. Condolences to his lovely family. We had many, many laughs together".
Paul Webb, the ex-Talk Talk bassist who now records as Rustin Man, also wrote on Facebook: "I am very shocked and saddened to hear the news of the passing of Mark Hollis. Musically he was a genius and it was an honour and a privilege to have been in a band with him. I have not seen Mark for many years, but like many musicians of our generation I have been profoundly influenced by his trailblazing musical ideas. He knew how to create a depth of feeling with sound and space like no other. He was one of the greats, if not the greatest".
Hollis broke up Talk Talk in 1991 in order to spend more time with his family. He returned with his only solo album, 'Mark Hollis', in 1998, before retiring from the music industry entirely. No cause of death has yet been confirmed.
Ariana Grande selling new merch to speed fans through security at US shows, announced as Manchester Pride headliner
In a message on Instagram, Grande told fans: "We're sending out emails soon encouraging you to order a clear bag to bring your things into the venues, as security is going to be very precise and smooth but for sure super strict".
"They're super cheap and simple", she added of the branded bags, "but having them ahead of time will for sure help things go as smooth as possible".
It won't be mandatory to have a branded bag. However, according to information on the Ticketmaster US website, each attendee will only be allowed to take one entirely clear plastic bag into the venue with them. Bags must not be larger than twelve inches by six inches by twelve inches. Resealable freezer bags are also acceptable, up to a one gallon size.
Of course, buying the official branded bag will mean fans don't have to worry about sizes, and will also have a memento of that time going to a concert was like taking toothpaste on an aeroplane.
So far these restrictions only seem to apply for the US shows, which are due to begin on 18 Mar. The European leg of the tour is set to being in London on 17 Aug.
Grande has also just added an extra UK date to the tour, announcing that she will headline Manchester Pride on 25 Aug. The musician had previously hinted that she had "a special show" planned in Manchester, but had not revealed any details.
In a statement, Manchester Pride CEO Mark Fletcher says: "This year marks a big change for the festival as it continues to evolve. Previously we had one event running over the weekend and this year we have two, each with a distinct offering. At Manchester Pride Live we're truly honoured to be welcoming Ariana back to the city to help us celebrate LGBT+ life".
That other event, taking place on 24 Aug, will be headlined by Years & Years.
Grande's show will be her first performance in Manchester since 2017's Manchester One Love show, which - of course - was staged two weeks after the bomb attack at the end of her concert at Manchester Arena.
Emma Bunton, Albert Hammond Jr, Foals, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Emma Bunton has announced that she will release a new solo album, 'My Happy Place', on 12 Apr. Her first new music for more than a decade, the first single from the album, 'Baby Please Don't Stop', will be out tomorrow. The album will also feature a cover of the Spice Girls' 'Two Become One', recorded as a duet with Robbie Williams.
• Albert Hammond Jr has released new track 'Fast Times' ahead of upcoming US tour dates. "Explore the chaos", he says. "Be present without judgment and remind yourself you'll forget everything you've learned today, tomorrow". Make a note of that so you remember.
• Foals have released new track 'Sunday', from their upcoming album, 'Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1'.
• Pete Doherty And The Puta Madres have released the video for new single 'Who's Been Having You Over'.
• Kero Kero Bonito have announced that they will release 'Swimming' from their 'Time N Place' album as a seven-inch single on 17 May. Here's the b-side 'The Open Road'.
• Lafawndah has released new single 'Substancia'.
• Suzi Wu has released 'Error 404', the title track from her upcoming new EP.
• Deathcrush have released new single 'Dumb', ahead of upcoming tour dates in their native Norway.
• Bromide have released new single 'Magic Coins'.
• GJan has released new single 'Numbers'.
• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Working with repetitious playlists a bit like actual torture
"[It's] the same system that's used to flood people out of the Branch Davidian in Waco or was used on terror suspects in Guantanamo", writer and former coffee shop employee Adam Johnson tells CBC's 'The Current'. "They use the repetition of music. I'm not suggesting that working at Applebee's is the same as being at Guantanamo, but the principle's the same".
This follows recent complaints by Starbucks staff in the US about being forced to listen to the 'Hamilton' soundtrack on repeat. It's a delight to hear songs from the hit musical as you buy a crappy cup of coffee from the chain. Less so if you're serving that crappy coffee on an eight hour shift, it turns out.
Neuroscientist Jessica Grahn explains that music "can be a very effective way of the external environment impinging, without our control, on our sensory processing. Because we can't close our ears, it's very effective if somebody else has control of our sonic environment. We can do nothing about that, and that can be pretty debilitating".
Johnson argues that the matter should be thought of as an environmental health concern, and therefore checked and considered in the same way as the cleanliness of a commercial kitchen. Meanwhile, Grahn says issues can be overcome without going that far by allowing staff to have input on the music they listen to while working.
Customers can, of course, also become enraged by the music they hear while shopping, sipping crappy coffee or eating some lovely food. Last year, composer Ryuichi Sakamoto revealed that he'd become so annoyed by the music played in his favourite restaurant in New York that he'd created a new playlist for it.
"I cannot bear it", he told the New York Times of situations where terrible music is being played in a public space, but "normally I just leave". However, "this restaurant is really something I like and I respect their chef", so he vowed to come up with a solution.
And it seems to have worked for him, so maybe letting Starbucks staff have a go at curating the music is a good plan. Maybe they'll make better coffee as a result. Unlikely, I know, but probably worth a try. I'm sure it's not an entirely lost cause like, say, Costa. You might as well just play the Crazy Frog on a loop there and be done with it.