|WEDNESDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Spotify has finally launched in India. At last! At least, if nothing else, that means all the endless "I wonder when Spotify is going to launch in India?" chatter and all that "Spotify is going to launch in India this week!" speculation can come to an end. And thank fuck for that. I hate wondering and speculation... [READ MORE]|
Spotify launches in India, but legal spat with Warner continues
Hey, I wonder when Spotify is going to launch in Africa! Later this year maybe? Actually, both me and a room full of great Tanzanian artists would really like to know the answer to that question. Could we have it by lunchtime maybe?
But yes, India. And Spotify in India. "With today's launch in the world's second most populous country", says the streaming firm, "Spotify is making its way to the fastest growing market globally for mobile apps". Not only that, the statement brags on: "Spotify comes to India offering the best listening experience in local and international music, with the Spotify app available to download for free or with an upgrade to Spotify Premium for only INR 119 per month".
That monthly subscription equates to about £1.25 and is similar to the price charged by other streaming services already live in the Indian market. Student discounts and daily and weekly subscriptions are also available, again in line with other services in the country.
There has been much discussion in the last year, of course, about what the right price point is for streaming in any one country, with global rights owners expressing concerns that, with emerging markets accounting for an increasing number of overall subscribers, the global average revenue per user is falling.
Avoiding that tricky topic of conversation, Spotify boss Daniel Ek hailed his company's long-waited Indian launch by saying: "As Spotify grows, our goal is to bring millions of artists and billions of fans together from every country and background. India has an incredibly rich music culture and to best serve this market, we're launching a custom-built experience. Not only will Spotify bring Indian artists to the world, we'll also bring the world's music to fans across India. Spotify's music family just got a whole lot bigger".
Ah yes, the world's music streaming away in India. But what, you might be thinking, about those Anglo-American songs published by Warner/Chappell? Are they streaming?
Warner, of course, pre-empted Spotify's big Indian launch by marching to a court in Mumbai on Monday seeking an injunction that would confirm that Spotify cannot rely on a statutory licence for the Warner/Chappell songs catalogue in the country.
The mini-major had told Spotify at the last minute that it couldn't, in fact, have a licence for India covering those Warner-published songs that it licenses directly for streaming. Spotify then accused Warner of refusing that licence late in the day as leverage in global deal negotiations that have nothing to do with its Indian launch.
Warner refusing a licence for its songs catalogue creates problems for Spotify because it will impact on any recordings from other labels that contain Warner/Chappell songs and also plenty of songs that are co-owned by other publishers with which the streaming service has a licence. Spotify itself pointed out that Warner could control just 1% of a song and, by refusing a licence, recordings of that song technically couldn't stream.
On top of that, there is the issue that Spotify doesn't usually know what songs it is actually streaming, the labels and distributors uploading tracks but providing no precise information on what song any one recording contains. Therefore, Warner withholding its songs catalogue was arguably more problematic than it refusing to allow its recordings to be streamed.
In an attempt to counter this sneaky manoeuvre on the major's part, Spotify decreed that it reckoned it could, if necessary, rely on a statutory licence for Warner's songs in India.
Statutory or compulsory licences are where copyright law forces a rights owner to license their music at standard rates. Indian copyright law has statutory licences for the mechanical copying of songs and for broadcast - the latter of which was extended to cover online broadcasting. But the question is: should that apply to a Spotify type service?
Warner argued not, hence the legal action. The major wanted an injunction confirming that statutory licences in India did not apply to on-demand streaming services. But, having received Warner's legal papers on Monday, the court declined to issue an immediate order to the effect that Spotify was banned from streaming Warner-published music. However, the legal action will continue, with Spotify ordered to account and pay to the court any royalties due to Warner/Chappell until the matter is resolved, one way or another.
It was a ruling that allowed both sides to claim partial victory. Spotify said in a statement yesterday: "We're pleased with today's outcome. It ensures songwriters, artists, labels and publishers will benefit from the financial opportunity of the Indian market and that consumers will enjoy an excellent Spotify experience. As we've said all along, we're hopeful for a negotiated solution with Warner based on market rates".
Warner then responded: "We welcome the court's decision to direct Spotify to deposit monies with the court and to maintain complete records of any use of our music as well as all advertising and subscription revenue earned by Spotify. These are positive steps to protect our songwriters' interests".
Providing more details on what the court in Mumbai had actually said, the major's statement then continued: "We're also pleased that Spotify cannot pursue proceedings for their claim to a statutory licence before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board for a period of four weeks. Our copyright infringement case will continue on an expedited basis".
So, the legal spat continues to go through the motions as tracks start to stream via the Spotify platform in India. And while both sides continue to insist that they desperately want to reach a voluntary licensing deal for the Warner/Chappell catalogue in India, Spotify and Warner have nevertheless been issuing blunt statements as this dispute has gone public. Warner has taken particular issue with Spotify's claims that it had acted in an improper way.
"Spotify's comments yesterday about our fair market negotiations were appalling to us", Warner added in its statement yesterday. "We're shocked that they would exploit the valuable rights of songwriters without a licence".
Actually, in the early days of digital music it was quite common for services to go live without all their song licences in place, partly because of the complexity of song licensing, and partly because label deals were generally prioritised because it was those that got the platforms the content they needed. Although, it has to be said, the "I'm sure it will be fine in the end" approach didn't work out all that well for Spotify in the US.
It will be interesting to see how quickly this particular stand-off can be resolved and whether the tough talking on both sides continues.
It will also be interesting to see what Warner-published writers think about the squabble. When publishers negotiate direct deals with streaming services, those deals only generally cover Anglo-American repertoire and - outside the US - they bundle in performing rights that actually belong to each songwriter's collecting society, rather than the publisher directly.
If, as Spotify claims, Warner has refused to license its songs in India in order to score leverage in wider deal making on a global basis, some songwriters might not be too pleased. Especially if the catalogue involved in the dispute includes performing rights that Warner is merely repping on behalf of the likes of collecting societies PRS, IMRO and APRA.
So, while all chatter about when Spotify will finally launch in India must now end, there will likely be plenty of ongoing chatter about the issues that occurred around the Indian launch.
European Parliament's legal committee approves final copyright directive text
That directive, of course, includes the music industry backed safe harbour reforms and various new rights for artists and songwriters. The European Composer And Songwriter Alliance joined groups representing authors and film-makers yesterday in welcoming this latest development in the directive's long journey to becoming law.
They said in a statement: "We warmly thank all the MEPs who supported the copyright directive and in particular those who fought hard to strengthen the authors' bargaining power and improve their remuneration. Today's vote sends a positive and historical signal to all citizens who want to write, compose, create and be fairly remunerated for their work. We now encourage all members of the European Parliament to formally adopt the copyright directive without further delay".
Global Radio to significantly cut back local programming
It means that each of three networks will now have a single national breakfast show, rather than local programming going out in the prime time slot. There will still be local shows during drive time, though the total number of local drive time programmes will be reduced.
The Capital, Heart and Smooth networks are made up of what were historically numerous local radio stations, each based in and serving a specific area. Once those local stations were in common ownership they started sharing some programming to reduce costs, though they still all had their own distinct brands.
Then, in 2011, Global phased out the local names so that the Capital, Heart and Smooth brands could operate nationally. Though the OfCom licences for each area still demanded some local programming and news content. As they still do, only less so.
The increased networking of shows - which will also affect Capital, Heart and Smooth stations actually operated by another company, Communicorp - will obviously result in a reduction in the number of presenters and behind the scenes staff employed by the stations. Radio Today reckons over 95 presenters may be affected by the development.
Commenting on the big change, Global boss Ashley Tabor told Radio Today: "Whilst the new deregulation will mean some significant changes at an operational level, these bold steps enable Global to lead the way in launching the UK's three largest national commercial radio breakfast shows. We're really excited to combine the best national talent with our unique ability to include great local content in network shows on Heart, Capital and Smooth".
Ukraine drops Eurovision entrant after she refuses to sign contract due to "censorship"
In a statement on Facebook, Maruv says that she had no issue with cancelling Russian performances, something that was requested due to ongoing political tensions between the two countries. She goes on: "The main differences were caused by other clauses of the agreement, which, if I sign, will enslave me. I am a citizen of Ukraine, pay taxes and sincerely love Ukraine. But I'm not ready to come up with slogans, turning my stay at the contest into promotion of our politicians".
According to ESCXtra, included in the terms of the contract were stipulations that she must have prior approval for anything she says on stage or to journalists. Hefty fines were put in place for any deviation from the agreed rules.
In a statement, UA:PBC says: "The performer representing Ukraine ... also has commitments of becoming a cultural ambassador of Ukraine and delivering not only their music but also expressing the opinion of the Ukrainian society in the world. After the negotiations, UA:PBC and the singer Maruv have not found common ground in the mission of the representative of Ukraine at the international song contest".
CEO of UA:PBC, Zurab Alasania, adds in a further Facebook post that the Eurovision contestant should have the correct attitude to any "public comments relative to the integrity of Ukraine or that can hurt Ukraine at the international level".
"Not all good Ukrainian artists are ready to represent our culture", he adds.
This in part relates to the ongoing political tensions between Ukraine and Russia, which have seeped into the supposedly a-political Eurovision Song Contest a number of times in recent years. When Ukraine hosted the contest in 2017, it barred Russia's entrant, Julia Samoilova, from entering the country. Although she was offered the opportunity to perform remotely from Russia, in the end the country withdrew from the competition entirely.=
Prior to that, Russia had threatened to boycott Eurovision anyway, in protest at Ukraine's winning entry in 2016. Jamala's song, '1944', about the deportation of Crimean Tatar people by Josef Stalin in the year of its title, had been controversial ever since it was selected as Ukraine's Eurovision entry.
Many felt the song was a political comment on Russia's annexing of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, something Jamala herself seemed to admit initially. Despite protestations that this broke Eurovision's 'no politics' rules, the song was allowed to proceed to the competition and subsequently won.
Anyway, while we wait to see which Ukrainian singer is willing to sign the controversial contract, here's Maruv's 'Siren Song', which you now won't be hearing at Eurovision in May.
Morrissey announces May release for new covers album
First announced back in December, the album features twelve songs from the 60s and 70s originally by artists including Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Dionne Warwick and Carly Simon. It also features an array of collaborators, including Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear, Broken Social Scene's Ariel Engle and Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong.
Recognising it's not a great idea to ask Morrissey to open his mouth these days, the customary quotes that accompany news of the release come from others. First up, it's son of Roy Orbison, Roy Orbison Jr, who gives Moz's version of 'It's Over' the Orbison family seal of approval.
"We love Morrissey", says Orbison Jr. "Morrissey's hair, and melancholy and poetic lyrics always reminded me of my dad. His version of 'It's Over' is great".
So there's a thing. The next comment comes from American singer LP, who also appears on the cover of 'It's Over', and who says: "When I would think of Morrisey and his music it was always with great respect and appreciation as I'm sure is the case with many of his fans".
"However", she adds ominously, "I soon realised when I hung out with him and he played me all the songs he was putting on this record that behind this was the heart of an audiophile and a deep fan of his own musical heroes. He is well versed in so many genres and knows deep cuts of artists I thought I knew so much about. It is inspiring to see the enthusiasm and intellect he brings to people through his own musical journey".
Oh, that all turned out fine then. She doesn't explain how Morrissey got so many cool artists to work with him at a time when his own public statements have proven so controversial. Maybe that's something for single two. 'California Son' is out on 24 May. Here's a full tracklist:
1. Morning Starship (Jobriath) with Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear
Dave announces UK and Ireland tour
The rapper is set to release his debut album, 'Psychodrama', on 8 Mar, and has just put out new single 'Black'. Annie Mac recently commented on negative reactions to the track, a reflection on black identity, after she had played it on her Radio 1 show.
"People are scared of the word black, they seem reluctant to have conversations around it", she tells the NME. "People are feeling on the defensive and act like it's not necessary to talk about it anymore. I find that really depressing and an absolute justification for that song. It's so important that the song exists and it's only when you see the texts and tweets coming in that you realise how important it is and how much work needs to be done in this country for racial equality".
Here are the tour dates:
9 Apr: Dublin, Olympia Theatre
R Kelly, World Independent Network, BMG Production Music, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Following reports that several female fans of R Kelly had offered to pay his bail, the Chicago Tribune has confirmed that it was a 47 year old woman listed as "a friend" on court documents who paid the $100,000 that saw him freed from custody - pending trial - earlier this week.
• Charlie Phillips has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer at the World Independent Network, from Director Of Legal And Business Affairs. Phillips will lead the globally focused indie label trade body, which does not plan to recruit a new CEO, following the departure of Alison Wenham in December.
• BMG Production Music has promoted UK executives Alex Marchant, Ciaran McNeaney and Sam Delves to new international roles. Co-founders of Deep East Music, which BMGPM acquired last year, Alex Marchant and Ciaran McNeaney will become Director Of Global Marketing and Director Of Global Production respectively. Delves, meanwhile, is now Global Marketing Manager. "Alex and Ciaran", says the company's SVP Global Sales, Marketing & Repertoire John Clifford. "Sam", he adds.
• J Cole has released the video for new single 'Middle Child'.
• White Denim have released new single 'Reversed Mirror'. Their new album, 'Side Effects', is out on 29 Mar.
• Bad Religion have announced that they will release new album, 'Age Of Unreason', on 3 May. From it, this is 'Chaos From Within'.
• Ex Hex have released new single 'Rainbow Shiner'. The track is taken from their upcoming album, 'It's Real', which is out on 22 Mar.
• Hockeysmith has released a video for 'Dare You' from her recent EP 'Tears At My Age'.
• A whole 120 more acts have been added to the line-up of this year's magnificent Great Escape festival, including Anna Calvi, Little Simz, Wovoka Gentle, Arlo Parks, Confidence Man, Oh Land, Upsahl, Kiran Leonard, Leila Moss and Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. See all of the latest additions here.
• The Body have announced various UK shows in July, kicking off with an appearance at The Dome in London on 12 Jul, which will be a collaborative set with Full Of Hell.
• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Drake named Global Recording Artist Of 2018 by the IFPI
He previously won the prize in 2016, making him the first double winner in the award's seven year history. Other previous winners include One Direction, Taylor Swift, Adele and Ed Sheeran.
"Drake has had an incredible, record-breaking year, one that is more than worthy of the title of Global Recording Artist Of The Year", insists IFPI CEO Frances Moore. "That Drake has won this award for the second time is testament to his continued global appeal and his ability to engage and connect with fans".
She goes on: "This year's top ten artists reflect the global appeal of music. From modern-day superstars like Drake, Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande, to the rise of genres such as K-pop, to legacy acts like Queen, fans are exploring and enjoying music of all types and from all corners of the world".
Yes, these names really do represent the full range of human musical creativity from across the entire globe. Here is the full top ten - why not put them in a playlist this afternoon, and then tell people you've heard all music (and Imagine Dragons):