|THURSDAY 11 APRIL 2019||COMPLETEMUSICUPDATE.COM|
|TODAY'S TOP STORY: US collecting society SoundExchange has sued Music Choice over allegations that the music service provider employed some sneaky creative accounting in relation to its B2B products in order to reduce the royalties it was obliged to pay to the record industry... [READ MORE]|
SoundExchange sues Music Choice over its "creative accounting"
Music Choice is best known for the audio music channels it provides over cable TV networks in the US, a service that it used to also offer via satellite and cable networks in Europe too before it sold off its European business to Canadian rival Stingray.
As well as that, Music Choice also provides other music-related services as well, including offering a range of audio channels to businesses that want to play recorded music on their premises. It's that side of Music Choice's operations - known as MC For Business - that SoundExchange accuses of some dodgy dealing to reduce its overall royalty payments.
SoundExchange collects money on behalf of record labels and recording artists where recorded music is broadcast over digital or satellite channels in the US. Companies doing that can rely on compulsory licences Stateside, meaning that the licences administered by SoundExchange - and the so called statutory rates licensees must pay - are put in place by your good friends at the US Copyright Royalty Board.
Confirming that it was going legal after auditing Music Choice's B2B division, SoundExchange said yesterday: "The basic royalty rate for a [business establishment service] is '12.5% of [the] licensee's gross proceeds derived from the use in such service of musical programmes that are attributable to copyrighted recordings'".
The society added that it had audited statements provided by Music Choice's B2B service from 2013 through to 2016 and "discovered that Music Choice systematically underreported its gross proceeds leading to underpayment to SoundExchange for statutory royalties related to the BES that that we believe extends beyond the 2013-2016 audit period".
The rights organisation's General Counsel Colin Rushing then stated: "Music Choice's actions reflect a persistent effort to avoid paying royalties for its use of protected sound recordings. Its creative accounting has cheated creators out of the royalties they are due and is inconsistent with the Copyright Royalty Board's regulations"
He then added that "we hope this action will compel Music Choice to pay the royalties that are due to music creators and to change its practices moving forward".
It remains to be seen how Music Choice - which has Sony as a shareholder alongside a bunch of cable telly companies - responds to SoundExchange's demands and litigation.
British Columbia proposes new anti-touting laws
Laws such as this are decided on a province by province basis in Canada, which means rules vary around the country. But there has previously been plenty of discussion about better regulating the touts elsewhere in Canada, most recently in Ontario, though Quebec currently has the strictest regulations.
What is being proposed in British Columbia wouldn't ban touting, but would put restrictions on resellers and the secondary ticketing platforms they employ. Some of the rules mirror what was in the UK's Consumer Rights Act in 2015, although the proposals do go further.
The new laws would force ticket resellers to disclose that they are not a primary seller, clearly display prices, and disclosure key terms and conditions. Ticket resellers and reselling platforms would be required to provide refund guarantees, and the speculative selling of tickets that sellers do not already possess would be outlawed.
"These changes are going to make our live event industry in BC even better for the people who matter most - the fans", says Mike Farnworth, the province's Minister Of Public Safety. "The new laws will make the ticket buying process more transparent and equitable for consumers, so that everyone in our province will have a fair chance of getting tickets for their favourite acts and events".
Also included in the bill is a ban on touts buying up large quantities of tickets using automated software, often referred to as bots. The use of such ticket buying tech is something even most secondary platforms agree should not be allowed.
"For too long, artists and concert goers were being unfairly hurt by ticket buying software and bots", says Lisa Beare, Minister Of Tourism, Arts And Culture. "This new ticket buying legislation will ensure that people are protected with better price transparency. Most of all, people will be able to enjoy the diverse performances and entertainment BC has to offer, without being unfairly gouged at the box office".
The public consultation that led to this newly proposed legislation was carried out in March last year, with more than 6500 people responding.
The Weeknd partners with esports company OverActive Media
"We are THRILLED to be welcoming a global superstar like Abel to our investor family", says OAM CEO Chris Overholt. "Abel's standing in the music industry will provide our Toronto Defiant and Splyce brands the opportunity to reach more fans and engage new audiences".
The Weeknd (that's Abel, in case you wondered) adds: "As a big esports fan, I am really excited to be involved in this project. I am looking forward to collaborating with OverActive Media in unique and innovative ways".
Launched in 2017, OAM owns teams in numerous esports leagues. If you find all things esports confusing, I'm sure The Weeknd will gladly explain it all to you.
Talent scouting app Instrumental partners with Coda
"The live sector is incredibly important to us and of course to the community of independent artists we are discovering through our platform", says Instrumental CEO Conrad Withey. "By working closely with the amazing team at Coda we hope to keep developing data driven solutions that can help match the best new talent out there to one of the finest live agencies in the world".
He continues: "Instrumental's tie-up with Coda forms part of our broader objective for 2019 of using our discovery capabilities to facilitate new opportunities for artists. This is the start of our mission to build a 360 partnerships platform for the fast-growing DIY artist sector".
Senior agent at Coda, Nick Matthews, adds: "Coda has always prided itself on being aware of the next generation of superstar talent from the start. Being able to identify the best talent first is always what we will be about and the technology and alliance with Instrumental helps use data to make great decisions, as well as find amazing acts on a global level that we didn't know about. It's something that we want to become a daily part of A&R process".
Instrumental will provide Coda with data and insights on the fastest growing independent artists, as well as tracking acts signed to major and indie record labels. The deal follows two years of work between Instrumental and live music giant Live Nation to develop data crunching talent spotting services for the live industry.
Gaming firm pitches music quiz app as new marketing channel
'Beat The Intro' began life as a DVD-based game but has been appified in recent years (appified definitely being a word). In the new version of the game - where you are played a track and must identify what it is from a list of three - users are subsequently encouraged to download the track from iTunes or play it on Apple Music.
Users pick themes to play along to and - I don't want to brag - but when I picked the 1980s theme, I spotted Europe's 'The Final Countdown' from the one second of silence at the start. Result for me! Though I didn't subsequently download or stream it. So not for them.
Each theme is called a 'pack' within the app, and while many of those are themed around decades and genres, artist specific packs are also an option, which is where the promo potential possibly kicks in.
Says PlayStack CMO Harriet Hughes: "We have developed a fantastic product which presents a unique opportunity for the music industry to utilise as part of the overall music ecosystem. With the ability to reach a global audience, artists will be able to reap the rewards of music fans either falling back in love with the tracks they once listened to or discover new ones. We are sure this innovative experience will complement the overall communication and marketing mix for the music industry".
PlayStack is working with a company called Musicplode Media, which originally created 'Beat The Intro', and its CEO Kevin Deakin said of the latest version this week: "We are absolutely delighted to be teaming up with PlayStack to launch our new app. The game has evolved from DVD to digital over the last fifteen years and having secured the music licences from the major record labels and publishers, this new iteration of the brand is very exciting. It is the perfect opportunity for artists to accrue important incremental revenue".
The incremental revenue comes from the royalties the game itself pays through its licensing deals and - perhaps more importantly - any subsequent downloading or streaming the game may or may not prompt.
Apple to split iTunes into standalone apps
The move would bring Apple's desktop operating system in line with its mobile devices, which have long had standalone entertainment apps. The update will also reportedly include a major redesign of the existing iBooks desktop app.
Apple recently confirmed plans to include a standalone TV app within MacOS as part of the launch of its new TV+ video streaming service. With that plan in place, it would make sense to break up all the other different parts of iTunes as well. Over time, iTunes has become ever more confusing to use, particularly as it houses both the iTunes music download store and the Apple Music streaming service.
Of course, with download sales continuing to plummet, there has been speculation for some time that Apple will drop music downloads from its business entirely at some point in the relatively near future. The launch of a standalone Apple Music app might be the time to do this. Although 9to5mac does say that Apple plans to keep the existing iTunes software around for the foreseeable future, as a means for older mobile devices to sync with a desktop computer.
The new apps are expected to appear in the next major update of MacOS later this year.
Spotify, Avicii, Yeasayer, more
Other notable announcements and developments today...
• Spotify CEO Daniel Ek is interviewed on the new episode of Freakonomics Radio, talking about how Spotify is great. I mean, really fucking great. So, that's that confirmed. At last!
• The first track from Avicii's posthumous album, 'Tim', has been released. Here's 'SOS', featuring Aloe Blacc.
• Beirut has released the video for 'When I Die' from new album, 'Gallipoli'.
• Panda Bear has released the video for the title track of his new album 'Buoys'. "Dogs see past how many followers we have and how many tickets we sell", he says.
• Virtual celebrity Miquela has released new single 'Right Back'.
• Kaytranada has released new track 'Dysfunctional', featuring R&B duo VanJess.
• Self Esteem has released the video for recent single '(Girl) Crush'. "It was difficult to know how to tell the story of the lyrics in a video for '(Girl) Crush'", she says. "I wanted to avoid clickable queerness or a super on the nose telling of the story. I remembered a cartoon my ex-partner would draw of me as a large fluffy yellow creature called Creature. I decided the only way to tell the story of the fetishisation of otherness was by getting off with Creature aka myself. Naturally. Long suffering collaborator Piers Dennis came on board to direct and as ever did a beautiful job. It's not a girl crush, it's just a crush".
• Anna Of The North has released new single 'Used To Be'. The song "is a reminder back to when we were young and didn't worry about superficial things that often take too much of our attention these days", she says. "Let's just go and throw a ball at the wall together and appreciate each other for a second".
• Snow Ghosts have released new single 'Heavy Heart'. Their new album, 'A Quiet Ritual', is out on 3 May.
• Rev Magnetic (led by Mogwai's Luke Sutherland) have announced that they will release their debut album, 'Versus Universe', on 10 May. From it, this is 'Yonder Là-Haut'.
• Faye Webster has released new track 'Flowers', taken from her debut album, 'Atlanta Millionaires Club', which is out on 24 May. Webster will play this year's multi-city Dot To Dot festival next month, plus a two night residency at London's Bermondsey Social Club on 28-29 May.
• Coucou Chloe has released new track 'Gecko'.
• Black metal band Abbath have released new single, 'Harvest Pyre'. New album, 'Outstrider', is out on 5 Jul.
• Gary Numan has announced that he will be heading out on a 40th anniversary tour of the UK September and October, culminating with a show at London's Roundhouse on 24 Oct.
• Check out our weekly Spotify playlist of new music featured in the CMU Daily - updated every Friday.
Billie Eilish is not the new anyone, OK?
"Everybody's always trying to make everybody compete", she complains to the LA Times. "They're like, 'Billie's album might pass Ariana's...' But just stop. I don't care. I don't want to hear that Billie Eilish is the new Lana Del Rey. Do not disrespect Lana like that! That woman has made her brand so perfect for her whole career and shouldn't have to hear that".
"I don't want to hear that somebody's the new Billie Eilish in a couple of years", she adds, hoping that the cycle can be broken. I think she's going to be disappointed. Also, it does feel like she is actually the artist that lots of other new acts are going to sound like over the next couple of years. Though I bet the one that gets dubbed "the new Billie Eilish" doesn't.
The culture of celebrity and people's desire to become well-known with or without talent is also criticised in the interview. "One of my biggest pet peeves is people who just assume they're going to be famous", Eilish says. "Because it's telling me that you think this is something that could just happen - that I'm not here because I worked hard".
So please remember, Billie Eilish has worked very hard to not be the new Lana Del Rey.