|FRIDAY 8 MARCH 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: Having gone to war with Warner/Chappell in India, why not go to war with all the music publishers in America? Seems like a super fine plan to me. And so it is that Spotify has allied with some of its tech sector rivals to appeal the recent Copyright Royalty Board decision on the mechanical royalties that should be paid by streaming services Stateside... [READ MORE]|
US publishers hit out as streaming services appeal new mechanical royalty rate
The mechanical copying of songs is covered by one of those pesky compulsory licences in the US, with the Copyright Royalty Board setting what rates anyone doing any mechanical copying must pay to songwriters and music publishers. After the CRB's most recent review of those rates, it was decided that the top line revenue share figure to be paid by streaming services should rise, over a number of years, from 10.5% to 15.1%. Which is an ultimate increase of 44%.
That rate change was first announced last year and then finalised last month. But interested parties still have one more chance to appeal the decision, and Spotify, Google, Pandora and Amazon have now confirmed that they intend to do so.
The first three of those organisations issued a joint statement as follows: "The Copyright Royalty Board, in a split decision, recently issued the US mechanical statutory rates in a manner that raises serious procedural and substantive concerns. If left to stand, the CRB's decision harms both music licensees and copyright owners. Accordingly, we are asking the US Court Of Appeals for the DC Circuit to review the decision".
Although all four tech firms have confirmed their intention to appeal, they are yet to file their actual complaints, so we don't know what the "serious procedural and substantive concerns" are. However, any move to block or significantly alter the CRB's ruling will, needless to say, anger the songwriting and music publishing community which had widely welcomed that 44% increase.
The boss of the US National Music Publishers Association, David Israelite, made it clear last month, when the CRB's decision was confirmed, that if any tech company did appeal it would "in effect declare war against songwriters". He went on: "Apple has announced it will not appeal. The others won't say. We will know soon whether some digital companies want to be partners or want to attack the songwriters who make their businesses possible. Stay tuned".
So, unsurprisingly, as it was confirmed Spotify et al were appealing the ruling yesterday, Israelite was blunt in his response. Noting how music publishers and streaming firms had last year collaborated on the Music Modernization Act in the US, to sort out the process for paying mechanical royalties, he said that hopes that that kind of collaboration would become the norm "was snuffed out today when Spotify and Amazon decided to sue songwriters in a shameful attempt to cut their payments by nearly one third".
He went on: "The Copyright Royalty Board spent two years reading thousands of pages of briefs and hearing from dozens of witnesses while both sides spent tens of millions of dollars on attorneys arguing over the worth of songs to the giant technology companies who run streaming services. The CRB's final determination gave songwriters only their second meaningful rate increase in 110 years. Instead of accepting the CRB's decision which still values songs less than their fair market value, Spotify and Amazon have declared war on the songwriting community by appealing that decision".
Again acknowledging that Apple had decided not to appeal, Israelite added: "We thank Apple Music for accepting the CRB decision and continuing its practice of being a friend to songwriters. While Spotify and Amazon surely hope this will play out in a quiet appellate courtroom, every songwriter and every fan of music should stand up and take notice. We will fight with every available resource to protect the CRB's decision".
The battle over US mechanical royalty rates begins as Spotify's spat with Warner/Chappell in India continues. That dispute is over whether or not a streaming service can rely on compulsory licences at all under Indian copyright law. Earlier this week the International Confederation Of Music Publishers said it supported the Warner publishing company in fighting Spotify's claim that where direct deals are not possible it can utilise a compulsory licence when streaming songs in that part of the world.
Female songwriters still only make up 17% of PRS membership
It found that, of the top 20 highest earning songwriters in 2018, only one was female. And while 1000 of PRS's new writer members last year identify as female, women still only make up 17% of the total membership. There are some signs of improvement among younger songwriters, however. When you look at just the under 20s, 42% identify as female.
"These statistics are indicative of widespread gender disparity across the entire UK music business", says PRS For Music Director Of Membership Claire Jarvis. "[They] shine a light on the need for continued positive action to be taken to make our industry a fairer and more inclusive space. Whether through creating opportunities, breaking down barriers, improving education, or mentoring, we need to work together to ensure tomorrow's songwriters have visible role models to aspire to".
The PRS For Music supported PRS Foundation launched its Keychange programme in 2017, of course, which specifically aims to increase the number of women working in the music industry. It then launched a manifesto at the European Parliament last September.
The PRS Foundation has also been running its Women Make Music fund since 2010 and aims for a 50/50 split between male and female applicants for all of the organisation's funding opportunities by 2022.
BPI research finds growing divide in music education between state and private schools
In the survey of 2200 teachers, the BPI found that private schools have seen a 7% increase in music provision in the last five years, while state schools have seen a 21% decrease. Meanwhile, around 30% of all state schools have seen a decrease in curriculum time for music or a reduced number of qualified music teachers.
Opportunities to play music are at their lowest at schools in more deprived areas and the survey found that almost 40% of all state-funded secondary schools have no compulsory music lessons in year nine (age 13-14).
Earlier this year the UK government announced plans to develop a new 'model music curriculum' for children aged five to fourteen, appointing a panel to oversee that process.
Last week it hired music exam board ABRSM to draft that curriculum, a decision that has proven controversial among some music educators. But the BPI says it welcomes the government's efforts in this domain, though it has opinions on what the model curriculum and its introduction should involve.
Key aims, says the trade group, should be reversing the trend for reduced music provision in state schools through better funding and making music a core part of education upon which a school's performance is judged. In recent years music provision has not been part of criteria on which schools are assessed.
With many music lessons being delivered by teachers not trained in the field, the BPI also suggests that non-specialist teachers be involved in devising the new curriculum, in order to ensure that it is easily deliverable for all teachers and all schools.
"People may have different talents and aspirations, but the one thing that gives us all an equal opportunity to fulfil our potential, whatever our background, is education", says BPI boss Geoff Taylor. "These BPI findings make us profoundly concerned that music education and tuition in state schools is beginning to lag far behind that in the independent sector".
"This inequality is not just deeply unfair to children in the state sector, it risks depriving our culture of future talents as diverse as Adele, Stormzy and Sheku Kanneh-Mason", he goes on. "We believe that every child in this country should have the same opportunity to access tuition and to discover and develop their musical talent".
On the solutions to the current problem, he says: "It is clear that government needs to inject additional funding for musical instrument tuition in state schools and to recognise music as a core component of a child's education, one which should be reflected in Ofsted's judgment of a school's performance. We warmly welcome the proposed new model music curriculum for schools, but it is vital that government ensures that the curriculum also works for the many non-music teachers that take music lessons in primary schools".
Other music industry organisations like the Musicians' Union and the Incorporated Society Of Musicians have also undertaken recent research on music education in the UK, raising various concerns about provision and priorities, and the impact that has on which children have access to music teaching and tuition.
The MU also warned of a growing disparity between the musical opportunities for poorer and more affluent children. Because of the aforementioned assessment criteria - which ignores things like music - many schools have cut arts subjects in order to put more money into the core subjects that they are actually assessed on. This has resulted in less focus being put on music in the classroom and fewer children learning to play an instrument.
That said, a recent report from music charity Youth Music found that 67% of children between the ages of seven and seventeen are engaged in some kind of music-making, but not necessarily in a traditional way. And that is more true for children from less wealthy families. Which isn't to say that music education isn't under-funded and under-prioritised in English schools, but efforts to boost music education provision may be more effective if they embrace a wider definition of music-making.
"Many young people with limited financial means are experiencing a rich musical childhood", the charity said. "It just looks different to that of their more affluent peers. It's more likely to emanate from their home, have a DIY feel to it, and less likely to be taught in a formal way".
CMU will once again put music education under the spotlight as part of its conference programme at The Great Escape. Taking place on Wednesday 8 May, CMU+TGE: Music Education will review all the recent research and the debate around a model music curriculum, while also mapping the different kinds of music education now available, and considering how the different strands, and the music industry, can better integrate.
Annie Lennox teams up with Apple Music for gender equality film
"Disempowerment creates an appalling way of life for millions of women and girls around the world", says Lennox. "While physical or sexual violence affects one in three women, and two thirds of the world's 757 million adults who cannot read or write are women ... these are only two on a long list of disparity and injustice. We cannot ignore the fact that feminism must have a global reach".
She continues: "At a time when there seems to be so much polarity and division in the world, the term 'global feminism' offers an opportunity for people from every walk of life, colour of skin, gender or sexual orientation to understand and identify with the bigger global picture. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder in support of human rights, justice and equality for women and girls everywhere in the world, especially in countries where they are not even near the lowest rung of the ladder".
Confirming their support for the short film, Apple Music's Global Head Of Editorial, Rachel Newman, adds: "Annie Lennox is not only one of the most prolific women in music, but one of the most dedicated and passionate women's rights advocates of our time. Her efforts to better this world are truly inspiring and her impact is undeniable".
Piano Day returns to London (and the world)
In the UK, as is now traditional, the Barbican is fully on board and will be putting on a free event for people wishing to hear a nice bit of piano tinkling. Which is, I'm very sure, exactly how Pieter De Graaf and instrumental duo Ava, who will be performing, would like me to describe their work. Except perhaps Ava's violinist Anna Phoebe, who probably doesn't consider what she does 'piano tinkling'. Bad luck, Anna. Get your own day. Maybe then we can talk about violin rubbing. Or whatever.
Speaking about Piano Day, which is celebrated the world over, its founder Nils Frahm says: "Why does the world need a Piano Day? For many reasons. But mostly, because it doesn't hurt to celebrate the piano and everything around it: performers, composers, piano builders, tuners, movers and most important, the listener".
Come to think of it, that's exactly what he says every year. I guess the point doesn't change for year to year, though. Anyway, here are the other affiliated events in the UK currently set to take place on 29 Mar:
London, EartH: Luke Abbott, Jack Wyllie, Reeps One and Andrea Belfi
The End Festival announces Brexit Day event
With that in mind, the event aims to celebrate the end of all and any collaboration between musicians from the United Kingdom and other EU countries. Well, possibly more to celebrate past collaborations and to make a statement that creators across Europe won't stop collaborating, even if some of the politicians do.
"I want to do an event which celebrates the coming together of acts from different parts of the EU", says organiser Howard Monks. "A statement that even at this nominally grassroots level, we will continue to collaborate and celebrate each other, regardless of what the political climate might be. So while the foundation and the timing of this event might be political, the intent is simply to say we are here, we will collaborate, we will celebrate".
Taking place at Cecil Sharp House in London on 29 Mar, under the name 'The End, Of What?', acts so far confirmed include The Cha, Robocobra Quartet, Epic45, Bird In The Belly, Arborist, Rev Magnetic, Fran & Flora, Noémie Ducimetière and Killing Cartisano. Stuart Braithwaite from Mogwai will do some DJing as well.
Given there's very little chance we'll actually fall out of the EU on the 29 Mar, you can feel comfortable enjoying yourself a bit. Unless we accidentally crash out with no deal, in which case going out partying will possibly seem a little irresponsible. So, even more reason to buy a ticket, I reckon.
Michael Jackson, Louis Tomlinson, The Black Keys, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• The creators of 'The Simpsons' have pulled an episode of the show featuring the voice of Michael Jackson, after viewing the 'Leaving Neverland' documentary.
• Louis Tomlinson has released new single, 'Two Of Us'. Written about his mother's death in 2016, he says: "People say writing is a part of therapy and in a way, I feel like I'd been avoiding writing this song because I knew I only had one chance to get it right".
• The Black Keys have returned with new single, 'Lo/Hi', their first new music since 2014
• Ava Max is back with new single, 'So Am I'. "'So Am I' is about loving yourself, being different, being an outcast and not fitting in the format that society wants to put us in - just celebrating what really makes you different", she says. "Whenever I'm feeling down, I remind myself that my flaws make me perfect, because in reality there is no perfect".
• Dave has released the video for 'Streatham', from his new album 'Psychodrama'.
• M83's Anthony Gonzalez has released the soundtrack for his brother Yann's new film, 'Knife And Heart', which stars Vanessa Paradis. From it, this is 'Karl'.
• Chloe Howl is back with new single 'Millionnaire'. "At the time of writing 'Millionaire', I was listening to US based trap and hip hop, and wanted to pull in sonic influences from those places", she says. "It's about making someone realise that they already have everything they ever wanted".
• Wiley has released the video for 'Boasty', his collaboration with Sean Paul, Stefflon Don and Idris Elba.
• AJ Tracey has released the video for 'Necklace' from his debut album.
• Soak has released new single 'Déjà Vu'.
• Kindness is back with his first new music for five years, Robyn collaboration 'Cry Everything'. He's also announced that he will play a show at Oslo in Hackney on 14 Jun.
• The Get Up Kids have announced that they will release new album, 'Problems', on 10 May. Here's first single 'Satellite'.
• Local Natives have released new track 'Café Amarillo'.
• Stefflon Don has announced that she will play the Hammersmith Apollo on 19 Apr. The show will conclude a run of UK dates.
• Little Simz has announced UK tour dates for October, which will conclude at EartH in Hackney on 29 Oct.
• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Chemical Brothers create "world's fastest remix" for new Formula One season
Sounds stupid, right? But there's a logic to it, promise, which I'm sure will stop you from thinking that. For the fun of the challenge (and also some money), the dance music duo were asked to deconstruct their track and reassemble it to mimic the sound of an F1 car travelling at speed. The 15,000bpm tempo was chosen to reflect the 15,000rpm that the engines of modern F1 cars can reach.
It does still sound a bit silly. Maybe I'm not explaining it right. Here's Chemical Brother Tom Rowlands: "The engineering challenge of creating the fastest remix intrigued us as F1 fans and music producers. It's exciting to hear our music in the context of F1. The speed and intensity of F1 is a nice reflection of our music and live shows".
I have to say, I've seen the Chemical Brothers live more than once and they've always played for longer than three seconds. I supposed it's been a while since I went to a show though, maybe that's changed more recently. Certainly, I seem to be the only person here not under the impression that Chemical Brothers tracks are defined by their incredible speed.
"As pioneering sound engineers, with music to match the speed and intensity of F1, there's nobody better for us to partner with than The Chemical Brothers", says F1 marketing and communications boss Ellie Norman.
Anyway, 'WGTT15000BPM F1 NEEEUM MIX' is on streaming services now (look out for it on our weekly new music playlist). It's a good job F1 paid the Brothers a commission fee, given streaming royalties only usually kick in at 30 seconds. If you'd rather watch the three second remix, the video for it is here.